At the UN, Who Is a Journalist, Who Decides and How
Are Put to the Pincas Test: From Taiwan to Climate Change
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
UNITED NATIONS, March 29, updated March 30, 2
pm -- The UN, at which terrorism remains without a definition, decides in a
decidedly murky process who can have access as a journalist to its briefings.
Who decides, and how, were brought to the fore on Thursday by a denial of
renewed accreditation. The UN's current definition is that a journalist's
emphasis must be on original content and not commentary, and that reporters
should not ask long and "non-governmental organization-like" questions.
The UN's policy on questioning, however,
appears to some to be unevenly applied, based on the size of the media outlet.
The UN's dismissing of commentary is called anachronistic and out-of-step with
the online or "New" media, and an impediment to outreach, particularly in the
UN's host country.
These questions were squared
raised if not answered at the briefing of the Office of the Spokesperson of
Secretary-General on Thursday. This same-day evolving exploration will try to
get closer to answers. At the noon briefing, following read-outs from Sudan and
Haiti, and questions about the fifteen UK military personnel in Iranian custody,
a more localized concern:
question relates to something that was
asked yesterday about
and the attitude of some at the United Nations on things which they disagree
with. And before asking my question, let me just state that this is probably
going to be my last question for a while, because some at the Department of
Public Information [DPI] disagree with some of my questions, so my pass isn't
going to be renewed for a while."
The UN's Media Accreditation and Liaison
Unit reviews applications for journalists' access to UN premises and briefings,
and grants access on a temporary, monthly or annual basis. Mr. Jawetz, who
states among other things that he was previously a "dollar a year man" at the
UN's UNITAR unit, and that he for example in the 1980s met Pakistani
scientist-turned-nuclear-proliferator A.Q. Khan, was accredited for six months
from April to November 2006, then for an additional four months which as he
recounted expired on Thursday.
At Thursday's noon briefing, at the
request of a journalist from Fox television news, Mr. Jawetz read into the
record a March 28 letter from Ahmad Fawzi, Director of the UN's News and Media
Division, which stated "Mr. Jawetz does not meet the criteria of original
reporting required for media accreditation, which can be found at
www.un.org/media/accreditation." In a statement clarified or supplemented
later Thursday by Mr. Fawzi in response to questions from Inner City Press, this
March 28 letter continued:
accreditation was reviewed by the Standing Committee of the Department of Public
Information and the United Nations Correspondents Association, and the Committee
concluded that there had been no developments that would reverse the earlier
evaluation of his accreditation status."
The UN Correspondents Association, of
which in full disclosure this reporter is an Executive Committee member, is a
voluntary organization of journalists at the UN. While UNCA is a part of
a Standing Committee with the UN's Department of Public Information, it is
widely acknowledged that UNCA does not play a role of the accreditation of
journalists to enter the UN and ask questions at UN briefings. In fact, at the
February 28 meeting where Mr. Jawetz was discussed, the UN's Mr. Fawzi stated
that "we are doing you the courtesy of informing you of the decision we are
about to make," to decline to renew Mr. Jawetz' accreditation, which expired on
Inner City Press on Thursday afternoon
put the following question to Mr. Fawzi:
While a broader comment on the place and utility of
new / online media in covering the UN would be much appreciated, I feel a need
to ask for your comment... were and are you saying that UNCA played a role in
the non-renewal of Mr. Pincas Jawetz' accreditation? I understand that during a
meeting (which I could not attend because there was a press briefing on the UN
Pension Fund taking place at that time in Room 226) it was said to UNCA that, as
to DPI's decision on Mr. Jawetz, DPI was "doing you the courtesy of informing
you." Given that, how can (as some now say) silence by those UNCA members
present be taken as consent and involvement in the decision?
Mr. Fawzi to his credit did respond by
the extended deadline, with the following clarification: "The DPI-UNCA Standing
Committee was briefed as a courtesy. If there were any objections, they could
have been raised then. The decision was DPI's, based on the accreditation
criteria. I cannot comment on the silence of UNCA members."
The discrepancy remains
between DPI merely "informing" UNCA of a forthcoming DPI decision, and the March
29 letter's statement that the joint DPI and UNCA Standing Committee
reached this conclusion. Once a group of people is told that a
presentation is only for their information, as a courtesy, to infer consent from
what comes after is dubious. From his
able briefings last
summer during the conflict in South Lebanon, Ahmad Fawzi's March 28 letter and
its wording were surprising to some.
the UN, the press is being watched (Photo credit: Mark Garten, UN)
Interviewed on the threshold of his
exclusion, Mr. Jawetz took issue with those who have said that UN corruption
starts at the top. At the UN, the top level and the base are generally clean, he
said. "It is the middle that's corrupt." It is inescapable that the rare
on-the-record honest quote at the UN most often comes from those already fired
or being excluded. Nearly all of Pincas Jawetz' detractors, and few supporters,
spoke only on condition of anonymity. The fear of retaliation is not limited to
formal UN staff.
outgoing Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Public Information, Shashi Tharoor,
attended a farewell party at the UNCA Club in the UN on Thursday. Since Mr.
Jawetz had told Inner City Press that he'd long known Mr. Tharoor, and that
Shashi had played some role in his accreditation to the UN, Inner City Press
asked Tharoor about l'affaire Pincas. He answered that he was aware of
it but had not been involved. Asked if he had known Pincas for some time, Mr.
Tharoor said, "Only though UNCA events."
Mr. Jawetz recounts that in early 2006 at
an event of the Asia Society, he told Mr. Tharoor of difficulties he had
encountered being accredited to the UN. Mr. Jawetz says that Tharoor told him
to contact Ahmad Fowzi, who received him in his office and told the head of the
Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, Gary Fowlie, to grant accreditation.
The "Size of Equipment"
(And of Media Outlet)
Mr. Jawetz subsequently complained, in a way that did not change and is arguably
not related to the subsequent denial of renewal of accreditation, about his
interactions with Gary Fowlie. In a February 18 email sent to the Office of the
Spokesperson and subsequently higher in DPI, Mr. Jawetz recounts that he "tried
to get permission to go to a Photo-Op on the 38th floor. Mr. Fowlie laughed at
my small camera and said the opportunity is only for those with large
Mr. Fowlie notes that the Photo-Op was limited to UN Photo, and states that the
granting of access to visual media is not related in any way to camera size. Mr.
Fowlie states that in this incident, he did not even speak with Mr. Jawetz;
rather, another MALU then-staff member did. For the record, Mr. Fowlie
categorially denies that he retaliated in response to Mr. Jawetz' email
complaints, which he states he had not read until he saw them quoted in the
Press. Hua Jiang of DPI's response was "Thank you very much for your note... You
will be informed of the decision in due course."
Of online media, Mr. Fowlie
has stated that bloggers can be accredited at the UN, if they produce original
content and are cited in other media. On Thursday afternoon, alongside providing
reporters with informal updates of the timing of
Security Council actions,
Mr. Fowlie indicated that the saga of Pincas Jawetz might not meet some litmus
test of newsworthiness. But since the UN speaks of media freedom, and even gives
directives to and in member states about responsible journalism and the
importance of open societies, the UN's own dis-accreditation policies seem to
meet the litmus test, or in this case, Pincas test.
Pincas' Bits: A Poll on
the Specifics, Pro and (Mostly) Con
Informal polling of a cross-section of
current UN correspondents uncovers a trend both of frustration at Mr. Jawetz'
speech-giving style in UN news briefings, and concern that the journalists'
trade association, UNCA, would be portrayed as involved in barring people from
the UN. One Brazilian reporter, who asked to go unnamed due to concerns of UN
reaction, praised Mr. Jawetz for his knowledge of Brazil, "not only ecology but
also the people."
Another reporter quipped that
because of Mr. Jawetz' sometimes repetitive questions about climate change, "I
no longer give a damn about global warming, and it's the fault of Mr. Pincas,
he's turned me off the issue." When asked, nearly all reporters acknowledged for
example that Mr. Jawetz performed a service by raising, in a
recent briefing by
the UN's Dr. David Nabarro, the decision by Indonesia to stop providing samples
to the UN's World Health Organizations if the samples would be passed on to
for-profit medical firms. Video
Similarly, Mr. Jawetz asked among the most informed questions to, and got the
most detailed answers from, UN climate change expert Yvo de Boer in
two briefings this
year. DPI counters with Mr. Jawetz' actions at briefings on
January 5 and
In full disclosure, this reporter advised Pincas to ask shorter questions, to
keep them questions, and to not remain limited to only climate change. That
said, there are many issue-focused reporters at the UN, and speech- and
opinion-giving is not limited to Mr. Pincas. Where should the line be drawn?
Some have suggested that UNCA
itself ought to send warning letters to questioners perceived to have crossed
this line that is not clear. (When asked, DPI cites to rules on demeanor not
amended since 1983. Undeterred, DPI is known to have pointedly urged some
reporters to file written complaints against others.) At the more competitive
Security Council stakeout, Ambassadors or their staff often choose who can ask
questions. Sometimes this appears based on the size and reach of the media
outlet, sometimes on perceived bias or pungency of question.
have advised the Office of the Spokesperson to simply not call on repeatedly
disruptive questioners. Generally, most reporters express satisfaction at the
level of access to the Ambassadors and spokespeople of Security Council members,
including at receptions like Thursday night's at the South African mission,
following the Council's Iran press statement. Click
for Inner City Press' story on the day's Council's (in) activity.
Among those reporters who
cover the UN as an organization engaged in procurement and as a workplace, there
is frustration at the lack of access to, for example, any briefings from the
Office of Internal Oversight Services, few press conferences by the heads of UN
funds and programs such as UNDP's Kemal Dervis, even following Ban Ki-moon's
January 19 announcement of an "urgent audit" of his agency's North Korea
operations and, as was
at the lack, eight weeks on, of a briefing or even meet-and-greet, with
Deputy-Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro. It is also noted that the head of the
Department of Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, has yet to hold an
Press Policies at the UN: No FOIA, Old School, No Taiwan
The UN as of yet has not freedom of
information policy -- that is, the press and public have no right to
information, nor any formal process to request it. Kofi Annan's USG for
Management, Christopher Burnham, had promised a freedom of information rule that
would be, he said, the "gold standard." Before he left in late 2006 to work at
Deutsche Bank, no FOIA rule was adopted. Earlier this week, Inner City Press
asked current USG for Management Alicia Barcena about any progress on enacting a
FOIA policy. Ms. Barcena indicated that she intends to confer with UNCA, to "ask
you all how the policy would work best."
The lack of fit between the UN's press
policies and the online New media, for example the now-apparently-diminishing
use of the moniker "blog" to seek to deny accreditation, was indirectly panned
at Thursday's noon briefing. Thomas Schindlmayr, the United Nations Disability
Expert speaking the day before the opening for signature of the UN Convention on
the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, specifically praised for the three-year
passage of this Convention both NGOs and the Internet. Still the UN is
resistant, demanding for example to see correspondents' work in "real" hardcopy
Ironically, in Ban Ki-moon's native South Korea, the prevalence of high-speed
connections and the centrality of online media is more advanced that in the
U.S.. There are news websites with thousands of citizen correspondents filing
dispatches and photos from their cell phones. It may be, as some say, that the
UN's Department of Public Information machinery is out of step not only with the
times but also with Mr. Ban. What will changed be, under Mr. Tharoor's successor
Kiyotaka Akasaka? More than other USGs, he should be open to the press,
including on these question of policy and access.
Another irony is that just as Ban Ki-moon ramps up his rhetoric on the issue of
climate change, his DPI denies the accreditation renewal of the UN press corps
most persistent questioner on global warming. While Pincas Jawetz was chided for
seeing climate change in the most unlikely places, it is not clear that given
his exclusion, the issue will be raised even where it is relevant.
The UN refuses, as
acknowledged by Mr. Fawzi at the February 28 meeting, to "accredit a journalist
from Taiwan, because they are not a quote-unquote country recognized by the
United Nations." The reference is to the UN
which require that an applicant "represent bona fide media organizations
[formally registered as a media organization in a country recognized by the
United Nations General Assembly]" (brackets
This UN policy seems fraught
with problems. How would it apply to a dissident publication in Sudan, for
example, or in the Zimbabwe of Robert Mugabe, a topic on which the UN
Security Council received a briefing on
March 29? For that matter, what
of publications in the United States, since under the U.S. Constitution's First
Amendment, the government does "register" media organizations? It has been
explained that the tortured phrasing of the guidelines are intended to justify
exclusion of journalists from Taiwan. But even if that were legitimate -- which
to many is dubious -- why does it not then apply to journalists from Georgia's
breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossentia, to Nagorno-Karabakh or
Puntland or Somaliland? The question was put in writing on Thursday even to Mr.
Fawzi, and the UN's responses will be reported on this site. Developing.
on the updates: in the spirit of transparency, all March 30, 2 pm edits were
to the paragraph involving camera size. The sentence "Mr. Jawetz subsequently
complained, to his detriment it is now clear, about his interactions with Gary
Fowlie" has been changed to "Mr. Jawetz subsequently complained, in a way that
did not change and is arguably not related to the subsequent denial of renewal
of accreditation, about his interactions with Gary Fowlie." To be clear, the
first version was not intended to imply any retaliation by Mr. Fowlie for Mr.
Jawetz' email complaints, which Mr. Fowlie states he had not read until he saw
them quoted in the Press. Mr. Fowlie made a point of telling Inner City Press on
March 30 that he views Mr. Jawetz as "a passionate advocate for the
environment." The continuum between advocate and journalist and how the UN and
its Department of Public Information should approach it in 2007 will continue to
be explored, hopefully in a not humorless way.
Mr. Fowlie's account of the Photo-Op at issue has been added, as has the name of
the DPI staffer who responded on March 22 to Mr. Jawetz' March 21 email. The
characterization of the response in the initial version has been removed. The
characterization called the response "tongue-in-cheek" and was intended to
highlight that the quote about camera size was included largely for its seeming
comedic quality. On that note, another correspondent notes that even those
photographers allowed to the 38th floor must first have their equiptment
sniffed. Another correspondent has suggested a new title for this section of the
article, which we confine to this separate endnote to avoid any further
misunderstanding: "World Body: Size Doesn't Matter."
for now, l'affaire Jawetz arose again at the UN noon briefing of March
here for video.]
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540
At the UN, Six Hours for Two Paragraph on Iran, Spin
Over Kosovo and Zimbabwe
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
UNITED NATIONS, March 26 -- After Zimbabwe was
discussed Thursday in the UN Security Council, the Council's president for
March, South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, said the briefing should not
have taken place. Inner City Press asked him about a statement, just made, by UK
Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, that the situation in Zimbabwe represents "a
potential problem for regional stability."
"We held the briefing just to hear that?"
asked Ambassador Kumalo. He said no one in Zimbabwe was helped by the briefing
or the politicization. Sources tell Inner City Press that inside the closed-door
meeting, Amb. Kumalo apologized to the UN Secretariat's briefer, Rashid
Khalikov of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, for having
him in the Council instead of some other, purely humanitarian venue.
asked for the Zimbabwe briefing, which was scheduled for last Thursday, March 22
but got bumped by the Iran nuclear sanctions resolution. The rescheduled time
ended up not working, Amb. Jones Parry said, because the requested briefer was
"away on mission." Therefore Rashid Khalikov on March 29 was the choice, under
the rubric "Other matters."
his briefing, Mr. Khalikov took questions from reporters. Surprisingly, he said
that he does not view the situation in Zimbabwe as a threat to international
peace and security. Most briefers decline to opine on such political questions,
since the jurisdiction of the Security Council turns on precisely this test.
Khalikov's (new) boss is John Holmes, previously a UK diplomat, it is foreseen
that Mr. Holmes, upon his return from his visit to Sudan, Chad and elsewhere,
will be asked for his views on the briefing, and on Zimbabwe more generally.
Speaking of Chad, Mr. Holmes on Thursday was quoted both that the international
community is underestimating the problem, and that no UN force can be sent in
absent a political solution and a "peace to keep."
not Zimbabwe (or Chad)
discussion of Zimbabwe in the Council is viewed as controversial, so too is
review of Myanmar, on which Russia and China most recently cast vetoes. Inner
City Press asked, at
UN noon briefing:
Inner City Press: I saw that the Deputy
Secretary-General is slated to meet with the Permanent Representative of Myanmar
later this afternoon. And I'm wondering what's on the agenda, and whether, in
Special Rapporteur [Paulo Sergio]
Pinheiro's call for the release of political prisoners,
whether Ms. Migiro will be raising that or other human rights issues?
Associate Spokesperson: We don't often
get readouts of meetings that are held with the Permanent Representatives here,
of which there are many. But I'll see whether we can get some information once
[He later told the correspondent that it
had been a courtesy visit.]
Inner City Press: I know there's been a
request for some time to have Ms. Migiro either do a briefing here or maybe they
were going to do it at the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA)
Club. Where does it stand, to actually hear from Ms. Migiro?
Associate Spokesperson: She's certainly
willing to meet with you in a number of venues. I don't know what the
arrangements are, whether it's here or in UNCA for the next one.
Inner City Press: I guess I would like to
reiterate that invitation, on behalf of UNCA. I just think it's time. The other
question I have is: there were these announcements about what they call the
mobility posts. There's about a dozen, maybe, that were announced with some
fanfare. Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar said there were 1,200 applications. What is the
status of those? Some people are saying that some of the posts have been given
out. Is that the case?
Associate Spokesperson: I'm not aware
that any of them have been given out. Certainly none of them have been
announced. I know that I've been looking with interest, to see whether those
posts have been filled. But as far as I know, they're not.
Inner City Press: Will they be announced
when they are filled?
Associate Spokesperson: I imagine so,
yes. I don't think all of them will be announced, because many of them are
fairly low-level. I imagine the higher-level ones would be announced, as we
normally do with high-level posts.
Secretariat can issues statements and calls on human rights and suffering in
member states, but not bring the issue up or talk about it when these states'
Ambassadors come in for meet and greet. Earlier this week, DSG Migiro told Inner
City Press she wants to do a briefing. This would be the time.
Security Council action, most of Thursday was spent negotiating a mere
on the 15 UK soldiers in custody in Iran. In the late afternoon, the U.S.
mission's Rick Grenell said, on the record, "we are irritated," that if anyone
questioned the need for Security Council reform they should consider this
example, and to expect the U.S. Ambassador to come out and call the whole thing
Jackie Sanders emerged and predicted that nothing would be accomplished or
resolved any time soon. Minutes later, the press statement was agreed to. To one
reporter, Jackie Sanders subsequently explained that things got easier once she
left. After six hours on two paragraphs, some said they could understand this
apparently breakdown in communications.
was also discussed, specifically Russian Ambassador Churkin's proposal for a
Council members' visit to Pristina and Belgrade. Inner City Press asked Amb.
Kumalo if Russia's request for a report on the implementation of previous Kosovo
resolution 1244 was also in the mix. The answer is yes, but it is not clear who
will write the report or when. Slovakian Ambassador Peter Burian confirmed to
Inner City Press that his country's position, as adopted by its legislature, is
that independence for Kosovo could destabilize the region. So Russia is not
alone. Game on, as they say....
At the UN, African Kosovos, Ivory Coast Deal and
Jean-Pierre Bemba's Leg
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
UNITED NATIONS, March 27 -- In Africa, where are
the potential Kosovos, and who would play Serbia's role?
emerged today at the UN that concern about the precedent of Kosovo independence
is not limited to Russia, but is shared by African nations, or at least by South
Africa. While Security Council members South Africa, Congo or Ghana seem
unlikely to veto the proposal unveiled Monday for Kosovo's independence, the
concerns from Africa echo those that triggered the recent
failure of a
draft treaty on the rights of the indigenous. The
stated worry then
was of increased tribal conflict. Here it is of territories: Somaliland and
Puntland, North and South Kivu, perhaps Casamance in Senegal. The concerns that
surfaced on Tuesday will have to be addressed.
In related West Africa
conflict news, the UN Security Council is slated on March 28 to endorse the
Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro, which will
make Mr. Soro the country's prime minister, replacing the UN-installed Charles
Banny. Inner City Press on Tuesday asked the Council's president for March,
South Africa's Kumalo, when the Council will act on requests that the UN draw
down troops from the country as well. "Eventually the Security Council will come
up with a resolution" for the draw-down, Amb. Kumalo answered. Video
from Minute 5:10 to 6:15.
Wednesday's "Presidential Statement is
urgent, the agreement is being implemented," Amb. Kumalo said. Last week, the
army and rebel soldiers formed a joint command. The agreements came fast, and
left the UN looking surprised. In this case, perhaps both sides wanting the UN
and France out of the country helped lead to an agreement. Cynics predict now
just a sharing of the profits. We'll see.
Also discussed in the Security
Council on Tuesday was Martti Ahtisaari's status proposal for Kosovo
independence. Russia proposed a review of past compliance with Resolution 1244,
and a trip to Pristina and Belgrade by Security Council Ambassadors sometime in
April. Inner City Press asked Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin about a
foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, that, "If Ahtisaari thinks he has done
everything within his power, then almost certainly another person could be found
to do it." Inner City Press asked, is this still Russia's position?
"It is not a matter of
personalities," Amb. Churkin replied. "Whatever the statements are, they should
not be interpreted as a sign of disrespect" for Ahtisaari. Video
from Minute 7. Amb. Kumalo, too, praised Ahtisaari, for his role in the process
leading to Namibia's independence. He said that South Africa is seeking
assurances -- it is not clear from whom -- about what precedent independence for
Kosovo might set in Africa. As simply some few examples, there has been a
longstanding conflict in the Casamance portion or protuberance of Senegal. There
is Acholi-land in Northern Uganda, there were the Kivus and Ituri during a stage
of the DR Congo war. Then and now there are Somaliland and Puntland.
Holmes and Bamaba Marial Benjamin of the Government of Southern Sudan (an
Many African countries have
opposed the draft convention on the rights of indigenous people on similar
stated grounds, that it would have divisive ramifications in Africa. Darfur,
too, comes to mind, along with Transniestria and Moldova, Nagorno-Karabakh and
the breakaway parts of Georgia, South Ossentia and Abkhazia. On this last,
Georgia is suing Russia in the European Court of Human Rights, which Russia
for now, "unhelpful."
Inner City Press asked Amb.
Kumalo, who has three days left in his Council presidency, whether in Kinshasa,
Jean-Pierre Bemba remains holed up in South Africa's diplomatic compound. Amb.
Kumalo said that he does, adding that "he is not a refugee or anything like
that," and that outgoing Assistance Secretary General Hedi Annabi told the
Council that Mr. Bemba will be traveling to Portugal on Saturday to get
treatment for a broken leg. Video
from Minute 9:20. Bemba has said that DRC President Kabila is trying to kill
him. And as one wag said at the stakeout on Tuesday, Congo was supposed to be
the UN's big success story this year...
An ongoing question from this report forward:
where are Africa's (potential) Kosovos?
UN Envoy Chissano Seeks Solution to Lord's Resistance
Army, "Without Impunity"
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
UNITED NATIONS, March 22 -- The war crimes
indictments against the leaders of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army were gingerly
discussed on Thursday by the UN's envoy to the LRA-affected areas, former
Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano. After Mr. Chissano briefed the UN
Security Council on his
get the LRA back into peace talks and a ceasefire with the Ugandan government,
Inner City Press asked him about the role of the International Criminal Court's
indictments on the process.
"The ICC cannot get involved
in negotiations," Mr. Chissano quickly pointed out. Video
from Minute 3:47. "The Uganda government is busy trying to study how to find an
alternative solution, to take care of the question of non-impunity."
Mr. Chissano was asked if the indictments
pose an obstacle to the negotiations. Strangely, he downplayed what is widely
described as a sticking point, and rather said that the only impact of the
indictments was been that the five leaders indicted "cannot participate in the
To the contrary, an LRA
representative to the talks, Godfrey Ayo, has been
that "It is the view of LRA that the ICC warrants of arrest is the greatest
obstacle in all attempts geared towards ending the war in northern Uganda and
bringing about peace in the region." Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti of the LRA
have demanded that the indictments be quashed. More recently, they have called
for the involvement in the talks of Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni's brother,
General Salim Saleh.
Chissano with DSG Migiro: indictments are scarcely an obstacle
Chissano took only two questions, and then rushed with a small entourage into
the Council to finalize a
then to the UN's elevators. One wanted to ask for his views on the crisis in
Zimbabwe, and perhaps even about the rifts in the Council on Iran. But Mr.
Chissano was gone. In the run-up to his appearance, the UN Spokesperson's Office
went to great lengths to point out that he is not a mediator, he is a
facilitator. If the talks lead nowhere, it is not the UN's fault.
On Monday Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's
spokesperson for a read-out on Chissano's meeting with the LRA's leader and
indicted war criminal, Joseph Kony. An hour later, the following arrived:
Subj: LRA peace
12:56:50 PM Eastern Time
"The UN has no
direct involvement in the talks. Please contact the Mission of Sudan, as that
country is hosting and organizing the peace talks, for any additional
information on the alleged resumption of the talks."
Chissano said, as an aside, that much of the LRA delegation in fact resides in
Nairobi, Kenya, when not in Juba for the talks. Recently at the UN, in response
to questions from Inner City Press, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Louise Arbour called the LRA a criminal
enterprise that should not be
romanticized as a defender of Uganda's Acholi people. Earlier still, South
Richard Goldstone criticized UN officials
who have met with Kony and Otti,
saying that if such contacts are desired, the Security Council should formally
suspend the ICC indictments for a year. While Mr. Chissano said the search of on
for a "solution to the question of non-impunity," dissembling and murkiness
hardly strengthen the rule of law.
In Iran Talks, China Offers Quotes and Hope to
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March 9 -- As a next round
of sanctions on
its nuclear programs are discussed by the five permanent member nations of the
Security Council and Germany, Thomas Matussek, the German envoy,
the penalties agreed to will be "swift and modest." To this process, the UN
press corps adds another adjective through chattering teeth: cold.
Talks have so far been held outside of
the UN, in the United Kingdom's mission in 1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on 47th
Street and Second Avenue in New York, where the temperature has been below
freezing. Ambassadors emerge from the talks to inform or spin reporters about
the negotiations. Thursday evening, U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff came out
spoke to a dozen journalists waiting on the sidewalk in the cold. His comments
were a model of bland diplomacy:
Amb. Wolff: The
devil is in the details on these things as you know... We're doing a lot of
explaining in different terms of what peoples' concerns are, and what is the
best way to get our ultimate objective, and the ultimate objective is a shared
one, to signal to the Iranian government that there is a cost for not adhering
to resolutions, for not complying with their obligations, and the cost increases
each time they don't comply.
These comments were, reporters
noted, less than useful. The talks resumed at 10 a.m. on Friday, an even colder
day in New York. Reporters were shivering when the meeting broke up at 1 p.m..
But this time, Chinese Ambassador Guangya Wang
Q. Do you see
this going on for a few more weeks?
Amb. Wang: I
hope if it goes well, then at least I don't think we will be ready by next week.
Q. Not by next
Amb. Wang: No.
My feeling is, not.
one more thing. Yesterday, the State Dept. spokesman indicated that this time
Chinese are more resisting than Russians. How do you respond?
Amb. Wang: I
think... the difficulty for China is different from the difficulty that Russians
Q. Can you
elaborate on that?
Amb. Wang: I think the Chinese main
difficulty is with the financial and trade sanctions against Iran, because we
feel that we are not punishing Iranian people. We should punish the Iranians for
their activities in the nuclear field. And the difficulty for Russia is, Russia
has difficulty with the name of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, because they
feel it's an institution in Iran and you don't have to penalize an institution.
Reporters were grateful for
the quotes, which appeared in
in much of the Japanese press. But the stock of Ambassador Wang and perhaps of
China rose even higher with the press corps when he expressed chagrin or at
least some doubts about holding the
meetings outside of the UN, where reporters have to wait outside in the cold.
You have no place to sit, and now water, Amb. Wang remarked, mentioning that he
will try to move the forthcoming meetings back into the UN building.
Ambassadors at the talks did not express this concern; one press spokesperson
remarked that no one obliged reporters to come and wait for quotes in the cold.
Provoking the most ire, after French Ambassador
Marc de la Sabliere did not come outside for even a moment to speak, since his
office is inside the building, his spokesman sent reporters a short bilingual
(and unusable) quote by e-mail: "The meeting was constructive. We are making
progress / Nous avancons."
Merci for nothing, muttered one
reporter. The ink-stained sources cited in this piece are granted anonymity due
to their need for continued access to thin-skinned diplomats.
Amb. Wang speaks to Amb. de la Sabliere
There is a saying in courthouses, that
the law is what the judge had for breakfast. Likewise, some of journalism is
impacted by how the journalists are treated. If the personal is political, one
can expect more understanding coverage of China's positions, at least during
these Iran sanctions negotiations.
One reporter marveled that
China was so humane in New York, while taking a different approach back home
shooting some of those trying to flee
that story.) Another wag -- this one -- quipped that if the North Koreans sent
blankets, hot coffee and construction heaters to the press corps on 47th Street,
their line that the United States and the UN are "gangster-like"
might gain a bit more traction.
In full disclosure, while the account of
Thursday evening's stakeout is first-hand, on Friday while the above-described
took place, Inner City Press was
posing questions to the UN's envoy to the Great
Lakes region of Africa and to Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson about
North Korea, in
the too-warm UN briefing room. Click
Inner City Press' most recent (and, one hopes, more substantive) story on the
UN's dealings with North Korea. The spokesperson referred the question to the
South Korean mission. But that's west of First Avenue, and as more than one
reporter signed, it's coooold outside. To be continued.
Other, earlier Inner
City Press are listed here, and
some are available in the ProQuest service.
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