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At UN, As Georgia Wins “Right to Return” Vote, Russia Cites Facts on Ground

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 29 -- The right to return was voted on at the UN on Wednesday: the right of internally displaced people to return to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia's Permanent Representative Lomaia spoke first, followed by Russian Deputy Permanent Representative Pankin, who said these are now independent states and that Georgia will just have to deal with it.

  Perhaps because of the resonance of the concept of the right to return, Georgia's resolution passed with 57 for (compared to 50 last year), 74 abstaining and 13 against (compared to 17 last year).

  Afterward Ambassador Lomaia stood outside the General Assembly, in the same spot where earlier this year he told Inner City Press that Russian lobbying had played a role in Georgia not winning a seat on the Human Rights Council.

  This time he was upbeat. Inner City Press asked him which four countries which voted with Russia last year broke away this time. “Nauru, Solomon Islands, PNG,” he said, referring to Papua New Guinea. The first of these was rumored to be trading recognition of breakaway states; a similar deal with Vanuatu recently fell through.

  But one wonders what the resolution, like most General Assembly actions, accomplishes. As Russia's Pankin said, there are “facts on the ground.”

  The representative of one of those voting with Russia, who asked Inner City Press that he not be identified (the list ranges from Syria and Serbia through Sri Lanka to Myanmar, Laos, Armenia and Sudan, as well as three leftist Latins) said his “no” vote was because his country believes in the Geneva talks, “everything must be negotiated.”

Inner City Press asked, why not abstain, then? That's weak, the representative said. Stand up and be counted.

Footnote: Belarus stood up and spoke before the vote, then said it “would not participate.” And it did not even abstain. Afterwards a wag outside the GA noted Inner City Press' Tweet about Russia cutting off electricity to Belarus. “You don't do that to your partner if you want their vote,” said the wag. But again, what effect does it have?

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At UN, As Georgia Loses HRC Bid It Blames Russian Lobbying, 5 Votes for Syria

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 20 -- Of the 17 countries running Friday for 15 seats on the UN Human Rights Council, only two were going to lose.

  Inner City Press asked the Permanent Representative of Georgia Alexander Lomaia what he felt his chances were, facing off against Romania and the Czech Republic for two Eastern European group seats.

Ambassador Lomaia said, without hesitation, that Russia had been asking countries not to vote for Georgia, that at least two delegations had disclosed this. In many UN fora, Georgia and Russia exchange rights of reply regarding Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This is just one more battle.

After the election, in which Georgia got 89 votes but still lost to Romania's 131 and the Czech Republic's 148, Inner City Press asked a Russian diplomat about the result. He smiled and said, “Oops.”

Nicaraguan representatives said they liked their chances, but they too took a loss, despite receiving 98 votes. Austria pointed out that the two votes cast for Australia were probably for it.

  Syria tried to play down the five votes it received, after postponing its run to 2014, to mere errors. If that was a write in campaign, it wasn't much.  Kuwait, Syria's replacement, waltzed in with 166 votes.

UN's Ban & Kuwait minister, human rights not shown

The Permanent Representative of the Philippines, another winner with a clear or unopposed slate, acknowledged to Inner City Press that there are human rights issues in his country, such as unsolved killings of journalists. But, he said, the trend line is up.

   Later on Friday in the same General Assembly Hall, military bands of China and the US played together. Only at the UN.

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At UN, Kuwait Denounced for Human Rights Council But Only 2 Contests

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 19 -- On the eve of the UN General Assembly vote for 15 seats on the UN Human Rights Council, Nicaragua proudly predicted it would win, and human rights sources described to Inner City Press on background how and why Syria dropped out of the race.

  They said Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari was urging Damascus to drop the run, so he could focus on defending Syria in the Security Council.

 While calling replacement Kuwait is “better,” they would have preferred a Pacific Island country for the Asia Group, pointing out that Switzerland had offered to help such small nations cover costs to come to Geneva.

  At a lunch briefing thrown by Geneva-based UN Watch,  Republic of Congo and Kuwait were denounced as “unqualified,” among with Nicaragua.

  The recent coverage by Inner City Press of Nicargua's former foreign minister Miguel d'Escoto Brockman, blocked from even speaking at the UN, was cited. 

  Other predicted winners India, Indonesia, Burkina Faso and the Philippines were called “questionable.”

Of these, only Nicaragua faces a contested election, vying against three other countries for only three Latin American and Caribbean Group seats: Chile, Costa Rica and Peru.

  While UN Watch and also the US have denounced that so-called “clean slates” in which a Group presents the same number of candidates as seats, that is the case with the Western European and Others Group of which the US is a member: Austria and Italy will be elected.

Inner City Press asked why WEOG has not practices what it preaches, and presented a competition of some kind. Why this happened has yet to be explained.

The other contested election is in Eastern Europe, in which of Georgia, Romania and the Czech Republic, one will have to lose. The Czechs recently held a party at the Beer Garden in Astoria, and the Georgia's throw a party on May 23 at a hotel in Midtown.

   Romania, needing help from the International Monetary Fund under now resigned Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has perhaps been distracted. Watch this site.

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

 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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