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At UN, Iran & Israel, Syria & Turkey Trade Replies Past 8 PM

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 23 -- When China as president of the UN Security Council for February scheduled a debate to “Reflect on history, reaffirm the strong commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the UN,” 75 countries originally signed up to speak -- then five more came in at the end.

  After that, the debate came to a bitter in with rights of reply or "further statements" by Iran, Syria, Turkey and Israel. (Azerbaijan and Armenia had already traded shots in the regular debate).

  Israel's Ron Prosor had mock-awarded Oscars during his speech. Saudi Arabia responded with a "worst actor" award for Israel, citing the Occupation. Israel followed up calling this a march of folly of despots attacking a democracy.

  Syria said Turkey's incursion to relocate a shrine violated the UN Charter, the ostensible topic of the debate. When Turkey took the floor is was to tell Armenia that genocide is a "legitimate subject of scholarly debate," and to note that the Turkish Cypriot were able to be heard in the Security Council debate.

  Neither were many other groups, including just for example people from Western Sahara, Tamils from Sri Lanka, and others. Palestine was spoken about, but did not speak. But it was a more interesting debate that usual, in the Council.

 This didn't stop the wan UN Correspondents Association from scheduling a book-selling event during the speeches by South Africa, Algeria and Iran. Inner City Press noted it; an Italian diplomat descended to note that Sebastiano Cardi was away from UNHQ on official work (already duly noted). Italy's speech didn't mention it is running for a Security Council seat in 2017-18, while the Netherlands' did. Different approaches.

   Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov slammed not only the occupation of Iraq, but also events in Kiev in the last year.

   Later, after the 15 Council members had all spoken, Ukraine's Pavlo Klimkin said his country is considering “requesting the United Nations to deploy a peacekeeping operation in Ukraine.”

   Klimkin was scheduled to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon later on Monday. But the UN's read-out of Ban's telephone call with Klimkin on February 20 said that “on the possibility of peacekeeping mission in eastern Ukraine, the Secretary-General informed the Foreign Minister that the United Nations would stand guided by any decision the Security Council would make on this issue.”

  Lavrov's meeting with Ban had been scheduled to begin at noon, and he only came out of the elevator back onto the second floor at 12:45 pm. A forty five minute meeting with Ban? How long would Klimkin get?

  Five hours after the meeting, the UN Spokesman, involved in the book-selling event in the UN Censorship Alliance during Iran's speech, had yet to issue a read-out.

   Before Klimkin's speech, US Ambassador Samantha Power spoke not only on Ukraine and Syria but also Sudan, noting that the Security Council was silent when Sudan blocked UNAMID access to investigate the rapes in Tabit, at least for the second time. That's true. But didn't the US just lift some sanctions on Sudan?

  Power also noted, as Ban Ki-moon as opening speaker had, that the UN Charter starts “We the peoples.” Has the US tried to get a UN Freedom of Information Act, for peoples? That's what the Free UN Coalition for Access is pushing for.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said some “even attempt to... whitewash past crimes of aggression.”

   While his reference seemed directed at Japan, when he came to the stakeout and said he had time for two questions, the head of UNCA -- the UN's Censorship Alliance -- bumbled through two questions without asking about this. Instead he asked, or seemed to ask, do you think Syria can transition without Assad?

   These set-aside questions, to a FOIA-exposed censor, is not consistent with press freedom.

  Ambassador Power linked UN Peacekeeping and human rights. Inner City Press has exclusively asked, in print and at the UN's noon briefing, does DPKO under Herve Ladsous use human rights abusers, for example from Bangladesh?

   Speaking of peacekeeping, Spain's Ignacio Ybanez talked about UN principles. One waited to hear of peacekeeper killed in Lebanon: will that report be made public?

 The UK's Mark Lyall Grant cited the Peace Operations Review. Will that address the sale of posts in DR Congo & Haiti?

  Venezuela's Delcy Rodriguez said Palestine must be a full member of the UN, under international law.

   New Zealand's Murray McCully said that the UNSC agenda is jammed up with bureaucratic briefings rather than real deliberation - entirely true.  And so it goes at the UN.


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