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UN Assembly President Lashes Out on W. Sahara, Obama Diplomacy,  Oil Sands Viewed by Expert

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

UNITED NATIONS, November 6 -- Stirring up an issue that has been bogged down in the Security Council, UN General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann has asked that a bottled-up report on human rights in Western Sahara be released to all member states. In the Council, France on behalf of Morocco routinely blocks any reference to human rights from the Western Sahara resolutions. But now d'Escoto has jumped into the ring. In the face of pro-Moroccan questions, d'Escoto's able spokesman said that he was responsible for the statement, but that the request for the report's release still stands.

  Meanwhile on November 4, this month's Council president Jorge Urbina said that as Costa Rican Ambassador, he is not optimistic that a solution to Western Sahara will be found any time soon.  Notably, despite Ban's envoy Lynn Pascoe's visit to Rabat, the name of Christopher Ross as the new van Walsum has not been sent to the Council.

The General Assembly statement, a copy of which Inner City Press has, quoted d'Escoto that "It is time for this difficult issue to be resolved once and for all. To let it drag on is unnecessary and unacceptable to all parties involved, especially the innocent families who are being denied their basic human rights."

  Hard to figure is when and why d'Escoto speaks out. On Wednesday, Inner City Press asked for d'Escoto's reaction to the U.S. election, expecting something along the lines of d'Escoto's recent statements about Cuba. But his spokesman said that d'Escoto won't comment on the politics of a particular member state. Even the G-1?

PGA d'Escoto Brockman, standing up -- selectively, some say, study continues

  Meanwhile, d'Escoto's water expert Maude Barlow was identified as his representative viewing the oil sands of Canada. Inner City Press asked, is she there on behalf of d'Escoto? Will she be reporting to him? This question and a few others have not been answered. But we're confident they will be.

From the November 5 transcript:

Inner City Press: earlier today, Ban Ki-moon made a statement about the election of Barack Obama (inaudible).  Has Mr. d’Escoto Brockmann, does he have any views, what are his views and does he think it’s good for the UN system?

Spokesperson:  Obviously, the President of the General Assembly congratulates Senator Barack Obama for his election as the next President of the United States, and he also would like to especially congratulate the people of the United States for the high participation in the elections last night, which is always a very good sign of political responsibility.

Inner City Press: Nothing more than that, in terms of what he might think of the difference of US approach to the UN?

Spokesperson:  No, the President is not going to comment on policies on each particular country, as you know.

Inner City Press: And the other one is, in Canada, there is a press report that, and the headline is “UN water adviser devastated by visit through Albert oil sands”.  This woman (inaudible) has said various things about oil sand in Canada.  Is there any relation between her relation with Mr. d’Escoto as a senior adviser and this trip or she just now going to be described as a UN adviser to Mr. d’Escoto…?

Spokesperson:  No, the nature of the relation has not changed, as I mentioned before.  She is an adviser of the President of the General Assembly on issues related to water and he takes very much into consideration all of her advice and positions.

Inner City Press: This article kind of implied that she’s going to report back to him.  Is he aware of that trip?

Spokesperson:  I can check more details for you on that particular issue.

  We're still waiting...

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

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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