Responsibility to Protect Debates with a Whimper, Then a Noam
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, July 23 -- As Ambassadors drifted toward the UN's debate on
Responsibility to Protect on Thursday morning, the handful of
reporters assembled were asking, what is this about and why should I
or my readers care? Usually skeptical correspondents were thrown for
a loop by a story in the paper of record -- if they say it's
important, it must be, seemed to be the trend among reluctant scribes
or their editors. But what is it all about?
facetiously, it's all about Ed Luck's job, is Inner City Press'
theory. At least that's the litmus test. Proponents of R to P argue
that the concept was unanimously agreed to in 2005. But why then did
the same 192 countries, serving on the UN budget (Fifth) committee,
reject Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's naming of Ed Luck as Assistant
Secretary General for R to P, and deny any funding to his office?
on July 22 claimed that R to P was implemented by the UN this year in
Sri Lanka, called any decision on Ed Luck's office a mere "arcane"
detail. Other proponents of R to P have tried to say that the issue
of funding Luck's office isn't expected to come up during today's
debate. But that would be a loss for the concept.
expert tells Inner City Press that the committee is unlikely to fund
or permit the R to P office even in its next session unless the
General Assembly affirmatively passes a resolution accepting the
recommendations in Ban Ki-moon's report. Therefore, no outcome is a
loss for R to P.
heretofore been supporters of R to P now question it. What good is a
concept, which is claimed to be universally accepted, if nothing is
done when thousands of civilians living outdoors are shelled from the
air as happened in Sri Lanka this year?
As with so many things at the
UN, grandiose words are unacted upon, leading to endless cycles of
cynicism. Wasn't it Ban Ki-moon who said, when he started as
Secretary General, that the UN should promise less and deliver more?
R to P is nothing but promise. Sending Kofi Annan to Kenya could have
been done with or without R to P. They said he went for the UN, but
Annan has neither reported to the Security Council nor has Ban's
Office confirmed that Annan asked before filing names with the
International Criminal Court.
the concept had wanted this debate to be held in April, to tie it to
the genocide in Rwanda in April 1994. But President of the General
Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, a detractor, delayed the debate
until July, and put intervention skeptic Noam Chomsky on the panel.
PGA d'Escoto and SG Ban, implementation of R to P not shown
morning, the press was told there'd be a stakeout by "participants"
in the debate at 10 a.m.. But there was no UN TV camera, and no one
stopped to talk. Later it was announced that Team d'Escoto had
rescheduled the stakeout for 2:45 p.m. Outgoing UK minister Mark
Malloch Brown, it was said, would not arrive at the UN until the
milled around the hallway. Most spoke about Noam Chomsky. "I've never
seen him," said a
once and perhaps future UN official. Watch this space.
Update of 11:20 a.m.
-- Noam Chomsky has taken the floor in the Trusteeship Council, at the
same time as an ill-attended press conference on the UN's Internal
Justice Council, and a Security Council meeting about Cote d'Ivoire.
Noam is on a rolling, spinning out the words extermination and
invasion. He says the South Summit's first meeting in 2000 must have
been referring to the bombing of Serbia...
Update of 11:36 a.m.
-- After the Cote d'Ivoire stakeout, Noam Chomsky is still speaking,
denouncing the Security Council as biased. At the stakeout, the
representative of the Laurent Gbagbo govenment of Cote d'Ivoire just
told Inner City Press, which asked "vous avez besoin de troupes?" (does
Cote d'Ivoire need troops, that is, UN peacekeepers) -- "No, we do not need troops." Yesterday,
proponents of R to P used Cote d'Ivoire and Juan Mendez' mission there
as a good use of the concept.
Update of 11:39 a.m.
-- Noam Chomsky has finished, and Germany speaks first, a "remark to
Professor Chomsky." He critiques Chomsky for speaking about "the cousin
and the skeleton" not on R to P.
Update of 11:42 a.m.
-- the Ambassador of Egypt, sitting next to Ecuador, asks about the
balance between the Security Council and the General Assembly. He says
R to P is a critique of the Security Council on Cambodia, Rwanda,
Lebanon and Gaza. He mentions Myanmar.
Update of 11:45 a.m.
-- the Ambassador of Sweden says Chomsky is speaking about the past, we
should focus on the present and future. He wants to hear from Gareth
Evans about early warning. He mentions Cambodia, Srebenica, Rwanda "or
the Holocaust for that matter."
Update of 11:46 a.m.
-- the representative of Japan, not Ambassador Takasu, says let's not
reopen the debate. He says he did not ask for the floor.
Update of 11:47 a.m.
-- the Ambassador of Chile, Geraldo Munoz -- who Inner City Press has
reported is looking for a UN job -- asks Chomsky to put his ear piece
on, since he is directing a comment to him in Spanish. He mentions
Honduras, implies that (all?) of Latin America is for R to P. "Singing
for his supper," says a skeptic.
Update of 11:52 a.m.
-- Ghana is speaking, citing prinicples of "non interference" but also
"non indifference." He mentions apartheid.
Update of 11:55 a.m.
-- Now it's Djibouti, to be followed by the "first two panelists"
responding. Then it will be Sudan, Tanzania, Timor Leste, Morocco,
Bosnia and others. Djibouti speaks of selectivity by the Security
Update of 11:58 a.m.
-- Gareth Evans speaks first, jumping gratefully on Sweden's set up
question about early warnings. Will he speak about Sri Lanka? He speaks
in a round about way about an office including the advisor on R to P:
that is, Ed Luck, which only yesterday Evans said was too arcane for
him to get involved in. He refers to the budget process and urges
member states to take it up. Yesterday he said he woudln't speak to
that. Hate to say it, but.... told you so.
Update of 12:02 p.m.
-- Evans says R to P never meant to give more power to the General
Assembly, that action must be taken through the Security Council. Then
he tells Djibouti that regional organizations can work around the
Security Council, saying this happened in, where else, Kenya. Now he's
on to Juan Mendez in Cote d'Ivoire. But where is Mendez' report?
Update of 12:07 p.m.
-- Chomsky begins with the bombing of Serbia, "it think it was a real
crime." He says R to P repeats the old consensus. He says the 2005
statement is okay, but has striking omissions. UN TV switches away from
Chomsky's comments: the noon briefing has begun.
* * *
UN, R to P Confusion on Somalia and Sri Lanka, Even on Funding of
Early Warning Office
Matthew Russell Lee
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?
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.
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.
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."
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
as ResponsibilityToProtect.org 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
* * *
R to P Methods Questioned, Team
Ban Off Record on Sri Lanka, Off to China
Matthew Russell Lee
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
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
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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
* * *
of R2P Say That UN's D'Escoto and Sen Are Opposed - But Honduras
Is An Exception
Matthew Russell Lee
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
the General Assembly who told Inner City Press that R2P reminds him
of U.S. interventions in Latin America, has scheduled a debate
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
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.
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.
co-panelist William Pace of the World Federalist Movement added
wryly, "That may be why it's a former Ambassador."
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
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.
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.
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
Responsibility to Protect, Gutierrez to Be Invited
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, April 14
-- The responsibility
to protect, a doctrine that if a government cannot or does not serve
others may step in to do so, was called by the President of the UN
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
Latin America "to protect its interests."
Press asked d'Escoto about his appointment earlier this month of former
Ambassador to the UN Nirupam Sen as his advisor on the Responsibility
as well as on the global financial crisis, and asked if d'Escoto is a
of or skeptic about R2P. D'Escoto answered that he has "reservations"
about R2P, and may organize an interactive panel on the topic.
already scheduled for June 1-3 a meeting on the global financial
City Press asked, in light of d'Escoto's public praise of Barack Obama,
might come to the event from the U.S. government. D'Escoto answered
"hopes God protects Obama," comparing him to Martin Luther King.
Immediately after that, d'Escoto praised a book asserting that the CIA
John F. Kennedy.
Hillary Clinton engaged in such free association on the campaign trail,
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
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
sought and took the post, on April
6 Inner City Press asked d'Escoto's
spokesman Enrique Yeves
City Press: I’ve
noticed now subsequent to that [inaudible] on the website of the
letter appointing Nirupam Sen of India as “Special Senior Adviser” on
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
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
so involved in many of the issues that he talked with President
they both agreed that it would be a very good idea to start giving him
on all these issues that are mentioned in the letter until the end of
presidency of President d´Escoto. And…
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.
City Press: Is
this the exact same phrasing and status as Mr. De Schutter, Noam
Spokesperson: That’s correct. As
you know, none of these Special Advisers
are getting any salary or have any contractual arrangement as such.
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.
City Press: I’m
sorry, I forgot to follow up. On
responsibility to protect, can you say something about whether he is
be a proponent or a doubter on responsibility to protect?
I think this is a question for him to
answer than for me. But obviously, you
will have a chance to talk to him.
-- d'Escoto is a doubter, or "has reservations." On April
City Press asked
City Press: To
this question yesterday of the G-4 visa, did you get to the bottom of
it? Whether the Special Adviser,
Spokesperson: I understand now that it is up to the [
United States] State Department to decide on this issue, because the
Representative of India is entitled to a G-1 visa and he is now
State Department of his new status and he will know what kind of visa
going to get.
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,
did and he said he is waiting for an answer from the State Department,
don’t know yet.
City Press: But
he’s definitely seeking one and it’s based on that position?
And so, as soon as he obtained the assignment,
Sen applied to the State Department for the visa status...
described upcoming trips to Venezuela and Cuba, and to Alaska to meet
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
Gustavo Gutierrez would also be coming. Good idea, d'Escoto said, thank
reminding me, I'll see if Gustavo can come. And then d'Escoto was gone.
for a new YouTube video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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