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On Libya, Ban's Defense of NATO, France & Qatar Slammed by Russia

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 19 -- On Monday, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin criticized NATO for having denied it killed civilians in Libya, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for having said that NATO strictly complied with the mandate of Security Council Resolution 1973, to protect civilians.

  Churkin said that if NATO can't investigate itself for killing civilians, the UN should help. Inner City Press asked Churkin if he meant that the UNSMIL mission under Ian Martin should investigate, or the UN Human Rights Commission under Navi Pillay.

  In the first instance it should be NATO, Churkin said. He declined to say if the issue will be raised directly to Ban at his lunch on December 20.

  Back on Friday, December 16, Inner City Press asked Ban's Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq about Ban's strange claim that resolution 1973 had been strictly complied with, despite evidence of civilians being killed and a TV station damaged by NATO bombing, of the French air dropping in weapons to the Nafusa mountains, of Qatar having had "boots on the ground" during the conflict:

  Inner City Press:  The Secretary-General, in his press conference this week, said resolution 1973, I believe, was strictly enforced within that limit, within that mandate. I wanted to know, does this… what does he think of… does he believe that NATO should investigate these deaths and is that… is the number 50? It seems the mandate was very much to protect civilians and not kill them; what did he mean when he said that it was fully implemented and within the mandate?

Associate Spokesperson Haq: Simply that. The Secretary-General, I stand behind what he said just two days ago; he does believe that NATO carried out its mandate, the mandate that was provided under resolution 1973 (2011). He believes that they took action to protect civilian lives. Beyond that, I wouldn’t have any further comment about the Human Rights Watch report. That report is really directed towards NATO, and it is for them to report to their recommendations.

Inner City Press: You can see how the two seem to be related. I mean, I guess what I am saying is that is what he said, and I understood he said it, is it inconsistent with the idea that NATO may have inadvertently killed civilians?

Associate Spokesperson: He stands behind what he said. He believes that NATO carried out the mandate as faithfully as it could.

(c) UN Photo
Ban speaks previously at NATO, response to Churkin not yet shown

Inner City Press: One last question on that. It seemed clear that one of the things they did was to bomb a TV station, and I am just wondering, is that… I mean, again I am just trying to understand what the statement means. Was that… does this mean that Ban Ki-moon believes that the bombing of a TV station is the protection of civilians?

Associate Spokesperson: Again, I don’t have anything further to say beyond what the Secretary-General said two days ago. Comments about NATO actions, I think, it would be up for NATO to respond to those. So, I think you need to ask NATO.

Inner City Press: But just, I mean, obviously he is speaking… when he says it was implemented correctly, he means he is speaking about NATO.

Associate Spokesperson: He said what he said and he stands by it.

  Haq said that Ban stood by it -- Inner City Press, as noted since by more than one Security Council mission, was not allowed any questions of Ban at his press conference -- but now that Churkin has explicitly criticized Ban's statement, will a "clarification" issue, as it has on Ban's initial total deference to member states on drones? Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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