UN's Guehenno Speaks of "Political Overstretch" Undermining Peacekeeping in
Lower Profile Zones
Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N
NATIONS, July 15 -- "There is such a thing as political overstretch, which is
related to but different from military limits," the head of the UN's Department
of Peacekeeping Operations told Inner City Press on Saturday.
briefing on Lebanon
to the Security Council, or at least those Ambassadors who remained after their
unanimous weekend vote on Resolution 1695 on the North Korean missiles, and
saying he'd spoken with Kofi Annan fifteen minutes prior, Jean-Marie Guehenno
walked out of the UN Headquarters telling Inner City Press of lesser-known
hotspots in which tensions are now flaring: Cote D'Ivoire and Georgia, for
think that some of the players, like Gbagbo in Ivory Coast, see the UN Security
Council tied up with crises and see an opportunity to in ways they
otherwise might not?"
point," said Mr. Guehenno. "Peacekeeping operations need constant political
support for the Security Council. People don't realize, soldier are only fifty
percent of the cost of peacekeeping operations."
DPKO lists fifteen active missions, seven of them in Africa, three each in
Europe and the Middle East. The Americas and Asia each have only one: Haiti and
Kashmir, respectively. Mr. Guehenno mentioned Afghanistan, and spoke of the
overstretched military now being mentioned in connection with the situations in
North Korea and Iran.
example of acting up while the Security Council devotes more than a week to
removing a single line from a two-page resolution -- the dropping of Chapter 7
from Resolution 1695 on North Korea -- is the delay of the identification
process in Ivory Coast, ensuring further delay of election and continued power
for Laurent Gbagbo. See below.
as World Unravels Gives Space to Ivory Coast's Gbagbo and Others
Russell Lee at the U.N.
UNITED NATIONS, July
14 -- The world, it is reported here and elsewhere, is unraveling. And as the UN
Security Council remains this Friday night on hold, canceling a meeting
scheduled for 5 pm so that the Permanent Five Plus Japan can meet at the U.S.
mission, in the wider world there are grabs to take or cling to power. In Cote
D'Ivoire, for example, the process of identification for the already-postponed
election now slated for October 30 was supposed to begin this week. It did not
UN, Inner City Press asked the Security Council president Jean-Marc de La
Sabliere about events in Ivory Coast. The French mission provides this
Inner City Press Q: On Côte d’Ivoire, the
identification process has been suspended. Do you have a comment?
Amb. de La Sabliere A: "This is a great
concern. What the Council has done this month is to listen and react to a
briefing from Mr. Guéhenno who was in Banjul and Yamoussoukro with the Secretary
General. We are now preparing a PRST to support the conclusions of the
Yamoussoukro meeting where new commitments were made. We want those commitments
to be implemented. The PRST will be adopted, I hope, very early next week. Next
step: the GTI will meet in Abidjan on the 20th of July. The Council will meet on
"Going back to your question: the
identification is a major element of the agreement. It was agreed upon by the
parties of Côte d’Ivoire that identification and disarmament would go along. So,
we cannot organize elections if the identification process is not done. So,
identification is important, and the Council will have to assess what happened
yesterday. As French Ambassador, I can say that the PRST will take that into
Q2: As French Ambassador, would it be your
view that if elections are not held…?
A2: "My answer is that there will be a
Summit in September. We will see what happens then."
Unless of course
there are other higher profile crises in September... In the run-up to the 90
p.m. let down, at 5 p.m. the press corps assembled for a scheduled Council
consultation. Then cell phones and Blackberries went off, announcing the meeting
was cancelled. In the lull before the 9:40 conclusion (see above), the stakeout
scuttlebutt, at least among reporters, was that the U.S. veto on Thursday
emboldens China to veto the draft Chapter 7 resolution on North Korea. Also in
the lull, some drifted over to stakeout the U.S. mission. Others retired to the
Delegates' Lounge, where Inner City Press Friday interviewed the Permanent
Observer from Palestine, Riyad Mansour, who confirmed Inner City Press' finding
that the U.S. government's Overseas Private Insurance Corporation insured the
Gaza power plant, since Enron built it, click
here for that
harder-news story, and see below.
Bombed Gaza Power Station Built by Enron, Insured by U.S. Government's OPIC,
According to UN Sources
Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.
UNITED NATIONS, July
14 -- The bombed Gaza power station was covered by a $48 million insurance
policy, it has emerged. The insurer is the U.S. government's Overseas Private
Insurance Corporation, OPIC. This was because of the plant's ownership by the
Enron Corporation, whose chairman Ken Lay died last week while awaiting
sentencing for business fraud. OPIC has insured other Enron power plants, in the
Philippines, Turkey and India.
of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Jan
Egeland, told reporters on July 11 that the plant was insured by "an American
insurance company" and that the policy might not be paid on, due to sanctions
against the Hamas government. Immediately following Egeland's briefing, Inner
City Press asked OCHA staff for the name of the American insurance company, as
well as who had been paying the insurance premiums. Having not heard back, on
July 12 at the Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General's noon
briefing, Inner City Press asked:
"In his briefing yesterday, Jan Egeland...
mentioned that there is an insurance policy on the power plant by an American
insurance company, but that they may not be able to pay because of US sanctions
against Hamas. It’s a factual question of, like, what’s up with the insurance,
but does the UN agree -– does the Secretariat agree with Jan Egeland that Israel
should be responsible for rebuilding the power plant?
Deputy Spokesman: ...In terms of the details of who’s paying for the insurance
and all of that, I think that’s something you may want to follow-up with the
agencies on the ground, or we could look into it for you.
Question: I asked OCHA and, even though they said it, they didn’t seem to know.
It would be good to know.
Deputy Spokesman: We’ll address it to the agency on the ground."
subsequently provided, through officials who spoke only on background, is that
the Gaza power plant was a joint venture between the Palestinian company
Consolidated Construction Corporation, CCC, and the Houston-based Enron, and was
covered by a $48 million insurance policy from the U.S. Overseas Private
afternoon of July 14, Inner City Press interviewed Riyad Mansour, the Permanent
Observer of Palestine to the UN, who stated that OPIC is the insurer, and "they
have to pay." Mr. Mansour added, "Let them collect from Israel."
of the U.S. government, OPIC describes itself as "support[ing] U.S. investment
in emerging markets worldwide, fostering development and the growth of free
markets." The description is from the OPIC.gov web site, which perhaps
understandably does not list the Enron joint venture power plant in Gaza as one
of its "project
profiles," the lead one of
which involves importing tea from Rwanda.
insurance to Enron's Dabhol power plant in India, to other Enron power plants in
Turkey and in Subic Bay in the Philippines, and other Enron projects in
Argentina and Uzbekistan (a project that never came to fruition). A search on
July 14, 2006, of OPIC.gov results in only one mention of Enron, and that along
with BP Amoco and ABB as being involved in renewal energy.
generators in the Gaza power plant were specially built by ABB, according to Jan
Egeland. One of impacts of their destruction by bombs is to interrupt the flow
of both water and sewage. UN's World Health Organization estimated, prior to the
current crisis, that 64% of the health problems in Gaza were due to water
officials interviewed by Inner City Press, speaking only on background, also
noted that the blockade of Gaza has interrupted not only the trucking-in of gas,
including for backup electricity generators, but also the flow of gas through a
pipeline, through which neither people nor arms could be traveling.
the UN, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari came to the
Security Council stakeout and read a statement that "the Secretary General...
reminds all of their obligations to take absolute care to spare civilian
populations from harm, and to protect their life, infrastructure and
livelihoods. In particular, care should also be taken to avoid damaging power
stations, water supply and sanitation facilities."
Gambari begrudgingly took a single question from the media: Inner City Press'
question about the electrical power situation in Gaza. "This is about Lebanon,"
Mr. Gambari replied, adding before he left that the brief statement he had read
was intended to help avoid a repetition in Lebanon of the bombing of the Gaza
Previously, Inner City Press asked Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Dan
Gillerman for his response to the UN's Jan Egeland's statement that Israel
should repair the Gaza power plant. Amb. Gillerman responded that Israel does
not intentionally target civilians, but that he has no information about Israel
repairing the power plant. Inner City Press asked U.S. Ambassador John Bolton
if he had any comment on Jan Egeland's call for Israel to repair the power
plant; Amb. Bolton said, "I have no comment on that." Developing...
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