UN/IPCC foundations, legacies and values of Olympian proportions

While I was watching a video of the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics last week, I thought I spotted (at approx. 16:30) UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon in the same row and a few seats away from Putin.

Click image to view video on YouTube

Click image to view CBC’s video on YouTube

Since Russia is the host country, it certainly made sense for Putin to be there. But Ki-Moon? What in the name of Gaia’s good green earth would he be doing in the grandstand?! OK, so he did a colourful photo-op stint carrying the Olympic Torch on Feb. 6; but what makes him more special than any of the thousands of other torch-bearers along the way?

He was definitely in town to grace the Opening with his smiling, scripted presence. Of course no mention was made of the mode of transportation used to spirit him from UN Headquarters to Sochi. Nor does anyone seem to be tracking his cumulative “carbon footprint” as he traverses the planet delivering the latest and greatest UN slogan of the day!

But wait ... there's more!

But wait … there’s more!

I’m sure you’ll never guess the message he was flogging during this (no doubt “unprecedented”) address to this particular gathering of the high and mighty of the IOC.

Opening remarks at joint press conference with Mr. Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee

[…]

It is a great honour and privilege for me to participate in the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympic Games. What an exciting time for me to be in Sochi! I am thrilled to be here. […] You can count on the United Nations and on myself, and we can build upon all the foundations and legacies which have been laid down.

[IOC] President Bach is building on the fine work of former and Honorary IOC President Jacques Rogge, who succeeded in elevating the IOC to observer status at the United Nations and left a lasting legacy of cooperation. Just one example – in February 2012, President Rogge and I made an unprecedented joint visit to Lusaka, Zambia, to see the power of sport for development and peace. […]

And, as you just saw, I had the privilege of addressing the Olympic Session for the first time as the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

This all reflects the increasingly strong and productive partnership between the United Nations and the IOC. We share the same values, including universality, solidarity and non-discrimination.

[…]

The Olympics give us an opportunity to celebrate everyone’s right to compete on equal terms – no matter what they look like, where they come from or whom they love.

[…]

We can build on the Olympic Truce movement, too. I repeat my call once again for all armed combatants to lay down their arms during these Olympic Games. This is a moment of peace and harmony and mutual understanding and mutual respect.

Many United Nations agencies work directly with the IOC to fight racism, combat AIDS and drug abuse, protect the environment and to promote education. We also work together to advance the Millennium Development Goals, which must be reached by 2015. I am sure that work will continue as we define the sustainable development agenda that must follow the MDGs, including how to tackle climate change.

The convening power of the United Nations and global reach of the Olympic movement make a dynamic global duo. [emphasis added -hro]

So that was the Press Conference. If you’re curious to know what actual pearls of wisdom Ki-Moon had bestowed upon his (no doubt enchanted) audience at the 128th Session of the IOC, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), parent of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – and creator and promulgator of scary stories since 1972 – has archived them for posterity.

Here are some excerpts from the words of the Great Leader of the UN half of this “global dynamic duo”, which – considering his “theme” – are to my mind far more notable for what they did not contain than for that which they did.

Sports can help advance human rights.

Last year, the United Nations marked the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by focusing on the power of sport. We are all aware of the need to combat ugly and hurtful racist displays at sporting matches.

And this past December, the theme of Human Rights Day was “Sport comes out against homophobia.”

Many professional athletes, gay and straight, are speaking out against prejudice.

[…]

We are working hard to bring in relief supplies to all people affected by this horrible conflict [in Syria] – and to end it through a political solution. We are striving to address many other cases of senseless violence in our world, to heal those who have suffered and to prevent future outbreaks of conflict. The Olympic movement is our great partner in this effort.

The United Nations will continue to partner with the IOC to build a better, freer and more equal world. [emphasis added -hro]

Can you remember the last time that the UN actually succeeded (if it even seriously tried) in ending a conflict or “case of senseless violence”? No? Sadly, nor can I.

But speaking of “senseless violence”, the UN and the IOC … I might have missed it, but I don’t recall seeing or hearing any hint of concern (in fact, not even a mention) on the part of Ki-Moon regarding the disgraceful decision of the IOC (the “great partner” and other half of this “dynamic global duo”) as recently as 2012 during the London Summer Olympics, when – as reported by (amongst others) Bill Plaschke in the L.A. Times – it became quite well-known that:

Shamefully, IOC can’t spare a minute to mark 1972 Munich terrorism

The International Olympic Committee says the opening ceremony of the London Games isn’t a ‘fit’ setting to mark deaths of 11 Israeli athletes. Those who disagree will defiantly stand as IOC chief Jacques Rogge speaks.

Rogge is president of an International Olympic Committee that steadfastly has refused to allow the memory of the massacred Munich 11 to be part of the opening ceremony. Not once since that September day in 1972 has the IOC given the massacre’s survivors the honor or comfort of even one second of solemnity during the important and symbolic opening night.

Plaschke concluded by noting:

I’ll be standing. I’ll be silent. And for that entire minute, I’ll be noting the shame that will surround Rogge as he speaks of the Olympic spirit while clearly violating it.

Why can’t the IOC just give them that one minute? It’s politics, of course. There is no outfit more political than the IOC, backroom deal makers in altruistic clothing. Their Olympic vision has become as much about money and power as fairness and competition.

Simply, and disgracefully, the IOC won’t honor the fallen Israeli athletes at the opening ceremony because they don’t want to anger the nearly 50 Arab and predominantly Muslim countries that are also competing in the Games. [emphasis added -hro]

On the “political outfits” as “backroom deal makers in altruistic clothing” front, I’m inclined to disagree with Plaschke: The view from here, so to speak, is that any match between the IOC and the UN would unequivocally (and incontrovertibly) end in a photo-finish tie.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I recognize how similar the “foundations and legacies” – and “values” – of the ‘great partners’ in this “dynamic global duo” really are.

It’s certainly common knowledge that both the IOC and the UN have $candal$ galore in their respective billion dollar closets. Both are equally adept at simulating action on much needed reforms and seem to share a deeply ingrained culture of “Do as I say, but not as I do”.

On the finance front, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the IOC is definitely the “junior partner” in this “dynamic global duo”. I could not find a recent budget for the IOC, but eventually I did find some financial statements. So in the following comparisons, I regret that we must compare the UN’s (approved) budget with the IOC’s (published) actuals.

The UN’s “Regular Budget 2012-2013” – which does not include its peacekeeping budget, except when it does, indicates that:

The General Assembly approved the programme (regular) budget for 2012-2013 in the amount of US$ 5,152 billion (resolution 66/248). The proposal includes US$ 1,083 million in respect of special political missions that are expected to be extended or approved during the course of the biennium.

Furthermore,

Areas of increased expenditures are a direct result of additional mandates and priorities set by Member States, including:

• Strengthening the Peacebuilding Support Office
• Strengthening the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
• New initiatives to strengthen the Rule of Law activities
• Administration of justice
• Activities of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services
• Strategic Heritage Plan at the United Nations Office at Geneva
• Strengthening the Development Pillar (Parts IV and V)
• DPA strengthening
• Disarmament

Looks like they forgot about the “strengthening” of Achim Steiner’s ever-expanding empire, the UNEP. But maybe that’s included in the peacekeeping budget (as opposed to the peacebuilding budget). But who knows, eh?! Could even be included in the “sports” budget – which must be included somewhere since Ki-Moon has already pronounced on “the power of sport for development and peace”.

As for the IOC, in an article in the Feb. 14 edition of Canada’s National Post about the IOC’s considerably less than medal-worthy past (and present), I found:

The power behind Olympic glory: IOC soaked in stupendous wealth, mystery and controversy

Raking in more than US$3-billion in 2012, the International Olympic Committee distributes its largesse through a bewildering number of outlets, with the bulk of the money going to national Olympic committees. And though broadcasting brings in the lion’s share of revenue, broadcasting costs have also soared, making up an increasingly large part of spending.

There are parts of this same article which reminded me of some behavioural patterns and characteristics of the IPCC – and/or its UNEP “parent” and/or its UN “grandparent”. Here’s one:

Although governments contribute cash to the Olympics, the IOC is private. It receives billions in revenue that critics say are not subject to enough scrutiny.

“Because it’s a private organization — they are not funded by the government or by the public — they don’t have any obligation to give information or be transparent,” said Jean-Loup Chappelet, a professor at the graduate school of public administration at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and one of the few academics to study the IOC’s governance.

No “obligation to give information or be transparent”?! Perhaps this was the “model” (notwithstanding all claims and protestations to the contrary) for the IPCC’s repeated pattern of responses and behaviours – both past and present.

So … When considering the foundations, legacies and values of the UN (and its offspring, particularly the IPCC) and those of the IOC, do we have a case of “Mendacity loves company”? Or simply a case of ‘You keep silent about our scandals and hypocrisy, and we’ll keep silent about yours’? Or perhaps both?!

4 thoughts on “UN/IPCC foundations, legacies and values of Olympian proportions

  1. This information needs to be shared with the general public. Being on Facebook helps and I encourage people to actually read your blogs. This is one of your better ones,Hilary. A gold medal for you!

  2. Good post – one irony is that the preparations for the Sochi games also seem to have created a bit of environmental havoc in a UNESCO World Heritage area, according to this article, at least:
    http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/02/15/comment-sochi-olympics-have-left-trail-environmental-destruction

    “The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) played a very positive role in the course of preparation for the games, carrying out regular assessments and reporting back to the Russian government. But only in a few cases did Olympic organisers take any action based on these reports and recommendations.”

    It does sound like an exceptionally strong and productive partnership.

    Slightly OT but it looks like another stage of the UN’s slow-moving Green Climate Fund extortion exercise has just concluded in Bali (well, of course Bali, where else!) without much of note being decided:
    http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/02/bali-pivotal-moment-climate-financing/

    “It was hoped that the Feb. 19-21 meeting in Bali would clarify from where and exactly how the fund’s coffers will be filled. Prior to the meeting, the GCF had received 34 million dollars from Germany and South Korea, just enough to pay the staff at its Incheon headquarters.”

    34 million dollars just on GCF staff salaries (over one year? not sure) – either these people are overpaid or there are too many of them, or both!

    “Without clarification and donor guarantees, the U.N.’s 2015 comprehensive global climate conference in Paris could be thrown into disarray.”

    Well, that’s the hope.

  3. Can you remember the last time that the UN actually succeeded (if it even seriously tried) in ending a conflict or “case of senseless violence”? No? Sadly, nor can I.

    Irian Jaya. Darfur. Haiti. Cyprus.

    In general we can’t remember the wars the UN stops, because they never happened! The idea that they have never seriously tried is ridiculous — there are peacekeepers preventing wars in many places. Do you think they do it for the laughs? Would you rather the people in the Congo were not protected from warlords?

    There have been far fewer wars between states since the UN started. Far fewer. Probably more importantly, the ones that do start don’t spiral out of control quite like they used to (say Argentina-Falklands) because non-combatants draw lines publicly in the UN to prevent them doing so.

    There has also been much better treatment of refugees from wars. UNHCR does a thankless task, but has saved probably millions of people from miserable deaths.

    Disliking the UN and its bureaucracy has made you blind to what it does do well.

    We know it’s corrupt. Politics always is, more or less. The question is not “is it corrupt?” but: what would be better?. Because getting rid of it would not be better for those whose lives are saved by peacekeepers or brokered deals. It’s easy from our safe homes in safe countries to denigrate the efforts of those dying in order to protect people. but it’s not wise.

    Note also that there are two entirely separate UNs. There’s the political parliament of nations, if you will. There is also a massive bureaucracy under it, including the IPCC etc. You are confusing them deliberately. We could all live quite happily without the bureaucracy. But the political part not so much.

  4. The IOC is private, as is the climate-alarmistic Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Impact (PIK), a charitable association. Both don’t pay taxes and set their own rules and salaries and bonuses. PIK gets most of its money from the German tax-payer, but it is only accountable to itself. The director, H. J. Schellnhuber rules his own kingdom within the PIK (his wife is Direktor for „Art and Science“, several personal assistants cater for his needs). His attack-dog, Stefan Rahmsdorf of RealClimate-fame, ruthlessly bullies the media and unsuspecting blog-commenters; he is not accountable to the government or the rest of the public, so he knows no limits.

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