Some more about information run-around at the UN – from best investigative reporter on the UN block – too good to be part of the UN Correspondents’ Association. Is Mr. Ban Ki-moon going to the Non-Aligned Movement end-of-August 2012 meeting in Iran?
UN Ignores Darfur E-mail, Stonewalls on Yemen Check & Bibi “Leak”
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, August 13 — A full day after UN staff in Darfur were told that Ibrahim Gambari had been replaced, and Inner City Press had exclusively reported it then asked for confirmation, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s deputy spokesman at Monday’s noon briefing replied that “to the best of my knowledge,” Gambari is still in charge.
Five hours later, no clarification was received. Is there a Darfur power struggle? It would seem important to clarify this.
Then there is the run-around. Last week Inner City Press ran an exclusive story about Yemen’s June 20 check to the UN for over $200,000 in dues bouncing for non-sufficient funds, such that Yemen could not vote on the Syria resolution in the General Assembly on August 3. Inner City Press published the check.
The first two times Inner City Press asked the UN about it, the response was they’d check into it. Third time is NOT the charm: when Inner City Press reiterated the questions on Monday, deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey said only the President of the General Assembly’s spokesperson could answer.
This spokesperson replied, “please ask the Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts in the Department of Management.” That is part of the Secretariat. So why didn’t the Secretariat’s spokespeople, to whom the question has now been put for the fourth time, just answer it in the first place?
Then there is the nearly Kafkaesque (non) answer that “you have your answer.” Inner City Press asked:
Inner City Press: on this reported trip to Iran. There’s an article in Haaretz, saying that Benjamin Netanyahu quoted from his conversation with Ban Ki-moon, and he quotes Martin [Nesirky] saying, “Ban is not in the habit of referring to private phone conversations with foreign leaders.” So, can you explain a bit? Because we do get these readouts of calls — you know, they’ll put a readout saying that Ban Ki-moon spoke to X and Y — so what’s different about what happened with Netanyahu?
Deputy Spokesperson: You have the explanation right there, Matthew. Next question?
Inner City Press: Oh, because he said it was private in advance? That’s what I’m wondering.
Deputy Spokesperson: You have your answer.
In fairness, one of Inner City Press’ five questions on Monday was answered before 5 pm:
Inner City Press: I saw that there were these comments by the Secretary-General, after he met with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, about how the two sides should work together. And I just wondered, during this trip, did he ask to meet with anyone from the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] side? And when was the last time he met with a DPRK official? If he’s calling on both sides, is he attempting to speak to both sides?
Deputy Spokesperson: I’ll have to find out when the last time he spoke to a DPRK official was. I don’t have that information with me right now, no.
But at 5 pm on Monday, the following was provided:
As for your question on the last meeting between the Secretary-General and a DPRK official, the Secretary-General met Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Pak Gil Yon on 28 September 2011 at UN Headquarters.
UNITED NATIONS, August 13 — When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon came to the Security Council on the morning of August 8, instead of going straight into the Chamber for the meeting on Mali he entered through a side door.
But he did not find what he was looking for, and soon went into the Chamber.
Inner City Press, on the scene, tweeted the misdirection play.
Five minutes later, US Ambassador Susan Rice arrived at the Security Council. After the Mali session she went through the so-called Quiet Room, soon to be followed by Ban Ki-moon and his entourage.
To a US Mission spokesman on the scene, Inner City Press asked what this meeting was about, and when it had been scheduled. There was no definitive, or reportable, answer.
Inner City Press: Iran has said that the Secretary-General has confirmed that he will attend the NAM meeting at the end of this month. This is in turn giving rise to some concerns, and I say, I guess, in Washington and Israel that he would send a wrong message. Are the Iranian Government statements that he is going to the NAM meeting incorrect or is he going?
Spokesperson Nesirky: We are obviously aware of those reports. Um, I cannot confirm them, and I’m not going to comment on them.
Now Inner City Press is informed of “bragging” that the US has “demarched” Ban Ki-moon not to go to the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Iran at the end of this month.
It has not been possible to put the question to Ambassador Rice in the interim.
But Ban, now in South Korea and then Timor L’este, has made no announcement.