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In Afghanistan, Eliasson Raised Rights But Calls Them Internal, Look Into Maxwell

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 3, updated with (censored) transcript -- When UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson returned from Afghanistan after a long flight, he told the Press he went home ready to sleep and found his bedroom locked. The housekeeper, you see, had someone locked the door.

At a UN press conference not long afterward, Inner City Press asked Eliasson if he had raised in his meeting with President Hamid Karzai, the issue of Karzai appointing to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission a warlord ally and a former Taliban minister, Mawlawi Abdul Rahman Hotak.

Yes, Eliasson said, it had come up, with the president, the foreign minister and the "chair, a very impressive personality." Apparently he told Karzai to live up to Afghanistan's "very good" constitution. But he also said it is "very much" an internal Afghan matter.

  Eliasson is more knowledgeable about UN-world, and UN principles, than most atop the Secretariat right now. He's been President of the General Assembly, and envoy to Darfur. Wednesday he let it be known he's leading UN groups on Syria, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  On the DRC, we hope he's read the new Group of Experts report the full text of which Inner City Press exclusively put online, with an eye to making UN Peacekeeping live up to its claimed human rights due diligence policy.

  But the questions Wednesday weren't limited to Afghanistan. Voice of America's new corresponsal at the UN asked about Egypt, and Eliasson had a statement ready.

  It felt like a set-up, and one wondered and the Free UN Coalition for Access asked why the Spokesperson wouldn't make any non-Eliasson questions on this slow Wednesday with no Security Council or GA meetings: no explanation.

  Two UNCA executive committee members including 2013 president Pamela Falk of CBS asked Eliasson about Pakistan, which he had not visited; because Eliasson had by contrast publicly said he was working on Sri Lanka, Inner City Press asked him about that, for a separate forthcoming story.

  When the deputy spokesperson called the session to an end, after giving a single (UNCA executive committee) journalist a second round of questions, Inner City Press went up and asked Eliasson if during his trip anything had come up about Louis Maxwell, the UN security official killed, most likely by the Afghan national forces, defending other UN staff.

  Eliasson said he would look into it. And, contrary to many recent experience with the UN including a threat to suspend or withdraw Inner City Press' accreditation for merely posting a sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access on its office door, while UNCA has two signs, we believe him. Watch this site.


From UN transcription which in typical Censorship fashion omits the name of FUNCA:

Q: I want to thank you for doing this briefing so soon after you got back, and also I hope that we will have some questions on more general UN items, after, it should be... There is DRC, Haiti and other things going on.

DSG: Sure, sure.

Q: On Afghanistan itself, I wanted to ask you, in your conversations with President Karzai, did this issue of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission come up? There has been a lot of controversy about people that he named, one of whom was a former Taliban minister, one of whom was a former warlord, or was described as that. What do you make, some people are saying that he is trying to undermine that body because it has been critical of his Government on the human right commission. Do you think it is a backsliding?

DSG: I discussed the issue of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, both with the President and with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and of course with the Chair of the Commission itself, a very impressive personality.

The discussion is going on inside the Afghan political life about the composition of the group, and as you know, there has been a statement also by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay; and what I said to my Afghan interlocutors was that, in fact, you are spelling out in your own Constitution, the criteria for membership in that Commission. They are very far-reaching. It is up to you to live up to this very good Constitution. It is very much an internal Afghan matter, but it certainly an issue of great concern also to people inside Afghan political life, and the matter was brought up to me by several human rights groups that I met. We will see. I am also told that the matter came up also at the senior officials’ meeting that was taking place today in Afghanistan, from the development partners.

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