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After UN Reports NATO Killed 18 Rescuers, Ban Says Complied With SC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 -- Amid conflicting reports that NATO killed civilians in Libya, the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry report came out on March 2. It said, among other things, that in a single incident "in the town of Majer on 8 August 2011... the Commission found NATO bombs killed 34 civilians and injured 38. After the initial airstrike killed 16, a group of rescuers arrived and were hit by a subsequent attack, killing 18."

  The report was put online on the website of the UN Human Rights Commission, and NATO chief Rasmussen was asked and answered about it on March 5. Later that day, Inner City Pres asked Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey about the report, how it related to Ban's earlier statements on NATO and international humanitarian law.

  "It only came on out Friday," del Buey replied, "give us time." A week later on March 12, when foreign ministers came to the UN to debate the Arab Spring, still nothing had been said (although Inner City Press asked minister Juppe, Hague and Lavrov about it). From the March 12 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: Sergey Lavrov said that he would like to see the Secretary-General working on that issue of the… of NATO casualties in Libya under some UN-NATO memorandum of understanding of 2008. I wanted to know, one, if the Secretary-General yet, or your office yet, has a comment on the Independent Commission of Inquiry’s report on Libya and those casualties, and two, what the response is to Minister Lavrov’s request that the Secretary-General somehow work with NATO to review those?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I don’t have anything on that just at the moment, but I would point out that the Secretary-General is meeting Minister Lavrov right now. And so it may be that this is addressed when we get to a readout a little bit later.

  But the readout only mentioned "the situation in Libya." And the next day March 13 Ban's Spokesperson Martin Nesirky sent a statement first to Inner City Press, then soon thereafter to all correspondents, which did not address civilians casualties, much less the 18 killed rescuers in Majer:

Subject: Response to question on Libya
To: Matthew.Lee [at]
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 3:46 PM

The Secretary-General believes the report and recommendations of the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya provide a strong basis for the Libyan authorities to address human rights issues in Libya. The Secretary-General called consistently during the fighting for every effort to be made to minimize harm to civilians. He notes the report’s overall finding that NATO did not deliberately target civilians in Libya.

The Secretary-General is aware of the positions members of the Security Council have expressed on this issue. The Secretary-General has made clear his view that the actions taken by the international community were consistent with the relevant Security Council resolutions.

But what about the 18 rescuers killed? On March 12, Inner City Press asked ministers Alain Juppe of France and William Hague of the UK about the critique of implementation of the Council's Libya resolution. Juppe said he was proud. A Russian diplomat told Inner City Press on March 13, we will not let this rest.

  One problem here is that with, on Syria, a focus on an "impartial monitoring mechanism," Ban and his Secretariat are said to disqualify themselves from such a role with statements like this which ignore the UNICI's own findings that 60 civilians, including 18 rescuers, were killed.

 We'll see.

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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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