This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.
The man now in charge at the IPCC belongs to a privileged, protected, secretive entity headed by the UN’s former top climate official.
When Hoesung Lee was elected head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently, the Seoul-based Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) issued a celebratory press release. Lee – who hails from South Korea – has a seat on one of the GGGI’s governing bodies.
But this little-known entity is no mere institute. In fact, it’s another creature of the United Nations. As a headline on the GGGI website makes clear, an international treaty was required to bring it into existence. Membership is restricted to UN-recognized countries. Its stated purpose is “the successful outcome of the United Nations process on sustainable development.” Its Director-General, Yvo de Boer, used to be the UN’s top climate official.
GGGI appears to have begun life in 2010 as a bona fide South Korean non-profit foundation, before throwing itself into the arms of the UN two years later. Documents connected to its 2012 transformation can be downloaded from its website (see this 33-page PDF). The GGGI immodestly claims to be devising “a new model of economic growth,” which it considers “essential for the future of humankind.” Some of the planet’s least developed nations have signed up to act as guinea pigs for projects administered by the GGGI and funded by Australian, Danish, Norwegian, and British taxpayers.
There are plenty of good people working on important issues, some of whom are employed by research institutes. But when it comes to perqs and privileges, the GGGI leaves everyone
them in the dust. Calling the GGGI an institute is like calling Unilever – the multinational corporation that owns the Ben & Jerry’s, Lipton, Bertolli, Hellman’s, Becell, Knorr, and Dove brands – a soap company.
In actual fact, the GGGI enjoys a preposterous array of protections and immunities. We’re talking about the kinds of privileges normally reserved for nation states. Korea’s government has signed a document in which it has agreed to treat GGGI headquarters like an embassy. Korean authorities have no jurisdiction on its premises or over its records:
The Headquarters shall be inviolable. No person exercising any public authority within the Republic of Korea shall enter the Headquarters to perform any duties except with the express consent of the Director-General…The archives of the GGGI…shall be inviolable wherever located….The property of the GGGI…shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or legislative action. [pp. 1, 5, 6]
The GGGI and its staff enjoy “immunity from every form of legal process,” except in rare circumstances. The GGGI is exempt from taxation and customs duties, and may transfer funds in and out of Korea at will. The salaries of the roughly 100 people who comprise the GGGI staff are – drumroll, please – tax free.
People visiting the GGGI from outside Korea don’t need to produce passports as do mere mortals, since Korea’s government has agreed to treat GGGI-issued “travel certificates” as the equivalent of national passports. GGGI staff, their spouses, and their dependents are immune from “immigration restrictions” and baggage inspection “except in doubtful cases.” In the event of an international crisis, Korea will treat GGGI personnel and their families on a par with “diplomatic envoys.”
As if all of the above weren’t sufficiently bizarre, we read that:
The GGGI shall have the right to use codes and to dispatch and receive official communications by courier or in sealed bags, which shall have the same privileges and immunities as are accorded to diplomatic couriers and bags. [bold added, p. 6]
So the police can’t touch you. The courts can’t touch you. Customs officials have been instructed to treat you like royalty. Your pay cheque is tax free, and there’s almost no risk of being caught should you choose to smuggle items in or out of the country.
Pardon me, but I have a few questions:
Circling back to Hoesung Lee, the person now in charge of the IPCC
also belongs to a secretive entity headed by the UN’s former top climate official.
Translation #1: Lee is a UN insider. There isn’t a chance in a thousand that he’ll institute meaningful reform.
Translation #2: The IPCC is merely one bauble in the UN’s burgeoning toy box.