Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Avatar Shown to UN Forum by Cameron, White Messiah Alleged, "We're All Indigenous"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 24 -- Avatar was screened by its director James Cameron for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on Saturday night in Manhattan. Afterwards Cameron was asked why the hero had to be a white male, in the tradition of Dances with Wolves and before that Little Big Man.

Cameron replied that he was trying to "wake up Caucasians." He said both that "we are all indigenous" and that he wants "everyone to be a white Messiah." While unclear it was heartfelt. At the end an indigenous legislator from Peru stepped forward to give him her business card. It's 2010 and networking is everything.

In fact in the film, networking is central. The enormous trees which the U.S. corporate invaders are seeking to fell have "roots which interconnect," Signourey Weaver informs us, making up a network. The invaders are not impressed. Echoing Iraq, pointing at a book about the Na'vi, it is said that "when people are sitting on [stuff] that you want, you make them your enemy."

In another echo of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and post 9/11/01 war, the military villain vows "we'll fight terror with terror." He has looked at the protagonist's file - "I see you were in Venezuela." One wonders, is Cameron predicting a US assault on Hugo Chavez, before the time frame of the film?

While the movie was being screened, Cameron did fast one on one interviews with reporters. Inner City Press didn't ask for one, but heard about at least two. The "we are all White Messiahs" line was said both in private and in public: it is a talking point, for better or worse.

Inner City Press asked the UN how the screening came about and was told

"Matthew - The idea for the screening came about as the Secretariat for the Permanent Forum had heard many positive reactions from indigenous representatives on the film and how it was echoing their own stories. Through personal contacts of the Secretariat and the NGO co-sponsors, they contacted James Cameron re the possibility of a screening and it went from there."

Cameron (per Broddi) at UNPFII screening: White Messiah?

Since, as Cameron put it, the movie made "$2.7 billion for Rupert Murdoch," clearly he doesn't need the publicity. It seems he consented to the event in order to put to rest the residual criticism of the movie as racist -- although the "White Messiah" critique has been raised mostly by, well, white Messiahs -- and to show that his motives weren't commercial.

Witness Cameron's support to a protest of a project in Brazil. One wonders what Cameron thinks of President Lula's policies on the indigenous. Or of Evo Morales' recent comment that Western food, genetically engineers, leads to "baldness and homosexuality."

Cameron disclosed that he opposed the invasion of Iraq -- very courageous, at this point -- and that corporate interests are "plundering if you will." Yes, they will, including the financiers of the studios distributing Avatar. But if enough business cards are passed, perhaps there will be justice. At least, there will be a sequel. Watch this site.

UN footnote -- and the United Nations is increasingly often only a footnote -- one wanted to ask Cameron where he thought the UN would be in the conflict he depicted. But the public Q&A session was too short and smacked of pre-determined. If reality's any guide, the UN would be offering humanitarian assistance on behalf of the invaders, after the invasion.

The UN and its Mail, on Free Press, Sri Lanka and Middle East, True Believers

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 24 -- The UN being the United Nations, people write it letters. They plead for action by mostly get ignored. A current Under Secretary General, speaking candidly but not only background, said of e-mail from Sri Lanka's Tamil diaspora, "I just delete them." He wasangry when this was reported by Inner City Press. But why waste such people's time?

Even in the spotlight, the UN shows disdain. Recently a press freedom organization, the Inter-American Press Association, wrote to Ban Ki-moon, about crack down on media and reporters in Venezuela. Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky first said he'd never heard about the letter. Then they told reporters that the letter was received.

Back again on camera, Nesikry got asked: but what about this now acknowledged letter, would Ban have any reaction? No, Nesikry said, you should ask UNESCO.

When the free press group's vice president Gonzalo Marroquin came to the UN, it emerged that UNESCO was unaware of the letter and that the group, in candor, didn't even expect any help from Ban Ki-moon. They wrote the letter to raise the issue. To this has the UN sunk.

UN's Ban reads letter, his USG deleting, entries on free press, not shown

At a recent presentation to DC based law students, an Arabic television reporter chided Inner City Press for exposing UN corruption. The stories are all true, he said, they are actual exclusives. But in my region -- he is from Egypt -- people put their hopes in the UN, he said. They come asking for help on Palestine and southern Lebanon. Exposing corruption hurts their chances or their hopes.

But maybe their hopes should be tempered. Maybe they have been wasting their time, thinking this UN could or would actually act. Look at the UN's marginalization, growing every year. Look at the ejection of peacekeeping missions, even from Africa. Look at the letters and emails, ignored and deleted...

Amid Sudan Deaths, Bashir Victory Declaration, Silence at UN, Disdain for Rebels

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 26 -- With Sudan's Omar al Bashir declaring victory in Sudan amid deadly clashes andkidnapped UN peacekeepers, in New York the UN Security Council, which had been scheduled to meet about Sudan, was silent Monday morning.

The Council's schedule provided for a meeting about UNMIS, the UN Mission in South Sudan. Inner City Press was told that UNMIS chief Haile Menkerios would be present and take questions. But at this key moment, in the UN's basement, the Council sat empty.

Over in the UN's three story North Lawn building, an Assistant Secretary General told Inner City Press that Bashir's 68% of the vote made him look more legitimate than "those countries where the leader claims ninety-eight percent."

Is this why the UN is implicitly blessing the election? "This way we avoid violence," said the ASG. And the UN gets to stay in the country. But at what cost to its credibility?

Moments later, a South African diplomat told Inner City Press his country's peacekeepers had been released. Just as Al Bashir said it would be: once the results -- and his winning -- were announced. As they say in legal Latin, res ipsa loquitur: the things speaks for itself.

On Friday, before al Bashir declared victory, Inner City Pressasked the UN about violence:

Inner City Press: There are these reports of 50 civilians killed in South Darfur that I am sure, I believe, the UN has probably seen. There are also, it’s reported that Mr. [Djibril] Bassole was told by JEM [Justice and Equality Movement] that they believe the Government is about to begin another military assault in Darfur. What’s the UN doing, just as an update? Has it gone to Jebel Marra? Is it trying to investigate the death of civilians? And can you confirm JEM’s concerns?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, it’s not for us to confirm JEM’s concerns, of course. On the second part, UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] has also received an unconfirmed report, but the mission has not received any reports that confirm signs of an imminent attack by the Government, or indeed the presence of the JEM in east and North Darfur. So, that’s the first bit, that we’ve heard these unconfirmed reports. We cannot, we have not received any reports that would confirm signs of an imminent attack.

And as for the violence in South Darfur that you are referring to, according to UNAMID, and you may wish to ask them for more details, but from what I understand, this was an incident on 20 April, and it involved inter-tribal violence, the details of which are a little sketchy, I would say. But its result, from what we know, according to UNAMID [is] 15 people killed, 24 injured. This also included Sudan border guard police, who were, according to UNAMID, ambushed in the course of this inter-tribal violence that I referred to. That’s pretty much what I have for you there. As I said, it may well be that UNAMID could provide you with more details.

UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari was meeting one on one with al Bashir, who telling promised to get the kidnapped UN peacekeepers from South Africa released. Reporting by Inner City Press indicates that the kidnappers are affiliated or aligned with Bashir's government. The UN has said nothing.

UN's Ban and Bashir, in previous handshake: repeated?

Insiders tell Inner City Press that Gambari would like Bassole to step down, so he could take over the Doha portfolio as well. Gambari was pushed out of his role in Iraq by UNAMI chief Ad Melkert. On Sudan he wants to consolidate his position. In New York he had told Ban, I can help with with GA President Ali Treki. He told Treki the same. Thus are careers made and preserved in the UN. But what about Darfur? What to make of the UN's and Council's silence?

Footnote: In front of the empty Security Council Monday morning were ambassadors of several developing countries, waiting for a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement next door. The NAM recently told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon he has no jurisdiction over war crimes, should not follow through on his promise to name a panel on Sri Lanka. And Ban has not moved forward, reverting to meeting with the Sri Lankan attorney general and hoping, like Sudan's scam elections, that the issue fades away.

On Western Sahara, Spain for Human Rights Mandate, Polisario Says UN Canceled its Stakeout "for Morocco"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 26 -- As France and the UK face off on whether to include a human rights mandate in this week's UN Security Council resolution on the Western Sahara mission MINURSO, Inner City Press on Monday asked Spain's deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega if her country supports the inclusion of the right mandate.

Yes, Fernandez de la Vega said. She said human rights must be part of the mandate. Until now, this had not been known to be Spain's position. But even in response to a follow up question, Fernandez de la Vega confirmed the position. Videohere.

She was speaking at the UN Television stakeout position on the second floor of the UN's Temporary North Lawn Building, after she met with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. On Friday, Mohamed Abdelaziz, Secretary-General of the Frente Polisario, had met with Ban. The Press was told that he would speak at the stakeout at 5:15 on Friday.

But shortly before that, the UN announced over a loudspeaker that Mohamed Abdelaziz' stakeout had been canceled. Later on Friday, Ban issued a statement about the meeting.

On Monday, Inner City Press was told by a Polisario representative that Mohamed Abdelaziz' stakeout was canceled "after pressure from Morocco" to which the UN gave in. "The UN preferred to issue Ban Ki-moon's statement," the representative said. But by what right, one wondered, could the UN tell or even suggest to a party to a UN mediated conflict to not speak to the press?

UN's Ban and Fernandez de la Vega, rights and canceled stakeout not shown

There is a history here. Back when the Security Council was on the UN's second floor, the Polisario's representative was speaking before a UN TV camera went suddenly it went dark. When Inner City Press inquired, the UN's response was that it was an electrical problem. But it emerged that a Moroccan former UN official had called UN TV and told them to pull the plug.

Last week, Morocco's Ambassador was seen buzzing around the Security Council, even as they met about Chad. To cover their side of the argument, they point to an OLAF report that the Frente Polisario over estimates the number of people in the camps in order to get more food rations than are needed from the UN World Food Program, and then re-sell the rations for profit.

Fernandez de la Vega, after her statement that Spain supports inclusion of a human rights mandate in MINURSO, said that the big picture us a solution that both parties can agree to, allowing for self-determination. This seems a long way off. Will human rights monitoring be a start? The resolution will be adopted on Thursday. Watch this site.

Footnote: Inner City Press also asked Fernandez de la Vega if Spain's Alberdi, who got the top post at UNIFEM over an Indian candidate in a process determined, some say, by Spanish monetary contributions, is a candidate to head the forthcoming UN gender "super-agency." Fernandez de la Vega said that she is. "Now it's official," a Spanish correspondent said. So too with Spain's position on including a human rights mandate in the Western Sahara Mission?

* * *

On Kabul Death, UN Floats "Implausible" Theory, Withholds Report, Banbury and Hughes, Cover Up Alleged

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 26 -- While denying it engaged in a cover up, the UN on Monday argued that its staff member Louis Maxwell, shown in a cell phone video being shot while standing next to Afghan National forces, was killed by bullet from long range, which the UN calls "friendly fire."

While UN official Tony Banbury last week said on the record that Louis Maxwell as "murdered," to brief on Monday the UN produced Susana Malcorra, the head of the Department of Field Support. Inner City Press asked Ms. Malcorra why Mr. Banbury was not taking the questions, and whether the UN was retreating from his statement about "murder." Video here, from Minute 17:07.

Ms. Malcorra said Banbury's word "murder" was "probably not the best word to have been used." All the more reason, then, to have Banbury come and answer questions about what many view as the UN's implausible explanation of Maxwell's death. Inner City Press last week sent Banbury -- and Ms. Malcorra -- a number of questions by e-mail, none of which have been answered.

When Ms. Malcorra confirmed that the individual killed on the cell phone video was "absolutely" Louis Maxwell, she said the UN is conclude he was killed from long range. But he is surrounded by Afghan National forces, who do no flinch or even look up at Maxwell falls dead beside them. As numerous participants at Monday's press conference concluded, this makes no sense. The most diplomatic among them called it "implausible."

See cell phone video, here, esp. at Minute 1:01 to 1:04

What was presented, or rather summarized, on Monday was the UN's own Board of Inquiry's report. The text of the report was not provided. Nor when Inner City Press asked for the identifies of three of the Board's four members would Ms. Malcorra provide the names.

This contrasts to the UN's recent report on the death of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, in which all three panel members were identified, and copies of the report provided to the press prior to the April 15 briefing. Some wonder, is a UN staff member less important? Or since it is a UN staff member, does the UN feel comfortable adopting less transparent procedures?

Ms. Malcorra explained the anonymity of the Board of Inquiry's members as an attempt to "preserve their identities for the sake of future involvement in other matters, this or equivalent situations." But judges and police work on one case after another, with their names being known.

While Ms. Malcorra repeatedly called the Board "independent," it was headed by Andrew Hughes, who stopped being a paid UN staff member, at earliest, in September 2009. Hughes was paid as a consultant during the "investigation," and was on record in UN Police magazine while working for the UN has trying to build bridges and trust with the Afghan National forces.

To some he seems a strange person to then purportedly independently investigate the Afghan National forces. Unlike Herald Munoz who headed the UN's Bhutto panel and answered questions, Mr. Hughes has not been made available.

The other three members include two current UN system employees, and one "former staff" member. Can such a Board be called independent?

UN's Malcorra: report, Banbury and Hughes not shown

Basic factual inconsistencies were not resolved by the Board of Inquiry. It was said, back in October, that the Afghan National forces did not arrive for 90 minutes, which is difficult to square with the account provided by Ms. Malcorra on Monday, essentially portraying Mr. Maxwell as being killed in the fog of war.

The video shows no fire being exchanged, nor Mr. Maxwell's UN gun raised. Ms. Malcorra said the gun was "recovered" -- but from whom?

Inner City Press asked when the UN because aware of and got the video footage. Ms. Malcorra said they became aware "sometime in January" and got a copy in late January. From the German Mission in Kabul? No. From whom? Ms. Malcorra wouldn't say.

Inner City Press concluded with two overarching questions. The first involved allegations made to it by UN staff in Kabul that the UN, including Ban Ki-moon in particular, refused to raise this issue to the Afghan government, or to make it public since January.

Ms. Malcorra's defense seemed to be "due process" -- that it would have been unfair to the Afghan government to say anything. But what about Louis Maxwell and his colleagues? What about the truth?

The last question was, given both that at the time of the attack and deaths, there was tension because Hamid Karzai's government on the UN about electoral fraud, and that now Karzai is accusing the UN and other "outside forces" for being responsible for the fraud, and that the UN is reticent to criticize governments which threaten to throw it out or bristle like Sudan, how can this not be seen as a cover up.

Ms. Malcorra replied that the Board was independent. But it was composed of two current and two former UN system staff. There is a need for an outside review, and fast.

A well placed UN Security official who has watched the issue develop, including passing information to Inner City Press from people who knew Louis Maxwell, told Inner City Press on Monday, "Keep pushing this, a cover up in wrong, especially in this case." Watch this site.

* * *

Of UN Council, Rice on Sudan and Congo, S. Africa Running for Seat, UN Musical Chairs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 26 -- Promoting its candidacy for a Security Council seat in 2011-12, South Africa threw a reception at the UN Monday night. The news, however, came from current Council members. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice was there, meeting and greeting including with the Press. One of her answers, about the Council's Congo trip, she said was off the record. Other answers will be reported, diplomatically of course.

Since on the day Sudan's Omar al Bashir declared electoral victory the UN had said nothing at its noon briefing, rebuffing a shouted question from Inner City Press on Sudan and from another journalist about the Balkans, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rice if she thought the UN was being too quiet.

Amb. Rice replied, as she would on Northern Congo, that she had spent the day immersed in something else, presumably Iran. These proposed sanctions, it seems clear, are the US Mission's and Administration's focus. But what about the outbreak of fighting between the SPLM and northerners, either tribes or Bashir's army?

The focus, Amb. Rice said, the "big enchilada," is really on the referendum on South Sudan being independent. But if the process of these election was not credible, why and how would that one be?

Still on Sudan, when Inner City Press told Ambassador Rice about reports of UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari meeting earlier in the day with Omar al Bashir, she smiled thinly. On the other hand, Sudan's Ambassador told Inner City Press he had called Gambari directly, and Gambari had gushed about the meeting, He said that in the pending UNMIS resolution, there is an attempt to give UNMIS chief Haile Menkerios a role up in Darfur.

A Moroccan political coordinator, on the other hand, said the mixing of UNMIS and UNAMID would give Gambari a role in the South, "even if it breaks away." We'll see.

Turning to the Congo, Inner City Press asked about the UN's strange failure to commit to investigating the alleged 11 civilian deaths caused in the re-taking of the airport in Northern Congo. When told that the alleged perpetrators are the Congolese Army, with which the UN works, Ambassador Rice said "good question." Inner City Press told her she is more likely to get an answer. "Thank you," she said.

US's Susan Rice, Gambari and "big enchilada" not shown

There was chit chat, too. A reporter recounted that St. Lucia's Ambassador said Ms. Rice is part Caribbean. Ambassador Rice nodded. "All you need to know about me," she said, is I am half Jamaican and was conceived in Nigeria. She laughed. "My grand mother's maiden name was Daley [or Daly], as in Irish."

Some reporters suggested she speak more with the press, contrasting her approach to that of the French. She shrugged. I can't do it every week, she said, adding that Americans are "not peacocks."

Menkerios, as it happens, will speak to the Security Council on Tuesday afternoon and then, it is promised, with the Press. An African Ambassador, requesting anonymity, told Inner City Press on Monday night that Menkerios' old position with the Department of Political Affairs will be filled by current Cyprus representative Taye-Brook Zerihoun. Then who would take Cyprus -- Atul Khare? Watch this site.

Footnote: as requested by the South African mission, Inner City Press would be remiss not to note that, with the African Union's endorsesment, South Africa is virtually assured of re-gaining a Council seat in 2011-12. When Inner City Press quipped that this fast return made the country the "Japan of Africa," a South African representative reminded that before what's now called the Dumisani Kumalo term, South Africa had not been represented. So welcome back -- the fix is in.

* * *

Skepticism Greets UN's "Implausible" Tale of Kabul Killing, Even with Video Not Yet Seen by US' Rice and Other Dips

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 27 -- The UN's "implausible" explanation of the death of its staffer Louis Maxwell in Kabul last October drew skeptical reviews from diplomats at a South African reception Monday night. One Asian Ambassador, who had watched the UN webcast of Under Secretary General Malcorra summarizing a report she would not release, said sarcastically, "So they are saying he was shot while on the roof, then just happened to fall dead while surrounded by Afghan police?"

At Monday's press conference, Ms. Malcorra said both that Maxwell as killed by a bullet fired at long range and that it was definitely him in the cell phone video falling dead while next to Afghan National forces who neither flinch nor look up.

See cell phone video, here, esp. at Minute 1:01 to 1:04

Inner City Press asked the Ambassador's question to a senior UN official who said he was involved in the report-related last minute writing. No, the official stammered, we are not saying that he died, and then died again. There are a lot of open questions. We are counting on the Afghan's help at this point.

This help seems unlikely. It has already been made clear that the Afghan government did not assist with the UN's Board of Inquiry. This is now explained by the UN as a product of the Karzai government's anger at not being able to be a formal co-sponsor of the investigation rather than as obstruction.

It can be and has been said: Louis Maxwell's was an inconvenient death.

UN's Malcorra and Nesirky summarizing a report they won't release

Afghanistan's Ambassador Tanin was at the South African reception, and Inner City Press asked him about the report. I have passed it on to Kabul, he said. He met Monday morning with the UN's Alain Le Roy, Susana Malcorra and top security official Gregory Starr. Normally unflappable and impeccably dressed, Ambassador Tanin did not seem worried in the least on Monday evening.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, however, said that the Afghans are very worried. Inner City Press asked her about the Maxwell report, as well as about Sudan and Congo. On the latter, she requested off the record treatment. But on the Maxwell report, after saying she had been otherwise occupied on Monday -- presumably with the NPT and/or Iran -- she asked, "I take it you can't see in the video who is standing next to him?"

It seems the U.S. Ambassador has not seen the video. It ishere. As more people do, the story the UN spun on Monday will become less and less tenable, the Asian Ambassador predicted. Watch this site.

U.N.'s Environmental Housekeeping in Chaos, Internal Report Shows

By George Russell

- FOXNews.com

FOX News.com

The U.N. is telling countries how to save the planet, but its own environmental housekeeping is a 'scattered' mess, according to a report by a special group of internal investigators.

When it comes to telling the rest of the world how it must behave in order to save the planet from environmental calamity, and lobbying for trillion-dollar solutions to those problems, no organization in the world makes greater claims to being the leading authority — and global arbiter — than the United Nations.

Except, it seems, when it comes to its own behavior as an environmentally friendly global citizen. There the U.N. system is, according to members of a special group of internal U.N. inspectors, in chaos.

Among other things, the group, known as the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), found:

• U.N. efforts at setting internal guidelines on environmental housekeeping and management across its sprawling network of global organizations are "uncoordinated ad hoc efforts" that "continue to be scattered."

• Most of the environmental measures implemented by the central organs of its many funds and programs, not to mention the central U.N. secretariat, "are not based on any specific guidance and are not documented in a clear and transparent way."

• Almost all U.N. organizations, when queried, could not break out financial data on any measures or specific spending on environmental measures on their own account. One consequence, according to the inspectors: "the economic and ecological advantages to be derived" from new, efficient energy or recycling technologies "were not recognized" in U.N. bookkeeping.

"As a result, investments are based on incomplete information leading to suboptimal decisions." And those decisions tend to be "ad hoc and lacking in top leadership."

• When it comes to existing multilateral environmental agreements, or MEAs — international treaties for such things as preserving biodiversity, protecting wetlands and migratory species, and halting desertification — the U.N. officials responsible for implementing the agreements told the inspectors of a "lack of high-level support" from the organization's collective top leadership.

Indeed, the top leadership's emphasis on winning huge sums for global climate change made the guardians of existing treaties worry that their best staff would soon be hired away from them.

And elsewhere, in the document, the inspectors note that U.N. organizations "are not sure whether and how they should apply MEAs ... and other international environmental norms or standards formulated within and outside the United Nations system.'"

• When it comes to the U.N.'s own contributions to solving the global greenhouse gas problem, the organization's efforts are, according to the inspectors, not only unsystematic but sometimes indecipherable. The U.N. generates the equivalent of 1.741 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — defined by the U.N. itself as the world's most prevalent and pernicious greenhouse gas — every year (more than such countries as Mauritius Guyana and Laos). But it apparently doesn't have any administrative framework to handle the purchase of carbon offsets to balance its emissions, or even a systematic way to purchase or account for them.

According to the inspectors, U.N. procurement experts tasked with handling the offset transactions were apparently ignorant of the basics of the entire carbon offset business (which has been the subject of tens of thousands of hours of U.N.-sponsored conferences over the past decade, often with the aim of putting U.N.-sponsored organizations in charge of the offset trade). The ignorance has prevailed even while two U.N. interagency groups have been working to develop system-wide guidelines on "sustainable procurement."

The procurement officials observed by the JIU "were not well-versed in how to go about calling for bids, dealing with private brokers and assessing the viability of the offset projects they finance," the inspectors concluded. "They were also quite unaware of the scale of the fees charged by brokers." In some cases, the inspectors noted, "the spread of vendors' bids varied by 100 per cent."

• When it came to paying the tab for its own carbon emissions, U.N. accounting is incoherent, or opaque, or both. According to the inspectors, that tab could run to about $34.2 million annually at mid-2009 prices, but when it came to seeing how those carbon offset purchases were made across the U.N. system, the inspectors "have not been able to sort them out either in attribution of budget lines used for this purpose, or in terms of sources of financing."

These, and a variety of other less-than-flattering conclusions about the quality and coherence of the U.N.'s own environmental example, are contained in a 70-page report published last month with the numbing title of "Environmental Profile of the United Nations System Organizations: Review of their in-house environmental policies and practices."

Click here to see the report.

The document was prepared by two members of the JIU, a special, independent group of experts elected by the General Assembly. The obscure JIU is the only U.N. organization mandated to examine the overall behavior of the proliferating U.N. system, which has grown far beyond the New York-based Secretariat to include some 50 funds, agencies, programs and other bodies around the world, a number that is still growing.

The JIU's decision to explore the U.N.'s environmental housekeeping was apparently inspired by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon himself, who announced in June 2007 that he intended to make the U.N. headquarters organization "climate neutral and environmentally sustainable," in line with the U.N.'s global agenda. Ban invited the chiefs of all the other major U.N. organizations to join in the effort; they took a similar pledge four months later.

With an eye to the Copenhagen conference on climate change slated for December 2009 — now remembered as a diplomatic fiasco — the U.N. heads, at Ban's behest, also vowed to offset their organization's carbon emissions, just as they wanted rich countries to do.

The major problem with implementing the U.N.'s big initiative, the JIU inspectors conclude, is that the U.N. never really thought it through, nor did the world organization behave as if it were a serious undertaking.

As the inspectors put it, in their customary dry and careful language, "no common understanding has been reached as to the long term commitment of the United Nations system to climate neutrality and how it can be implemented and regularly financed."

Instead, "the initiative has often been perceived as a personal agenda of the Secretary-General as it has never been discussed and endorsed in administrative and financial terms by Member States" through the General Assembly.

To be fair, the JIU inspectors do not see ill-will on the U.N.'s failure to "walk the talk" of green citizenship. Instead, the inspectors blame bureaucratic inertia, internal anarchy, lack of careful thinking, and especially lack of clear, system-wide rules as the main reasons for the high-minded mess.

The U.N., they note, has been trying to get its environmental household management together in one form or another since 2001. Yet "despite these efforts, ad hoc intergovernmental decisions and internal guidelines on environmental housekeeping and management continue to be scattered."

Most U.N. employees appeared to be enthusiastic about being environmentally responsible at work, but, the inspectors noted, "most of the senior officers interviewed stated that their staff did not have in-house rules and regulations readily available to address their environmental concerns."

The inspectors could point to some promising initiatives, like the 2007 effort, sponsored, fittingly enough, by the Nairobi-headquartered United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) to hire an outside consultant to dissect its performance and recommend how to create a coherent environmental management system" for its HQ.

(Research for the JIU report apparently concluded before Fox News revealed last December that the U.N. via UNEP was creating a pilot project, named Greening as One, to actually make all U.N. offices climate neutral — but at a cost that the U.N. seemed determined to keep secret.

Nor did the inspectors think all of the U.N.'s environmental incoherence problems were of the organization's own making. Some U.N. member states, they noted, worried "about the potentially limited access for their national providers to the United Nations market" for goods and services if sustainable procurement was implemented.

But the U.N.'s habit of managing much of its procurement through projects devised in cooperation with national governments also made monitoring how the U.N. was spending its money to be "a challenge." The inspectors would like the U.N. to "increase the transparency and accountability" of its new sustainable procurement efforts.

But when it came right down to it, the U.N.'s big environmental problem, the inspectors felt, was a "lack of focus on in-house management issues." The U.N. needs to set up a "system-wide governance framework" to ensure that best practices are identified, and an organized way to share experience across the chaotic system in order to practice what it preached to the rest of the world.

To win its own Good Housekeeping seal of environmental approval, the U.N. also needs, the inspectors said, to "ensure greater accountability of United Nations system entities to Member States, the public and beyond."

The JIU's tough report is by no means the inspectors' only critique of the U.N.'s environmental competence. Only a year ago another JIU inspector issued an even more damning report that said the U.N.'s system of environmental management for the world at large was in the same chaotic shape as the JIU now diagnoses for its internal management.

Among other things, that report noted that the U.N.'s emphasis on "sustainable development" — merging anti-poverty programs with environmental protection — was starving actual environmental agencies of support, causing U.N. environmental mandates to proliferate without coordination, and creating a jungle of contending U.N. bureaucracies that made it impossible to even know how much the U.N. was spending to manage its environmental actions. (The "rough estimate": $1.65 billion.)

Part of the answer, the JIU inspector said then, was for Secretary-General Ban to provide the U.N. General Assembly with "a clear idea of the division of labor" among the jostling throng of competing bureaucracies.

With the U.N.'s external efforts at world "environmental governance" a seeming jumble, and its internal environmental management an apparent mess, the JIU's inspectors have made a striking case over the past year that one of the major environmental problems the world faces may be — the U.N. itself.

George Russell is executive editor of Fox News.