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As Libya Suspended from Rights Council, Venezuela Broods, UK Dodges

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 1 -- After the UN General Assembly acted unanimously and by consensus to suspend Libya from the UN Human Rights Council, Venezuelan Ambassador Valero issued a blistering speech denouncing US imperialism and, by implication, the move to suspend Libya.

Standing outside the GA Hall, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Valero when he left why Venezuela hadn't acted on its speech and cast a “no” vote, abstained or at least asked for a roll call.

We thought this was more effective,” Valero said cryptically. The night before, Inner City Press was told by a major power, and reported, that Venezuela would not vote against, that there would be consensus. But why?

When UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant came to the GA stakeout, Inner City Press asked him if the UK believes that a new Security Council resolution is needed in order to authorize the imposition and enforcement of a no-fly zone. Lyall Grant heard the question, smiled at the UN TV camera and walked away without answering it.

The UK's media strategy at the UN becomes more and more limited every day. Between Tuesday and Saturday of last week -- when Security Council ambassadors attended a Chinese circus between the 5 pm suspension and 8 pm vote -- Lyall Grant spoke primarily to UN Radio. Did he face and answer a question about the need for Security Council authorization, or about the UK's arms sales to Libya?

Lyall Grant with Libyan diplomat Treki: where is he now?

  Inner City Press asked Japan's Permanent Representative Tsuneo Nishida if his country would be supportive of a no fly zone, if on the Council. He amiably declined to answer. At least he came to the microphone.

  While there was bragging about African support for the suspension, the Democratic Republic of Congo's Permanent Representative Ileka Atoki told Inner City Press his country was not a sponsor because the DRC has been accused of things without them being verified.

Inner City Press asked DRC's Ambassador Atoki about Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's charge that Cote d'Ivoire's defiant leader Laurent Gbagbo was importing three attack helicopters from Belarus, and he only laughed. Even a diplomat from anti-Gbagbo Burkina Faso said that Ban had badly erred. We'll have more on this.

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Before UN Excludes Libya from Rights Council, Sources Say Unanimous, 4 to Speak

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 28 -- The night before the March 1 vote in the UN General Assembly to expel Libya from the UN Human Rights Council, a well placed member state involved in the pre-vote negotiations told Inner City Press that the decision to expel Libya will be “by consensus” -- that is unanimous, without a vote.

After the decision there will be explanations of vote by Venezuela (which was expected to oppose the exclusion), Egypt, China and Russia.

On February 28, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez spoke in favor of Gadhafi, in a way seeming incongruous with agreeing to exclude Libya from the Human Rights Council.

There is also this question: if the UN continues to recognize the Libyan diplomats who have denounced Gafhafi, like Permanent Representative Shalgam and Deputy Permanent Representative Ibrahim Dabbashi, why exclude them?

But on the bottom of screen scrolls on Al Jazeera and CNN, the vote at the UN General Assembly to exclude Libya has become a big media item. Watch this site.

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In UN Libya Resolution, US Insistence on ICC Exclusion Shields Mercenaries from Algeria, Ethiopia

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 26 -- After passage of a compromise Libya resolution by the UN Security Council on Saturday night, Inner City Press asked French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud if mercenaries aren't let off the hook by the sixth operative paragraph, exempting personnel from states not members of the International Criminal Court from ICC prosecution.

  Araud regretted the paragraph, but said the the United States had demanded it. He said, “No, that's, that was for one country, it was absolutely necessary for one country to have that considering its parliamentary constraints, and this country we are in. It was a red line for the United States. It was a deal-breaker, and that's the reason we accepted this text to have the unanimity of the Council.”

  While a Bush administration Ambassador to the UN in 2002 threatened to veto a UN resolution on Bosnia if it did not contain a similar exclusion, the Obama administration has maintained this insistence on impunity, which in this case applies to mercenaries from Algeria, Tunisia and Ethiopia, among other mercenary countries.

 (In the case of Algeria, there are allegations of official support for Gadhafi).

   While Inner City Press was able to ask UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant about the exclusion for mercenaries from non ICC countries, US Permanent Representative Susan Rice did not take a question from Inner City Press, and none on this topic, despite having mentioned mercenaries in her speech.

Obama, Hillary & Susan Rice: mercenary impunity not shown

  When Libya, but no longer Gadhafi, diplomat Ibrahim Dabbashi came out to take questions, Inner City Press asked him which countries the mercenaries used by Gadhafi come from.

  He mentioned Algeria, Tunisia and Ethiopia -- highlighted by NGOs as non ICC members -- as well as Chad, Niger, Kenya and Guinea. So some mercenaries could be prosecuted by the ICC, and not others, under language demanded by the US Mission to the UN. Watch this site.

Here is the US-demanded paragraph:

6. Decides that nationals, current or former officials or personnel from a State outside the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya established or authorized by the Council, unless such exclusive jurisdiction has been expressly waived by the State.

Footnote: Araud blaming the US position on "parliamentary constraints" seemed to some a way to try to blame a decision by Obama's executive branch on the Republicans who recently took over the House of Representatives. But it was an Obama administration decision. More nuanced apologists blame the Defense Department for pulling rank on State. But the result is mercenaries firing freely.
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 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

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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