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For Japan's UNSC Month, DPRK, Myanmar & Yemen, Qs Shouted Down, Trip Not Answered

By Matthew Russell Lee, video

UNITED NATIONS, December 1 – With Japan taking over the UN Security Council for December, just before it leaves the Council for at least two years, Inner City Press had many questions it wanted to ask Ambassador Koro Bessho, from  North Korea to Myanmar to UNESCO to the Secretary General's trip. But earlier in the day a bail hearing in the UN bribery case was announced, and so Inner City Press headed downtown, video here. A the UN, captured in the UNTV video, two questioners less than critical of North Korea were shouted down (video at 32:50) or faced eye-rolling and worse (video from 13:15). No one asked about Antonio Guterres' trip, of which Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesman at noon. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: I want just also on travel.  I've seen some… some… put together some online clues and I wanted to ask you if you can confirm the Secretary-General is going to be travelling to Japan in the near future to a health conference there? Spokesman:  As you know, once we're able to confirm travel, we will.  Often other parties announce trips, but until we announce it, it's not official.” Right. We'll have more on this. In terms of the Program of Work, there's North Korea on December 15 and, it seems, December 11 on human rights. There's Myanmar, with Japan's position ambiguous, on December 12. There's Central African including Cameroon, where there are threats of crackdown, on December 13, and Yemen on December 5. There's Peacekeeping Operations, still awaiting Japan's re-commitment, on December 21. Inner City Press has written to the three listed Japanese spokespeople; watch this site. Back on November 1 with the UN Security Council presidency  being taken over by Italy, Inner City Press in person asked Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi about Yemen, Burundi, the Central African Republic and Cameroon. Periscope video here. Cardi said that there was discussion of Yemen in the morning's closed door consultations and to expect a briefing on humanitarian issues and maybe the political track. On Burundi, on which Inner City Press cited a Commission of Inquiry member's criticism of the Security Council's lack of follow through in deploying the 228 police it supposedly mandated, Cardi said that new (part-time) envoy Michel Kafando will brief the Council on November 20. Since Cardi had cited Secretary General Antonio Guterres' visit to the Central African Republic in connection with a November 6 meeting of the Security Council, Inner City Press asked if Guterres himself will make the presentation and if he might include a briefing on Cameroon, which he also visited if only the Presidential palace, about the Anglophone regions from which UNHCR says refugees are pouring into Nigeria. Cardi said the SRSG will brief on behalf of the Secretary General; the Cameroon question was not answered. For the Free UN Coalition for Access, Inner City Press asked Cardi to come to the Council stakeout frequently, as he had in the morning. He said that he will. Watch this site. Back on September 1 with the UN Security Council presidency being taken over by Ethiopia's Tekeda Alemu, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Alemu four questions, the answers to which sketch out the Ethopian government's worldview. Video here. In response to Inner City Press asking why Burundi, where even the UN says there is a risk of genocide, is not on his September Program of Work nor on the agenda of the Council's visit to Addis Ababa, Alemu said that you can't compare Burundi to Central African Republic, that Burundi has “strong state institutions.” But it is that very “strength,” which some say the country shares with Ethiopia, and with until recently military-ruled Myanmar about which Inner City Press also asked, that has led to the human rights violations. In this context, Inner City Press asked Alemu about the Oromo protests - and crackdown - in his country. He diplomatically chided Inner City Press for not having asked in private, saying that social media has played a dangerous role. On the other hand, when Inner City Press asked Alemu at the end about the murders of two UN experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan, he replied that while the DR Congo is due to sovereignty the one to investigate the murders, the gruesome nature of the killings put a “great responsibility” on the DR Congo. We'l have more on this. Alamy photos here. Earlier on September 1 in Alemu's briefing to countries not on the Security Council, Bangladesh specifically asked that the Council remain seized of the situation in Myanmar. When Inner City Press asked Alemu about this, he said he still had to inform himself more about that situation. The Security Council is traveling to Addis from September 5 through 9, when alongside African Union consultations the Council's member will meet for an hour with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Alemu said. The Council will receive the “maiden briefings” late in the month of the new Under Secretaries General of OCHA and on Counter-Terrorism. There will be peacekeeping on September 20, during the High Level week of the UN General Assembly, and Yemen on September 26. But tellingly, there will not be Burundi. Watch this site.


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