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At Geneva HRC, Code Words on Syria Range from Ruthless to Regime Change, Saleh and Sri Lanka Not Shown

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 28 -- The debate on Syria at the Human Rights Council in Geneva Tuesday morning proceeded mostly as expected. China and Cuba both used the term "regime change," at least in translation.

  Portugal for the European Union and later EU member Austria both called the Assad "regime... ruthless," though Portugal's Foreign Minister pronounced it "roose-less." (When he referred to humanitarian actors, one wag wondered: George Clooney?)

  India's speech, telling the Arab League that its role is to bring about dialogue in Syria, seemed to some to vary from its recent votes at the UN General Assembly and Security Council in New York.

  More clearly inconsistent was Thailand, which called for "strong action" on Syria. The day before, on Sri Lanka where more civilians were killed, Thailand urged a "homegrown" Sri Lankan solution.

  Similarly, Maldives even in the midst of what many call a coup d'etat trashed Assad for killing civilians, while in New York it appears to defend Sri Lanka including its appointment, through the Asia Group, of General Shavendra Silva, whose 58th Division is depicted in Ban Ki-moon's Panel of Experts report as engaged in war crimes, as a member of the Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations.

  Speaking for the US was not Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Donahoe, but Esther Brimmer, in from Washington. One wondered, when will Brimmer and the US State Department belatedly send their replacement for UN Department of Political Affairs cheif Lynn Pascoe, left swinging like a lame duck in the breeze for months now?

  There was much talk that "there can be no impunity," including from countries which accepted or supported the impunity deal for Ali Saleh in Yemen.

(c) UN Photo
HRC: does cash-strapped Spain want to take its $25M ceiling home?

  Mauritania for the Arab Group called for humanitarian corridors. Syria said the head of the International Commission of Inquiry has said such corridors are impossible, that one must talk with the Syrian government as the Red Cross is doing.

  Syria also said that it is the Free Syrian Army which blocked the extraction of foreign journalists from Homs. "No Shalgam or Dabbashi, he," one wag commented, referring to the Gaddafi era Libyan diplomats who defected during that conflict.

  At the UN in New York, the head of protocol is leaving as scheduled on February 29. Will a move be made against the credentials of Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari? Watch this site.

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

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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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