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At UN, Child Soldier Post Mulled for Fisher, Sooka, Sabliere or Jahangir, Haiti Cholera & HRW Echoes

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 9 -- With Children and Armed Conflict the closed door topic of the UN Security Council on Monday, talk turned to who will replace outgoing CAAC envoy Radhika Coomaraswamy.

  Monday's meeting included a report drafted by the so-called father of the agenda item, France's Jean-Marc de la Sabliere. He is mentioned as possibly returning to the UN to replace Coomaraswamy, though travel's said to be a problem.

  Also mentioned is Yasmin Sooka, who most recently for the UN served on Ban Ki-moon's Group of Experts on Sri Lanka, a report that Ban never embraced as his own.

  Popular with NGOs is Asma Jahangir, particularly given recent threats against her. Less popular with NGOs, but being pushed hard by Canada is Nigel Fisher.

  His many dismissive responses about the UN falling short in Haiti, denying the introduction of cholera by MINUSTAH peacekeepers and the shameless lack of accountability for sexual abuse, can't help the Fisher case.

  Last week on this Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's Deputy spokesman:

Inner City Press: Some time ago, I asked about this long article in the Christian Science Monitor called “Will the UN legacy in Haiti be all about scandal?” and it was said that you don’t comment on articles. But there’s now been a letter by Mariano Fernandez, the SRSG of MINUSTAH, and a lot of people are concerned that he said, on the issue of sexual abuse: “I will not evade the cases of sexual exploitation and abuse. They are outrageous and totally unacceptable and they are severely punished.” But what people don’t understand is it seems that the only punishment they can find is of a single one-year sentence to a Pakistani peacekeeper, nothing else for all the various cases raised. And the question is, is that what he is referring to? And does the UN consider one year for rape of a minor to be the severe punishment to which he’s referring?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I would invite you to ask the gentleman to explain what he was saying. Our position on sexual violence is that there is a zero-tolerance policy on sexual violence. Now, as you know, it is not up the United Nations itself to judge the cases of what happens. It’s up to the troop-contributing States. They apply justice and it’s up to them to make sure that justice is served. However, in the cases that I’ve seen recently, people have been identified, they have been removed from their posts and they have been subjected to national jurisprudence. In that sense, that is what has to be done.

Question: Yes, I understand that. It’s really this use of the idea of the “severely punished”. If he said, “we do what we can as the UN and send them back to the country”, then that’s the reality. But he seemed to be claiming that this was a sufficient punishment. I’m just asking you, is that the UN’s position?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I haven’t seen the reported letter myself, so I’ll have to check in with DPKO to see what they have to say on it.

  And in the four days since, there's been nothing from Herve Ladsous' DPKO on this. Ladsous' first public refusal to answer any Inner City Press question, due to critical coverage, came in response to questions on Ban Ki-moon and he taking advice from alleged war criminal Sri Lanka general Shavendra Silva, and about DPKO's role in cholera in Haiti. And so it goes at the UN.

Footnote: present in Monday's "Arria formula" was the UN representative of Human Rights Watch. As twice noted recently, incoming Security Council member Rwanda has a strong and unrebutted critique of HRW.

  Rwanda's Permanent Representative said to Inner City Press last week this is the "count down on Ken Roth." Will 2013 Arria Formula meetings be different? Did it make sense to devote more energy to responding to the spokesman of a P-5 member of the Security Council than the Foreign Minister of an incoming elected Council member, even to the point of calling her an "ambassador" and not correcting it? We'll see.

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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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