Sunday, June 4, 2017

On Paris Accord, After Trump Quotes UN That $100B Is Peanuts, ICP Asks Spox, No Answer

By Matthew Russell Lee, Series
UNITED NATIONS, June 1 – After US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden announced withdrawal from the Paris Accord on climate change, at the UN they opened up the Press Briefing Room. Secretary General Antonio Guterres is, again, out of town. At first they said his holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric would read out a statement and take no questions. (Inner City Press tweeted it.) Then Dujarric consented to take one or two questions. Inner City Press asked for his or Guterres' response to Trump quoting a UN official that $100 billion is "peanuts," and another that the real number will be four times that. Dujarric declined to answer, referring Inner City Press to the Green Climate Fund. Then US Ambassador Nikki Haley put out this statement: "As a Governor, I always worked to balance economic growth and environmental protection.  We can, and we must do both.  President Trump acted in America’s best interest, moving away from a flawed agreement that placed too heavy a burden on American jobs, and opening the door to a new agreement that reaches the right balance.  America will remain a leader in environmental protection.  But we will not jeopardize our economy in order to please other counties that don’t come anywhere near our environmental standards." We'll have more on this. On May 30 Guterres, who rarely answers questions inside the UN, went downtown to NYU and had a Q&A session. The NYU moderator said to keep them limited to climate change, but the final student question brought up Trump. "We are engaging with the US administration," Guterres said. But how? As Inner City Press reported, Guterres met with 11 Democratic Party Congress members, versus a lone Republican, Lindsey Graham. Asked about Ghana and its debut, Guterres' long answer did not mention the IMF program that Inner City Press last Thursday asked the IMF about. In the final round, Guterres took a question from Citigroup, and quickly offered them praise. Predatory lending financial meltdown? Never heard of it, apparently. Other UN officials, including those responsible for press restrictions and censorship, amplified this praise of Citibank. This is today's UN. On May 31, Inner City Press asked Dujarric: Inner City Press: in the Q&A, there was a kind of a short question by a guy… a person from Citigroup and [António] Guterres… the Secretary-General said, that's great.  I wasn't clear… I want to be… like, was he praising the… just the idea that corporations should somehow become part of the… of the… of… of the Paris accord?  What… are you… apparently, you were there.  It seems like…

Spokesman:  I was there in person.

Question:  Okay, so what was he praising…?

Spokesman:  I think what he was referring to was the fact that the business community is taking… and the example that this gentleman gave and, you know, he had no more detail than what the gentleman told him, that the private sector is taking an active part in joining the fight to combat and to mitigate the impact of climate change and that the business sector, just like civil society, just like individuals, just like Governments, all have a role to play.  This is not something that is to be left to States alone if we're going to succeed.  That's exactly what he was doing.  He wasn't giving a seal of approval to whatever specific programme was mentioned. This gentleman said, we're doing this, and the SG says, “That's great.”  We think the business… we know the business sector should be involved.
  Then Dujarric left unanswered, for more than a day, another Inner City Press question about the UN serving (exploitative) business. On Saturday Guterres flew to Taormina, Italy to give a G7 speech about Africa, and in it he said "disseminate new technologies." But during Cameroon's 94-day cut off of the Internet this year, Guterres said nothing. Sample (rare) stakeout here. And his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, after again promising Inner City Press an answer at noon on May 30, provided none by 5 o'clock. On April 19 when Guterres did a question and answer stakeout with the African Union, Inner City Press three times asked about the Internet cut off, while getting cut off by Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric. The questions were entirely audible, but Guterres did not answer at all. Video here. On May 23, his Deputy Secretary General and chief of staff were both at Cameroun's Francophone "National" Day, as Paul and Chantal Biya were praised along with song's about (French) champagne. Video here. This is today's UN. On May Inner City Press asked Guterres directly, outside the UN Security Council, why he hasn't released his budget speech, or reform plans, the day after his spokesman Dujarric refused to provide the speech to Inner City Press when it asked. Guterres paused then said it should be public, seeming to believe that Dujarric had, in fact, released it. Video here. But he had not and has not. And on May 26 Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq again refused, video here, saying that the UN responds to member states (not We the Peoples). It was Dujarric who evicted Inner City Press, and has kept it restricted in its movements in the UN for the 144 days so far of Guterres' tenure. On May 25, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again, video here

On May 26, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: Jeffrey Feltman said that the proposal for the new office has been, I guess, approved by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.  And since yesterday in this room, the idea was that's all confidential, I wanted to just know, first, is it true, did Mr. Feltman say that?  Is it true that ACABQ has signed off on it?  And if it's true that the UN can speak about ACABQ, can we get a copy of the Secretary-General's speech to ACABQ given earlier this week?

Deputy Spokesman:  No.  The, the speech was basically about the budget proposals which are available as a document, as Stéphane pointed out earlier this week.
Inner City Press: I, I searched it, and it said document not available on the UN document site.  I’d like the speech.

Deputy Spokesman:  You know, you can deal with my colleagues with the document, but there's no remarks to share for the public.  Regarding the particular proposal, there's a proposal that's going to go before the General Assembly, and you'll be able to see what happens once they consider it.
Inner City Press: Right, but I guess it goes back to [inaudible] question.  In most Governments in the world, an executive like the Secretary-General, the executive branch, will announce publicly what its proposals are.  Just the fact that to only announce it after it's been approved by the Member States doesn't seem to make sense if you're pronouncing reforms and if there's public interest in how the UN works.  What's the problem with releasing the speech?

Deputy Spokesman:  This is not a Government.  This is an organization bringing together Governments.  And what we try to do is engage in dialogue with governments in order to flesh out these proposals.  Ultimately, it's not finalized until the various governments agree on this.  You simply can't argue that something's not transparent if it goes to 193 Governments.  That's a lot of people.  It's not a secret process by any means.  All of them are involved in this discussion.

Inner City Press: But, I've heard the Secretary-General say he wants to open up the UN to civil society and the public and we the people, so I guess I'm just wondering, is there something in that ACABQ speech that's so confidential that it can't, as I took him to understand on the steps, just be released and made public?

Deputy Spokesman:  No.  It's not confidential, but it's part of a dialogue with Member States.  And we try to engage the Member States directly in that dialogue.  
 So, public be damned? UN May 25 transcript here: Inner City Press:  I just now asked the Secretary-General about what I had asked you yesterday, about whether his speech at ACABQ can be released and whether his reform proposals will be released.  He seemed to, maybe I misunderstood and you can look at the video, but he seemed to think that it had been released so I wanted to ask you, can it be released?  Also…  Go ahead.

Spokesman:  The budget documents for the proposed reform are public documents and those are available and that is basically what he presented, the outline of which he presented to the ACABQ yesterday.
Inner City Press: Two questions: Is there a problem with releasing, I'm sure there was a written and about it was off-the-cuff what he said to ACABQ; and, secondly, I've seen and published a document called safety and security pillar model A regarding three ASGs, a mixture of political affairs and peacebuilding, a variety of delegations, and maybe there wasn't time to explain the whole thing, basically the idea is if he is proposing reforms, why aren't these proposals public as they are in most countries…?

Spokesman:  Well, I think, first of all, these reforms, especially ones that have to involve, that involve budgetary issues, first have to be approved by the Member States and there is an ongoing discussion on the peace and security architecture, and once things are formally proposed, I'm sure they will be shared.  All the budget documents I think are under, I was told, A/72/6, and those are all available in detail.

Question:  This chart, I guess what I'm saying, having seen the chart…

Spokesman:  I haven't seen the chart, so I…
Inner City Press:  There was a meeting yesterday, so maybe you can ask them.  There seemed to have been a meeting that went to 6:10 yesterday upstairs.  Everybody was in it, Mr. Lacroix, Mr. Feltman, you know, the whole team was there, and my understanding is this chart was discussed, so I'm asking you…

Spokesman:  What I'm telling you is that whatever meetings may have occurred upstairs on reform between the Secretary-General and his top aides, those are informal meetings and I have no documents to share from those.
Inner City Press:  Can you just look at the tape of what he said there?

Spokesman:  I did look at the tape.  I did, it feels consistent to me.

Inner City Press: Well…

Spokesman:  Ali?

  Inner City Press saying "double talk" was not transcribed by the (double standards) UN. Later on May 25, an NGO representative who corresponded "secretly" with Dujarric to get Inner City Press evicted and restricted was allowed onto the UN's second floor without the UN minders imposed on Inner City Press. This is today's UN.