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On Colombia, ICP asked FM Holguin About UNSC Trip, Then Denied Right to Cover, Still Restricted

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 20 – Amid the litany of failures and stalemates on the agenda of the UN Security Council, the mission in Colombia stands up as a relatively positive one. Inner City Press has asked Colombia's Ambassador and High Commissioner for Peace about it, and on April 19 asked the country's foreign minister María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar about the upcoming Council visit which Inner City Press timely requested to accompany and cover. Video of María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar Q&A here, in Spanish. She said she had met with the Permanent Five members and the others at a lunch; another Ambassador told Inner City Press of the need to check if paramilitaries are "filling in" the spaced vacated by the FARC. Then on April 20 from the office of the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric came this form letter, "We regret to inform you that due to logistical constraints, we are not able to accommodate your request to travel with the Security Council during their visit to Colombia." This stands in contrast to Inner City Press covering Council trips to Darfur and South Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti and Cote d'Ivoire, and a Ban Ki-moon (ghoulish) trip to Sri Lanka. Since then, though, Dujarric and the UN Department of Public Information have evicted Inner City Press from its office for covering UN corruption, and still have it confined to minders and without an office, fourteen months later. This must be reversed. We'll have more on all this.
Colombia's High Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo spoke with the Press in New York on August 19, 2016, in the run-up to the August 26 UN Security Council meeting about Colombia. In the sit-down portion, Inner City Press asked him about criticism of the accountability provisions in the government's deal with the FARC, and of the status of talks with the ELN.

   Jaramillo said the criticism is unrealistic; they had to negotiated with the FARC, and got them to agree to trials for grave crimes like rape and other war crimes. But others get softer treatment. Jaramillo said implementation will be the key.

   Jaramillo said FARC has agreed, no illicit activity to fund their organization. The UN mission would be storing weapons in containers, as it did for example in Nepal. But would it have any drug or illicit activity role?

  On the ELN, Jaramillo said as long as they hold hostages, talks cannot proceed.

 On January 6, 2017, Inner City Press asked the UN's holdover spokesman Staphan Dujarric, vidoe here, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: Wanted to ask about the mission in Colombia.  Obviously, it's been reported that the four people have been taken.  Were they members of national contingents, or were they UN staff members?  Often in these cases we were told, like, there's due process or whatever.  Is the video evidence so compelling that…

Spokesman:  They were repatriated by their home countries.

Inner City Press:  What countries do they come from?

Spokesman:  I don't have those.

Inner City Press:  And was a decision made by the UN or by the troop-contributing country?

Spokesman:  There was a discussion between the UN Mission and the countries… and the countries concerned.  We can try to see if we can get you the list of the countries impacted.

  Eight hours later, nothing. And if it's wrong for observers to dance with rebels, why is it OK for "UN Correspondents" to take selfies with the new SG? We'll have more on this.

 On August 26, 2016, just before the Colombia meeting of the UN Security Council, UK Deputy Ambassador Peter Wilson took questions about the Council's role:

UK DPR Wilson: "This is a piece of extremely good news. It is a historic peace agreement. We are no looking forward to hearing from the SRSG about how the two parties want the UN to help take this peace agreement forward and help take implementation forward. We will then consider very carefully as a Council our next steps.
Q: Have you read the report by the Secretary-General? There’s a part that’s particularly interesting for us in Colombia, which is that we don’t know exactly who’s going to pay for the whole mission – between the mission, the guerrillas, and the government.
UK DPR Wilson: Well, I think that’s one of the issues that we are very much encouraging the UN to take forward with the Colombian government. I think overall the atmosphere in the Council on this is extremely happy to see this very good piece of news, and I think these are the kinds of details that we will want to be settling in a very cooperative matter.
Q: There’s also a possibility of it being signed here at the UN, because of the timings actually. It’s going to be towards the end of September. What do you think?
UK DPR Wilson: I think all of those things; those are things that we really want to take forward with the Government of Colombia in a way that satisfies the parties. So, it is they that we will be listening to most closely.

   Colombia's President Santos will speak at the UN General Assembly on September 21; there may be an event for bankers or investment bankers. Watch this site.

On Colombia back on March 11, even with the deadline for an agreement between the government and the FARC being pushed back, Germany's Special Envoy on Colombia Tom Koenigs spoke with the Press.

He had, he said, met with UN Under Secretaries General Feltman, Mulet, Ladsous and Khare, about the upcoming UN mission to be headed by Frenchman Jean Arnault. He noted the history of cultural exchange between Germany and Colombia," saying that "Germans read a lot of Garcia Marquez."

And now another German, Horst Kohler, stands poised to take the envoy position in one of the Council's failures, Western Sahara...


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