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At UN, Model of "Independent" Diplomacy Questioned on Conflicts, Clients and Funders

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, May 8 -- A new model of entrepreneurial diplomacy spoke up and handed out brochures Tuesday at the UN. Carne Ross, formerly spinning the Iraq war for the UK mission, has re-surfaced with a book, a company and a concept. All are branded "Independent Diplomat."

            Inner City Press asked Carne Ross if ID represents for example Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transniestria or Nagorno-Karabakh. The book lists only three clients: Kosovo, Somaliland and Polisario Front. Carne -- since it mean "meat" in Spanish it will be the name we use -- listed those three, which he said passed ID's three prong smell test: democratic, respecting human rights, law-abiding and, it goes without saying, marginalized. But why not the other four? "In general, we try to help the good guys," said Carne.

            ID's board of advisors, available on the brochure if not in the book, includes Kofi Annan's speechwriter Edward Mortimer, Danilo Turk, Sir Kieran Prendergast and, strangely, Ian Martin. Inner City Press asked if this is the same Ian Martin who is currently the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Nepal, and if so, if this does not create possible conflicts of interest. "The members of the advisory board are aware of but not involved in the operational advice we give to our clients," Carne said.

Ian Martin in Nepal, Independent Diplomat not shown

            ID's donors include the Open Society Institute of George Soros, who also provides a blurb on the book jacket. OSI is praised on the book's last page, 237. A more recent funder is the United Nations Foundation. Inner City Press asked if they are funding the client mix (of Kosovo, Somaliland and the Polisario Front) or the idea. "The idea," Carne quickly agreed.

  But what of the client mix? Has Morocco, for example, inquired into this funding? It's recent, Carne said.  Having dug into the UN TV camera's cut-off of Polisario's representative last week, Inner City Press is simply asking about the brochure. The idea is innovative. If one looks closely at the Security Council stakeout, there are already entrepreneurs there, albeit without brochures and books. But sometimes disclosures means more than mere volume of information, as Carne himself now acknowledged with respect to weapons and Iraq. To present a complex situation as simple is in itself misleading. The same might -- might, mind you, not must -- be applied to Independent Diplomat, at least at this stage. Certain associations simple carry with them questions. They will continue.

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