Wednesday, August 2, 2017

UN Guterres on 2 Week EU Leave, Complaints of Peacekeeping, Lack of Response & Reform

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photos

UNITED NATIONS, August 2 – The day after guilty verdicts on six counts of UN bribery in the case of Ng Lap Seng, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres flew to Split for a vacation on the Dalmatian islands, according to sources there. Meanwhile at the UN on August 2, complaints about his lack of reform expanded. "It's been seven months," one UN official noted to Inner City Press. "What about DPKO and DPA?" This refers to UN Peacekeeping and Political Affairs. 

A diplomat complained, "Guterres doesn't even answer his mail - okay, his father in law died, rest in peace and all that. But Guterres was unresponsive even before that. He's just bringing in people he knew in Geneva, nothing new, no improvements." On Press freedom, Inner City Press must concur: it remains restricted for covering now convicted Ng Lap Seng's bribes; the Egyptian state media the UN is trying to give its office wasn't even present for Egypt's August 2 press conference, has never asked a question. And on transparency: the sources said seven day, but when Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric on July 31, Dujarric said for two week, Guterres will be "in Europe." Periscope video here. He is on leave, on vacation. On August 1, Dujarric repeatedly said the Secretary General thinks this, feels that - and Inner City Press asked, how do you know? At briefings in Washington reporters routinely ask, did you speak with your principle about X, Y or Z. But the UN feels it doesn't have to answer. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: in the answers you were giving about the Secretary-General believes this on Venezuela, thinks this, can… given what you have said yesterday about his schedule, is this based on, is this a DPA statement, is it actually something they run by him, how does it work?

Spokesman:  It works that it comes out of my mouth.  That’s how it works.  Next question.  Next question.

 Yes, we will have more questions. On July 31, Inner City Press asked if there is any press pool - no - and if Dujarric will at least in the future announce week-long absences by Guterres in advance. Dujarric did not say yes (he did, however, repeat that claim that the UN was the victim in its corruption case, saying that Yiping Zhou is gone. But what about Navid Hanif, who went to Macau? What about Meena Sur, who helped Ng? Both of them, and others involved, are still in the UN). This lack of transparency stands in contrast to the executive branch in Washington and even New York routinely disclosing travel including vacation travel. But the UN has no press protections either - Guterres has been asked. Meanwhile his spokespeople says the UN should get paid for the UNreformed corruption shown in the Ng trial and verdict. We'll have more on this. When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on July 27 had a brief meeting with Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Qatar state media and other UN based photographers went up. Alamy photos here. There were complaints how short the handshake was; Inner City Press noted that on the UN side of the table were only four people, all men, including Jeffrey Feltman. Periscope video here. Guterres was scheduled to be at another meeting in 25 minutes time. So will the UN help solve the stand-off in the Gulf? It seems unlikely. The UN never answered Inner City Press' questions of if Feltman had visited Saudi Arabia and if not, why not. Back on July 19 Guterres.had a meeting and photo op with Spain's Foreign Minister Alfonso María Dastis Quecedo. Inner City Press went to cover it, Alamy photos here, Periscope video here including of whether Dastis should write "una poema" in the UN visitors' book. Inner City Press barely arriving on time due to the crowd of tourists at the UN's visitors entrance. It has been this way since Spain's now-gone Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach had Inner City Press evicted from and still restricted at the UN after Inner City Press asked her about attending indicted Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng's South South Awards, and allowing Ng fundees improper events in the UN. Although Guterres did not continue Gallach's contract - she lobbied to stay, but failed - her negative impacts are still in evidence. The Spanish Mission to the UN, now off the Security Council, likewise did nothing to reign Gallach in. But surely they are lobbying Guterres to get another Under Secretary General position, even as their Fernando Arias Gonzalez runs against six others to head the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. We'll have more on this. The day before on July 18 Guterres had a meeting and photo op with the Dominican Republic's Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado (Alamy photos here,Periscope video here); it came one day after in the UN bribery case against Ng Lap Seng a video of then 
then-President Leonel Fernandez Reyna visiting South South News near the UN was discussed. That video is here. South South News was a bribery conduit, its funds used for gambling by Dominican Deputy Permanent Representative Francis Lorenzo in Las Vegas and Atlantic City while the UN's Department of Public Information let SSN's content into UNTV archives and let Ng fundees have impermissible events in the UN. On July 18, Guterres' Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq refused to answer Inner City Press' yes or no questions about South South News and the UN. After the July 18 photo op, Inner City Press had nowhere to edit - for seeking to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room in pursuing the UN / SSN corruption story, Inner City Press was evicted and still restricted. And in the DR there are protests about corruption. So what did the minister and Guterres discuss? Haiti? These days there are no read-outs at the UN. On July 13 Guterres had 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.  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 (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. 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. On May 3 when Guterres did a photo op and meeting with the "new" Permanent Representative of The Gambia on May 3, Guterres welcomed him "as a democratic country, we are proud to have you in our ranks." Video here. There was only one problem: it was the same Ambassador who had represented strongman Jammeh, Mamadou Tangara. Inner City Press had repeatedly asked Guterres' also holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Mamadou Tangara during the time Jammeh tried to hang on. Now Mamadou Tangara is being feted as a representative of democracy. Did Guterres not know this? Or was this quiet diplomacy? In other photo ops on May 3, World Press Freedom Day, Guterres' Deputy SG Amina J Mohammed came to attend the one with new Nigeria rep Tijjani Muhammad Band, Periscope here, but not Uganda's knowledgeable Adonia Ayebare nor Seychelles' Ronald Jean Jumeau. Back down on the UN's second floor, Inner City Press remains confined to minders, even on World Press Freedom day. We'll have more on this. Back on April 20, Guterres met Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Kingdom of the Netherlands, on Guterres' side of the table were four men and one woman, Katrin Hett, who asked one of the men who'd sat next to Guterres to get up and move. The previous evening as Inner City Press rushed to leave a Department of Public Information event in the General Assembly lobby before the 7 pm censorship witching hour imposed on it by DPI, Inner City Press was told, in a friendly way, to give more positive coverage to Dutch Sigrid Kaag, so the UN doesn't remain a "patriarchy." It's a good point, but Kaag like failed Cameroon Resident Coordinator (promoted by Guterres) Najat Rochdi probably shouldn't block the press they don't like. On April 20 on the 38th floor was the Officer in Charge of DPI, Maher Nasser, who has made no substantive response to Inner City Press' April 1 formal request to end the now 14 months of minders and censorship for having covered a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room in connection with the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe UN corruption case. Guterres is 110 days in, and what has changed? Not the censorship and targeted requirement of minders. On April 18 when Guterres did photo op and meeting with Ukraine's deputy Foreign Minister Sergiy Kyslytsya, his close adviser Katrin Hett came to tell the assembled staffers they would not be needed, the meeting would be held with only four on each side in Guterres' office overlooking the East River and Queens. Things are getting more and more private: Guterres' spokesman Stephane Duajrric for example has twice refused to answer Inner City Press if as reported Guterres tried to reach Cameroon's president of decades Paul Biya, about the cut off of the Internet there. Others have noticed the rash of German officials getting jobs: Achim Steiner at UNDP and prospectively Horst Kohler on Western Sahara. But some office on 38 now have blank signs. Kyslytsya had just given a right of reply in the Security Council, about Crimea. The mystery and payback for Guterres getting all of the Permanent Five members of the Council on his side to get elected has still not be revealed. But earlier on April 18, Inner City Press which remains evicted from its UN office and confined the UN minders was told, by the minders, that it cannot even work at a table in the UN lobbyThis has been raised, yes, to the 38th floor. So they know. There are no rules - a topic, in another context, that Kyslytsya raised in the Security Council.
Back on April 10 when Guterres did a photo opwith the Club de Madrid - World Leadership Alliance including another candidate for Secretary General, Danilo Turk, it was impossible not to wonder what might have been. How might other of the candidates fared? What reforms, and reversal of Ban Ki-moon mistakes from Yemen and children and armed conflict to censorship might they have accomplished or at least begun? The ex heads of state barely fit into the photo, Periscope video here, and very little banter was heard before the press was ushered out. On the way in, Guterres came amiably through the hall, turning into the office of Miguel Graca. But where is the requested list of who works on the 38th floor, and who pays them? Is it true, as Inner City Press has heard, that Guterres has interviewed Achim Steiner for UNDP? At the lower profile Department of Public Information, why hasn't the Officer in Charge given any substantive response to simple requests before him, and would any successor at least have to commit to free press due process rules? Why is the holdover spokesmanallowed to refuse to answer the Press' questions on Burundi, while engaging others about Sex and the City? We'll have more on this. After 100 days of Antonio Guterres as UN Secretary General, what has been accomplished? Guterres focused early on South Sudan, but as Inner City Press reports today on his 100th day, the Salva Kiir forces are using tanks near Wau while UN Peacekeeping, still under French control, says nothing publicly. The Cyprus talks are set to continue, but we've heard that before. Yemen is as bloody as ever, and Guterres extended Ban Ki-moon's (or Saudi Arabia's) envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed without even getting him to make any public financial disclosureDiscrepancies in Guterres own disclosure filings between 2013 and 2016 have yet to be explained by Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric. What has changed? Not the Department of Public Information's targeted restrictions on Inner City Press, able to cover meeting on the UN's second floor only with a minder, and sometimes (as on the Rwanda genocide on April 7) not at all. Inner City Press has filed a request for reversal with DPI's Officer in Charge, nine days ago, with no substantive response. New Inner City Press song here. We remain constructive, eager to see reforms occur and succeed. But what has changed?
  When Guterres held a brief photo opportunityand meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it was Guterres' first in a while, after several rounds of travel. And it was over quickly: the media was told to leave before a single word was said. There were complaints about that, and more substantive complaints about a lack of transparency. There are no read-outs of meetings. On April 5 Inner City Press reported on inconsistencies even in Guterres' own public financial disclosures from 2016 and 2013 (his Yemen envoy makes NO public disclosures). On April 6 Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric declined to offer any explanation of the differences. As noted, under Ban Ki-moon he had Inner City Press thrown out of the UN Press Briefing Room and UN, where it is still restricted even as the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe UN bribery case it was covering is coming to trial. Is the UN reforming? Watch this site.
  Back on March 23 when Guterres met UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, unlike in other recent meetings with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tajikistan, there were women on Guterres' side of the table (Periscope video here): Katrin Hett and the Chief of Staff, who had just met with Alain Leroy, former head of Peacekeeping now with the EU. Also on Guterres' side of the table was OCHA's Stephen O'Brien, who greeted and was greeted by Boris Johnson. Will the UK, and separately O'Brien, hold onto the OCHA post? The emergence reported by Inner City Press of outgoing Dutch Labor Party foreign minister Burt Koenders as a candidate for UNDP, over David Miliband, may help O'Brien. But with budget cuts looming, the increasing lack of transparency in the UN Secretariat's business is a problem. And this: according to at least one senior official on the 38th floor on March 23, Guterres "has no interlocutor" in Washington, to which we'll soon turn. Watch this site.
  As to Boris Johnson, after four pre-selected questions all on the London attacks, Inner City Press audibly asked about Cameroon's Anglophone's Internet cut, what the UK is doing. We'll have more on this too.
Back on March 15 when Guterres met with Bahrain's foreign minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa and a delegation that appeared to include that country's former president of the General Assembly, Guterres began by apologizing for keeping them waiting. Periscope video here. His previous appointment had been with a delegation called "United Cities and Local Governments." Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric has met to answer Inner City Press clearly on why some meeting and calls are not disclosed, such as a call with the King of Morocco and a working lunch with Michael Bloomberg, nor how some media were handpicked to memorialize Guterres' most recent trip to Kenya and Somalia. Video here.If these happened, as it has, in Washington there would be an outcry. And perhaps one is growing in Turtle Bay.
  Earlier on March 15 in the UN's basement, Bahrain human rights defender Maryam Alkhawaja spoke. She was not on the 38th floor; Guterres' interlocutors at Human Right Watch, after they met with him, refused to give any read-out of what issues they raised. It seems clear these did not include, from the UN spokesman's non-answers, that the cut-off of the Internet by the government in Cameroon's Anglophone areas, now 57 days and counting, nor the UN's censorship and restriction of the Press. We'll have more on this.
  On March 13, before the snow day in New York, Guterres met another Gulf foreign minister, United Arab Emirates' Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. UAE Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh asked of Guterres' recent cultural moves in New York City. After a pause, Guterres cited art shows in Chelsea and at the Frick. Not mentioned at least at that time was former UN official Bernardino Leon, who negotiated a job at the UAE Diplomatic Academy while at the same time representing the UN in Libya, much less any mention of Yemen. Will there be a read out? There was no read out of Guterres meeting with Tanzania's foreign minster Mahiga, about which Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric on March 13; he also had no answer on Cameroon, where the Anglophone areas have had their Internet cut off by the government for 56 days, almost contemporaneous with Guterres' tenure of 72 days. We'll have more on this.
  On March 10, Inner City Press was blocked from covering a 38th floor photo op others were allowed to. No reasoning was given, just as no rule was cited when Inner City Press was evicted from the UN by the Department of Public Information's Cristina Gallach, and still remains restricted to minders more than a year later. Some thought the era of a lawless and censoring UN would be over by now. When?
  Back on March 3, when Guterres met with Gabon's FM Pacôme Moubelet Boubeya on March 3, it came before when the UN called a two day trip by Guterres to Kenya, from Sunday to Thursday. Last Friday when Inner City Press e-mailed Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric with the simple question of where Guterres was, Dujarric never answered the e-mail. When on Monday Inner City Press asked in person in the noon briefing, Dujarric said, Portugal. And this time? Why be murky?
  That is becoming a theme. Who is working on the 38th floor? How are they being paid? Inner City Press asked and was promised a chart, including a list of who is "seconded" from countries' mission. It has not been provided. On March 3, Dujarric who previously played a role in Inner City Press' eviction and continuing restriction for covering the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case refused to answer its last question, saying "Tomorrow" (which is Saturday) and "I'm lazy." Video here.  And so it goes.
  Dujarric told Inner City Press there was no read-out of Guterres' telephone call with Morocco's King in the name of quiet diplomacy. But why wasn't Guterres' working lunch with Michael Bloomberg put on his schedule, as a meeting days later with Gordon Brown was? Both, Dujarric answered, are still UN special advisers, as apparently is Han Seoug-soo despite being on the boards of directors of UN bank Standard Chartered and Doosan Infracore, which sells equipment to countries where Han gives speeches as a UN official.
  Also this week, Guterres' Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed arrived and within two hours of being sworn in did a four question stakeout. Inner City Press asked about the Green Bond of Nigeria, and if she and Guterres will work to make the Security Council more representative. UN reforms are sorely needed. Is the pace fast enough? Watch this site.
  (Gabon was at the UN on World Wildlife Day. Inner City Press, still restricted, was one of only three media to ask questions of CITES and Interpol, about the illegal trade of primates from Guinea. The UN needs more coverage, more access, not less. This too much change.)

Back on February 21 when Guterres met with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Guterres joked that having two UN flags and none from Ukraine was "UN chauvinism." Klimkin replied, "It's the kind of chauvinism we can tolerate. Otherwise..." Periscope video here.
  Earlier in the day Guterres in the Security Council expressed his condolences at the death of Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, saying he had been flying back from Lisbon (and Munich before that) when the commander of the plane passed a note that Churkin was dead. Klimkin on the other hand blocked draft a Presidential Statement, and confirmed it at a stakeout in which Inner City Press asked if he would urge Guterres to invoke Article 99 of the UN Charter more, to raise issues.
  While Guterres has rightly scheduled a press conference for February 23 on South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria, those are on the Security Council's agenda, the latter in connection with Boko Haram. The plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh, on the other hand, is barely mentioned by Council members. Is this a test for Guterres?
  On transparency, too, Guterres has opened the process for finding new Under Secretaries General of Management and Public Information - the departing one Cristina Gallach evicted Inner City Press from its office which sits unused and restricts it still, with no hearing or appeal, for covering the UN. That has yet to be reversed, and it is unclear if the USG position for Humanitarian Affairs will be opened to applications, as UNDP has. Watch this site.
  Back on February 8 when Guterres held a photo opportunity and meeting with Cote d'Ivoire Foreign Minister Marcel Amon-Tanoh, on the UN side of the table was Tanguy Stehelin, until quite recently the French Mission's legal adviser.
  That's how it is in the UN, at least as to Peacekeeping and former French colonies. As Inner City Press has exclusively reported, now "competing" to replace Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping, are Jean-Maurice Ripert, Jean Pierre Lacroix and likely winner Sylvie Bermann, now Ambassador in London, previous like Ladsous in Beijing. It's the French Connection.
  At this photo op, after Amon-Tanoh's long vistors' book signing, no works were spoken until Guterres' "merci." His spokesman Stephane Dujarric, a holdover from Ban Ki-moon and Kofi Annan before that, has stopped giving read-outs of such meetings. His Office called the end of day "lid" with no reference to a balance, and without answering Inner City Press' question from noon about Burundi. Yes, it's the French Connection.
  Still even working from a small booth, still evicted and restricted by UN censor Cristina Gallach after one year, for seeking to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room, Inner City Press is hoping a more transparent UN.
Back on February 3 the photo op with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel came less than an hour after Guterres spokesman declined to explain to Inner City Press the lack of UN read-outs of such meetings.
  On February 2, there was no read-out of Guterres' long meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Ahmed Al-Jubeir. Inner City Press went to that and was surprised to see that UN Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) expert Leila Zerrougui wasn't there.
  (Meanwhile we note that at Sigmar Gabriel's meeting, UN / DPA's Katrin Hett was there. Periscope video here.)
   When Guterres' predecessor Ban Ki-moon took the Saudi-led Coalition off the CAAC annex for killing children in Yemen, it was said discussions would continue about putting them back on.
  Then Zerrougui told Inner City Press she is leaving on March 31. Earlier on February 2 Inner City Press asked Guterres' (and Ban's before that) spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: 
Inner City Press: I understand from Leila Zerrougui that she's leaving 31 March.  And so I wanted to ask you how this impacts the supposed review of putting the Saudi-led Coalition back on that list.  Who's going to do the review…?

Spokesman:  The… the… the office continues.  The mandate continues.  And there is a… an open vacancy on the public website, but it doesn't, it has, it doesn't change the work of the office or the mandate of that office.

Inner City Press:  Will a report be issued even if there's not a person in place?

Spokesman:  I think we very much hope that a person will be, will be in place by then, and there's no reason to think that the work of the office and its mandate will change.
 At the February 2 meeting, Zerrougui was not there, but Dujarric was, and Jeffrey Feltman whom the Saudis greeted warmly and one of his teamVideo here.
 Afterward in the lobby after Jubeir whispered to pro-Saudi media Inner City Press asked quite audibly if Children and Armed Conflict and Yemen had come up. There was no answer. Video here. We'll have more on this.
  Sometimes Guterres photo ops are more illuminative, and on February 1 he answered this Press question. On February 3 he briefs the Security Council on South Sudan and Burundi and, we're told, US immigration orders. Then he meets Germany's foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel at 2:30 pm. We'll be there.
  On February 1 Guterres had a photo opportunity and meeting with Igor Crnadak, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Guterres said the UN is worried by news of the possibility of a referendum. Periscope video here, from Minute 2:51.
  Before that, Inner City Press was ordered by UN Security to stop or suspend its Periscope broadcast, which it had begun one minute before the meeting time at 3:35. Periscope here, 0:50, abruptly cut-off.
  Earlier on February 1, Guterres to his credit stopped and answered Inner City Press' question on if he plans to hire Louise Arbour as migration adviser. He said he'll first take the proposal the UN's Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.
  UN holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric on January 31 declined to answer Inner City Press' related questions including if French Mission legal adviser Tanguy Stehelin is working in Guterres' office. 
On February 1, Stehelin was one of Guterres' team at the conference table. Does he still work at the French mission? He's still listed there. We'll have more on this: transparency will help the UN.

On January 25 with French Minister for Development and Francophonie Jean-Marie Le Guen, this latter said, "It's almost a historic day." Periscope video hereTweeted photo here.
  Some wondered if Le Guen might be referred to the news the new Administration in Washington is considering a 40% cut in its contributions to the UN, with full cuts to parts of the UN system accused of violating human rights.
  Thus far Guterres has yet to hold a press conference in UN Headquarters, so it has not been possible to ask him about the cuts, or the seemingly slow pace of transition and reform so far. 
Dubious Under Secretaries General like Frenchman Herve Ladsous at Peacekeeping and Spain's Cristina Gallach for "Public Information" remain in place; deputy SG Amina Mohammed will not begin until at earliest March 2.
  Still the talk on the 38th floor was of a new energy, of meetings well into the evening, with Guterres and his chief of staff and others. 
 Inner City Press intends to report in as much detail as it can -- it is still constrained by Gallach's eviction and pass-reduction order from eleven months ago -- but on January 25 the photo op was send, by a "sign," before Guterres said anything beyond "Comment allez-vous."
Back on January 13 when Guterres met with President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, the new chair of the Group of 77 and China, Correa gave him a painting. Photo here; Tweeted video here. Then, without words, the Press was ushered off the 38th floor.
This differed from Guterres' first four days in office, when he invited the press back in and urged his counterparties to also speak to “your media.” 
  While Inner City Press has exclusively reported this week on Guterres-proposed changes, such as combining the UN's Rule of Law and Elections units, UN holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric has refused to confirm or explain, describing only "co-location."
  But when Inner City Press on January 13 asked for further information, such as how many staff in UN headquarters work on Mali, there was no response. 
We'll have more on this - and on Dujarric's continuig refusal to answer UN-specified questions about the January 10 unsealed indictment of just-left Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's brother and nephew, who was allowed to work at the UN's landlord Colliers International. 
All of Inner City Press' questions, including about the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services, were referred to Ban's Seoul-based spokesman at a phone number that is only a telephone menu tree all in Korean.
Guterres held his second and third photo opportunities and meetings as UN Secretary General on January 6, with Japan's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Shinsuke Sugiyama (Photos herePeriscope here) and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias (photos herePeriscope here.)
  Slightly late to the first meeting, Guterres cited the need to prepare for the Astana (Syria) and Paris (Palestine) conferences.
Guterres to his credit made a point of saying a bit, in public, before each meeting. With the Japanese delegation he joked about a dinner where at least “no one vetoed the dessert” -- yet -- and with the Greeks, he joked that their gifts, a book and music CDs and a box, were too heavy.
   In this Guterres differed from Ban Ki-moon, but not earlier in the day when led around to take selfies with the correspondents the UN has not, like Inner City Press, evicted from their offices for covering UN corruption, like the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe bribery case. Video here,story here.
   The Greek meeting followed one on January 6 with Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu. Photo herevideo here
  Beyond the pleasantries - and there were more of these than in the final days of Ban Ki-moon's tenure - it was noteworthy that along with the UN's Cyprus envoy Espen Barth Eide, Ban's Under Secretaries General Feltman, Ladsous and O'Brien were all there. The "P3 men," some call them. Will they be switched not only for gender, but nation?

Guterres' new chief of staff Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti was there; his Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed won't formally begin until next month. Will that trigger the end of Ban Ki-moon's era of censoring and restricting the Press?