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Sudan Actions in NY as UN Council's Trip is Stalled, China Warns of Bashir Humiliation

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 19 -- The UN Security Council's planned trip to Sudan remained stalled on Sunday, as the UK, France and US oppose any meeting or photo op with Omar al Bashir.

 Inner City Press asked a Permanent Five member of the Council's ambassador if there was any movement and was told of a dinner hosted by Sudan on Monday night near the UN, at which Vice President Taha will be pushed “to clarify.”

  Later on Sunday, Inner City Press sought to ask US Ambassador Susan Rice about the trip, as she walked from the meeting of the Panel on Global Sustainability to a reception, but was given no answer.

  Elsewhere in New York on Sunday, Sudanese activists Albaqir Mukhtar and Salih Osman Mahmoud spoke at Lincoln Center at a poverty event alongside a group fighting deaths on the road , while members of the Sudanese diaspora rallied in front of the UN. (Click here for a description of the rally by Bec Hamilton, and photos including the one below.)

Rally outside UN on Sept 19 by Bec Hamilton, UNSC trip not shown

  On the sideline of the Security Council's last meeting, the Permanent Representative of a Council member which is a member of the ICC told Inner City Press of a willingness to meet and greet Bashir, adding that the US and UK Ambassadors could just “stay in the hotel watching CNN.”

  But Inner City Press is told by involved sources that China has warned Sudan that the US, France and UK may “try to humiliate” Bashir, and to watch out for it. So the stand off continues. Watch this site.

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Sudan Trip by UN Council Stalled by Bashir Photo Op Concerns, P-2 Discussions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 17 -- The Sudanese trip of the UN Security Council, initially slated for early October, is in jeopardy of being canceled. Sudan has indicated that if the Council visits, a meeting and photo opportunity with the country's President would be required.

This week several Permanent Five members of the Council told Inner City Press that their Ambassadors could not meet with Omar al Bashir, due to his indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide.

While this prohibition is presented as a matter of law, three of the Permanent Five are not members of the ICC, and therefore appear under no prohibition from meeting with indictees. Thus it is a matter of choice, of politics and of perception.

On September 16, a self described senior US official told Inner City Press that

With respect to a potential Security Council mission [to Sudan], we've talked informally in the Security Council since the beginning of the year [including] about the obvious complication that such a trip poses. You guys know that the Security Council referred the issue of Sudan to the International Criminal Court, and there the outstanding indictments, and that's a political fact. We have some legal realities that can't be ignored. We're still frankly talking amongst ourselves about how to deal with them. And it's not clear whether they can be dealt with adequately to enable a trip in the near term.”

  A non-Permanent member of the Council that is a member of the ICC but say it would, given the stakes for Sudanese civilians, be willing to go and meet Bashir complained to Inner City Press that so far the discussion of this issue has been confined not even to the full P-5, but rather to the assigned leaders of different legs of the trip as planned: the US (for South Sudan) and the UK (for Darfur).

  "Real diplomats don't run scared of photo ops when people are threatened with death," the complainant argued to Inner City Press.

  Inner City Press asked the senior US official about this concern and the response was that “We always have conversations about P-5 and those conversations always end up in the larger Council.” The US official added that of course, approval of any trip would require the involvement of all 15 member of the Council. But cancellation of the planned trip can be done by a mere two members?

Bashir with UNAMID's Gambari, April 2010, US/UK not shown

  With the high profile September 24 meeting on Sudan at the UN coming closer, some wonder if with the involvement of Sudanese Vice President Taha and US President Obama, the stumbling blocks could be overcome.

  Among the suggestions are that some Ambassadors simply stay in their hotel while others meet Bashir, or that they attend but not shake Bashir's hand.

  Inner City Press covered the Council's 2008 trip to Sudan (as well as Kenya, Djibouti, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Cote d'Ivoire) and witnessed then US Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff, UK Permanent Representative John Sawers and French PR Jean Maurice Ripert meeting with Bashir and other Sudanese officials.

  That was then; this is now. Watch this site.

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UN's Amos on Working With Sudan Gov't, Justifies Withholding of Darfur Data

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 15 -- A month after the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it would provide Darfur malnutrition data to the Press in “one or two days,” new OCHA chief Valerie Amos responded that the UN has been slowed by trying to do “joint assessments” with Sudan's government.

Already, the peacekeepers of UNAMID in Darfur refuse to leave their bases to protect civilians without getting approval from the Sudanese authorities. But why would the UN's ostensibly independent humanitarian arm tie its ability to release information about malnutrition to obtaining the joint agreement of the very government accused of playing a role in the starvation?

Inner City Press asked more generally what Ms. Amos will do about humanitarian, not only in Jebel Marra in Darfur, from which NGOs have been barred since February, but also Waziristan in western Pakistan, blockaded by the military and subject to done strikes in the US. Video here, from Minute 11:53.

Ms. Amos began by saying that the “independence and impartiality of humanitarian workers” cannot be compromised by the UN. Then, by referring to security and the “duty of care,” she compromised it. Sudan, for example, tells the UN it cannot guarantee its safety, a code word for: don't go.

Most recently, local authorities in West Darfur have come up with a strategy of “persona non grata by another name,” saying that UNHCR and FAO officials in Darfur are not safe and should leave.

What does Ms. Amos think of these government announcements?

UN's Ban and Ms. Amos, access and Darfur starvation data not yet shown

 Does she believe that the UNHCR officials have a right to distribute rape detection equipment? That FAO can circulate petitions against hunger? These are the grounds on which the UN officials were told they are not safe and should leave. What will Ms. Amos do? Watch this site.

 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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