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On Syria in Geneva, Few New Facts But Voting, No Mood, Need "CSI Houla"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 1 -- When the UN Human Rights Council on Friday took up the killings in Houla, Syria, one expected some sort of briefing, new facts, before a vote on the submitted resolution.

  But the statement of Navi Pillay, read out by an associate, had no new facts and seemed largely based on media reports. So too the pro-resolution speakers. The US' Ambassador Donahoe, for example, said "the facts are clear."

  But UNSMIS General Robert Mood told the Security Council that the the circumstances behind Houla are murky or uncertain. One continues to await a serious investigation. The timing can be contrasted with the UN still saying it is "studying" its introduction of cholera into Haiti by peacekeeepers.

  There were ironies in some speeches. For example Italy calling for a referral to the International Criminal Court by the Security Council, when at the UN in New York Italy had just led successful opposition to a proposed reform of the Security Council's working methods which would have urged that vetoes not be used in cases of "ICC crimes" like genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

  After the member states finished, NGOs were given the floor and most were similarly without facts. One exception was Reporters Without Borders, which named journalists who'd been arrested, and the date on which they were released if they were.

  When the vote was called it there were 41 in favor, three against (Russia, China, Cuba) and two abstaining (Uganda and Ecuador). Philippines was listed as "absent" -- previously, Filipino diplomats have explained to Inner City Press that because they have expatriate workers in Syria, they do not want to get involved. Benin was at first listed as absent, then voted yes.

Inner City Press asked most of this from a talbe in front of the Security Council, getting comments from Council member diplomats as they went in and out for bilateral consultations with the Chinese presidency of the Council for June.

One delegation waved an article about Syria's own investigation, blaming most of the killing at short range on "terrorists."

Another said, we need a real investigation. Inner City Press replied, as a suggestion based on the Crime Scene Investigation television franchise, "CSI Houla."

  Since just before the vote the Secretariat said the resolution, calling for an investigtation of Houla, woudl have "no program budget implications" -- that is, no new money spent on it -- it seems unlikely this will be the needed "CSI Houla."  Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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