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Coomaraswamy Admits Problems in Yemen, Myanmar & DRC, Rwanda to UNSC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 5 -- In her farewell to the UN press conference on Thursday, Radhika Coomaraswamy came to praise the transition in Myanmar, leading to the belated signing of an action plan on Children and Armed Conflict in that country.

  Inner City Press asked her about the UN staff recently detained by the government there, whose names the UN didn't even want to give out. Coomaraswamy, as has often been the case during her tenure, at least acknowledged that there was and is a problem.

  Listing countries in which child soldiers are recruited but where the US nevertheless provides military aid, Inner City Press asked Coomaraswamy about the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Yemen. The latter, she said, was only listed this year; the DRC is negotiating a deal.

  (Later on Thursday, Rwanda's Permanent Representative spoke of the DRC with Inner City Press, outside the Security Council which his country will be joining in January, and presiding over in March. He said Rwanda was asked to mediate, that's why they made the calls. He spoke again of Human Rights Watch and their "arrogant" attitude. "Countdown on Ken Roth," he said. Things will change in January.)

  Coomaraswamy's approach, by contrast, has not been arrogant. She tangled with countries like Colombia and India, mostly because her listing of rebel groups there led to attempts to sign plans of action and, in the authorities' view, a legitimization of the rebels.

  Inner City Press asked Coomaraswamy how to solve this battle of perception. She said her Office, soon to be headed about another, can only negotiate in a country with the consent of its government. But that consent sometimes does not come easy.

  Coomaraswamy's next stop will be just south at NYU. We wish her well. Watch this site.

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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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