Wednesday, August 19, 2009

UN's Ban Slammed by Norway's Juul, on Burma and Sri Lanka Trips, Should Oslo Be Canceled?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 19 -- As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon returned to New York after ten days in South Korea, soon to turn around and visit Norway by the end of the month, he was confronted by an embarrassing leak in the Norwegian foreign ministry of Deputy Permanent Representative Mona Juul's unflattering assessment of his "failed" trips to Myanmar and Sri Lanka, his flying into rages and ineffective leadership.

That Ms. Juul is also the spouse of Ban's Under Secretary General Terje Roed Larsen makes the criticism all the more telling. What will Ban Ki-moon do?

While Ban was in South Korea, a month after Myanmar's Senior General Than Shwe refused to allow him a meeting or photo op with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, precisely such a visit was allowed to U.S. Senator Jim Webb. When Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe was asked by Inner City Press and others if Ban had any comment on Webb's more successful visit -- he also left the country with another Suu Kyi visitor, John Yettaw, freeing him from seven years of hard labor -- Ms. Okabe tersely said no, no comment. Later her Office issued a "response to questions at the noon briefing" begrudgingly acknowledging the Webb visit.

At UN, Mona Juul (at left), Ban and trips not shown

Ban's record on Sri Lanka has gotten even worse. During his visit in late May, he smiled as Tamil children imprisoned by the government in UN funded camps at Manik Farms were forced to sing his name. Now, those camps have become flooded, including with raw sewage. The government blames the UN, and Ban's UN has said nothing.

What is the purpose of Ban's planned August 31 visit to Norway? Should it not now be called off, and Team Ban get back to their actual mending work -- including addressing the proliferating nepotism and corrupt hiring scandals -- at the UN?

No comments: