Friday, June 2, 2017

At UN, As Guterres Meets Azerbaijan, Oil Painting & Little Transparency, Censorship Continues

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 24 – Before UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres did aphoto op (Periscope here) and meeting with Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister, in which he was given an oil painting, Guterres held a meeting with his senior management group since after a two week trip he is in New York for only three days, leaving tomorrow. At the appointed time for Azerbaijan, streaming out of Guterres' conference room were USg Jeff Feltman, Jean Pierre Lacroix who declined to answer Inner City Press' question about France's 20+ year rule of UN Peacekeeping, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Fabrizio Hochschild and others. Earlier on May 24 Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric to "please state if a David J Vennett is now a/the principal advisor to the SG, if so why he is not in iSeek and how he was recruited and hired and, again, please provide a list of who works in / or the Executive Office of the Secretary General and whether they are paid by the UN, by a UN affiliate like UNOPS, or by a country and is so which." There was no answer. Dujarric announced, "Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will be heading out of New York for Italy to attend the G-7 meeting. On Saturday, he will participate in the outreach session of the summit, which is taking place in Taormina.  The focus of the discussion will be "Innovation and Sustainable Development in Africa."  He will leave Taormina Saturday afternoon." Does it take from Thursday to Saturday to get to Italy? Is there a stop over on the way back? What was in Guterres' budget speech on May 24, a copy of which Inner City Press requested? Why was corrupt censor Cristina Gallach speaking in the General Assembly Hall on May 24, and why has her censorship continued, without hearing or appeal? Back on May 22 when Guterres metSlovenia's President Borut Pahor, it was Guterres first such meeting at UN Headquarters in two weeks. In his first 141 days, Guterres is often on the road, this time including London and China and Geneva, maybe Lisbon, while the promised reforms at the UN are still not easy to see. Pahor is running for re-election and was to host a reception later on May 22 for Slovenia's 25th anniversary in the UN, at the Intercontinental Barclays. The country's ambassadors at the UN and in Washington are set to change, the latter amid probably unfair criticism that First Lady Melania Trump's Slovenian roots have led at last to Slovenia distinguishing itself from Slovakia (which is set to take up the Presidency of the UN General Assembly in September). Guterres, too, needs to distinguish himself from his predecessor. On Yemen, holdover envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed continues to oversee bombing and now cholera, spun by holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric who has also defended the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization's patent work for sodium cyanide in North Korea. On Press Freedom, there are still no UN rules and evictions and restrictions remain in place. Back on May 5 when Guterres met with the Dominican Republic's foreign minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado there was an indicted elephant (not) in the room: former Deputy Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the UN Francis Lorenzo, who has pleaded guilty to bribery in the UN through South South News which he ran. That case is moving toward trial, but the UN has done nothing in its wake - except evict and still restrict Inner City Press which covers that and other corruption, including in the January 2016 "incident" the Department of Public Information used and uses as a pretext to confine Inner City Press to minders. On May 5 the Dominicans covering the photo op were an energetic bunch, with GoPro cameras taking photos out the 38th floor windows that Inner City Press was ordered not to take. We asked: what issues would Guterres raise? Would they include next door Haiti, where UN introduced cholera still causes suffering? After the meeting, the Dominican side issued a read-out, the the UN should do more concretely on Haiti. So on May 9 Inner City Press asked, UN transcript here, Inner City Press: the Secretary-General met with the Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic on Friday.  And, since then they’ve formally put out a readout, and they’ve said that they told… said that the UN system should do more concretely for Haiti, not just talk but give money.  And… and so I guess I’m wondering, can you give some UN side readout or what…

Spokesman:  I don’t have… I don’t have a readout, but I’ll see what I can get you.

  But six hours later when Guterr's holdover spokesman Dujarric left, no read-out had been provided, none at all. We'll stay on it.