By Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press, June 20, 2017
While in some places the UN system may be doing good work, its killing of more and 10,000 Haitians with cholera, and its years of denial, have been a low point. Now with the UN Security Council slated to visit Haiti from June 22 and 24 -- Inner City Press will cover it -- the strange and some say shameful history of the UN's MINUSTAH mission comes to the fore.
After the UN Security Council on April 30, 2004 approved the deployment of MINUSTAH, by September 30, 2004 protesters were being killed, then further protesters arrested and loaded into UN Armored Personnel Carriers. Particularly given the position of CARICOM and the African Union, this was a low for the UN. But it would go lower still.
On June 20, 2017 the departing MINUSTAH mission will hold a ceremony to close its regional bureau in the south, again bragging of spending $48 million. But given the reneging on much larger sums for bringing cholera, advocates slammed the "statement delivered by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed in a briefing to the General Assembly appealing for member state funding and reporting on the UN’s progress in implementing the New Approach.
Ms. Mohammed announced that the UN proposes taking a 'community approach and establish[ing] priorities for projects in consultation with victims and their families and communities.'
The statement reverses the UN’s previous position, which committed to assessing the feasibility of individual victim payments before making any decision, including through 'consultations on the ground with victims and their communities.' Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux said that 'Powerful governments’ refusal to allocate even MINUSTAH’s leftovers to save lives from the cholera outbreak it caused demonstrates their lack of commitment to Haiti, to UN accountability and to the rule of law.
Since the cholera epidemic started in 2010, these governments have found $4 billion to maintain soldiers in a country that has not had a war in anyone’s lifetime, and want to continue spending money on an unwanted peacekeeper presence, but they cannot find 1% of that amount to fight the worst cholera epidemic in modern times.”
This is a pattern on which we'll have more. After then-President Aristide was forced into exile in, echoing today, the Central African Republic, the UN Security Council on April 30, 2004 dutifully created a mission to take over from the US, French and Canadian troops who has deployed during Guy Philippe's force's killing spree. Promoting it was then French Ambassador de la Sabliere, self-described father of the UN's since-questioned (at least on Yemen) Children and Armed Conflict mandate. Given today's Security Council splits, particularly on regime change, one marvels that Resolution 1542 was passed unanimously.
Already in the mix was, for example, Haitian rights attorney Mario Joseph, now an astute critic of the UN's total evasion of responsibility for killing over 10,000 Haitians with cholera. We'll have more on this. On June 14, 2017 the new (well, 162 day old) UN presented what it called a new approach on cholera - not long after Secretary General Antonio Guterres' delayed approach to the UN's lead poisoning victims in Kosovo was criticized.
Inner City Press asked the UN about it on June 16, in the run-up to the UN Security Council's visit to Haiti next week (we will cover that). From the UN's June 16 noon briefing, video here, transcript: Inner City Press: on Haiti, I went back and looked at what Amina Mohammed said, that 'there are no funds for Track 2, and we propose to take a community approach. ' And I'm sure you've seen a number of advocates — Mario Joseph, other well-known, long-time Haiti cholera activists — have said this is an outrage, that basically what the Secretary-General announced, Ban Ki-moon at the end of his tenure, is being totally rejected, and any consultation with the affected communities will take place after this speech by Amina Mohammed.
Spokesman: I don't think it's being rejected. I think I was asked this question yesterday. We, obviously, are eagerly awaiting funds. But, I think… I don't think there's been a change. The challenge for us is the lack of funding.
Inner City Press: But the sentence "we propose to take a community approach", that seems pretty definitive. That seems like, this is the approach that we're taking. Before there were two. Now there's one.
Spokesman: This is the approach that is being taken now. I think it's one step at a time, as we had said in the beginning.
Inner City Press: There's an upcoming visit by the Security Council to Haiti. Do you expect… how is the Secretary-General going to hear from the affected communities, what they believe should happen?
Spokesman: Well, I think, first of all, through our staff on the ground. And, as we've said, we would be appointing an envoy soon.
We'll see. Also on June 16, the International Monetary Fund announced a staff-level agreement for a staff-monitoredprogram with Haiti, its Chris Walker saying, "the IMF team reached a staff-level agreement with the authorities on an SMP covering the period of June-December, 2017. Under the SMP, fiscal policy will focus on mobilizing domestic budget revenue to make room for needed increases in public investment, notably with regard to reconstruction from the effects of Hurricane Matthew, and investments in health, education, and social services. This will be achieved in part through the elimination of excessive subsidies, including subsidies for retail fuel sales.
Crucially, these actions will be accompanied by mitigating measures to protect the most vulnerable. The SMP also recognizes that to provide the resources for increasing public investment and raising economic growth over the medium term, it is vital to bring an end to the large losses arising from the operations of the public electricity utility EDH, which in recent years have been responsible for approximately half of the public sector deficit.
The Central Bank of Haiti (BRH) will aim to protect international reserves and preserve exchange rate flexibility, while acting as necessary to contain disorderly market conditions. Under the SMP, the BRH will limit monetary financing of the government deficit, based on the SMP agreement, and will strive to achieve low inflation, while maintaining an adequate flow of credit to the private sector. Structural reforms under the SMP will focus on tax reform and on improving transparency of public accounts. IMF staff will work closely with the authorities to monitor progress in the implementation of their economic program. In addition, the IMF will continue to provide technical assistance to support Haiti’s capacity-building efforts and its reform program. The SMP is designed to build a track record and successful performance will catalyze donor flows and support a future request for an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement."
On June 15 the UN bragged of $48 million in projects as it closed down the northern Haiti outpost it opened in 2004 - still without paying for cholera. US Vice President Mike Pence met Haiti's President in Miami and issued this read-out: "The Vice President today met with President Jovenel Moise of Haiti in Miami, Florida.
On behalf of President Trump, the Vice President congratulated President Moise for his election earlier this year, and recognized Haiti for filling key government leadership positions. The two leaders stressed the importance of pursuing an economic reform agenda to attract investment and generate growth. The Vice President and President Moise reiterated their common commitment to building on strong bilateral ties, and working together to pursue issues of mutual interest.." Would that include Temporary Protected Status? We'll have more on this.
On June 15, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about the presentation yesterday about the new approach to the UN's role in cholera in Haiti. Two things. I saw David Nabarro there. I wanted to ask you, I know that he ran for WHO. Is he back as a UN official? Amina Mohammed said that the Secretary-General will soon be naming a high-level envoy. Maybe you won't give a time frame, but what's the process, I guess, as I haven't seen it advertised…?
Spokesman: No, the Secretary-General, I think, is considering a number of people, and he will appoint the person he best sees fit. As you know, not every high-level position is posted on the Secretary-General's website. Some he chooses to do that with. Others, he does not. But he's obviously consulting with Member States and trying to find the best possible person. I do… and, hopefully, we'll have that announcement sooner rather than later.
Inner City Press: And Mr. Nabarro, did he just return to his Special Envoy… what's his post?
Spokesman: I believe he's returned to a post that he had. I'm not aware of the exact details.
Inner City Press: When the Secretary-General took off on his trip that he would be back in New York the morning of Thursday, 15 June. That announcement is still what qualifies as his daily schedule. Where is he? Is he here…?
Spokesman: Yes, he’s landed. He landed very early this morning, and I hope for his sake that he's resting at home, but he's in New York.
To stake out the June 14 meeting, the "new" UN still required Inner City Press but not other less critical media to have a minder (who also asked Inner City Press to leave). Jamaica spoke the on the UN restoring its good name; the representative of the Hadi government whose call for airstrikes led to cholera in Yemen spoke too. Amina Mohammed spoke of a new high level envoy. In the hall afterward was David Nabarro. (In the hall DURING the meeting was Morocco's Omar Hilale, apparently more concerned with blocked UN human rights observers in Western Sahara or now, Rif.)
Penned in, Inner City Press spoke with some Perm Reps but not the Secretariat's speakers. (In fairness despite restrictions it has added a link to the speech, here.) The Department of Public Information, which had defended Ban's denial of responsibility, now promoted Guterres and Mohammed's "new" approach. All this while imposing and continuing restrictions on the Press. This is today's UN. Ban before he left, for a failed run for South Korea's presidency, said he would raise $400 million for Haiti. 55 days later, barely two percent of that had been raised. Now major states merely "take note" of proposals to leave money behind in Haiti. Still, the worst of the organization is exemplified in its Department of Public Information, particularly as regards planning to mislead the public in 2017 about such issues has peacekeepers' rapes and bringing deadly cholera to Haiti.
UN Peacekeeping needs radical reform, and UN DPI needs to be disbanded.
Gallach produced a propaganda plan for 2017, which multiple outraged UN sources leaked to Inner City Press. Gallach's "2017 Communications Guidance" has a paragraph on cholera in Haiti which does not mention that the UN brought the disease to the island. Page 9.
While barely a million dollars, nearly all of it blood money from Ban Ki-moon's South Korea, has been raised, Gallach tells her propaganda troops to "promote the UN's efforts to combat the disease harnessing.. social media tools."
This is propaganda.
Likewise on sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, Gallach's rah-rah implies that the corner has been turned. Page 5. While the UN's billion dollar DR Congo mission is a mere footnote, the UN's failed envoy on Yemen is portrayed as successful on Page 6. The section on the Middle East , and pages 10 and 14-15, are designed to trigger budget cuts.
It is Gallach who should be fired, even before she is forced out on March 31.
As the UN remains unreformed after Ban Ki-moon's ten years ended with corruption, long asked about by the Press, exposed, budget cuts are coming.
In Washington executive orders are being prepared to cut up to 40% of the US' contributions to the UN, and to fully cut funding to entities blamed for violation of human rights.
Inner City Press has put that draft EO online here.
One obvious question is whether the total denial of due process for whistleblowers - already part of US law - and investigative press which covers UN corruption constitutes such a violation.
For example, the UN Department of Public Information under Cristina Gallach in early 2016 threw Inner City Press out of the UN, dumping its investigative files onto First Avenue, without a single hearing or opportunity to be heard, and no appeal since.
All this for seeking to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room which was nowhere listed as closed, and leaving as soon as a single UN Security officer said the Spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, wanted Inner City Press out.
Gallach had a conflict of interest, having been asked by Inner City Press about her own links with Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng, facing trial (like Ban Ki-moon's nephew and brother) on bribery charges.
There are no rules, only the one-person fiat rule of an official dumped on Ban's UN by Spain, where she had previously managed, at most, seven people as spokesperson to Javier Solana. Nothing has been done; eleven months later Gallach still requires Inner City Press to have "minders" to cover the UN Security Council.
The cuts, and a new US Ambassador, are coming. Six days after a confirmation hearing in which she called for accountability at the UN, including for peacekeepers' abuses, Nikki Haley on January 24 was confirmed to replace Samantha Power as US Ambassador to the UN.
This came after at least two business days of no photos replacing those of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the US Mission to the UN.
On January 24, Inner City Press asked former UN official, now Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom about Haley's call to defund countries whose peacekeepers abuse. Tweeted video here. There are reforms needed at the UN.
Back on January 18 before Haley spoke as nominee for US Ambassador to the UN, Senator Bob Corker said he sometimes wondered if just-left Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had a pulse.
In fact, Ban was quite active in helping his own relatives at the UN, promoting his son in law to the top UN job in Kenya, his brother mining in Myanmar with a "UN delegation," indicted nephew using Ban's name to sell real estate.
When Haley began, she said the UN has a "checkered history." That's being diplomatic. Consider a head of Peacekeeping who has linked rapes to R&R, video here.
Consider a head of the UN "Department of Public Information" who did no due diligence over indicted UN briber Ng Lap Seng - then evicted and still restricts the Press which asked here about it. Audit here, Para 37-40, 20b; NYT here.
In response to questions, Haley praised the UN peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone, questioned the one in South Sudan and that country's government. She noted that countries make money off their peacekeepers. The case in point, we note, is Burundi, here.
Posted June 24, 2017