Inner City Press


In Other Media-e.g. Somalia, Ghana, Azerbaijan, The Gambia   For further information, click here to contact us          .

Home -

Search is just below this first article

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07 7/19/07 6/29/07 6/14/7 6/1/7

How to Contact Us


Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"

Inner City Press Podcast --

UN to Open in Turkmenistan, Takes Long View on Nepal, Mentions Soo Kyi, But Not Too Much

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

UNITED NATIONS, August 20 -- The UN plans to open a regional office for Central Asia in Turkmenistan by the end of the year, Ban Ki-moon's head political envoy Lynn Pascoe told a press conference on Monday. While not yet formally announced, Pascoe said, the new office was discussed last week at the meeting in Kyrgyzstan of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Inner City Press asked, given the human rights issues under Saparmurat Niyazov, the so-called Father of All Turkmen or Turkmenbashi, and also his successor, who has taken to locking up ex-government officials without due process, why Turkmenistan?

            "They are providing facilities," Mr. Pascoe answered, "so it seemed a logical process. I would not have thought the process so logical under the earlier regime."

            Asked afterwards if the new long-named Turkmen president, Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov, has provided any assurances for example that members of the press could travel unhindered to Ashgabat to cover at least the UN's work -- journalists have routinely been denied visas in the past -- Mr. Pascoe said things have not gotten that far yet. We'll see.

            In terms of the issues a UN Central Asia office would deal with, Mr. Pascoe mentioned that the region's water come from only two smaller states, and that while Kazakhstan produces oil and Turkmenistan natural gas, the other nations are just consumers. Well-placed UN diplomats call Uzbekistan the most problematic of the Central Asian nations, with its demands to repatriate dissidents despite reports that those returned are tortured. Mr. Pascoe did not address this, at least not on the record.

            Following his upbeat presentation of the process in Nepal, Inner City Press asked about concerns that the proposed Nepali Truth and Reconciliation process would offer amnesty for war criminals and recruiters of child soldiers. Mr. Pascoe said that the UN's "human rights people there have thick papers" on the topic, and that it is still early in the process. Video here.

Lynn Pascoe in his last posting as U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia

            Mr. Pascoe did not mention Myanmar in his summary of issues discussed with China -- he listed these as Darfur, Kosovo, Taiwan and Somalia -- but when asked by Inner City Press if the continued confinement of Aun San Soo Kyi came up. "Of course it came up, I mentioned it," Pascoe said. He then praised the work of Ban Ki-moon's envoy on Myanmar, Iraq and Nigeria, Ibrahim Gambari. Inner City Press has been told to expect a briefing by Radhika Coomarswamy, the UN's special envoy on children and armed conflict, specifically on Myanmar. While Gambari is certainly getting positive feedback about Myanmar's military regime from other martial governments, the International Committee of the Red Cross recently issued a rare public rebuke, saying that Myanmar is using civilians as mine sweepers.  Some human rights violations are harder to diplomat away.

            On Somalia, while the Security Council passed a roll-over resolution on Monday, South African Ambassador Kumalo said he had voted for it "without enthusiasm."  Inner City Press asked Ambassador Gayama of the Republic of Congo about this, in his national capacity. Amb. Gayama said he shared the lack of enthusiasm, and that the Security Council should do more in Somalia. Video here.

            On Taiwan, when a reporter asked about Ban Ki-moon's rapid return of the letters requesting UN membership, Pascoe called it a matter of law, and not politics, then added that he has dealt with Taiwan issues from many years, prior to the UN. The U.S. supplies weapons to Taiwan, but has not visibly supported its recent requests to join the UN. Taiwan says that it will be represented, albeit under another name and with another small flag, at the upcoming Beijing Olympics. Pascoe says that China raised the issue of Taiwan to him. Did Pascoe raise the issue of the Uighurs, Muslims in Western China who are called separatists, and whose repatriation and refoulement has been discussed in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meetings?

News analysis: The backdrop of Pascoe's trip and of his work is that he is an American, the United States' choice to head the UN's Department of Political Affairs. How does that impact the ways he is received, and is perceived?  The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, involving Russia and China, with Iran visiting this time, is widely described as an alternative to U.S. power, as opposing a mono-polar world. When the UN's envoy to the SCO is an American, how is it perceived? Mr. Pascoe is affable and, today, accessible. But the answer to this question remains to be seen.

  Forward-looking questions: Here are some other questions, posed ten days ago, which DPA has yet to answer:

  Is there any update on the UN's efforts to help raise / get donors to give  the $2 million the LRA [Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army] said it needs? We 've heard that DPA, through a trust fund, has been paying some expenses for the talks. Could you say who has been getting expenses paid, when, how much and the source of the funds?  What is the relation between the DPA-administered trust fund(s) and the
Juba Initiative Project / trust fund(s) for which OCHA is custodian?

  The LRA says that the Museveni government has been getting UN and/or donor funds for the peace process. Is that true? If so, how much and from which countries or UN entities?

  More generally, in what other countries / conflicts does DPA pay expenses for peace talks?

  Responses will be reported when received.

* * *

Clck here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (which had to be finalized without DPA having respond.)  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Search WWW Search

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service.

            Copyright 2006-07 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540