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March 1, 2011: Libya

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As UN Is Asked If Ban Notified of Arms into Libya, Says “Ask France"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 30 -- The day after French armed forces spokesman Thierry Burkhard “said guns, rocket-propelled grenades and munitions were parachuted in to rebels in the Nafusa mountains” by the French government, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon received any notification from France of its weapons drops.

   First Haq tried to say it is only up to the Security Council and its Libya sanctions committee. But Inner City Press read from Resolution 1973, on the arms embargo and protection of civilians, which only

Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya... requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph.”

  So Inner City Press reiterated the question, which is one of fact and not interpretation: has Ban Ki-moon gotten been informed by France, by means of the requested notification, of this weapons drop allegedly to protect civilians?

  “You could ask the government of France who they did or did not notify,” said Haq, Ban's deputy spokesman. This represents a total abdication of Ban of the role assigned to him in Resolution 1973.

  France's UN Ambassador Gerard Araud did not come to the UN Security Council on June 30 after the news broken, instead sending his deputy Martin Briens to decry Syrian lack of compliance with resolutions, even using the word “hypocrisy” without any seeming irony or self-consciousness.

Sarkozy glad-hands Ban, notification under Reso 1973 and top DPKO post not shown

 (In any event, Araud is demonstrably loath to speak on the record, having done only three on camera stakeouts during May when France was Council president, versus for example six by Gabon's Ambassador in June.)

Inner City Press asked the chairman of the Council's Libya sanctions committee, Portugal's Ambassador Cabral, who said the "process has started,” referring to statements from the African Union meeting in Malabo. He indicated that the process would start in the sanctions committee upon the complaint of any committee member.

But that does not absolve Ban Ki-moon of the roles assigned to him in Resolution 1973. Did Ban get notification from France or not? Watch this site.

Footnote: Haq was asked about the process for replacing departing top UN Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy and said that all member states can apply. Inner City Press asked Haq if the post is, as reported, reserved for France. Haq repeated, all can apply. Again, why would a country which now brags about violating a Security Council resolution be set to continuing heading UN Peacekeeping?

* * *

As France Brags of Violation of Libya Resolution, Should It Head UN Peacekeeping?

By Matthew Russell Lee, News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 29 -- French armed forces spokesman Thierry Burkhard has “said guns, rocket-propelled grenades and munitions were parachuted in to rebels in the Nafusa mountains” by the French government. Since UN Security Council resolution 1973 imposes an arms embargo on Libya -- all sides of the conflict -- France has now admitted violating the Council resolution.

  While the Libya Sanctions committee has been remarkably passive amid reports of retired British special forces offering training to the rebels, paid by Qatar, this on the record bragging about dropping weapons to the rebels should trigger action.

It comes days after the UN confirmed that its top peacekeeping official Alain Le Roy will leave on or before August 23. Sources in the Ban Ki-moon administration indicate not only that his successor will also be French, but that there has already been an accepted candidate: Eric Chevalier. (Others say that his initial selection may change by August.)

But the question arises: should a country that now brags of violating terms imposed by the Security Council, which sets the mandates of and oversees the missions of the Department of Peacekeeping Operation, be allowed to continue to head up UN peacekeeping?

While this persona of “armed humanitarianism” -- or armING, in this case -- is popular with some, it increasingly raises hackles among BRIC members of the Security Council, and in the wider UN. For that reason, some question whether French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud stepping forward to play a visible role in the UN peacekeeping budget negotiations is a good idea.

During last week's negotiations in the Security Council to authorize Ethiopian troops to go into Sudan's Abyei area, France is known to have questioned whether 4000 troops, to be funded by the UN, would really be necessary. Why not 3000?

When defense of human rights runs into conflict with trying to save money, France seems to have a new solution: airdrop in deadly weapons then wash hands of the consequence. We'll see.

* * *

UN Admits Kadugli Peacekeepers Refused Convoy Escort, France Downplays It

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 16 -- When the UN Security Council met behind closed doors Thursday about the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan, Sudan, much criticism was directed at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, whose troops in Kadugli reported declined to leave their base and do their jobs, as recently happened with the Zambian peacekeepers in Abyei.

After the meeting, Inner City Press asked DPKO chief Alain Le Roy about the criticism. He acknowledged that a UN battalion in Kadugli was “not willing to escort a convoy... there was heavy shelling.”

Moments later, Inner City Press on camera asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud if the Council discussed if a peacekeeper battalion declined to provide escort or come out of its base. According to the French Mission's transcript, Araud replied that

a question was specifically asked whether all the instructions had [always] been followed. Alain [Le Roy] told us 'yes, they have always been followed.' The only example - which was an example where the personnel was requested to evacuate, so it’s not a question of protection - was when the personnel hesitated for a few hours because of their own safety on the ground.”

  But Le Roy spoke about a battalion refusing to escort a convoy, presumably not only of soldiers. In fact, the UN evacuated -- or relocated, as UN OCHA put it -- international staff from Kadugli to El Obeid. In any event, refusing orders to escort a convoy is a “command and control” problem, as one Council delegation put it.

  Some skeptics wonder if the French Mission's and Ambassador's speed to speak on these issues is entirely attributable to a concern for protection of civilians, or might involve defending the performance of DPKO whose past, current and seemingly future chiefs as promised by S-G Ban Ki-moon seeking a second term are all French.

France's Araud & spokesman point finger, DPKO top post now shown

  Inner City Press asked Le Roy about the safety of Sudanese UN staff, who were not evacuated by the UN to El Obaid. Le Roy to his credit said that the UN was trying to contact all of them by radio, but had not been able to reach those in “downtown Kadugli because we have no access to downtown Kadugli.”

Some question how UNMIS can be said to be protecting civilians in Kadugli if it has “no access to downtown Kadugli.” Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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.

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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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