France's G-20 Called Untransparent Amid Dictator Flights, Cassez
Charges, No Non-French Press
16, updated twice -- As France tries at the UN to pitch the
upcoming G-20, there is more than a little grumbling, met by a lack
news of French ministers accepting vacations
and transportation from dictators and their associates, French
diplomats descend on the UN General Assembly and its president
seeking, they say, the “legitimacy of the G-192” and of
UN's North Lawn building, France's Permanent Representative Gerard
Araud emerged from meeting with GA President Joseph Deiss of
Switzerland, only to make snarky jokes to a Swiss diplomat sitting in
the relocated Vienna cafe.
had a Press availability in months, Inner City Press sent questions
about the meeting to the spokesman for PGA Deiss, as well as to the
French Mission to the UN's spokesmen.
Victor Nkolo replied that “The topic PGA Deiss discussed with the
Permanent Representative of France to the UN was global governance
and the French presidency of the G20, in the context of the coming
informal plenary of the GA with French Minister Le Maire.”
replied curtly that “As for the meeting with PGA Deiss, Ambassador
Araud and him discussed global governance reform in the framework of
the French presidency of the G20.”
Swiss have complained about France
inviting them to the G-20,
while inviting among other non-members Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea
-- some jokes, could a junket in Malabo be far behind?
Deiss -- whose
housing in New York is paid for by the Swiss government -- has complained
the illegitimacy of the G-20. But he by far the only
one, and French Minister Le Maire's pitch on February 17, believed to
focus on the rising prices of agricultural commodities, seems
unlikely to give the legitimacy Nicolas Sarkozy says he wants. (Click here
for a previous Inner City Press report on
a Sarkozy visit to the UN, complete with press conference limited to
reporters with French passports.)
Sarkozy & UN's Ban, Georgia solution & transparency not shown
unrelated to the G-20, Sarkozy and his ministers including Chrisine
Lagarde are loudly beating the drum for Florence Cassez, convicted of
kidnapping in Mexico. (Ms. Lagarde
says she will bring up l'affaire Cassez at the upcoming meeting of G-20
finance ministers). France derides the Mexican legal system and ask
that Ms. Cassez be sent back to Paris to serve out her sentence.
happened to the those returned from Chad to France from L'Arche de
Zoe, also accused of kidnapping? The French Mission does not
easy to get answers, even for Francophone non-French.
abstain from the Security Council's Iraq resolution -- most say “BNP”
-- and what will happen next? What is France's thinking of deferring
the International Criminal Court's prosecution of Sudan's Omar al
“its” G-20, how will France pass the G-20 torch to Mexico 2012,
while so deriding its legal system? Watch this site.
Update of 6:10 pm --
the French Mission has responded that while the l'Arche de Zoe staff
were returned to France in December 2007, their sentences of hard labor
being converted to imprisonment, on March 2008 Idriss Deby of Chad
granted pardons and they were released.
Inner City Press asked, and asks, where are they now? But
answers are appreciated - including by Mr. Le Maire about the G-20.
Watch this site.
Update 2 - it is
explained that Equatorial Guinea was invited as head of the AU, and
Ethiopia for its role in NEPAD.
* * *
Georgia, Germany Dodges & Spins, Egypt
-- The UN Security Council's daylong debate on
peace, security and development ended in discord Friday night with
Georgia accusing Russia of ethnic cleansing, and Russia's Permanent
Representative Vitaly Churkin calling Georgia's president a criminal.
this right of reply time at the end, Costa Rica's foreign minister
told Inner City Press at the stakeout about his country's attempt to
get land back from Nicaragua. A copy of his statement was promised,
but before it arrived Nicaraguan diplomats told Inner City Press of
the land, it's ours, we're not leaving.
Press asked Colombia's foreign minister about human rights violations
and the killing of union organizers. We will crack down on crime, she
said, turning to questions about Egypt. We'd like to hear more from
Council member Colombia.
it had begun with so much promise, with a concept paper drafted by
the Council's president for February Brazil, whose foreign minister
met with his G-4 counterparts from India, Germany and Japan to push
to get permanent seats on the Council.
Westerwelle, who refused to answer a question from
Inner City Press about Iran at the Council stakeout claiming that the
day was devoted to Egypt and Hosni Mubarak's exit, later on Friday
was called on to answer a question from Inner City Press about
Security Council reform:
looked at the index of the document prepared by
Amb. Tanin, the membership seems divided, at least on the issue of
categories. Can you respond to the idea that there's still no
agreement? What steps will you take?
main issue is exactly what Foreign Minister Krishna said.
... What we agreed last year before, that we want to have a restart,
to use the opportunity now to reform the Security Council, to reform
the United Nations, is the main message we can send now. This is the
point. And I would like to add something to my opening remarks. It is
not only the fact that 3 of us are at the moment members of the
Security Council. It is also a lucky coincidence that heavyweights
like South Africa and Nigeria are now also members of the Security
Council. And this opens new opportunities and these opportunities is
what we'd like to use. ... I underlined that we think it is not just
in our national interest, what we are doing here. The idea is, if the
United Nations will not reflect the world like it is in our days, the
authority of the United Nations will decrease, and because we want to
have a strong United Nations, a successful United Nations, with
authority in the world, we think it's necessary to reform this
worldwide working organization.
Russia and Georgia faced off, there was not a single person in
the public gallery to watch. Inner City Press was escorted up to the
photo booths, most of which were locked. Only UN TV was filming.
the chamber before Georgia's sur-reply. His seat was taken by
Konstantin Dolgov, who Inner City Press is told will be leaving his
deputy post at the UN, the end of an era.
On Feb. 11 at 8 pm Churkin, behind him Dolgov, soon to leave
the audience was
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative Palitha Kohona, who began by
joining in the statement of the Ambassador of Mubarak, or Egypt,
Maged Abdelaziz. Maged had refused to answer the Press' questions,
running out of the General Assembly.
was another day
on which the news of the world was only peripheral to the words at
the UN. In the Council during the week, the Magritte phrase was used,
“These are not just words.” But aren't they? The Council
meet on Thai - Cambodia on Monday. Watch this site.
* * *
Culture Wars on Lesbian Rights, of Muslim
Peacekeepers and Decay under Ban
by Egyptians in Cairo, New York
and elsewhere, the UN Security Council held its end of presidency
reception Monday night, hosted by Bosnia in a rooftop space a half
dozen blocks from the UN.
news but not present in the Security Council, nor
meaningfully addressed by the out of town Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon was the talk of the night.
of one of the Council's permanent
members why Egypt had not even been mentioned in consultations. “It's
an internal matter,” he said. “We're following it closely, it's a
question of timing and that it must be done without violence.”
a Western member said that “the capitals are studying it, they have
to get their own positions clear before even thinking of acting
through the Council.”
UK has been
most clear, in statements by David Cameron and foreign minister
William Hague: Mubarak is a “friend of Britain” and the prospect
of Muslim Brotherhood involvement in a subsequent government is
abhorrent. To some it echoes the Cold War: the enemy of my enemy is
my friend. For thirty years of “emergency” rule.
City Press, which reported
earlier in the
day on attacks in the ECOSOC Committee on NGO on a women's group from
Serbia which mentioned discrimination against lesbians in its
application for consultative status, asked Serbia's Permanent
Representative about the group. He was jovial but hadn't heard of
this new Serbian showdown.
irony is that
after Serbia's lower down representative spoke in favor of the group,
so did the US and Bulgaria, as well as Belgium and the EU. On the
other side were Pakistan, Russia, Sudan and Morocco.
about his country's
opposition to to the group, the Autonomous Women's Center. “It must
be on behalf of the OIC,” he said. Later another Moroccan said his
country represents the Arab Group this year in the NGO committee,
replacing Egypt whose staffer famously said of a gay rights applicant
for consultative status to the UN, “We've asked questions but we
just can't get any straight answers from them.”
regime is on the rocks, despite its long time Permanent
Representative trying to act otherwise at the UN on Monday,
delivering a speech to the UNDP executive board as if nothing was
while the world
sees and talks about a wave of change sweeping the Arab world, this
leaves no mark inside the UN, where Arab countries like Morocco score
points by opposing gay rights.
an Asian Muslim country's Permanent
Representative telling Inner City Press his country has offered
troops to Somalia's Transitional Federal Government if the force ever
“gets blue hatted,” or comes under UN command. He said that same
of Afghanistan: his country will only send soldiers if the UN is in
charge, not ISAF.
January as rather
sleepy, its reception got higher marks from the crowd of diplomatic
Epicures, noshing on Kobe beef sliders and burek like Bosnian pastry
filled with meat and spinach.
missions first couple ended the evening by dancing, as the lights of
midtown Manhattan flickered through the glass roof. Their Deputy was
congenial, having served her country through thick and thin.
City Press' question to the Perm Rep about a new documentary about UN
peacekeepers in Bosnia buying women -- where was the Autonomous
Women's Center then? -- met with a smiling “I'm not working
tonight.” But of course he was. And through the course of January he
got more accessible and comfortable at the Council stakeout, to his
credit, unlike some in the UN.
Team Bosnia in the Council, Egypt & Ban's
spokesman not shown
under the Ban Ki-moon “regime” as one called it was also in the
air. A well placed Council source recalled “Martin [Nesirky] got
excluded from the Council's consultations and all we got was a letter
from [Vijay] Nambiar.” Ban's chief of staff Nambiar was in
attendance Monday, but chief adviser Kim Won-soo did not seem to be.
Susan Rice was nowhere to be seen, nor it appeared was her UK
counterpart Mark Lyall Grant.
Representatives of France, China and Russia were all present, along
with those of just left Council members like Austria and Turkey.
Israel's prime minister is much concerned of regime change in Egypt.
Israel's hard line Permanent Representative was not seen at that
reception Monday night, but earlier on Monday Israel joined the
defense of the Serbian group on lesbian rights. And so it goes at the
correspondents discussed the lack
of information coming out of Ban Ki-moon's UN, unfavorably comparing
Ban's answering in New York to what he does, for example, while in
Addis Ababa the last few days, including a France 24 interview
against deferring announcing a campaign for a second term.
alternately rude and “in a
tough spot” not getting any information from Ban. We'll address
this going forward - later today, and in this new month when Brazil
heads the Council, holding a debate on Security and Development on
February 11. Watch this site.
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.