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Rights Applied to NY City Council, Haiti Cholera Test, Queens Scores Low

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 25, updated -- If it's true that all politics are local, then why not from the New York-based UN, embroiled in such questions as war crimes in Sri Lanka and France leaving Muslims at risk of attack in the Central African Republic, consider the records of New York City Councilmembers?

  The Urban Justice Center today releases a report card on the Council, assigning grade from A+ down to a C and C- in Staten Island to members of the NYC City Council.

  The report "revisits two recent land-use projects -- Willets Point in Queens and Seward Park Extension Urban Park Renewal Area in Manhattan, which impact New Yorkers' housing, workers' and government accountability rights. It also discusses the human rights implications of waterfront redevelopment projects in Mill Basin, Brooklyn and St. George, Staten Island in post Hurricane Sandy New York City."

  The UN famously failed during Super Storm Sandy, neglecting to inform Ambassadors when it would be closed and when their cars, with diplomatic plates, could be removed from the UN's underground garages, as Inner City Press reported.

  In Haiti, the UN thumbs its nose at principles of accountability, refusing to even acknowledge service of process of legal papers in court cases from bringing cholera to the Island.

   But former Mayor Bloomberg is now a UN official, on climate change; Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was going to meet with Mayor Bill De Blasio until it got canceled on the day of the East Harlem gas explosion.

  The Free UN Coalition for Access asked why it was not on Ban's public schedule, but UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said since it got canceled, this did not have to be answered. Isn't the right to information also a human right?

  The view east from the UN is of Queens, and it is notable that Queens Council members score low on human rights, with Peter Vallone Jr. among the bottom three.

  The top eight in the rankings are all from Manhattan or Brooklyn; the top Bronxite after that represent Riverdale. Have any Councilmembers joined the call on the US Mission to the UN, or State Department in DC, to hold the UN accountable for cholera in Haiti? If all politics are local, they should.

Updated: the above was published at the March 24-25 midnight embargo time. But on the afternoon of March 25, Inner City Press asked UJC's Research and Policy Coordinator Nicole Bramsted if the reports considered Council members' work on such issues as holding the UN accountable for cholera in Haiti -- or, one might add, extending a human rights monitoring mandate to the UN mission in Western Sahara. Inner City Press also ask for any comment on there being no Bronx (or Queens) Council members in the top eight ranked members.

  Bramsted and her colleague replied that such work is included in the narrative portion of the surveys, for example resolutions for the Senate to ratify CEDAW; low scoring geographies, it was said, could be held up in the spotlight. Watch this site.


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