Saturday, 31 July 2010

Annan: U.S. should be better engaged

By CARL BARBATI, Contributing Writer
Published: Jul 23rd, 7:09 AM
Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan recounted some of the biggest lessons he learned in that position for a capacity crowd at a recent Drew Forum lecture series at Drew University, Madison.

But, it was his hushed comments on the future aimed at the many students in the audience that brought the already-attentive crowd to a real silence.

“Your generation is the first that can legitimately call yourselves citizens of the world,” Annan said.

“Struggles and turmoils in recent years have underlined just how small a planet this has become. For your generation, something that happens in one part of the world has an instant effect on you.”

‘Don’t Let Me Down’

The 2001 Nobel Peace Prize winner urged the students to think beyond their own national borders and to embrace suffering people in other parts of the world as if they were local neighbors.

“My young friends, don’t let me down,” he said at the APril 13 forum. “I, for one, have every confidence in you.”

Annan’s visit marked the final Drew Forum presentation of this academic year, and he had the distinction of being this year’s Thomas H. Kean Visiting Lecturer.

Kean, the former New Jersey governor and former president of Drew University, was in attendance for Koffi’s appearance, and current Drew president Robert Weisbuch recounted an exchange that occurred before Annan took the stage.

“Secretary-General Annan asked Governor Kean, ‘What ever happened to political leaders like you’?” Weisbuch said.

Kean, by far the most popular former governor according to polls, acknowledged the audience applause. Then Weisbuch turned things over to Annan, who began his talk with an insightful anecdote about the perfect spring weather that evening.

Minnesota Lesson

He said it was a stark difference from the ice and snow he faced on his last visit to New Jersey, which, in turn, had reminded him of his first encounter with cold weather when he came from the African nation of Ghana to study in Minnesota.

“We did not have four seasons where I came from,” Annan said. “We only had two seasons, wet and dry.”

He saw others in Minnesota wearing earmuffs and he thought they looked ridiculous and that he would never wear them. But, one day when the temperature was minus-30 degrees, he changed his tune and went out and bought the heaviest pair he could find. “I remember this experience and it taught me a lesson that carried over into my work at the United Nations,” Annan said. “You don’t walk into a situation and think you know better than the natives. You don’t. They know better.”

Born in Ghana in 1938, Annan’s first U.N. job came in 1962 when he began work for the World Health Organization in Geneva. For the next 35 years, he held many different U.N. positions before he became the first person from a black African nation to serve as Secretary-General, from 1997 to 2006.

‘True In 1945’

At Drew, he cited the U.N.’s founding in 1945, which, he said, was based on the idea that “the security of everyone is linked to that of everyone else,” adding that “if it was true in 1945, then how much more true is it today?”

Again and again, Annon returned to his theme that a worldview is now more important than ever. “Governments must be accountable for their actions in the global arena as well as in their own states,” he said.

“The most powerful states have the most responsibilities to include the less powerful in their decisions. Security comes from respect for human rights. We all share in this, governments and individuals. We must care for other people’s human rights, no matter where they live on the planet. That is what will lead to security for everyone.”

In addition to his encouragement to work together, Annon also had some words of criticism for both the U.N. and the United States.

Regarding the former, he said the U.N.’s powerful Security Council “reflected the political realities of 1945, but not of today.”

And, he said “the U.N. cannot achieve its goals when the United States remains aloof.”

By virtue of its power and wealth, he said, the U.S. holds a unique place in the world and should take more of a leadership role in the U.N.

“The greater the prestige, the greater the responsibility,” Annan said. “We have to give all citizens, no matter where they live or what they look like, at least a fair chance to share in the prosperity.”

Broadband Liberation

Project Syndicate

Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor is former Under Secretary General of the UN and former Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India. An award-winning novelist, he is currently a member of the Lok Sabha, India’s parliament.

NEW DELHI – In July, I was among 30 men and women from around the world – government ministers, bureaucrats, technologists, and strategic thinkers – who gathered at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Geneva to discuss how broadband can transform the world for the better. This “Broadband Commission” met under the Chairmanship of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and the Mexican communications mogul Carlos Slim.

The ITU, a United Nations body, established the Commission in partnership with UNESCO, and the joint chairmanship was no accident. The UN recognizes that if the information revolution is to advance further, it will take a public-private effort. As ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun TourĂ© has put it, “In the twenty-first century, affordable, ubiquitous broadband networks will be as critical to social and economic prosperity as networks like transport, water, and power.”

The Swiss writer and playwright Max Frisch once dismissed technology as “the art of arranging the world so that we need not experience it.” Today, however, technology is essential to effective participation in our world. And, although mankind cannot live by technology alone, the information revolution has liberated millions of people.

Information is liberating in the traditional political sense of the term: the spread of information has had a direct impact on the degree of accountability and transparency that governments must deliver if they are to survive.

It is also liberating economically. Information technologies are a cost-effective form of capital. Estonia and Costa Rica are well-known examples of how information-access strategies can help accelerate output growth and raise income levels.

Some of the least developed countries, such as Mali and Bangladesh, have shown how determined leadership and innovative approaches can, with international support, connect remote and rural areas to the Internet and mobile telephony, thereby helping to liberate subsistence farmers who were previously tied to local knowledge and local markets. Likewise, mobile networks are delivering health services to the most remote areas of India.

One successful UNESCO initiative is the creation of multipurpose community telecenters throughout the developing world, providing communication and information facilities – phone, fax, Internet, computers, audio-visual equipment – for a wide range of community uses. India’s Unique Identification Number project, under the capable stewardship of information-technology pioneer Nandan Nilekani, will enable access to government, banking, and insurance services at the grass-roots level.

There is no doubt that the Internet can be a democratizing tool. In some parts of the world – and certainly in most of the West – it already is, since large amounts of information are now accessible to almost anyone. But the stark reality of today’s world is that you can tell the rich from the poor by their Internet connections.

Indeed, economic development nowadays requires more than thinking only of the poverty line; one must also think of the high-speed digital line, the fiber-optic line – indeed, all the lines that exclude those who are not plugged into the possibilities of our world.

But the digital divide is no immutable gap. On the contrary, the technology gap between developed and developing countries, measured by levels of penetration by personal computers and information-technology and communications services, has narrowed markedly over the course of the past decade, with rapid growth in mobile phone and Internet use. The average level of Internet and mobile-phone penetration in the rich world in 1997 – 4.1 Internet users and 10.7 mobile phones per 100 inhabitants – was reached in developing countries only five years later.

By contrast, the average level of fixed-line telecommunication penetration in developing countries is nearly 50 years behind the levels of the West. Not surprisingly, it was in Africa – not Europe or America – where the cell phone first overtook the housebound handset. More Africans have become telecommunications users in the last four years than in the entire twentieth century.

The Indian story is even more remarkable. When I left India in 1975 for graduate studies in the United States, the country had roughly 600 million residents and just two million land-line telephones. Today, India holds the world record for the number of cell phones sold in a month –20 million – and for the most telephone connections made in a single month in any country in the history of telecommunications.

The growth in mobile-telephone technology demonstrates that the digital divide is shifting, and the focus of development efforts must change with it. India, for example, has 525 million mobile phone users and fewer than 150 million people with Internet access, so using mobile-phone technology as a tool of e-governance has become vital. This calls for creative means of effecting information transfer and making and receiving official payments by telephone.

Security is a key area of concern today in e-governance – both physical security, in an age of terrorism, and cyber security. Using technology to deliver security will become even more important in areas such as information sharing, disaster management, and data-privacy standards.

Information and communications technology is a powerful tool to address underdevelopment, isolation, poverty, and the lack of political accountability and political freedom. But people need access first and foremost. High-speed broadband Internet access can improve everything from transport management, environmental protection, and emergency services to health care, distance education, and agricultural productivity. Delivering these benefits to ever more people will require resources, international cooperation, and political will.

Cyberwar? It's a phoney war

30 July 2010

New Zealand Herald

The US is spending billions to combat an online threat that doesn't exist, reckons security veteran

IT MAY be cyberwar out there, but where are the casualties?

That's the question asked by a leading commentator on computer security, Bruce Schneier, who says the idea that nations have shifted hostilities from the physical world to cyberspace is nonsense.

Schneier, a Minneapolis-based author of several books on security and head of security technology at telecomms company BT, says it suits the US military to give the impression that cyberwarfare is being waged.

``I think there is a huge power grab going on,'' says Schneier, pointing to alarmist statements by past and present heads of the National Security Agency (NSA), which carries out electronic eavesdropping.

According to Schneier, hyping cyberwar is part of the justification for expansion of the US security establishment, whose growing roll call of counterterrorism and spying agencies was detailed last week by the Washington Post.

A two-year Post investigation found more than 3000 government organisations and private companies engaged in counterterrorism-related activities, homeland security and intelligence. Since 9/11, the Post says, their budget has more than doubled to at least US$75 billion ($102 billion). The NSA alone intercepts 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other types of communications each day, the newspaper says, more than it could hope to make sense of. One of the US' new intelligence bodies, Cyber Command, began operations in May under NSA head General Keith Alexander, to ``plan, co-ordinate, integrate, synchronise and conduct'' military operations in cyberspace.

Some ascribe a different purpose to the new body, whose emblem features the usual bald eagle but also a 32-character alphanumeric code. Tech website invited readers to decipher the code, which one wit declared stood for ``fear = funding''.

In fact, the code contains the body's mission statement, which is to ensure freedom of action for the US and its allies in cyberspace ``and deny the same to our adversaries''.

Schneier doesn't deny the need for Cyber Command. But he thinks Alexander and others are exaggerating the threat.

``All of this rhetoric is designed to say, `Let the NSA, let the Government, let the military take over cyberspace - cyberspace needs the army, not the police'.''

The military and police have very different rules of engagement with big implications for populations, in this case the online community.

``The police follow the rules and protect the population from a minority of criminals, but the military goes in and fights a war. ``When you call it a military threat, niceties like due process ... that protect people from police abuse, the military doesn't have those restrictions.''

Along with the suspension of rights that comes with wartime are the commercial opportunities for military suppliers. Schneier calls the burgeoning business of saving the US from cyberwar the ``security-industrial complex'', echoing President Eisenhower's warning of growth of a military-industrial complex at the start of the Cold War.

Schneier points to Mike McConnell, a former NSA director who now works for consultant Booz Allen Hamilton. McConnell wrote in the Washington Post in February that the US was engaged in a cyberwar - ``and we are losing''. He advocated re-engineering the internet, no less, so that perpetrators of online attacks could be better tracked. Booz Allen, Schneier says, is competing for the ``hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts'' that flow from talking up the threat. ``Follow the money. You don't make money by saying, `This is not a threat, don't worry about it'.''

The actual threats, according to Schneier, are different: cybercrime is the largest; cyber-espionage is another; traditional hacking, without a profit motive, is still prevalent and cyber-activism, often involving young people ``playing politics'' by attacking government and corporate websites and networks, is on the rise.

If there were a war, as McConnell claims, Schneier hasn't seen any evidence. ``That's just sheer lunacy - has anybody died? Evidence for war is usually pretty obvious, because they involve flattened cities, an army in your country.''

Schneier points out his comments are not made wearing his BT hat. Nor does downplay the cybersecurity challenge.

``It's hard, but it's not something you call in the military for.''

Anthony Doesburg is an Auckland technology journalist

U.N. mounts questionable defense of Ban

Posted By Colum Lynch Share

Angela Kane, the U.N. under secretary-general for management, launched a vigorous defense of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's leadership this week, saying an attack on his tenure by the U.N.'s outgoing anti-corruption chief, Inga-Britt Ahlenius, consisted of "many inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and distortions." But in making her case, Kane provided a misleading fact of her own.

In an effort to underscore Ban's commitment to the advancement of women in the U.N.'s top ranks, Kane suggested that the secretary-general had broken new ground by hiring women to run U.N. peacekeeping operations.

"Before he took office, there were no female SRSGs [special representative of the secretary-general]," Kane wrote in a detailed statement that was sent to U.N. reporters Wednesday night. "Today there are five."

It is true that no woman headed a U.N. peacekeeping operation at the time Ban was named secretary-general. It is also true that Ban has placed more women in top peacekeeping missions than any of his predecessors. Ban has appointed women to head the U.N. missions in Central African Republic, Cyprus, East Timor, Liberia and Nepal.

But it is not true that there were no female heads of mission before he took office. Six female special representatives have headed U.N. peacekeeping missions since the early 1990s, includingCarolyn McAskie, a Canadian who headed the U.N. mission in Burundi from June 2004 until April-2006, six months before Ban took office. The first woman to head a U.N. peacekeeping operation was Margaret Joan Anstee, a British national who ran the U.N. mission in Angola from 1992 to 1993. Anstee is author of the book Never Learn to Type: A Woman at the United Nations.

Other women who headed U.N. missions include Heidi Tagliavini, a Swiss national who ran the U.N. monitoring mission in Georgia from 2002 until 2006; Ann Hercus, a New Zealander who ran the Cyprus mission in 1998 and 1999; Elisabeth Rehn, a Finnish national who ran the U.N. mission in Bosnia from 1995 through 2001; and Angela King, a Jamaican who headed a U.N. mission in South Africa from 1992 until 1994.

The U.N. leadership has sought to place Ban's record on gender at the heart of a power struggle between himself and Ahlenius, the outgoing Swedish director of the U.N.'s internal oversight division. Ahlenius released a blistering end-of-assignment memo in which she accused Ban of seeking to undermine her independence, in part by blocking her efforts to hire a former Connecticut prosecutor, Robert Appleton, for the agency's top investigations branch. Appleton, who headed a U.N. task force probing procurement fraud at the United Nations, had offended powerful governments, including those of Russia and Singapore, whose nationals were the target of his investigations. Ban's top advisor's blocked the appointment, citing the absence of a female candidate on the shortlist of candidates.

In the past week, Ban has enlisted his top officials, including chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, and Kane, to challenge Ahlenius's assertions, and to present a defense of his record on reform. At the same time, he has moved to put the Ahlenius affair behind him, announcing plans this week to replace her with a former World Bank auditor general, Carmen LaPointe-Young. LaPointe-Young will begin her U.N. job in December.

The high-level effort reflects concern that the revelations might damage Ban's standing at a time when governments will begin to consider whether to approve him for a second term at the end of next year. So far, Ban appears to enjoy the backing of key powers, including the United States, Britain, China, France, and Russia. But his standing among key constituencies -- including prominent human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch, former top U.N. officials likeLouise Arbour, and pro-U.N. intellectuals and writers -- has been waning. James Traub, aForeign Policy columnist who wrote a favorable book on former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, last week proposed Ban be denied a second term.

In a lengthy memo, Kane sharply criticized Ahlenius's stewardship of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, blaming her for leaving 76 posts unfilled and failing to comply with U.N. hiring rules. "Though we cannot speak to the full range of motivations that might lie behind this report, we welcome the opportunity to share the larger story of our work to build a 21st century United Nations that is faster, more flexible, and more effective in delivering on a growing array of global challenges."

Kane then went on to defend Ban's record, claiming that Ahlenius's report "does not contain any allegation of blocking or obstructing any investigation. Neither does it contain any concrete allegation of corruption." The report does, however, highlight concerns by U.N. staff that senior U.N. officials are not held accountable for wrongdoing. One case, which is not specifically mentioned in the report, involves a decision by the U.N. leadership not to pursue disciplinary charges against Alan Doss, the U.N.'s special representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who was found by Ahlenius's office to have improperly interfered with the U.N. hiring process at the U.N. Development Program on behalf of his daughter.

Kane also charged that Ahlenius's efforts to hire Appleton "did not comply with established U.N. rules and policies and noted further that she failed to rectify these basic shortcomings despite repeated requests. Naturally, the secretary general ensured that such a flawed decision making process did not stand. Operational independence of OIOS does not exempt the office from compliance with U.N. rules." But Ahlenius maintains that a 1995 administrative instruction gives her strict authority for hiring. It states that the under secretary-general shall have powers of appointment, promotion, termination similar to those delegated by the secretary general" to the major U.N. funds and programs. The heads of those organizations have authority to hire their own top advisors.

Follow me on Twitter @columlynch

Thursday, 29 July 2010

CNN: - UN needs a chief who can manage

By Michael Soussan, Special to
  • Michael Soussan: Leaked report shows Ban Ki-moon not managing UN staff effectively
  • He says US, other democracies should push to replace Ban when his term is up
  • The UN Secretariat is in danger of becoming irrelevant, the report says

Editor's note: Michael Soussan, a former Program Coordinator for the UN "oil-for-food" operations, resigned from the organization in 2000. His memoir "Backstabbing for Beginners" (Nation Books, 2008) will be adapted to film by award-winning Danish Director Per Fly.

New York (CNN) -- The recently leaked memo from departing chief United Nations corruption investigator, Inga-Britt Ahlenius, to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will make it impossible for the White House to support the UN chief's candidacy for a second four-year term next year.

That is, unless the Obama administration itself was only joking when it promised to push for greater transparency and accountability at the United Nations.

In a 50-page "end-of-mission" report, the widely respected former auditor of Sweden -- who was originally brought in to help the UN fix the spectacular accountability gap exposed during the excruciatingly painful "oil-for-food" scandal -- paints a detailed, well-documented tableau of Ban's managerial incompetence.

In a spectacular break from tradition, Ahlenius did what few senior diplomats ever dare to do: She spoke truth to power.

In her report, Ahlenius documents Ban Ki-moon's repeated efforts to undermine his own senior officials, including her own office of internal oversight, by stemming the flow of information, interfering in the appointment of staff, or worse, failing to appoint people to senior management positions altogether. Critical leadership posts were left vacant for as long as possible, thereby strengthening Ban's power over the bureaucracy.

The UN Secretariat, she concludes, is "in a process of decay ... falling apart ... and drifting into irrelevance."

It may be that many member states do not actually want the UN to get in the way of their realpolitik. But when it comes to standing for the principles of its charter in difficult, often dangerous mission areas, the UN cannot succeed unless its staff are led and supported by a better-managed Secretariat in New York.

As it happens, even their very physical security did not appear to be a priority for the Ban Ki-moon administration. It failed to appoint another Under Secretary-General for Safety and Security for a full 11 months after accepting the resignation of David Veness, in June 2008, following the deadly bombing of the UN's Algeria headquarters.

Ban's failures to perform his duties as the UN's chief administrative officer in a timely manner -- the Ahlenius report describes these failures as widespread --have repercussions all the way down the line on staff security and morale. Instead of being empowered to do their job, the staff, including Ahlenius herself, end up feeling undermined by their boss.

Unless Hillary Clinton and her UN ambassador, Susan Rice, are prepared to contradict Ahlenius' assessment, they will have no choice but to withdraw America's support for Ban's re-election (his term expires at the end of 2011). Unfortunately for Ban's administration, few people were better placed than its own auditor to draw such conclusions.

And she is not alone in her assessment. Ahlenius has managed the rather undiplomatic feat of saying out loud what a lot of UN officials, including some at the highest levels, have been murmuring for several years.

While it is not altogether unheard of for former UN bureaucrats to blow their top after they leave office, it is without doubt the first time such a senior official has done so with as much competence, and credibility, as Ahlenius.

As a former employee of the UN's "oil-for-food" operation -- the organization's fraud-ridden $64 billion humanitarian operation that saw billions of dollars diverted from needy Iraqi civilians into the pockets of Saddam Hussein and an international clique of corrupt politicians -- I have learned to recognize the elements that go into making large-scale diplomatic fiascos.

After I had contributed to blowing the whistle on that program in 2004, some UN officials spent more time trying to discredit my testimony than to fix the cracks in the system that led to the debacle in the first place. Not so Ms. Ahlenius.

In fact, she invited me to spend an afternoon conducting a "lessons learned" discussion with her entire senior staff. Her approach was so markedly different from what I had experienced that I caught myself feeling hopeful, thereafter, about the chances of seeing real management reforms happen after all.

Unfortunately, it would seem Ahlenius has become a whistleblower herself. If such a senior UN official can't seem to communicate her concerns to her boss and is forced into the very uncomfortable position of having to speak out with such force as she did in her latest report, it is difficult to conclude that all is well at the top echelons of the world body.

If Ban Ki-moon were well advised, he would not seek a second term in office. If he were earnest about pushing for UN reform, he would free himself from the pressure the member states may try to exert upon his office, officially make public those parts of Ahlenius's report that do not affect staff security, and dedicate himself to mending the cracks in the system identified by his departing auditor.

Instead, Ban left it up to his chief of staff to issue a response which, both in form and substance, does a great job of confirming Ahlenius' criticism. In a July 19 letter to Colum Lynch of the Washington Post, who broke the story, Vijay Nambiar says that his boss "is also concerned" that critical senior managerial positions (now including that of Ahlenius) remain unfilled.

The problem is, Ban's job is not just to "be concerned." It is to actually make appointments -- or "to put butts on seats," as one U.S. official once put it to me off the record. In this instance, Ban ignored the best advice of a 15-member independent panel and refused to appoint John Appleton, the former Connecticut attorney, to head Ahlenius's investigation division. In the wake of the oil-for-food meltdown, Appleton had led an unprecedented exercise in accountability (so successfully, in fact, that his office was shut down in 2008).

Perhaps Ban would prefer to appoint someone else who, like he, prefers to show "concern" about the challenges facing the world organization than to take them on -- with deeds, not just words. For the UN's own sake, let's hope the leaders of the world's democracies can do better than that when it comes to electing a new leader for the United Nations in 2011.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Michael Soussan.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

U.S. business wants China currency bill dropped from package


WASHINGTON, July 27 (Xinhua) -- More than 20 business groups have recently urged the exclusion of a bill on China's currency policy from a package of manufacturing bills that lawmakers will start voting on this week.

The Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, also known as the Ryan-Murphy Bill, "will not bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States," the business groups said in a letter sent to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

"Instead, the bill will likely result in the loss of jobs and market share in many competitive U.S. agricultural, manufacturing and service industries that either operate in, or export to, China," the letter says.

The letter was signed by 28 business groups, including the Business Roundtable, National Foreign Trade Council, National Retail Federation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S.-China Business Council.

Sponsors of the Ryan-Murphy Bill have claimed the Chinese currency yuan is significantly undervalued to give China an unfair advantage in trade with the United States.

If enacted, the bill would require the Commerce Department to impose countervailing or anti-dumping duties against China.

The bill came amid political pressures ahead of the upcoming congressional elections.

The business groups said they "strongly disagree that legislation is the best means to achieve that goal," referring to the bill's stated goal of saving manufacturing jobs in the United States.

"China is unlikely to proceed more quickly with currency reforms if threatened with this action," they said in the letter, which was posted on the website of the U.S.-China Business Council last week.

Estimations of the "correct" currency value "would be inherently subjective and potentially politicized." The proposed legislation would also likely violate the United States' commitments under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, the letter says.

"Additionally, China could mount a successful challenge to U.S. sanctions in the WTO," it says.

China has insisted its currency policy should not be influenced by external pressures. Its central bank pledged on June 19 to allow greater flexibility in yuan exchange rate movements.

Analysts were divided on whether the yuan should appreciate, with some seeing the international pressure being applied to China to appreciate as the cause of asset bubbles.

While some exporters in the United States blame what they see as an undervalued yuan for unsatisfactory business performance, importers and the retail industry say they benefit from cheaper goods and services from China and other countries thanks to the international division of labor.

Lawmakers will start voting this week on the package of bills aimed at helping U.S. domestic manufacturers and the energy sector.

The Ways and Means Trade Committee of the House of Representatives is expected to hold a hearing to consider possible legislative options when lawmakers return on the week of Sept. 12 from a six-week break.

The U.N. Threat to Internet Freedom

In 1988, delegates from 114 countries gathered in Melbourne, Australia, to negotiate an international treaty for the future of telecommunications regulation. Since then, representatives from nations as diverse as Ghana, China and the U.S. have reunited and agreed that the Internet—that amazing global network of networks—was different from traditional phone service, and was best kept free from international phone regulation. That could change soon.

At least 191 countries are gearing up for the next round of talks at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) conference in Guadalajara, Mexico, in the fall. The ITU is a treaty-based organization under the auspices of ...

Sri Lanka to oppose Ban

By Jamila Najmuddin

The Sri Lankan government is to oppose the re-election of Ban Ki Moon as the UN Secretary General and will also seek the support of several other countries for this move, a senior government minister told Daily Mirror online on the condition of anonymity.

The cabinet minister said that Sri Lanka will seek the support of countries such as India, Russia, Brazil, China and other developing countries and will launch campaigns in these countries soon, to oppose the re-appointment of Ban Ki Moon to the post of UN Secretary General.

“Sri Lanka will not vote him in after his latest decision to appoint his expert panel. Sri Lanka will also discourage other countries in the region from voting for him,” the cabinet minister said.

“The government will begin the campaigns soon after discussions with the respective governments,” the minister added.

The term of Ban Ki Moon as the UN Secretary General will expire on December 31, 2011 and he is eligible for re-appointment into a second term.

Ban Ki Moon has been in troubled waters with the Sri Lankan government especially after his decision to appoint an expert panel to advise him on accountability issues relating to Sri Lanka.

Despite repeated calls from the Sri Lankan government stating that such a panel was ‘unwarranted’ and ‘uncalled’ for Ban Ki Moon has maintained that his panel will remain and will submit a report to him within a period of four months. (Daily Mirror online)