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At UN, Suspension by US for Children & Armed Conflict Before Thai "Trojan Horse" Resolution Adopted

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 21 -- After Thailand put forward a resolution on Child Protection in the UN General Assembly's Third Committee, many non-governmental organization complained to Inner City Press that the purpose of the resolution was to "tie the hands" of the UN's expert on Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, for having put Thailand on her list of countries in which child soldiers are recruited.

  There was talk of Western countries, including the United States, "fighting back" against what some NGOs called Thailand's "Trojan horse" resolution.

   In the days before this came up for decision in the committee on Monday, it was said that the US was opposing the use of the word "collaboration" -- that is, that Coomaraswamy would have to "collaborate" with other "UN actors" and therefor not be independent.

  But when decision time came on Monday, all the US did was ask for a brief suspension. The US representative in the Committee, John F. Sammis, ran to the back of the room and relatively loudly conferred with others. (It is not clear if the UN Television camera brought to the committee for the afternoon, largely for the introduction of a resolution on Syria, caught any of Sammis' conferring.)

  After the suspension, the US joined the consensus -- that is, didn't call for a recorded vote -- but Sammis gave a speech.

  He focused on the call that all UN actors "continue to exercise their functions in a fully independent manner and to act in full observation of their respective mandates. He said that the US understands "continue" to apply also to "acting in full observation" - in essence, that Coomaraswamy HAD been acting appropriately.

Sammis behind mic, previously, suspension & Coomaraswamy not shown

  This was echoed, with a direct reference to Coomaraswamy or at least her title, by Norway on behalf of Liechtenstein, Switzerland and itself. Still, none of these countries called for a vote, and the resolution says what it says, as Pakistan made sure to point out before the Committee moved on.

   There's been little media coverage of this controversy; the UNTV cameras were in the committee Monday for the introduction by Germany of a draft resolution on human rights in Syria. Syria's Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari replied that Germany and France have mistreated the Roma or Gypsies in their countries. But that's another story. Watch this site.

Footnote: on the Thai resolution, when South Sudan's representative Choat raised his country's name plate to become a co-sponsor, from the podium it was misperceived. "South Africa" is a co-sponsor, they said. Choat waved more vigorously and it was corrected. South Sudan, of course, may have other Third Committee issues...

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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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