Tuesday, July 18, 2017

As UN Guterres Meets Estonia Prez Amid 1 Million UNSC Run, Stonewalling on UN Reform

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 13 – When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on July 13 has a meeting and photo op (Periscope here) with Estonia's President Kersti Kaljulaid, listed in the country's delegation was the coordinator of its run for a Security Council seat, Margus Kolga, previously the country's UN ambassador. Of the run, he has said "there are very many small nations. We are a small nation which came out from under occupation. We may serve as example to them, that this is possible and that a small nation has another perspective on the world which needs to be represented at the council. Most nations have spent far above the million we intend to." At least that is transparent. By contrast, Guterres' UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric earlier on July 13 refused to answer Inner City Press' questions about the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe (RIP) UN bribery case, and even declined to answer Inner City Press' question about member states asking (it) whether Guterres will produce any document on reform prior to his July 22 retreat. So much for We the Peoples. But hello in the Security Council, it would seem, Estonia. Dujarric has repeatedly refused to provide a list of who works on Guterres' 38th floor; by eye Inner City Press noticed former French Mission legal adviser Tanguy Stehelin. Seconded? Dujarric has not answered. We'll have more on this. On July 12 when Guterres swore in six UN officials (some of them simply being re-shuffled), Inner City Press went to cover it. While Guterres swore in Olga Algayerova as Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, the mobile phone seemingly of Miroslav Jenca went off with a loud BBC news bulletin about Donald Trump Jr and Russia. Periscope video here. Achim Steiner was installed as head of the UN Development Program, at the very time that UNDP is losing control of the Resident Coordinator system to Gutteres' and Amina J. Mohammed's Secretariat. More seriously, when the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe prosecution continues in Federal court in lower Manhattan, there are been few reforms at the UN. There is still a lack of transparency, and business people buying their way in a Ng did through the UN Department of Public Information under Cristina Gallach. As Inner City Press covered it, Gallach had Inner City Press evicted and still restricted; the acting head of DPI, Maher Nasser, has done nothing to reverse it. There is still no new Special Adviser on Africa - Inner City Press is told that an Angolan turned it down - and the new head of OCHA, Mark Lowcock, doesn't start until September. The UN must reform. Also sworn in on July 12 were UN veteran Jan Beagle, Under-Secretary-General for Management; able former Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia; Namvamanee Ratna Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict; JIM veteran Virginia Gamba, as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (as Yemen was the topic in the Security Council.) On July 10 Guterres has a photo op with Colombia's Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar. It was supposed to be in his office in UN Headquarters at 4:30 pm. But on little notice he moved it to his - make that, the UN and the public's - mansion on Sutton Place and 57th Street, at 4 pm. Inner City Press jumped on the city bus up First Avenue, broadcasting a Periscope video about the change, when suddenly it was urged to stop broadcasting by a board member of the UN Correspondents Association, which Guterres' deputy spoke before last week and whose former president Giampaolo Pioli's Hampton's gratiuty-fest the UN acting head of Public Information Maher Nasser attended, the UN Censorship Alliance. This is today's UN. Still, up on Sutton Place UN Security brought up a sniffing dog in a UN 4x4, and two quick photos were allowed before Guterres escorted Holguin onto "his" elevator.  Back at the UN, the door to the UN Security Council stakeout was locked, and the turnstile where targeting Inner City Press' ID pass no longer works was guarded by new UN Security who didn't even recognize the UN minder. Still, we got this Periscope, despite UN censorship which continues. Much later at 8:30 pm, Guterres' holdover spokesman issued this.Will there be reform?  On July 5 Guterres had as a series of five credential photo ops on July 5, Inner City Press Periscoped all of them, with a particular eye on Zambia and Mauritania. Zambia's returning Permanent Representative Lazarus Kapambwe gave the greeting of his president; one wondered if in the ten minute closed door meeting that followed the continued lock-up of opposition figure HH was raised. (Inner City Press has repeatedly asked Guterres' holdover spokesman about it, with only vague generalities resulting). Mauritania, Guterres called "un pillier" (just as he ten minutes later called Moldova a pillar) - but did Western Sahara, on which there has been no UN envoy for some time, come up? Moldova's past Permanent Representative moved in the South South News world of Ng Lap Seng, now on trial for UN bribery, although that may have been in his "personal capacity." And last was South Centre, which is testifying this week to the World Intellectual Property Organization, whose director Francis Gurry's retaliation and patent work for North Korea Guterres has apparently not raised with him. Guterres was slated to present reform plans at 11 am, but in the Ecosoc Chamber which evicted and restricted Inner City Press is required to seek a minder to cover, unlike other less interested media like Egypt's state Akhbar al Yom. This is today's - and now Guterres' - UN. Back on June 19, Guterres had a meeting and photo op with Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Shahidul Haque, Periscope video here; the skies outside the 38th floor conference room were dark, Emergency Flash Flood warnings going off on officials' cell phones. Department of Political Affairs staff who previously worked on Sri Lanka were there; Tanguy Stehelin was working in the small dining room next door. Bangladesh gives a lot of peacekeeping troops to the UN, and thereby evades what little scrunity the UN does these days. Guterres was se to meet US Rep. Jim Costa and then Philippe Douste-Blazy: no topics, no read-outs. Inner City Press' Haiti questions remain unanswered, among with Cameroon, the Rif and more. Guterres will hold a press conference on June 20 - Inner City Press asked his spokesman to confirm all topics are on the table. He said yes. We'll see. Guterres swore in three new officials on June 7, Inner City Press went to the photo op (photos here) 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 (see here), 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 Erdogan