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In UN Legal Vote, Syria Comes in Last Amid Grumbles, Colombian Coffee

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 17 -- As members of the UN International Law Commission were elected Thursday, there were more happy diplomats than sad ones. Only the Latin American and Caribbean States group had significantly more candidates than seats, leading to a run-up in which the Costa Rican candidate edged out one from Peru for the seat.

   Next most competitive was the Asian group, in which notably not only did Sri Lanka's Perera not win a seat: Syria got the lowest total vote, at a mere 49.

  "It's politics," more than one diplomat told Inner City Press. One went further, musing that "the Syrian could be the best lawyer of the lot, or even an opposition lawyer, at least quietly. But here he will lose, even though this is supposed to be about the law."

  The winners, though, were happy. Germany bragged that its candidate Georg Nolte got the most votes. Japan's candidate got the most in the Asian group; Egypt in the African group, with South Africa and its candidate Dr. Dire Tladi in second. Cameroon Permanent Representative Tomo Monthe, whose candidate got 141 votes, immediately phoned his ministry and the winner.

Diplomats leave GA, we leave them in distance with swag bags (c) MRLee

  Cote d'Ivoire's candidate got 103 votes, but was among three in the African group not to get a seat, along with Mali at 104 and Sudan at 92. (Sudan's candidate "worked on Abyei," Inner City Press was told.)

   In the Western European and Other states Group, Permanent Security Council member the US got a seat, along with France, whose legal specialist was on the scene. For December International Criminal Court vote, France has offered to support a candidate judged unqualified in exchange for support for its candidate Bruno Cathala. Will it work?

Colombian coffee bag on the move, anonymous
diplo-legs (c) MRLee

   In Thursday's Asia group voting, Thailand got a seat, along with Qatar, Indonesia, India's Narinder Singh, South Korea, Jordan and China. Among the Eastern Europeans only Poland missed the cut, with 90 votes.

  Among the Latins, Brazil came in first -- Permanent Representative Viotti was there with her delegation -- with fellow Security Council member Colombia winning the last pre-runoff seat, with 102. Many diplomats came out of the General Assembly chamber with Juan Valdez Coffee bags. Call it a caffeinated election.

   The next round in the International Court of Justice battle between Sierra Leone and Uganda will be on November 22, GA sources say. Click here for that story, and 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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