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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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At UN, Quiet End to War Crimes Review, Those Owing Dues Including Liberia and Tajikistan

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

UNITED NATIONS, September 17 -- The UN has quietly ended an inquiry into charges that its selection as deputy commander of the hybrid force for Darfur has previously engaged in war crimes. Rwandan Major General Karenzi Karake, regarding whom the UN said only a month ago it would review complaints, on Sunday showed up in El-Fasher to begin work. At Monday's UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: The Rwandan general, who was supposed to be the Deputy of UNAMID in Darfur is now reportedly in El Fasher... Does this mean that the openness of the UN said for human rights groups to submit proof if they have any on his previous record in Rwanda -- is that period for receiving information closed? What does this indicate?

Spokesperson Michele Montas: So far, the UN has requested from a number of organizations to provide tangible information to support the allegations against Major-General Karenzi. Apparently, there was not enough evidence for anything to change, so the African Union, the United Nations have decided to proceed with the appointment, because they donít want to exclude the candidate on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations. However, if further information should come through about these allegations, of course, this case will be reconsidered.

            Would the UN have ever announced its decision to proceed with the appointment? What evidence was received? Developing.

Ban Ki-moon near El Fasher earlier this month

            In General Assembly Spokesman Ashraf Kamal's final briefing in that role, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: In the Journal today, there is an incredibly long agenda, and I guess they are just running through items...

Spokesperson:  That's almostÖ if itís not adjourned by now, it will be adjourned in the next few seconds.

Inner City Press:  So what I don't understand: it says "administration of justice at the United Nations," but meanwhile, ACABQ has just started considering that. So is it just that all these items are just being passed over to the next session?

Spokesperson:  Yes, most of them are passed over to the 62nd session.

Question:  OK, so that's why it is going so fast.

Spokesperson:  Yeah, that's why itís so dry.

Question:  And also, there is this thing about Article 19 -- the countries that are behind in [dues]. Does this get voted today, whether they are still allowed to still vote if they are behind?

Spokesperson:  Every time there is a vote -- not just at the end of the 61st session, at the end of every session -- there is always a report on who is falling behind or who is going to fall behind if the session ended today. But every time there is a vote at the General Assembly, a list of countries that have no right to vote because they have fallen under Article 19 is read out, and some of these countries sometimes meet their obligations, like, one night before. So they are out of being under Article 19, and they are allowed to vote.

Question:  But in the case of Somalia, the request for payment is to the Transitional Government?

Spokesperson:  I'll have to check on that...

            The other countries "in arrears under the terms of Article 19 of the Charter" of the UN are Sao Tome and Principe, Tajikistan (whose officials were recently celebrating and celebrated in the UN lobby), Guinea-Bissau (supposedly a candidate for the next round of the UN Peace-building Commission), Comoros, the Central African Republic (to which the UN is moving toward sending its new standing police force) and Liberia -- one wonders if when its President attended Ban Ki-moon's recent retreat in Turin, if the issue of arrears was even raised...

* * *

  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent 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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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

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