Thursday, June 29, 2017

At UN, As Guterres Swears In 3 Officials, Trip Begins With Questions UNanswered,Censorship

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 7 – When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres swore in three new officials on June 7, Inner City Press went to the photo op and small ceremony, which included reclusive head of UN Peacekeeping Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN's head of Information Technology, Atul Khare and Miroslav Jenca, previously head of the UN's office in Turkmenistan. It's to there that Guterres tonight takes off on his most recent trip, amid crises in the Gulf and elsewhere, UN failures in Cameroon and Yemen, and continuing Press censorship and lack of reform. Guterres swore in Ursula Mueller as Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (she's already been on the job for 100 days, she said); Fekitamoeloa Katoa Utoikamanu on Tonga, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States; and Alexander Zuev as Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions. With him, Guterres hearkened back to his interview, and said thank you in Russian. Periscope video here. As to the still unfilled Department of Public Information post vacated by corrupt censor Cristina Gallach, Inner City Press is informed of interviewees currently based in Paris and Geneva. It is not or should not be a system run without rules by the top person, but rather one in which the media have due process and appeals rights, and retaliatory action are reversed. Flier here.Guterres will soon by the flier: we'll be covering it. The evening before on June 6 when Guterres did a photo op (Periscope here) and meeting with Gabon's Ali Bongo, who along with his father Omar have consecutively ruled Gabon since 1967, it began a full 15 minutes late. Not because Bongo was picking up another dubious award on the sidelines of the sometimes dubious Ocean Conference (seehere), but because Guterres had another, unlisted visitor. It was, Inner City Press saw, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the UN, presumably about the standoff with Qatar. Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric has repeatedly said Guterres is not involved. We'll have more on this. On Bongo, he stayed upstairs for 45 minutes and then left with the media he'd brought in, in a caravan of vehicles with a police escort. Periscope viewers told Inner City Press Gabonese were protesting Bongo, who they call a killer, in front of the Peninsula Hotel. Watch this site. On June 5, Guterres met with Fiji's Josaia Voreqe Baininarama, there was a rare attendee: Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed. Perhaps it was because Fiji is the co-President, with Sweden, of the Ocean Conference. Earlier on June 5, Deputy Mohammed had been listed as the briefer - and presumably answerer - at a press conference about a more than 1000 page UN book. But Mohammed left; Inner City Press stayed and asked a scientist who seemed to say he'd been at a conference in 1946 about fisheries subsidies. Likewise, Baininarama left the 1 pm stakeout in front of the UN General Assembly before he could be asked any questions. This is also how Guterres did it, speaking in the third person about Cyprus, on Sunday evening. It seems to be catching in his UN. Back on May 30 when Guterres met with Romania's Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, it was part of Melescanu's campaign for his country to win a two year term on the UN Security Council, to follow its six-month rotating presidency of the European Council in first half of 2019 (for which it is seeking a bigger building in Brussels).Melescanu has most recently, in Istanbul, defended his country's delaying of Turkish basketball player Enes Kanter after he criticized ErdoganMelescanu will be in New York through June 3. Guterres, after yet another trip (this time for a G7 speech on Africa and technology with no mention of the Internet cut-off in Cameroon), was back in New York, NYU earlier in the day, then with an unscheduled or undisclosed meeting with a Security Council ambassador that ran past 7 pm. In the meeting with Melescanu were Tanguy Stehelin and Fabrizio Hochschild, among others. The UN's restrictions on the Press, unlike on never present Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom, continued. But on the 38th floor there was laughter. Last week Guterres met Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister and was given an oil painting; before that 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.