Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

At UN, R to P Confusion on Somalia and Sri Lanka, Even on Funding of Early Warning Office

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 22 -- The day before the UN's July 23 debate on the Responsibility to Protect, R to P proponent Gareth Evans claimed to the Press that the Security Council's actions on Sri Lanka earlier this year were a "significant factor in moderating what could have been a greater catastrophe."  Inner City Press asked Evan, what Security Council actions?

   As reported here, Sri Lanka was never put on the Council's agenda. Instead it was the topic of a handful of closed door meetings in the UN's basement. Progressively weaker -- and never formal -- statements were made afterwards, the last time without even a UN TV camera there. Is this was the UN's version of Responsibility to Protect looks like? Video here, from Minute 33:12.

  Evans maintained that the UN's responses to the conflict in Sri Lanka, including "strong Presidential Statements," show that R to P is a "concept gaining traction" and in this case saving lives. He said this was the position of the International Crisis Group, leadership of which he handed over to Louise Arbour on July 22. We'll see.

   Ironically, the UN Secretariat seems to want to keep R to P, or at least senior officials connected to it, invisible. Earlier in the week, there was a briefing on the topic by two individuals who, it was insisted, could only be identified as "senior UN officials."

    Inner City Press asked one of them how R to P should have applied to Sri Lanka, and if they agreed with those who said the concept was not implemented during this year's conflict. The official replied that it is "too early to tell" if R to P succeeded in Sri Lanka. But that phase of conflict was ended in a bloody final assault, and 300,000 people are now locked up in internment camps not "30,000," as has it.) It's still too early? Afterwards, Inner City Press asked the official if his response about Sri Lanka could be on the record. I'd rather not, he said.

    Evans, like other proponents, cited Kenya as an example, and also the mission of Juan Mendez -- advertised for the July 22 press conference but not present -- to Cote d'Ivoire when the country was still split in two. Mendez' report about incitement in Cote d'Ivoire has never been released, and Kofi Annan has not return to brief the Security Council about Kenya.

   Inner City Press asked Evans and his fellow panelist Thelma Ekiyor of the West African Civil Society Institute if they thought R to P applies in the case of Somalia. Evan, who previously told Inner City Press that Somalia was not a case of R to P during a media session to promote his book on the topic, now said there is "no harm in viewing" it that way, as one of ten to fifteen situations to which R to P is relevant. But if the UN's response to Sri Lanka is any predictor, what good would it do?

UN's Ban and (ICG's?) Evans, Sri Lanka success proclaimed

  Ms. Ekiyor said everything is with hindsight, "could we have gone into Sri Lanka? ... Can we forecast, to prevent genocide? Then we make some inroads." Video here, from Minute 36:40.

    But the UN's mechanism for early warning, the contested office of Ed Luck, has not been funded. Inner City Press asked Evans if he thought that would be addressed during this week's debate. Evans called it an "arcane" debate, best left to the UN's budget (Fifth) committee. Video here, from Minute 41:11.

    But a Fifth Committee expert reminded Inner City Press that there are various action items at the end of the Secretary General's report, which will supposedly be debated on July 23. If, as is said, no outcome is expected, how could the UN move to monitoring or early warning? Or will the proponents of R to P be proud, or say they are, of a few basement meetings of the Security Council while civilians are being killed? Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, D'Escoto's R to P Methods Questioned, Team Ban Off Record on Sri Lanka, Off to China

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 21, updated -- While this week's UN debates on the Responsibility to Protect looks to many like just another pro forma gab fest, R to P proponents view it as an attempt by the Sandinista President of the General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockman to undermine the concept, perhaps through a last minute "outcome document."

On July 20, at an event across the street from the UN attended by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's main advisor on R to P Ed Luck, William Pace of the World Federalist Movement* denounced d'Escoto for having refused to hold the session in April, to coincide with the 15th anniversary of Rwanda's genocide.

   Pace said d'Escoto now gave only 10 days notice, then circulated an "inappropriate document" and proposed a debate between Noam Chomsky and, for R to P, Gareth Evans, also slated to appear at a press conference on July 22. The "inappropriate" concept paper, or "non-paper" as it's called in the UN, was described by several pro R to P Ambassadors as laughable, worse than D'Escoto Brockmann's unilateral draft on the global financial crisis.

   A staffer from d'Escoto Brockmann's office sat taking notes. Interviewed later by Inner City Press, he said Pace's vehemence surprised him: all d'Escoto is asking for is a debate. He said the concept wasn't really debated in 2005; he mentioned the humanitarian pretext for the invasion of Iraq.

   Pace said that d'Escoto had inappropriately "politicized" the position of PGA and was trying to undermine the support of 150 heads of state for R to P. Pace even accused d'Escoto of timing the debate for July 23 specifically to occur when Ban will be out of town, in China.

UN's D'Escoto with China's foreign minister, Ban's trip and talk not shown

    Because of Ban's trip to China -- some wondered if he would raise the situation of Uighurs in Xinjiang in Western China, as a matter of R to P or otherwise -- he unveiled his report to the General Assembly on the morning of July 21. The report was only half unveiled: journalists complained that the UN's Media Resource Center had no copies of the report. Whatever happened to the Responsibility to Print?

   And why did Team Ban, when it held a press conference on June 20 about R to P, demand that its two speakers not be identified by name? Afterwards, Inner City Press asked one of them, who had said regarding Sri Lanka that it is somehow "too early" to tell if R to P was implemented, if the quote could be used with attribution, since the persons is a senior Ban administration official. "I'd rather you didn't," the senior official said? Who took the responsibility out of the Responsibility to Protect? Watch this site.

Update of 10:17 a.m. -- Former Ambassador of India Nirupam Sen, also denounced by Pace for his positions in 2005 about R to P, arrived in front of the General Assembly. A staffer for D'Escoto's Office, for which Sen now works, spirited him further along the second floor. The door to the PGA's Office was closed. D'Escoto, his spokesman said, will be returning to New York today.

Update of 10:56 a.m. -- the GA session ended, much faster than most had expected. "Only five countries?" one attendee snarked to Inner City Press, calling Ban's delivery "flat" and predicting the real fireworks will be Thursday. The deputy permanent represenative of North Korea -- the DPR of the DPRK, as he's called -- ambled out, looking bemused. Ban rushed out, with his advisors Vijay Nambiar and Kim Won-soo. Sen stayed to schmooze the crowd. Inner City Press asked a Georgian diplomat what he thought of the Responsibility to Protect. We need some, he said.

* -- it was later pointed out at the full name is the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy, which is part of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, duly noted.

* * *

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.

* * *

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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

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

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

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -