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At UN, Congo Vote Postponed, Where's Protection of Civilians, China on Afghanistan, Against Koreas in Council

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 27 -- On the UN's mission in the Congo, being renamed MONUSCO, the Security Council's meeting on Thursday afternoon at which the new resolution was to have been voted on has been canceled. There is no agreement, various Council sources told the Press.

  One particularly well placed source told Inner City Press that it is now Russia as well as China together pushing that protection of civilians not be deemed the highest priority of MONUSCO, or be at the top of the list of priorities. A non-Council member told Inner City Press that Mexico and Austria are the ones most fighting for protection of civilians, with France surprisingly quiet.

  "It's like on the scale down of MINURCAT in Chad, another former French colony," the source said. "France is not pushing to keep the UN missions there, or to keep protection of civilians in."

Inner City Press asked a Chinese diplomat about his country's position on the MONUSCO resolution. "Let them criticize us," the diplomat said. "On UNAMA [the UN Mission in Afghanistan] and UNMIK [UN Interim Administration in Kosovo], the Western countries have a whole different position."

  He added, "Whatever is the benchmark in one resolution should be in all Council resolutions. We Chinese, we are consistent."

China and the DRC, priority on protection of civilians not shown

Inner City Press used the opportunity to ask about China's position on the sinking of the South Korean ship. Expressing surprise that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for Security Council action, the Chinese diplomat said, "They also want to do things in the Council, but what if it starts another war? We are down to earth people." And then he was gone. Watch this site.

Footnote: as regards MONUSCO, it now appears that the resolution's references to children and armed conflict may survive, sources indicate. But protection of civilians will be a lower priority. How low can you go?

* * *

As UN Congo Mission is Shrunken by China to MINUSCULO, France Does Little

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 26 -- The mandate of the UN Mission in the Congo is being shrunk, largely by China, in the days before the underlying Security Council resolution must be renewed, informed Council sources tell Inner City Press.

Despite statements by French Ambassador Gerard Araud that the protection of civilians component of the Mission would remain, the move is on to limit the Mission to the Kivus in the Eastern Congo, and to limit protection of civilians to only where the peacekeeping troops are.

  Tellingly, the Congo resolution is being stripped of references to other Council resolutions about children and armed conflict and sexual violence.

  Council sources express surprise at how little France has fought to keep protection of civilians in. China is winning, a particularly well place source said, in part because their votes or non objections are needed on the "more important" issues of Iran and North Korea.

  While the name of the Mission, as first reported by Inner City Press, is expected to change from MONUC to MONUSCO, the name proposed by Inner City Press appears more fitting: MINUSCULO, the incredibly shrinking mandate.

DRC PM meets with Araud and Alan Doss, authors of MINUSCULO

  Monday May 31 is a holiday, so the resolution must be passed this week. As with the UN building being shut down for repairs, everything must go, apparently, in the MINUSCULO resolution. Watch this site.

Footnote: reporters in Kinshasa who were told by the Congolese prime minister's office that Araud and the Council mission were clearly told when to get out of the country were surprised when, in a filmed press conference, Araud denied being told when the UN Mission should leave. Afterwards and off camera, apparently, he acknowledged what the Prime Minister had said. But what about what he said on camera?

* * *

In Congo, MONUSCO Could Not Protect Civilians from Army, Doss Quits Before Nepotism Ruling, Ripert to Replace?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 19 -- The UN Mission in the Congo MONUC, whose embattled chief Alan Doss is resigning with a mere 12 days notice, faced a significant scaling back by the government, Security Council sources tell Inner City Press.

  A member returning from the Council's trip to Kinshasa said the move is toward limiting the UN's protection of civilians mandate to only where its peacekeepers are stationed, and to symbolically renaming the mission from MONUC to MONUSCO. (Inner City Press suggests going one step further to MINISCULO.)

  This same Council member said the fix is in for former French Ambassador to the UN Jean Maurice Ripert to replace Doss. Ripert is currently the New York based UN humanitarian coordinator for Pakistan. While there are fewer car bombs in the Kivus than in Pakistan, for civilians the Eastern Congo may be more dangerous. But not for high UN officials.

  Inner City Press asked Ripert's replacement Gerard Araud, who led the Council's Congo trip, about each of the above. Araud said that the "name and format are on the table," but said that the UN would be able to intervene elsewhere in the Congo "if requested by the DRC authorities." Video here, from Minute 3:24.

   NGOs indicate that "the level of brutality against women and girls is increasing with survivors describing being subjected to mutilation and torture, gang rape and abduction by armed groups" -- including the FARDC, and not limited to the Kivus. Since the government's own FARDC army is often accused of killing and raping civilians, it is difficult to minimize such a scaling back of mandate.

  And the UN system has few other mechanisms in place. While US Ambassador Susan Rice, while speaking about Libya's election to the Human Rights Council, names as an accomplishing at the HRC since the US joined the saving of the special rapporteurs on the DR Congo, in fact that rapporteur was eliminated.

   Minutes after questioning Araud, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky if MONUC had at least investigated charges that the government's FARDC killed more than dozen civilians after it retook the airport at Mbandaka last month. "I know MONUC has been looking into the assault on the airport," Nesirky said. Video here, from Minute 9:20.

  But what about the DRC government's assault on civilians?

As Alan Doss cuts ties with UN, MONUSCO, Ripert & POC not shown

  And if MONUSCO -- or MINISCULO -- has a protection of civilians mandate that is scaled back, even as Ambassador Araud described it, it could not protect civilians from army units, even rogue army units of the former CNDP of Bosco Ntaganda. Perhaps it should be called MON-BOSCO.

  Inner City Press asked also Nesirky about Doss' presumptive misconduct, which it first reported, in telling the UN Development Program to show him "leeway" and give his daughter a job.

  The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services has already preliminarily found wrongdoing. But, Inner City Press asked, if Ban Ki-moon does not rule before May 31, would the UN still have jurisdiction over Alan Doss, and would be the UN's recourse? Nesirky said the OIOS report and Doss' non public response are before the Secretary General and that "we have no further comment at this time." Video here, from Minute 10:12.

   Ah, UN accountability...

From the French Mission to the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: It is said that the idea is to limit the protection of civilians to only where the peacekeepers are, to rename MONUC MONUSCO, and to replace Alan Doss with Jean-Maurice Ripert. Can you respond to any of these three?

Alan Doss has officially announced that he will leave his functions, as for his replacement it is a decision of the Secretary-General of the UN. As far as I know, this decision has not been taken. Several names are floating, one of them is the one you have quoted but it is not the only one. As for the reconfiguration, there are some ideas. Again, the Security Council has to discuss these issues. The name of the force and the format of the force are questions which will be on the table of the Security Council. It has to discuss it, we have not taken any decision.

Inner City Press: Can you imagine scaling back the protection of civilians mandate?

Araud: No. It is already a fact that nearly 90 % of MONUC is in the East of Congo. Now, since the situation has improved, most of the force is already in the Eastern part of Congo and we have a small contingent in Kinshasa itself. It is already a fact. It could be a solution to limit the mandate of MONUC to the Eastern part of Congo, but it wouldn’t mean that MONUC couldn’t intervene in the rest of Congo if there is a request by DRC authorities. Again, these decisions have not been taken and will be the result of the negotiations. There are different views among the members of the Security Council, which is legitimate, and we have to find, we will find a compromise at the end of the day.

Inner City Press: Two francophone battalions, from Senegal and Benin, might be the ones that will lea[ve].

Araud: I really do not know the planning.

* * *

As Congo Army Charged With 11 Murders in Mbandaka, UN Investigation Uncertain

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 21 -- The UN, trying to convince Congolese President Joseph Kabila to let its MONUC peacekeeping mission stay in his country, helped Kabila's soldiers to re-take the Mbandaka airport on April 5. Now a Congolese human rights group is asserting that in the re-taking of the airport, 11 civilian were killed.

Inner City Press on Wednesday asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky if the UN is aware of the human rights groups' reports, and if the UN will investigate them. Nesirky replied that the UN is aware of the reports, but cannot confirm them.

But since the UN Security Council has repeatedly given the MONUC mission a mandate to "protect civilians," isn't this triggered by awareness of reports that, at a minimum, its partner the Congolese Army may have killed more than ten civilians?

Nesirky repeated the same line, "what I can say is that at the moment we cannot confirm this." He added, "it doesn’t preclude what you are saying that it is being looked into." Frankly, very few things are "precluded" to MONUC. But isn't this mission, led by scandal plagued British SRSG Alan Doss, required to take some action, under its mandate? Watch this site.

UN transports what it calls FARDC, investigation not shown

From the UN's April 21 transcript, Inner City Press' questions and OSSG's Nesirky's responses:

Question: In the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the Government re-took the airport that had been taken by rebels or was ascribed to ethnic tensions, a Congolese human rights group has said that the Government killed 11 civilians during its re-taking of the airport. I am wondering, since the UN has such a, you know, big presence in the Congo and works with the Government, are they aware of this and are they going to anything to look into this alleged killing of civilians by the Government?

Spokesperson: We’ve heard the report, but we can’t confirm this information.

Question: But is the UN going to look into it, I guess, is my question. It’s within its mandate to look into that.

Spokesperson: At the moment, what I can tell you is that we can’t confirm this information.

Question: Does it have, I mean, I know that MONUC -- I’m sorry to -- has a human rights component and has a mandate to protect civilians. Would this, would looking into alleged killing of civilians by the host Government fall within the mandate of protection of civilians?

Spokesperson: Well, what I can say is that at the moment we cannot confirm this. But it doesn’t preclude what you are saying that it is being looked into. But what I can tell you at the moment is what I have told you.

* * *

As UN's Doss Hit by OIOS, Council Tries to Save MONUC, Rice Defended, NGOs on Tap

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 14 -- The day after the UN's top envoy to the Congo Alan Doss dodged the Press by canceling a scheduled question and answer session, it emerged that Doss is named as a wrongdoer in the long delayed Office of Internal Oversight Services probe of his e-mail urging the UN Development Program to show him "lee-way" and give his daughter a job.

  Inner City Press first published Doss' nepotism e-mail, and reported on the macing and arrest of the UNDP staffer whose job was given to Rebecca Doss, Nicola Baroncini. Mr. Baroncini remains waiting for his day in court.

  Earlier this week, Inner City Press asked chief UN spokesman Martin Nesirky how it could take nine months to investigate Doss' six line e-mail, and Nesirky did not explain. Now Nesirky's associate Farhan Haq has said to Turtle Bay that "There is a draft investigative detail, provided only to Mr. Doss for his comment before a report is finalized. Once finalized, the report will be sent to the secretary-general."

Inner City Press has in the past asked both Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his top Peacekeeper, Alain Leroy, about l'affaire Doss. Now with the Security Council headed Friday to Kinsasha to try to save the peacekeeping mission Doss has overseen, the negative finding against Doss hurts not only him but the UN.

UN's Doss pensive at last stakeout, which he now skips: it's over

  On this trip, the French mission has said that eight of the Council's 15 members are sending their top representatives, five are sending "Deputy Permanent Representatives" and two, only advisors. While the U.S. seems to qualify for this last designation, since DPR Alejandro Wolff is not going, it emerged on Wednesday that France was considering the U.S. Brooke Anderson as a DPR, despite her current "number four" (at best) status in the U.S. Mission.

  While the Mexicans and Chinese were targeted by France as only sending advisors, from these quarters came a cry of double standards, that the U.S. would be let off the hook. China has no sitting DPR at present, unlike the US. And Mexican Perm Rep Heller is in fact going to more countries in Africa at the same time, for the Somalia Sanctions Committee.

Substantively, Austria has pushed to have Congolese NGOs flown from Goma to Kinshasa to brief the Council. A US Mission representative, reflexively defensive of Susan Rice's non attendance on family issues grounds, nevertheless trashed the Council for not traveling to Goma. But others asked, if you send your Number Four, who are you to criticize? Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

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

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