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At UN, Human Rights Sold Out in Sudan, Congo and Myanmar, Taking the Edge Off

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 11 -- When letting down their hair with tequila, even human rights true believers can be depressingly hard nosed. At a recently soirée complete with lime and salt licks, the talk turned to Sudan. "It was never genocide," said a senior NGO staffer. "Save Darfur and the Enough Project better move fast to declare victory and move on. Because with Khartoum taking over Jebel Marra it is all over."

  A more junior staffer, having spent five years in Sudan, disagreed, as least on genocide -- "they burned down whole villages" -- but agreed the war in Darfur was reaching end game. "And where did Save Darfur's Jerry Fowler go? Back to the Holocaust Museum?"

  Weeks ago, a UN staffer with responsibility for the Sudan portfolio snarked to Inner City Press that Fowler had send out an email not about Darfur "but condoms," he said and laughed, seemingly with contempt for the NGO. But what is the UN Secretariat's attitude toward human rights NGOs? Toward human rights more generally?

  There is talk of the move to fill the new human rights Assistant Secretary General post. While the expert from the Security Council Report may be best qualified, with outgoing Chilean Ambassador Munoz looking for a job, blatantly trying out on the Bhutto investigation and recent earthquake press conference with Fergie, the Secretariat is more tempted to go the member state route, to get more bang for its buck.

  Numerous human rights staffers approached Inner City Press to register their disgust with the UN's Congo envoy Alan Doss, on both nepotism and working with war criminals. One recounted that finally head UN Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy is mad at Doss. Before Le Roy's recent trip to Kinshasa, Doss did not tell Le Roy that Congolese President Joseph Kabila wanted the UN to begin pull out in one year.

UN's Doss preaches in DRC, feet of clay and tequila not shown

  Le Roy thought it would be three years, that had to backtrack once Kabila spoke to him. Why didn't Doss know or give the heads up? "It's last time for Doss to go," the staffer said. "His support is from the UK." It was added the Kabila has already forward names of acceptable replacements, including Le Roy's predecessor Jean Marie Guehenno and "two Americans."

  A more depressing assessment was of Burma / Myanmar. A human rights staffer recounted that the U.S. Mission to the UN's Burma expert said the Obama Administration'spreference is for the UN to stay in stasis, with "acting" envoy Vijay Nambiar in place. This is so that the Administration's accommodative position on Than Shwe is not shown up by any UN moves. And so are human rights sold out. Skoll!

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UN Exposed Supporting Congo Criminals In 2010, Secret List, Using Haiti as Defense

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 9 -- The UN and its Mission in the Congo have been caught in a web on contradictory statements by and about Congolese warlord Innocent Zimurinda.

  In October, UN special rapporteur Philip Alston charged Zimurinda with responsibility for mass rape and murder. On December 16, Inner City Press asked MONUC boss Alan Doss about the UN's logistical support to Zimurinda's units.

  "We've set up a procedure," Doss said, "as needed we will suspend support." Video here, from Minute 4:09. Doss claimed that UN support through the Kimia II operation to all Congolese units, not only Zimurinda's, was being ended in 2009.

  Now Zimurinda has been quoted that support continued into 2010; his deputy Dieudonne says that the UN is still willing to support Zimurinda's units. Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky to respond to Zimurinda's interview and explain Doss' December 16 claims.

  Nesirky began by disputing that it was "just an interview" by Zimurinda. He spoke about the wider Washington Post article, saying it gave "an inaccurate impression." He claimed that the support Zimurinda's units got in 2010 has already been "in the pipeline" and couldn't be stopped. Video here, from Minute 55:02.

  Even if one accepted this, why didn't Doss disclose it in December?

UN's Doss in the Congo, Zimurinda not shown or disclosed

 Doss was and is under fire for nepotism, having been exposed by Inner City Press urging the UN Development Program to show him "leeway" and give his daughter a job. To escape pressure, Doss claimed that the problematic support to Zimurinda was ending in 2009. But that turns about to be false.

Even now, the UN and MONUC split hairs. The Washington Post reports that even for the new Amani Leo operation -- the Post puts it in the future, but it has already quietly began -- two units of Zimurinda's command are on the list to receive UN assistance. Nesirky claims not. Inner City Press asked top peacekeeper Alain Le Roy to disclose which 18 battalions the UN will support. Video here. Le Roy said he would look into if that could be done, implying he saw no reason why not.

   I'm sure Mr. Le Roy will answer your question, Nesirky to Inner City Press, adding acerbically of Le Roy that "today he's had other things on his mind." The reference was to Tuesday morning's memorial service for UN staff who died in the Haiti earthquake. Nesirky cited to this to explain Le Roy's or the wider UN's lack of response.

  Nesirky also told a journalist his questioning of the UN in Haiti was "unfair." The UN's top envoy to Haiti Edmond Mulet, when asked about the condition and soundness of the Christopher Hotel, for which the UN in Haiti paid $94,000 a month in rent, said that he didn't know about the inquiry into the building's soundness, he was other things to worry about.

Some thought playing the Haiti earthquake trump card to cut off or not answer questions was distasteful. But the misstatements on the UN working with war criminals in the Congo is even worse. Watch this site.

 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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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