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At UN, As Sudan Heads G-77, Ban Offers Praise Despite War Crimes

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

UNITED NATIONS, January 23 -- The surreal nature of the UN was on display on Friday, culminating in a party for Sudan, replete with melting ice sculptures of fish and the Sudanese flag, on the occasion of the take-over of the Group of 77 and China by a nation whose president the International Criminal Court prosecutor wants locked up for crimes against humanity.

   All day, the UN dodged the irony. At 11 a.m., Ban Ki-moon through his Deputy Asha Rose Migiro congratulated Sudan. At noon, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson Michele Montas if, on the day she had read out the condemnation of Sudan for war crimes, Ban had any comments for Sudan or for the "incongruity" of the two announcements --

Inner City Press: in your opening, you read two items that seemed to be sort of related, but you didn’t relate them.  One, Mr. Ban Ki-moon had congratulated Sudan on becoming the head of the G-77 and you also read out this report by UNAMID, among others, that Sudan had violated international law in the Kalma camp.  Has Ban Ki-moon said anything to Sudan on that?  Do you see these as in any way related?  Do you have any comment on these two seemingly incongruous facts?

Spokesperson Montas:  They are not incongruous facts.  Both are true and both are directed towards different aspects of the issue.

Inner City Press:  So his congratulation remains the same, even given today’s findings?

Spokesperson Montas:  Yes.  [Video here.]

UN's Ban with Sudan's al Bashir, indictment and heading of G-77 not shown

    Now to be fair, in the UN system nominations like Sudan's are made by regional groups, and others just vote them along. But some wonder if the head of an organization ostensibly committed to human rights should congratulate, without further elaboration, Sudan, and then decline any further comment.

  Inner City Press asked a senior UN official, the head of Peacekeeping, if he thought Sudan's new position atop the G-77 might give it more leverage in negotiations with the UN. While he demurred, he did not disagree with Inner City Press' analysis that not only does the G-77 chair legitimate Sudan, it also gives it power over the UN budget process. Ban Ki-mute might -- might! -- call or want to call President Al-Bashir to demand cooperation with UNAMID, the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur. And now Sudan could say, do you want your human resources, ERP or other proposals to pass the General Assembly's budget commitment, where the G-77 has much power?

Footnote: Sudan's party Friday night in the Delegates' Dining Room was the most expensive spread that the UN's contractor Aramark provides. It included lobster, shrimp on ice, chocolate-covered strawberries, and the above-noted ice sculptures. Attendees included interim U.S. Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff. It's said his incoming boss, Susan Rice, will present her credentials to Ban Ki-moon on Monday, January 26 at 10:30 a.m., and has already requested a meeting with her Sudanese counterpart. We'll see.

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

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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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