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Proponents of R2P Say That UN's D'Escoto and Sen Are Opposed - But Honduras Is An Exception

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 16 -- The Responsibility to Protect, a concept seemingly endorsed by the UN in 2005 but since largely ignored, for example during the slaughter of civilians in Sri Lanka earlier this year, is the subject of a showdown in the UN General Assembly starting July 23. Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, the President of the General Assembly who told Inner City Press that R2P reminds him of U.S. interventions in Latin America, has scheduled a debate about the concept.

  The Global Center for R to P briefed the Press on July 16 and critiqued in advance what d'Escoto and his advisor on R2P, former Indian Ambassador to the UN Nirupam Sen, are predicted to say next week.

  Inner City Press asked James Traub, journalist and Global Center advisor, what he makes of d'Escoto Brockmann's appointment of Sen on R2P, and of the "murky" position of Ed Luck, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's advisor on the topic although the General Assembly does not allow use of that title or even a UN phone line by Mr. Luck.

  "I'll leave aside the Ed question," Traub began, saying that former Ambassador Sen "like Father Miguel is on record opposing" R2P. Traub noted that this "historical fact" is in his "book about the UN," that Sen's opposition to R2P was "resolved only when the Foreign Minister of Canada called the Foreign Minister of India" and said, you can't let your emissary block the passage of Responsibility to Protect.

  Traub's co-panelist William Pace of the World Federalist Movement added wryly, "That may be why it's a former Ambassador."

Sen has previously shot back at Ed Luck's characterization of his position on R2P, arguing to the Press that India was the first to invoke the responsibility to protect, on Bangladesh in the 1970s, and calling for a revamp of the UN Security Council, for example to prohibit a Permanent Five member of the Council from using its veto to block R2P action on itself or an ally.

UN's d'Escoto embraced by Zelaya, R2P for me but not for thee

   Lost in Thursday's discussion of the President of the General Assembly's position on the responsibility to protect, which he has equated with a "responsibility to intervene," is d'Escoto Brockmann's position that Manuel Zelaya, ousted from Honduras, should be restored to power in essence by any means necessary.

  D'Escoto flew on a jet owned by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez on a flight toward Tegucigalpa which was not approved by the on the ground Honduran authorities. Hugo Chavez, alongside threatening his own military action, has said that perhaps UN peacekeepers should be involved in getting Zelaya back into the country.

   This is a "right to intervene" invoked for political not humanitarian reasons. What is the difference? Watch this site.

At UN, d'Escoto Fears for Obama's Life, Dubious of Responsibility to Protect, Gutierrez to Be Invited

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

UNITED NATIONS, April 14 -- The responsibility to protect, a doctrine that if a government cannot or does not serve its people others may step in to do so, was called by the President of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday a "new cosmetic improvement" on the "right to intervene." Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, formerly Nicaragua's foreign minister, said that R2P reminds him of the United States' interventions in Latin America "to protect its interests."

  Inner City Press asked d'Escoto about his appointment earlier this month of former Indian Ambassador to the UN Nirupam Sen as his advisor on the Responsibility to Protect, as well as on the global financial crisis, and asked if d'Escoto is a supporter of or skeptic about R2P. D'Escoto answered that he has "reservations" about R2P, and may organize an interactive panel on the topic.

   D'Escoto has already scheduled for June 1-3 a meeting on the global financial crisis. Inner City Press asked, in light of d'Escoto's public praise of Barack Obama, who might come to the event from the U.S. government. D'Escoto answered that he "hopes God protects Obama," comparing him to Martin Luther King. Immediately after that, d'Escoto praised a book asserting that the CIA killed John F. Kennedy.

  When Hillary Clinton engaged in such free association on the campaign trail, there was a fire storm. For d'Escoto, it was one of his least controversial statement. He began the press conference by referring to the UN's failure to bring about a Palestinian state. Asked about his past, he said he is more of a Sandinista today than in 1979.

D'Escoto and Evo Morales": Obama, Mother Earth Day, R2P and Sen's G-4 Visa not shown

  On why Sen sought and took the post, on April 6 Inner City Press asked d'Escoto's spokesman Enrique Yeves

Inner City Press: I’ve noticed now subsequent to that [inaudible] on the website of the President, a letter appointing Nirupam Sen of India as “Special Senior Adviser” on three topics, including responsibility to protect.  First, is the Ambassador a proponent of the responsibility to protect or a doubter, and does this position involve a G-4 visa; do these positions, these Special Adviser positions?  And what’s the difference between the Special Advisers, the Senior Advisers and Specials?  Is this along the lines of Mr. De Schutter’s or is it something else?

Spokesperson:  No, he is a Special Adviser.  In this particular case -- as you know, Ambassador Sen had ended his work in the Mission here -- he has been so involved in many of the issues that he talked with President d´Escoto and they both agreed that it would be a very good idea to start giving him advice on all these issues that are mentioned in the letter until the end of the presidency of President d´Escoto.  And…

Inner City Press: Is it a paying position, does it involve a G-4 visa?

Spokesperson:  It is not a paid position.  And on the G-4 visa, to be honest, I don’t know, but I can find out for you.

Inner City Press: Is this the exact same phrasing and status as Mr. De Schutter, Noam Chomsky and…?

Spokesperson:  That’s correct.  As you know, none of these Special Advisers are getting any salary or have any contractual arrangement as such.

Inner City Press:  [inaudible] Ambassador Sen will come as required or will he be based here?

Spokesperson:  He is based here and he has already been giving advice since 1 April, which is when his assignment started.

Inner City Press: I’m sorry, I forgot to follow up.  On responsibility to protect, can you say something about whether he is thought to be a proponent or a doubter on responsibility to protect?

Spokesperson:  Well, I think this is a question for him to answer than for me.  But obviously, you will have a chance to talk to him.

  See above -- d'Escoto is a doubter, or "has reservations." On April 7, Inner City Press asked

Inner City Press: To this question yesterday of the G-4 visa, did you get to the bottom of it?  Whether the Special Adviser, particularly the new one…?

Spokesperson:  I understand now that it is up to the [ United States] State Department to decide on this issue, because the Permanent Representative of India is entitled to a G-1 visa and he is now informing the State Department of his new status and he will know what kind of visa he is going to get.

Inner City Press: But it’s the position of the President of the General Assembly that these part-time…this is a part-time position, right?  It’s a part-time Special Senior Adviser?

Spokesperson:  Correct.  I have asked him.  Well, I already did and he said he is waiting for an answer from the State Department, so we don’t know yet.

Inner City Press: But he’s definitely seeking one and it’s based on that position?

Spokesperson:  Yes, that’s correct.

   And so, as soon as he obtained the assignment, Sen applied to the State Department for the visa status...

  On Tuesday, D'Escoto described upcoming trips to Venezuela and Cuba, and to Alaska to meet with indigenous people. He has invited to the UN for an April 22 event about "Mother Earth Day" the theologian Leonardo Boff, saying he asked Lula if Boff could come. The Mother Earth Day, sponsored by Bolivia, will feature Bolivian president Evo Morales, who Tuesday ended a five-day hunger strike or fast. Afterwards Inner City Press asked if fellow theologian Gustavo Gutierrez would also be coming. Good idea, d'Escoto said, thank you for reminding me, I'll see if Gustavo can come. And then d'Escoto was gone.

  Click here for a new YouTube 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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