Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March 7 -- Developing countries have taken strong exception to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's approach to political affairs, calling among other things for an increased focus on Africa and on development initiatives directed by the General Assembly, not only donor nations.
One day after the chief of Ban's Department of Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe told Inner City Press that most country don't link the proposal to reform DPA with a consonant increase in funding for development, the Joint Coordinating Committee of the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement wrote Pascoe an 11-page letter making just such a link. The March 6 letter directs Pascoe to amend his proposal by, among other things, requiring prior consent of member states before the opening of regional offices, and re-directing the requested funding boost for DPA to Africa. See Letter, obtained by Inner City Press and placed online here.
The letter requests the omission of two references to the UN Development Program, which G-77 member Ecuador this week told Inner City Press is too dominated by Northern donor countries. A deletion of the "One UN" proposal under which UNDP would gain control over other streams of funding is also requested in the letter.
On March 4, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson Michele Montas about opposition expressed by the Group of 77 to Pascoe's restructuring plan. Ms. Montas declined to answer, saying the question should be directed to Pascoe himself, slated to appear on March 5 to unveil a new, and now seemingly controversial, mediation support team to be administered by the Norwegian Refugee Committee. This end-run around UN rules can be seen as an attempt to avoid what the G-77 and NAM refer to in their letter as the primacy of the General Assembly.
In his March 5 press conference, Pascoe said that bypassing the GA's rules would provide desired "flexibility." When Inner City Press asked about criticism in the General Assembly of his restructuring proposal, Pascoe was dismissive, saying that after many meetings with select developing countries, most did not make any link with boosting UN development efforts. The next day, the link was made in the JCC letter requesting detailed amendments to the DPA proposal.
Sources tell Inner City Press that Pascoe, and presumably Ban Ki-moon behind him, are declining to make the requested changes. Whether they can expect approval of their already-delayed "DPA strengthening" proposal remains to be seen. Watch this site.