At UN, Finger Pointing on Ban Human Rights in China Flap, Nobel & Sha Unaddressed
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, November 5 -- With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon under fire for not raising human rights or the new Nobel Peace Prize winner when he met with Chinese President Hu, for external consumption Ban on Friday morning read out a defensive statement in a press conference on climate change financing.
Ban insisted that “the record is clear” that he mentioned human rights in Nanjing -- as a “shared value” -- and in Beijing in a speech to students. Ban did not mention, in China or in his Friday statement, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, nor his Under Secretary General Sha Zukang having given a “World Harmony Foundation” award to Chinese former military chief on October 27. (Inner City Press got Sha's side of the story on November 4, click here.)
Inside the Ban administration, sources tell Inner City Press, the finger pointing has begun. Ban's senior adviser Kim Won-soo, the sources say, lays the blame for the coverage on his putative superior Vijay Nambiar and Department of Political Affairs chief Lynn Pascoe.
They in turn pass the blame further downstream to Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky, pointing at days of Nesirky saying Ban did not raise human rights to President Hu, then emailing out a late night statement that rights had been raised to other Chinese officials, whom Nesirky has left unnamed.
A range of UN officials and staff interviewed in recent days have expressed concern that the brand of the UN has been hurt by the flap, culminating they said in the New York Times editorial questioning whether Ban should get a second term as Secretary General.
UN's Ban, Sha and Nambiar, Chinese rights & general not shown
While it appears that the staged Q&A at Friday's press conference is intended as Ban's response to the media, some say there's a need for Ban to address UN staff members and explain what has happened, and why. And if his climate change press conference was “not the proper occasion,” as he put it, to address human rights, he should set up a separate press availability to answer questions, and not from notes. Watch this site.
Footnote: even on the topic of Friday's press conference, the report of the High Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing given to Ban by Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and Meles Zenawi from Ethiopia, there was no answer to the following question asked by Inner City Press at Thursday's noon briefing:
Inner City Press: On climate change, there are various people saying that, in light of the elections that took place on Tuesday, and Obama, President Obama’s comments yesterday afternoon at a press conference that this makes the passage of climate change legislation less likely in the United States, that this will impact not only the Cancun process, but even this report that the Secretary-General is getting tomorrow. Some that have seen the report say that it assumes a median price of carbon of $25 a tonne by 2020, and if there is no US legislation that will not be accurate. So, I am just wondering what, it’s not so much a comment directly on the elections of what, what does this, what is the Secretariat, and it… the global goods team of the UN, does the results bode well for this report tomorrow and for the process that he is involved in? And, if not, what’s the plan to stay on track with the report that he is getting tomorrow?
Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, two things. First of all, the key word there is process. It is a process that involves all the countries in the world in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. That is an enormous undertaking, as you know. And it involves all countries. The second point is that the report is being launched tomorrow. And I think it would be better to wait until then. You will have an opportunity to see the report tomorrow.
Inner City Press: Well, I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.
Spokesperson: You’ll find out. And there are other ways to address it, even if it isn’t at the press conference, because of the shortage of time or whatever, but there are always [ways] to address these things.
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