15 OCTOBER 2009


Doesn't the Secretary General have any control over his Special Representatives any more? Certainly, the very cautious Mr. Ban would not agree with the attack launched by his designated representative for Cyprus on the President of the U.N. host country, particularly that President Obama has been making a special effort to strengthen his country's involvement at the United Nations. The Special Representatives of the Secretary General are expected to exercise utmost care in dealing with member states, let alone a permanent member of the Security Council, which both the Secretary General and his Representative will certainly need.

The appointment of Mr. Downer had raised questions of conflict of interest because of his political consultancy firm -- we had pointed out that issue in detail at the time, but questions were dismissed out of hand. Downer brazenly explained that there was nothing wrong with doing business in international politics and his politically delicate assignment on Cyrprus.

Whatever anyone thinks of the U.S. President getting the Nobel Prize is is a freely open question. However, the Secretary General is certainly accountable, not only for his own statements but for those whom he officially appointed to represent him. Already, the press in Cyprus is raising questions.

The Cyprus Mail recently ran this on Downer on the U.S. President:

Downer mocks Nobel Obama decision

UN Special Envoy for Cyprus Alexander Downer said US President Barack Obama should have been "man enough" to refuse the Nobel Peace Prize and called it the worst decision in the history of the prestigious awards.

In a column he wrote for AdelaideNow, Downer said Obama was nominated after he had been in office for just 11 weeks.

"Even now, he only has served as President of the US for 8 1/2 months and has not had anything like enough time for his policies to bear fruit," Downer said.

"This was a very bad decision and Barack Obama should have been man enough to refuse the prize. If he had, he would have helped preserve the integrity of the Nobel Peace Prize and also demonstrate a disarming degree of modesty."

The Cyprus envoy, who has himself been the subject of much criticism in the Cypriot media lately, added: "How could he have snatched the prize from such people as the great Zimbabwean humanitarian and champion of freedom, Morgan Tsvangiri, or the renowned Greg Mortenson, a former U.S. Army doctor who has set up schools for girls in tough, Taliban-dominated areas of Afghanistan.

"These people are real heroes; brave, decent, effective and modest contributors to a better world.

Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba, who mediated to end the civil war in Colombia, apparently was nominated, too. But he is not on TV every night so he cannot get it."

Downer described this year's Nobel Peace Prize as "a hideous display of cynical politics" but does not blame Obama entirely, shifting most of it to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.

He bemoaned the fact that they never gave the prize to Mahatma Gandhi. "He was not worth it, apparently," said Downer "But Barack Obama after just nine months in the job?"

Criticising the chairman of the Nobel Committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, with whom Downer had a run-in with in the past, he said Jaglan had made "the worst decision in Nobel Peace Prize history".

"He has done real damage to the institution. You cannot help a fool," concluded Downer.