Wednesday, 29 December 2010

UN-DESA and Ban Ki-moon Spokesperson lies about the status of IDs for IIMSAM

After the statement of the Spokesperson of Ban Ki-moon on the noon briefing (23 Dec) about IIMSAM and issuing of IDs for their representatives:

Question: Okay. The other one is, I’m sorry, I had asked you yesterday about this, I was just following up on something Jonathan had asked about this NGO [non-governmental organization], IIMSAM [Intergovernmental Institution for the Use of Micro-Algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition], and you had said that no passes were given to the individuals associated with it. So I became aware of that at least the best known of the IIMSAM people was this guy, Mr. Maradona, this comes off Ambassador Maradona. So, I just want to get to the bottom of it. Have you heard any more, because there is a picture that exists of him with a D pass and some are saying that… what is the status? Can you find out, what type of a pass does Mr. Maradona have, because he clearly worked for an NGO and had a diplomat’s pass?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I can’t speak to Mr. Maradona, but like I said, regarding IIMSAM, we didn’t have any grounds passes issued for them specifically. And that’s where stand on that right now.

Question: How can an NGO be accredited to ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council] but has no people that can enter the building? It seems kind of contradictory, that’s… what’s the point of being accredited?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: No, the explanation I gave, the explanation yesterday, is that no grounds passes have been issued to the representatives of IIMSAM, as no person has been able to confirm that they are the authorized representatives of the organization.

Question: So, does it just remain accredited but with no representative?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Like I said, that’s the information I have on this.
The Reform UN-DESA is publishing here the photo ID of the Head of IIMSAM which is a diplomatic ID issued to IIMSAM's Maradona as Head of a Diplomatic Delegation.

Another Scandal knocks on the door of Sha Zukang (UN-DESA)

Sha Zukang with IIMSAM Representative

As reported this morning from FoxNews, an NGO (non-governmental organization) called Intergovernmental Institute for the Use of Micro-Algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition (IIMSAM) who reportedly call themselves Permanent Observers of ECOSOC, are using members of President Obama's family to publicize and promote what it seem a questionable operation.

The increasing questions about IIMSAM have also been reported last week from InnercityPress, who investigated about the issuing of U.N. ID to IIMSAM, while the Ban Ki Moon spokesperson claimed that "UN had never issued any UN ID to IIMSAM".


  • Who are IIMSAM connections inside UN-DESA and in the Division for ECOSOC of Department of Economic and Social Affairs?
  • How does an outfit call themselves Permanent Observers of ECOSOC and use UN insignia without legal permission?
  • How is Sha Zukang connected to this outfit?

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

If you work at U.N.'s DC2 or DC1 chances are that you've brought home BEDBUGS!

Common adult bedbug
Is New York still infested with bedbugs? Photograph: Jeff March/Alamy

It would be nice to report at this festive time of year a little good news: bedbugs, those bloodsucking critters that have been chomping through the human flesh of New York and spreading pandemonium in their wake, have finally been tamed, Mayor Bloomberg declaring the city free of the scourge. Well, sorry, I can't. In fact, it's quite the opposite. In the two months since the Guardian put the spotlight on the insects, far from giving up the fight they have taken it global. Yes, the UN building has been infested, and with it the offices of that other world institution, the BBC. "Oh, the shame. Oh, the horror," the BBC's Barbara Plett exclaims. You have to pity Ban Ki-Moon. The UN secretary general now not only has to tackle the Middle East, Afghanistan and Sudan, but bedbugs too. Still, at least there is the comfort that the New York authorities are on the case. The mayor has ordered a team of bedbug sniffing dogs, though so far they've only acquired two, which somehow seems a little inadequate bearing in mind the scale of the rampage.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Former UN-DESA/DPADM Consultant and President of General Assembly (Kerim) accused of money laundering

Money Laundering by Kerim's Waz Media Group?

Click Here
Monday, 13 December 2010
Srgjan Kerim is expected to
answer some questions after
the Hungarian Secret Service
contacted their Macedonian
counterparts as well as the
Financial Police regarding the
interception of 750,000 Euros
in Cash that an employee of the Waz Media Group tried to
transport to Vienna.

The money came from "Media Print Macedonia" a company
owned by WAZ Media Group, and were hidden in glass bottles
which were discovered by the Hungarians. The individual
carrying the cash Dushan Ognjanovski claimed he was taking
the money to invest it in Vienna.

Although mute on the subject the Hungarians suspected this
is a case of undeclared money (money laundering).

WAZ Media Group ownes several dailies in Macedonia (Utrinski,
Dnevnik, Vest) and english speaking EU Observer. The group
has been embroiled in numerous scandals in Macedonia and
the neighboring states where it also ownes newspapers.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

FES: ECOSOC is Dead - Long Live ECOSOC

Friedrich Ebert Foundation of Germany says ECOSOC is Dead, arguing that the UN body has lost its ability to perform as mandated. What is UN-DESA's role in ECOSOC's death ?

Friday, 17 December 2010

The most pathetic Communist Party Town Hall Meeting Ever !

Under the leadership of the dear leader Sha Zukang, the mass of intellectual staffers of U.N.'s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, were able to witness one of the most pathetic, non democratic and unprofessional TOWN-HALL events in DESA and UN History.

"Like a Chinese Communist Party Meeting" - said one DESA member who was very unhappy with Sha Zukang not keeping his promises to "address staff concerns" thru UN DESA Staff Union "question gathering process".

this is the lowest the UN has ever been !

Thursday, 16 December 2010

UN chief Ban's secret: boxers not briefs

UNITED NATIONS — UN leader Ban Ki-moon has revealed one of the secrets that did not come out on WikiLeaks: he is a boxers not briefs man.

The UN secretary general, who was allegedly the target of US orders to get personal details, mocked the leaked diplomatic cables in a tongue-in-cheek speech to the annual UN Correspondents' Association dinner late Wednesday.

Ban started his speech, to an audience that included US ambassador Susan Rice, by flashing details such as "credit card number" "shoe size" and "ring finger 7.5" onto the screen.

"Boxers not briefs" proclaimed one of the nuggets given to the diplomatic audience.

According to the leaked cables, reported by international media, US diplomats at the United Nations were told to find out the credit card numbers, email addresses, phone, fax and pager numbers and even frequent-flyer numbers for UN leaders.

The US ambassador featured in her own spoof, a UN Security Council debate on how to counter the bedbug epidemic that has gripped New York.

US-UN Relations, Foreign Aid to Come Under Fire in New Congress

click here for this story

Barbara CrossetteWed Dec 15, 12:17 pm ET

The Nation -- While President Obama was just beginning to make headway against the often cynical approach to human rights at the United Nations, and had begun to repair US-UN relations and the image of the United States globally, Republicans were warming up for another chance to bully the world. With a shift in power, arrogant and often ignorant resurgent cold warriors and neo-isolationists could make 2011 a risky year for the UN, where the US is still the dominant voice.

The Republican right, now fortified by a dose of Tea Party patriotism, has a list of targets: international agreements that might dare to constrain the US, money spent on some UN development programs, foreign aid generally and soft diplomacy. The enemies are foreigners who criticize American policies and power. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican from Miami who will chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee, says she’s ready to play “hardball.”

"I plan on using U.S. contributions to international organizations as leverage to press for real reform of those organizations, such as the United Nations,” Ros-Lehtinen, a relentless foe of her native Cuba, among other nations, said in a statement when she was chosen committee chair on December 8. She added that she will “not hesitate to call for withdrawal of U.S. funds to failed entities like the discredited Human Rights Council if improvements are not made.”

She also promised to cut the “fat” from foreign aid. A recent poll from the University of Maryland showed that Americans still wildly overestimate the percentage of the federal budget spent on international assistance. Respondents to the poll said that they thought, on average, that aid accounted for about a quarter of the budget; in reality it is barely 1 percent.

In the Senate, a narrower Democratic majority could make it even more difficult to round up the votes necessary for action on foreign policy steps Republicans oppose.

Threats to the UN, or even American membership in it, are all too familiar in Washington, but no less disturbing, given the recent history of Republican-inspired assaults. Some actions were farcical, others more damaging.

In the 1990s, Congress outlawed the naming of Unesco World Heritage Sites in the US without its approval on the absurd theory that Unesco threatened national sovereignty. In 2001, American contributions to the UN Population Fund were eliminated by a campaign originating in the House that falsely accused the fund of abetting forced abortions in China. At least 200 million women are now thought to be seeking but not finding contraception as world population rises to 7 billion next year—almost all the growth in the poorest countries where maternal deaths rates are high. American contributions were restored by Obama, but another campaign by anti-abortion activists against the Population Fund and progressive, secular nongovernmental agencies supported by USAID cannot be ruled out.

UN officials are often targeted by critics before the facts are in. In 2004, then Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota called in the Wall Street Journal for the resignation of Secretary-General Kofi Annan because of his handling of corruption surrounding the oil-for-food program in Iraq during a period of UN sanctions. The campaign to oust Annan took a physical toll on him, little mitigated when an investigation led by Paul Volcker found that the billions Saddam Hussein reaped from illegal deals were largely bribes from private corporations (some American) or government trading agencies such as the Australian Wheat Board. A former French ambassador to the UN and India’s foreign minister were implicated as recipients of Iraqi financial favors, but not Annan. The US, as a Security Council member with the power to stop the undercover deals, had been turning a blind eye to much of what was going on in order to keep its Iraq sanctions policy in place.

As for the Human Rights Council, a favorite target on Capitol Hill, even the mainstream media has difficulty understanding how it works. The council is a UN body only in the same way the Security Council is—a group of nations making its own rules completely out of the control of the secretary-general or any other UN official. Its rights monitors are independent, pro-bono experts who not infrequently criticize the US or give a pass to nations with far worse records. The Obama team was beginning to demonstrate that the only way to influence this body is to get inside, blow whistles, demand show-your-face votes and reject weasel consensuses. An impatient Congress would argue for the opposite course—just get out, and stay out. That was George W. Bush’s policy.

Certainly doomed next year and beyond will be any action on two generally harmless (to national sovereignty) international conventions on the rights of children (important to those battling global child trafficking and child prostitution) and on the elimination of discrimination against women. Senators, who are responsible for ratifying treaties, are lining up to block the Convention on the Rights of the Child, although the US is virtually alone among UN member nations in refusing to ratify it. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, generally known as CEDAW, had a half-chance of ratification this year until Republicans seized and complicated the agenda of the lame duck Congressional session.

Also likely to be out of the picture for the foreseeable future are a ratification of US membership in the International Criminal Court, which tries the masterminds of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and probably the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which went down to defeat in the Senate in the late 1990s under a similarly anti-international sentiment on the Hill. And what about the climate change deniers? Will they have the power to keep the US from joining global agreements?

Whether the Republican distaste for the UN, which not a few representatives and senators threaten to quit entirely if it balks at being run by Congress, will create problems for another secretary general is another question. Boutros Boutros-Ghali was denied a second term in the era of Newt Gingrich and Jesse Helms. In an interview later he said that one of his sins—apart from being foreign—was that he was critical of Israeli incursions in Lebanon. Annan opposed the war in Iraq and was hounded ever after.

The incumbent, Ban Ki-moon, whose relations with Washington are correct and amiable but not especially warm, has spoken out against Israeli tactics in Gaza. He has also recently warned that the departure of US troops from Iraq will make it difficult for the UN to operate there without a large infusion of money. The US and the UN are not always on the same page in Afghanistan, particularly over the effects on civilians of NATO military tactics.

Curtailing the spread of nuclear weapons, stopping terrorism, managing global migrations, reducing trafficking and other cross-border crimes, managing world resources, developing poor societies, stopping pandemic diseases and advancing human rights—nearly a fifth of UN member nations criminalize homosexuality, and women’s rights are widely abused or nonexistent—all require international cooperation and compromise. Rising powers are challenging American and European assumptions of dominance as never before. In this new world, hardball won’t work, and weakening the UN in the name of “reform” can only be counterproductive. Obama and Hillary Clinton say repeatedly that they understand this and assign an important role to the UN. But atmospherics matter. If the administration of Bill Clinton is any guide, Democrats are willing to throw internationalism overboard if it gets in the way of domestic politics.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

UK urges Ban to sack Nambiar, appoint full-time Burma envoy

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Britain has suggested to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that a full-time envoy be appointed to replace Vijay Nambiar, Ban’s interim Burma envoy, the country’s UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters in New York last week.


Recently released Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi welcomes Vijay Nambiar (left), United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy to Burma, at the home where the junta kept her for the past seven years under house arrest, in Rangoon on Saturday, November 27, 2010. UN sources are quoted as saying that after returning from Burma 'Nambiar’s internal reporting to UN officials was critical of Aung San Suu Kyi, characterising her as out of touch and somehow too hard-line'. Photo: Mizzima

Nambiar, who also serves as Ban’s chief of staff, took on the position of Burma envoy part-time following the departure of Nigerian diplomat Dr. Ibrahim Gambari last December.

Grant made the comment following a UN Security Council meeting on Burma in which Nambiar reported back on his recent two-day trip to Rangoon, during which he met pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The British calls for a full-time replacement for Nambiar were echoed by Mexico’s ambassador to the UN, Claude Heller.

Ban’s deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, informed Mizzima that Ban had told the ambassadors “that he is considering the idea”, adding that Ban’s office would make an announcement if there was any change of personnel.

Nambiar ignores Burma’s ethnic minorities, critics say

Mark Farmaner of the London-based advocacy group Burma Campaign UK, responded to news that the British government had proposed replacing Nambiar, stating that while his organisation had advocated that Ban and his office take a greater role on the Burma file they were unimpressed with the performance of his chief of staff as Burma envoy.

He said his organisation was “increasingly concerned by the approach of Nambiar, who seems to be following the failed approach of Gambari, thinking that befriending the generals will somehow buy influence. It seems that the dictatorship has got lucky yet again”.

Burma Campaign was extremely disappointed with Nambiar’s handling of Burma’s ethnic question, Farmaner said, adding that: “We are also disappointed that yet again a UN envoy has gone to Burma, met with Aung San Suu Kyi and the generals, and not with key ethnic representatives. The mandate from the General Assembly which Nambiar is acting on is to secure tripartite dialogue, not just dialogue between the generals and Aung San Suu Kyi.”

NLD veteran Win Tin, in a phone interview conducted the night before taking part in Suu Kyi’s meeting with Nambiar, told Mizzima that he would use occasion to urge the UN diplomat to meet leaders of Burma’s main ethnic groups so as to better understand their situation. Despite the request, Nambiar failed to do so during his short trip.

Nambiar said to have let Chinese strongly influence Burma report

The Washington Post reported last month that in August Nambiar had met Chinese UN ambassador Li Baodong days after the US announced its support for the creation of a commission of inquiry to investigate possible war crimes committed by the Burmese regime. The report said that during the “confidential” meeting, Li relayed Beijing’s strong opposition to any such inquiry.

The Post’s Colum Lynch wrote that three separate UN sources privy to the details of the meeting said Li had told Nambiar the proposed Burma inquiry was “dangerous and counterproductive, and should not be allowed to proceed”.

Nambiar by omission appeared to share Chinese opposition to the commission of inquiry. A report in September this year on the Situation of Human rights in Burma, prepared with the assistance of Nambiar in his position as Burma envoy and officially submitted by Ban to the General Assembly, made no mention of the proposed inquiry.

The omission came despite the fact that UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma Tomás Ojea Quintana had issued a report in March to the UN Human Rights Council that called for such an inquiry. The September report, while briefly mentioning Quintana’s report also left out any discussion of his conclusion that in Burma there existed a pattern of “gross and systematic” rights abuses which suggested that the abuses were a state policy that involved authorities at all levels of the executive, military and judiciary.

The September report, which is supposed to cover the period from August last year to August this year also left out any mention of the significant Burmese military offences in ethnic areas that occurred during this time, leaving many in the Burma movement deeply concerned.

In a previous interview with Mizzima, senior NLD leader Win Tin said that it was totally unacceptable that the September report neglected to mention the continuing attacks against villagers in eastern Burma. He also said he was deeply disturbed that the report ignored the Burmese Army’s military offensive in the Kokang region of Shan State in August-September last year which the UN itself had estimated forced 37,000 refugees to flee into China.

In response to questions about the glaring omission of rights abuses in ethnic areas, Ban’s spokesman Haq said at a press conference in New York on November 26: “I have no comment on the SG’s [Secretary General] human rights report, which speaks for itself.”

Nambiar allegedly called Suu Kyi out of touch, too hard-line

The calls to replace Nambiar came just days after a widely circulated report by Inner City Press reporter Matthew Russell Lee that sources in the UN had said that after returning from Burma “Nambiar’s internal reporting to UN officials was critical of Aung San Suu Kyi, characterising her as out of touch and somehow too hard-line”.

Haq told Mizzima that Russell Lee’s report “is not accurate”, and that according to Haq, “Mr Nambiar has considerable respect for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi”.

Responding to Haq’s denial, Russell Lee told Mizzima he stood by his story. He said in an e-mail message: “Having spoken with people privy to Mr Nambiar’s report – back within the UN Secretariat – which again was different on the point from what Nambiar said in the Security Council and Group of Friends meeting, Inner City Press stands by its story 100 per cent. Now with the UK, Mexico and others having asked that Nambiar be replaced by another full-time envoy, this double game or doublespeak diplomacy may be less relevant. Mr Haq’s denial gives rise to the question: did Haq even ask to see the internal report before denying it?”

Envoy upbeat on Burma’s election

While Nambiar certainly had not condemned Suu Kyi or the NLD in public, he had made positive statements about Burma’s recent and much criticised elections. In an interview with the BBC Burmese langue service conducted after the election, Nambiar claimed that in Burma “Government formation is taking place. I think there will be new spaces, new slots in the parliament which will open up for by-elections”.

Nambiar also told the BBC that by-elections, held for a single seat or a small number of seats usually held when a politician retires or dies in office would give “small opportunities for increasing the political space for a broader, inclusive involvement”. As Burma’s national election was just held last month it is hardly likely will be any by-elections in the near future.

Role in Sri Lanka during height of civil war still controversial and unresolved

Nambiar remains surrounded in controversy over questions regarding his actions in May last year during the final days of Sri Lanka’s war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), aka Tamil Tigers, while he was in the country on behalf of Ban as part of an apparent effort by the UN to stop the bloodshed. Ban sent the former Indian diplomat to Sri Lanka despite that his own brother, retired Indian army general Satish Nambiar, had served as an adviser to the Sri Lankan military for several years.

Marie Colvin, a reporter with The Times of London, wrote that on Monday, May 18, 2009, at 5:30 a.m. she personally called Nambiar in Colombo to relay a message she had received from members of the LTTE leadership, who were surrounded in a bunker with 300 loyalists including women and children, that they were ready to give themselves up to Sri Lankan government troops. According to Colvin the leaders wanted “Nambiar to be present to guarantee the Tigers’ safety”.

Nambiar told Colvin that he had been assured by Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa that those who gave up would be safe if they were to “hoist a white flag high”.

When Colvin suggested that Nambiar go personally to witness the surrender he told her it would not “be necessary” and that “the president’s assurances were enough”.

Hours later the lifeless bodies of dozens of members of the LTTE leadership including the two men who told Colvin they were ready to give up, were put on display by a triumphant Sri Lankan government. General Sarath Fonseka, head of the Sri Lankan military at the time, told an opposition newspaper last December that Gothabaya Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan defence minister and brother of the president had been “given orders not to accommodate any LTTE leaders attempting surrender and that ‘they must all be killed’”.

Foneska, now jailed and facing charges of sedition for making the allegations, said the president, the defence minister and their brother Basil Rajapaksa, a senior presidential adviser were all guilty of war crimes for ordering the summary executions of rebel forces during the final days of battle.

The Times also reported that after arriving in Colombo to survey the situation, Nambiar was briefed by UN staff that they estimated at least 20,000 people had died “mostly by army shelling” during the final stages of the war against the Tigers. The report said Nambiar “knew about but chose not to make public” the UN estimates. When the British Foreign Office revealed the UN estimate, human rights groups demanded an inquiry into the conduct of the Sri Lankan armed forces.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

UN Climate Summit Needs an Overhaul

SPIEGEL ONLINE click here to view this on SPIEGEL ONLINE

Inside the Chain-Link Fence

By Christian Schwägerl

At the UN climate summit, thousands of delegates are under immense pressure to negotiate sensible solutions in a matter of days. It's no wonder that such meetings often end in failure. But there are alternatives to the large-scale approach.

To get into the UN Climate Change Summit in Cancun, you first have to go through a chain-link fence, then pass police and soldiers with machine guns. Once you get that far, you find yourself in the middle of the conference -- and a participant in a gigantic experiment in civilization.

At UN climate summits, thousands of people are locked up in spaceship-like convention centers for two weeks. Then they are jammed into over-stuffed halls with no natural light, and are forced to survive on wilted sandwiches. They are worn down with endless acceptance speeches completely lacking in any substance. Their defenses are broken down through a bombardment of working groups and abbreviations. Meanwhile they are placed under ever-increasing time pressure.

Can such an experiment really end in success? Can it get 194 countries to agree on limits for how much oil, coal and gas they are allowed to consume, how much cheap meat they can produce and how much forest they can cut down for quick cash? Is it possible within this artificial environment to find a solution to the question of how many degrees the Earth should be allowed to warm up over the next few centuries?

Make no mistake: It is a huge step forward that such conferences have been taking place since 1994. Climate summits demonstrate that people are indeed able to think beyond the immediate future -- after all, the issue here is not finding the appropriate response to an acute emergency, but about coming up with intelligent preventive measures. And the fact that Americans work with Africans, Germans with Indians, and Chinese with Brazilians at such summits is a sign that collective cooperation is possible despite many differences. That alone is a great -- albeit fragile -- achievement.

A Symbol of Western Extravagance

But in the Moon Palace in Cancun, where the political negotiations are being held, it is easy to forget all of that. Even the venue can seem like a travesty. The Moon Palace is a luxury hotel whose pools, bars and sterile lawns cover an area that was previously home to species-rich mangrove forests. Ironically, questions of survival that affect millions of people are being discussed in a place that symbolizes Western extravagance. It's no wonder that, in this artificial five-star environment, there is not much direct talk about disappearing rainforests, polluting power plants and starving people. The problems are concealed behind pleasant-sounding acronyms like LULUCF, AWG-LCA and REDD.

The negotiating process has become so complicated that even Todd Stern, the US's chief negotiator, was forced to admit earlier this week that he didn't have an overview of the current situation.

The climate negotiations have split into many different branches and become grotesquely complicated. It's a development that especially benefits those who do not want to see progress being made. It already puts poor countries with small delegations at a disadvantage, because they can not simultaneously attend the many dozens of parallel forums.

In addition, the negotiation process involves the exact opposite of the sustainability that is invoked here hundreds of times every day. The negotiators -- the people who do the real work -- look grayer and grayer every day. In the end, everyone is so exhausted and burned out that decisions come to depend partly on pure physical stamina -- as if the climate summit were an Olympic event.

Is the UN Summit the Right Format?

The drawbacks of the summit approach can also be seen in the language used. Most of the documents are worded as if they had been drawn up by a sect of overzealous lawyers. Even experts struggle to decipher them. That, too, is another factor that works to the benefit of those who want to block any progress.

But all the complications and problems would be fine if the climate summit could, in its 16th year, actually come closer to finding real solutions, such as upper limits for CO2 emissions, new business models to preserve rainforests and coral reefs, and technology transfer from rich to poor countries. Cancun is probably the last summit that could prove this is even possible. The level of impatience, frustration and cynicism increases with each unsuccessful conference that passes. And the UN approach to climate protection becomes more vulnerable with every pseudo-compromise that is reached.

Achim Steiner, the head of the UN Environment Program, said on Thursday that there are actually two summits in Cancun. One involves the official negotiators. The second summit involves concrete action on the ground and takes the form of the many forums and presentations that happen away from the actual negotiations. It involves, in other words, what environmental groups, companies and individual governments will do. That doesn't sound very promising for the official summit. Steiner also said that he hoped that at some point there would be a summit "without acronyms."

German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen already said that "the United Nations as the format for such negotiations would be called into question" if there is no overall agreement in Cancun. He is a big fan of the United Nations and its summits, but Röttgen recognizes that it is possible that the limits of what can be achieved under the current approach might already have been reached long ago.

But what would an alternative approach look like?

Locked Up on an Oil Rig

Some people now want to bring together only the biggest CO2 emitters, in a format such as the G-20, instead of inviting 194 countries, which always includes a few troublemakers. But that would inspire resentment from the rest of the world against this elite club -- after all, climate change will have the strongest effects on the poorest countries.

Another option would be to abandon the political approach altogether. Instead, negotiations would involve just those industries actually causing the unwanted emissions, such as agriculture, the automotive industry, or steel mills. But then there would be a lack of a legally binding international commitment.

There are even more radical proposals that involve locking up a few hundred negotiators in a kind of climate-protection prison -- perhaps on a unused oil rig -- with bad food and little sleep, until they have found a sustainable solution. But it is doubtful if a constructive working environment would exist under such conditions.

So how could the summit be improved? First, the UN officials and national environment ministers need to accept that the limits on growth also apply to environmental summits. These events do not become better and more important through bringing more and more people together and opening up ever more channels of negotiations. The famous principle of "small is beautiful" could also apply to climate summits. Simplicity and clarity would be the fundamental principles, and would be strictly adhered to. In Copenhagen, people praised the 40,000 participants and the hundreds of parallel negotiations -- and look how that ended up.

In the Middle of the Niger Delta

Future climate conferences shouldn't land like space ships on Earth, taking place in sterile artificial worlds like luxury hotels or conference centers.

They could, for once, take place in a location where climate change is visible, such as on an island in the Pacific that is at risk of disappearing, in a slum in India, in the rainforest, or in the middle of the oil-contaminated Niger Delta. That would bring the delegates down to earth, and would also give normal citizens of the world a better view of what they are doing. That would help end suspicion that a tiny, elite group of people are trying to impose something on everyone else.

With such a format, it would also be a chance for the negotiators to work together with the people in the region -- preferably over real meals. Instead of the usual industrial plastic sandwiches, there should be regional food, freshly prepared from local natural resources. Other goals of the new format would be stimulation for the senses, clarity, intelligibility and trust.

In today's meetings, bureaucrats are simply commandeered out of their ministries and locked together in a room. In the future, before they get down to business, the negotiators could take joint tours of glacial landscapes, rainforests or any of the many sites where there have been environmental catastrophes. That would bind them together and would help to build up the trust that was so bitterly missing in Copenhagen.

Delighted to Be Leaving

Personal trust is the most important and, at the same time, the rarest commodity at a climate conference. The anonymous and gigantic format for negotiations has not succeeded in generating that trust. Naturally that's mainly due to the real problems of the real world. But one can still ensure that the individuals who are making important decisions about the environment at least get to know each other.

To make the texts more understandable, one could present them to people from the general population -- preferably the children and young people who will be making the decisions in the years to come. The negotiators could then explain what it is all about. Only when these auditors can understand the texts should they be put up for a vote. And one could incorporate a day when the negotiators have to swap positions: for example, the Chinese would negotiate on behalf of the US, the Indians for Germany, the Germans for the Ethiopians. That would help everyone see the world from a different point of view.

Maybe if a summit were organized in such a way, it would work better. The savvy summit regulars would laugh out loud at such proposals and would brush them aside as idealistic.

Still, when they leave the artificial world of the Moon Palace and its chain-linked fence behind them on Friday or Saturday, they will have a bad feeling about whether or not the climate-change resolutions they reached were really enough, and they will only have read and understood a portion of them.

They will, however, be delighted to be leaving the summit. That is not a good sign for the largest and most important family reunion that humanity has to offer.

WikiLeaks exposes U.S. strategy at the United Nations

click here to view this on ForeignPolicy

Posted By Colum Lynch

WikiLeaks has released its first confidential cable written by diplomats from the U.S. mission to the United Nations. While the December 2009 cable -- which discusses U.S. efforts on a range of issues before the U.N. General Assembly -- provides no major news revelations, it contains some valuable insights into the way America conducts its business here.

The confidential U.S. diplomatic communication -- which was approved by U.S. ambassadorSusan E. Rice -- shows how reliant the U.S. is on its allies, particularly in Europe, to take the lead on politically sensitive issues like the promotion of human rights, where the U.S. often faces criticism for its military and detention policies. The cable credits the European Union with "collaborating pragmatically" with the Obama administration on its top priorities, including efforts to require emerging economic powers to pay a larger share of the U.N.'s administrative and peacekeeping costs, and to adopt U.N. resolutions criticizing the human rights record of Burma, Iran, and North Korea.

The EU, led by Sweden, also helped Washington fend off efforts by an influential alliance of developing countries -- known as the Group of 77 -- to adopt resolutions that would increase American financial burdens, including a draft resolution affirming a right to economic development.

The EU "responded with alacrity to new U.S. flexibility, particularly on arms control and economic/social issues," according to the cable. "The Swedish ambassador himself repeatedly engaged with G-77 colleagues to sway votes."

The cable, however, also singled out areas where key European powers refused to budge, including its annual support for a General Assembly resolution condemning the U.S. embargo against Cuba: "Spain was a particularly tenacious critic of our Cuba policy." It also expressed frustration with the failure of the EU, despite strong support from Britain, France, and the Netherlands, to significantly weaken a raft of nine pro-Palestinian resolutions that criticize Israel each year. "The EU's annual negotiation of these nine drafts... improved marginally.... The vote outcomes remained lopsided."

On the whole, this U.N. cable was certainly more businesslike than many of the most dramatic reports flowing out of U.S. embassies around the world. But I anticipate that future releases may provide sharper insights into many of the U.N.'s more colorful personalities. Perhaps they will even show us what Rice really thinks about U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Follow me on Twitter @columlynch.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The U.N.'s battling bigwigs

click here to view this on ForeignPolicy

Posted By Colum Lynch

Inga-Britt Ahlenius, the former U.N. chief of internal oversight, penned a scathing end-of-mission report last July that accused U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of undermining her efforts to rein in corruption and leading the U.N. into an era of decline. The Swedish auditor's report -- which was first reported by Turtle Bay -- produced a mini-crisis for the U.N. chief and set the stage for a bitter feud between Ahlenius and her former colleagues in Ban's executive suite.

This week, Thalif Deen, the U.N. reporter for Inter Press Service, obtained a written response to Ahlenius from Vijay Nambiar, Ban’s chief of staff, that charges Ahlenius with resorting to "misrepresentation of the record and distortion of fact" and adds that her report "raised questions of basic integrity and professionalism."

In a rebuttal, Ahlenius countered that it was "outrageous and insolent" of Nambiar to question her integrity. In a section of the letter titled "Kill the Messenger," she recounted a conversation with an unidentified former U.N. official who "wanted to warn me against acts of retaliation from people in the 'circle around the SG'" and that "they would spare no effort to hit and hurt me in retaliation."

The letters tread some of the same ground that marked the public debate between Ahlenius and top U.N. officials last summer. But they provide a raw firsthand account of one of the most bitter feuds in the U.N. top ranks. It's worth the read. Ahlenius, meanwhile, is preparing to write a book that will revisit her strained relations with her former U.N. boss. I don't expect it to be polite.

Follow me on Twitter @columlynch

Friday, 10 December 2010

New Letter of Ahlenius to Vijay Nambiar shows Ban's Korean Mafia threaten Inga-Britt


U.N.'s Message to Whistleblowers: "Kill the Messenger"

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 9, 2010 (IPS) - A rousing battle between former Under-Secretary-General Inga- Britt Ahlenius, who once headed the U.N.'s powerful investigating arm, and her boss Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is threatening to get ugly.

After she sent a 50-page memo highly critical of Ban last July, Ahlenius says she received phone calls from "a former U.N. staff member and also a South Korean with U.S. citizenship" warning her about "acts of retaliation".

The retaliation, she was told, would come from people in "the circles around the secretary-general" and "they would spare no efforts to hit and hurt me in retaliation for my report."

In a letter to the U.N.'s chief of staff Vijay Nambiar last month, Ahlenius says: "I shared this experience with some people in and outside of the (U.N.) Secretariat and we did not agree on whether this was a friendly warning or whether it was a threat in itself."

"I chose however to interpret this (phone) conversation from the positive side and as a friendly act," she adds.

But Ahlenius stressed that Ban does not tolerate any criticism, including "constructive criticism", of the way he runs the United Nations in his capacity as its chief administrative officer.

The culture and approach is "kill the messenger", she says using, wittingly or unwittingly, an ominous metaphor to drive home her message.

In her original memo which triggered the threat, Ahlenius, a former auditor general of Sweden and until July the head of the U.N.'s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), accused the secretary-general of being non-cooperative; of exceeding his authority on certain high-level appointments; of double standards on staff dismissals; and of lacking good governance.

IPS was the only news organisation with access to the entire 50-page document which was posted on its website last July.

"I regret to say the (U.N.) Secretariat now is in a process of decay. It is not only falling apart into silos - the Secretariat is drifting, to use the words of one of my senior colleagues," Ahlenius said.

"I am concerned that we are in a process of decline and reduced relevance of the Organisation. In short, we seem to be seen less and less as a relevant partner in the resolution of world problems," she wrote.

Challenging the very leadership of Ban, she said: "You are undermining the authority of your senior advisers both by affording them short - one year - mandates and also by exercising your direct authority over the appointments of their staff."

"There is no transparency (and) there is lack of accountability. Rather than supporting the internal oversight which is the sign of strong leadership and good governance, you have strived to control it which is to undermine its position. I do not see any signs of reform in the Organisation," Ahlenius wrote in her "End of Assignment Report'.

In a seven-page rebuttal to that 50-page memo, and speaking on behalf of the secretary-general, Nambiar makes his own charges against Ahlenius.

She, in turn, counters with her own five-page response sparking a second round of a full-scale war of words.

IPS, which was given access to the two documents, has posted both memos on its website.

In his letter, Nambiar accuses Ahlenius of having chosen "to resort to misrepresentation of the record and distortion of facts".

"Particularly disturbing is the way you have chosen to allow your comments to go public even before they were brought to the notice of your colleagues," the letter says.

Nambiar blames the declining state of the OIOS and its investigative machinery on Ahleinus's "mismanagement that caused serious damage to the accountability and integrity of the Organisation."

The charge of "mismanagement" appears at least three times in the letter, including a reference to "a glaring example of mismanagement".

The letter also points out that "despite your generalized erroneous allegations, you have failed to cite any instance of the secretary-general having tried to block or obstruct any investigation, audit or evaluation activity sought to be undertaken by you."

Nambiar also questions Ahlenius's lines of authority - where they begin and where they end.

In her memo, Ahlenius raised a number of issues related to political agenda and management reform.

"As to the political agenda," rebuffs Nambiar, "I do not feel it is necessary to respond to you since it goes far beyond your audit and investigation mandate."

On issues of management reform, he bluntly tells Ahlenius: "I believe that your comments on the intensive and extensive management reforms measures of the secretary-general are far beyond the purview of your office."

In her response, Ahlenius regrets that she is "deeply disappointed by the content and tone of your letter".

"I was however warned that this would occur, if I dare challenge the secretary-general with a report that would be critical of his performance," she writes. "My first reaction to you letter is not to respond at all. However, finally, I decided to respond."

Ahlenius says that "in order to project a credible message to the world and to constitute a relevant partner for the member states in addressing the world's problems, the Organisation must be professionally managed and must be led through example."

"This administration (of Ban Ki-moon) has hardly done that and your letter is testament to the way in which constructive criticism is viewed by the secretary-general."

She also criticises Ban's efforts "to control OIOS" which she points out "is counter productive and reflects poorly on his image."

The U.N. Secretariat is "in desperate need of different management reforms and the secretary-general must himself take the concrete lead and act to assume responsibility, not to simply talk about such ambitions in his speech," she concludes.