Inner City Press


In Other Media-e.g. Somalia, Ghana, Azerbaijan, The Gambia   For further information, click here to contact us          .

Home -

Search is just below this first article

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07 7/19/07 6/29/07 6/14/7 6/1/7

How to Contact Us


Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"

Inner City Press Podcast --

Headed to Beijing, UN's Peacekeeping Chief Dodges On Darfur Pilots and Post-Coup Fiji

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 16 -- Tactical helicopters "are not like renting a car at the airport," UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno told reporters Friday, on the eve of flying to Beijing to meet with Chinese officials. Inner City Press had asked if the UN has any indication if Sudan would accept Chinese pilots for the six needed tactical air and 18 transportation helicopters. Mr. Guehenno did not answer directly, rather saying that the pilots and helicopters would come from the same country. So will he be asking China for some or all of the copters? Asked directly what his message for Chinese officials about Darfur will be, he said that "it's important that all members of the [Security] Council impress upon Sudan the fact that the UNAMID [mission] is there to help all people of Sudan" but must "be robust."

            The purpose of Mr. Guehenno's meeting with reporters, held on the UN's 37th floor, appears to have been to promote his four day visit to Beijing to Chinese national press. Guehenno's spokesman, who ultimately passed his boss a note to say "last words" and "thank them," pointedly told journalists to limit themselves to questions "on topic." So, for example, it was not allowed to ask what would happen with the UN's $250 million no-bid award to Lockheed Martin if, as Guehenno has threatened, the UNAMID is not deployed. That is a question that should, however, be answered.

   One reporter asked about the UN accepting peacekeepers from non-democratic countries and those accused of human rights abuses. Guehenno responded that he does not favor excluding troops from such countries. Inner City Press asked about ex Secretary-General Kofi Annan's statement, in late 2006, that unless Fiji's coup d'etat was overturned, there could be an impact on Fijian service in UN peacekeeping missions. While what Mr. Guehenno had said put him at odds with his then-boss' policy, Friday Guehenno said that there's "a limited number of Fijians in a guard unit, under the responsibility of our colleagues in the Department of Safety and Security, protecting the mission in Iraq." He added that "we have spoken frequently with the Fijian authorities because we believe it was be good for the reputation of the country to return to civilian law." But Annan tied it to peacekeeping, and the UN has repeated rebutted reports that the number of Fijian peacekeepers in use had expanded. Which is it?

Chinese president Hu Jintao in Liberia, helicopters not shown

            Guehenno was asked, does the "Zero Tolerance" policy apply only to sexual abuse? To all crimes, he answered, adding that the UN "didn't hire" an officer put forward by a country, unnamed, because of issues in his background. He said it can't be "hearsay," though, apparently referring to the Rwandan officer accepted, over protests, as the Deputy Force Commander for UNAMID. Afterwards it was pointed out that one of the Sri Lankan soldiers recently repatriated from the UN's mission in Haiti complained of mixed messages: the UN hands out condoms, an anti-HIV policy that originated in the Security Council, while treating sex -- well, sex for pay -- as a crime. Even the accused must be listened to.

            While in Beijing, for a China - ASEAN seminar on Challenges Facing Peacekeeping and Regional Cooperation, Guehenno says he will meet with representatives of China's Defense and foreign affairs ministry, and "maybe from the Office of the Prime Minister." China, Guehenno emphasized, is now the 13th largest peacekeeping contributor to the UN, the second largest of the Security Council's permanent five members, after France, whose UN commitment is focused in Lebanon. Guehenno conceded that others in the P-5 will say they do peacekeeping through UN authorized missions, such as in Afghanistan. Still, he said, it is important for P-5 members to "show solidarity."

            Asked about the future of UNIFIL in Lebanon, Guehenno said he hasn't yet been briefing by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who upon arrival in Beirut on November 15 told reporters "I will take no questions at this point." On November 16 he said "As-Salamu Alaykum" (in New York he was quoted about "my man Jay-Z"), and answered five questions. He said he met with General Graziano and told him that "because of my very heavy schedule, I was not able to visit UNIFIL this time." He said, "UNIFIL is here to stay as long as necessary." So there.


* * *

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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Search WWW Search

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service.

            Copyright 2006-07 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540