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On R2P, UNSC's Open Meeting Is Closed As Ban Dodges Burundi Q, ACT on Next SG

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 14 -- The UN Security Council's “open” meeting on the Responsibility to Protect on December 14 was ironic, and not only because the sign outside the meeting said “Closed."

Earlier in the day Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dodged a loud Press question about killings in Burundi, two hours after Burundi's Ambassador to the UN, who blocks the Press from his Twitter feed, told the Swiss-chaired Peacebuilding Configuration that it is all a member of opposition controlled from outside the country trying to create an “Arab Spring-like” event. So much for R2P.

  Still, to Switzerland's credit they gave the press a copy of what Ambasssador Jürg Lauber, who chaired the PBC meeting at which Albert Shingiro spoke, said to the Security Council on behalf of ACT:

“Switzerland is the coordinator of ACT, Accountability, Coherence and Transparency, a cross regional group comprised of 25 Member States, and we are honored to speak on its behalf. ACT congratulates Chile and Spain for holding this meeting in an open Arria format and welcomes the opportunity to exchange views with the Security Council. The Responsibility to Protect requires us to take action both to prevent atrocity crimes and to act to end them when they do occur...

“While States play a central role in implementing the principle of the Responsibility to Protect, the United Nations continue to have a crucial function. ACT is actively engaged in order to reach increased transparency, inclusiveness and a more rigorous process in selecting the next chief of the Organization to represent all of us. The identification and appointment of the best candidate for the post of the Secretary-General—an individual committed to be independent and impartial in recommending actions to the Security Council and all other stakeholders involved in the system, for instance through Human Rights Up Front, to stop and prevent conflict and mass atrocities – would contribute to enhance the credibility of the whole UN system. We therefore welcome the fact that all Security Council members and the President of the General Assembly agreed on a joint letter calling for applications, in order to start the process in a timely manner according to General Assembly Resolution 69/321. Members States are looking forward to receiving this letter.”

  We'll have more on this.

Back on September 8, Responsibility to Protect was the topic of an open UN press conference and debate, or series of speeches, even as the UN said nothing about the Saudi coalition's airstrikes on Sana'a and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did not mention Burundi in his prepared speech, much less Sri Lanka.

  Inner City Press asked UN officials Adama Dieng and Jennifer Welsh at their joint press conference about both Sri Lanka and Burundi, as well as South Sudan and the critique by Venezuela and others of R2P in the UN.

   Dieng called for the release of the African Union's report on crimes in South Sudan; he called Burundi a political problem and Welsh spoke of preventive diplomacy. 12 minute video here.

  Welsh acknowledged that the UN's response to crimes in Sri Lanka has been a failure; she paid some respect to Venezuela's and Cuba's objections (though back in the afternoon's session, she disagreed with Venezuela's argument that R2P divides states into those who are “responsible” and those who are not).

  In the final 24 minutes there were 12 speakers; Myanmar got cut off (it had not used the work Rohingya) for the next speaker, Iran; Dieng uses his prerogative to give out some more time. Inner City Press believes, on both Burundi and South Sudan, that the UN when it wants to uses deference to regional organizations to turn away from its R2P claims, while it didn't defer to the African Union on Libya. And so it goes.


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