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On Syria, Staged Ban Does Not Answer on Rwanda, nor Houla or M23

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 30 -- As questions build up about the UN's performance not only in Syria but also Cote d'Ivoire, Haiti and the Congo, the UN on Monday canceled its normal noon press briefing. Inner City Press asked why and was told

"because the Secretary-General is holding a press briefing at roughly the same time, at 12:40 pm. In keeping with standard practice, no noon briefing takes place on days when the Secretary-General briefs the press."

  It's been no means clear that this practice is standard. But Inner City Press submitted some questions in writing to Ban Ki-Moon's spokesperson's office, then went early to the promised 12:40 stakeout.

  When Ban arrived, his deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey said he would deliver remarks then take "one or two questions."

  Ban talked about being on the Internet in China, about his pleasure with Kosovo's work under Security Council resolution 1244, and visiting Bosnia, among other places.

  Ban had cited Srebrenica and said he doesn't want his successor as Secretary General -- Inner City Press would add, assuming the UN hasn't gone the way of the League of Nations -- to have to apologize for Syria today.

But there is also the analogy of Rwanda, where a UN force fled as the Hutu government and allies slaughter 800,000 Tutsis. Here, Ban's head of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, who as French Deputy UN Ambassador in 1994 defended the actions of the Hutu government, is now "dismantling" the UN observer mission in Syria.

  So is Ban, through Ladsous, setting up another Rwanda?

  This question was not allowed. Rather Ban was urged to pull out even faster -- even though Robert Mood's replacement atop the UNSMIS mission, Babacar Gaye, only today was able to to go Homs and Al-Rastan and met with the Free Syrian Army -- and to give tacit approval to action outside the Security Council. He was asked about Kofi Annan, for whom of course he could not and did not comment.

  After Ban dodged a question about the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar, saying he wouldn't comment until after the Special Rapporteur hold a press conference. Ban didn't even mention that his former chief of staff Vijay Nambiar still is supposedly his envoy to Myanmar, while acting as chief of Sexual Violence and Conflict. Then it was over, and Ban left.

  So the trade became, a noon press briefing on a range of UN topics canceled for four selected questions, two of which Ban did not even purport to answer.

  Here are some of the questions Inner City Press submitted to Ban's top three spokespeople and have not yet been answered:

On Cote d'Ivoire, it has been reported that ONUCI did not know that Ivorian authorities identified and detained suspects in the killing of the seven UN Peacekeepers from Niger. What is the state of the UN's knowledge, and what will happen with those charged?

Also on Cote d'Ivoire, did Mr. Koenders interview any of the on the record witnesses to the killings and beating at the camp near Duekoue before issuing his statement on Friday? Have those people, two of whom I named at a noon briefing last week, been interviewed? What is the status of the UN's investigation, and how does it relate to SRSG Koender's statement on Friday?

Also on reports, where is / what is the status of the UN's inquiry into whether one or more civilians were killed by UN helicopter gunships and missiles in combating M23?

Where is / what is the status of UNSMIS' report on the killings in Houla?

I have other questions but will await answers to these.

And we're still waiting. Watch this site.

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