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Libya Echoes in UN Protection of Civilians Debate, India Attacks As Brazil Muses

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 9, updated -- Often thematic debates in the UN Security Council are a series of obvious speeches in which nation after nation offers praise of a concept like peace, or mediation. But Wednesday's Protection of Civilians debate features bleed over of disagreements that have built up this year on Libya, followed by Syria.

  India's Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri made it most plain:

"we find several member-states all too willing to expend considerable resources for regime change in the name of protection of civilians. They are, however, unwilling to provide minimal resources, like military helicopters, to the UN peacekeeping missions."

  When India withdrew its military helicopters from the UN Mission in the Congo, MONUSCO, it was pressured to keep them there -- but asked, why don't other countries give helicopters?

  Then NATO used UNSC Resolution 1973 to bomb Libya, not only advancing Gaddafi forces but later a television station and, arguably, private residences.

   Brazil's speech by Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti was cited by a number of close observers as the most through provoking, calling among other reforms for better assessment of how UNSC resolutions are implemented, and promising a concept paper on the topic.

   Several Council members, including Western Permanent members, mock and minimize the position of the IBSA -- the above two plus South Africa -- including denying that these country's anger at how the Libya resolutions were implemented led to their non-support of the European draft resolution on Syria.

  But in Wednesday's debate, Brazil's and India's contributions made such a critique more difficult -- if the Western members were even listening.

(c) UN Photo
Amb's of Brazil, Colombia, India then US & France: who's listening to whom?

  Other close observers noted that the conflation of Protection of Civilians with concept of Responsibility to Protect, more controversial at the UN, does not bode well for "the PoC agenda." It will allow R2P naysayers "like Cuba" to say, "Now you see why were were concerned about R2P and PoC - they are just other ways to phrase regime change."

  Western speechifiers may continue to dismiss this. But if one reads Wednesday's speeches, the trends -- and their trigger -- are clear. Watch this site.

   Early in the proceeding, the UN's deputy humanitarian coordinator Catherine Bragg said she is "concerned by airstrikes conducted by Kenyan armed forces agianst Al-Shabab earlier this month, which reportedly killed civilians."
   Inner City Press has already asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman about this, without answer beyond "look at what envoy Austugine Mahiga has said."

   On Wednesday Inner City Press asked again, for comment from Ban as Secretary General -- since Mahiga has said that incursion by Kenya was good on balance -- and spokesman Martin Nesirky said he would see if there was any further comment. Five hours later, there was none.

Update of 5:15 pm - Venezuela's Permanent Representative Valero, heading into the Security Council at 5:10 pm, told Inner City Press he was going to make a strong statement: una bomba, he called it....

Update of 5:27 pm -- Venezuela's Valero denounced the use of Protection of Civilians to "overthrow governments... for transnational corporations." He named resolution 1970, on Libya, as imposing "petty political interests." He asked why Palestinian civilians are not being protected, concluding that the protection of civilians is a lethal weapons of imperial powers. Una bomba, indeed.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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