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On UNSC Procedure, A Big Tome That May Need Another Chapter, Or Shadow

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 12, updated -- Since 1975 there has been an imposing tome called “Procedure of the UN Security Council.” Its fourth edition was published in late 2014 with Loraine Sievers, formerly of UN Security Council Affairs, as lead writer, along with Oxford professor Sam Daws.

  The book is, literally, encyclopedic. While the below as is Inner City Press' wont focuses on things either NOT in the book, or covered too scantily for our tastes, or voiceless groups rendered further voiceless, we cannot think of a better reference book about the Security Council.

   That said, and perhaps understandably, the book veers on the side of portraying positively the Security Council's work and not its omissions. Since this review, such as it is, is being published on the fifth anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, we'll note that in the book's index there was no mention of the cholera the UN brought to the island, killing more than 8700 people so far.

Update: There is a reference on page 180, and pointing to the decision of the UN, under Ban Ki-moon’s authority, to consider the claims as “non-receivable” as the handling as an issue arising in Ban’s second term that has garnered “considerable negative press." Duly noted.

   In positive news, the book does recount how the Security Council moved to removed sanctions on Haiti in 1994 soon after Jean-Bertrand Aristide was returned. Page 524. These days, sanctions are rarely removed.

   A recent development in which a member of the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group had to resign after being exposed writing a letter, on SMEG letterhead, portraying an Eritrean dissident as a possible future leader of the country -- what Inner City Press dubbed as part of its exclusive the “regime change” letter -- is not mentioned in the book, or so far in its online updates.

  The incident raises a larger point: what training is given, and what rules apply, to the UN's sanctions experts?

   The acknowledgement for the book include several people are are in turn written about, such as Libya's Ibrahim Dabbashi and, of course, Diega Arria, he of the Arria formulat meetings.

   The book's section on that includes a “Somavia formula,” named for a former Ambassador of Chile, which holds this month's Council presidency. Plus ca change.

   On Arria formula meetings, there is an account of the Darfur meeting at which George Clooney participated; in other non-state news, Kosovo slipping into the General Assembly and clapping for new Security Council members elected in 2009 is described.

   The index does not list the FDLR, and the book does not seem to address a major problem in the UN and its Security Council, that the DPKO and DPA and even OCHA Under Secretaries General who address the Council are top heavy with, and apparently controlled and position owed by, the Western P3.

  (Forget any mention of current DPKO chief Herve Ladsous' history -- while on the Council in 1994 -- in helping genocidaires escape from Rwanda into Eastern Congo, and now being in charge of the delayed “neutralization” of their progeny, the FDLR).

   Sri Lanka and the 2009 bloodbath on the beach does make an appearance late in the book, in a single paragraph on page 626, but without the to us obvious conclusion being drawn: how could the Council never have a real meeting as tens of thousands of civilians were killed? The book says, "although the matter was never placed officially on the agenda of the Security Council, from 26 March to 5 June [2009] the Council held four informal interactive discussions."

  Did the Western P3 even even try to get such a formal meeting?

  There is an interesting story how South Sudanese, before statehood, were able to participate in a meeting in the Security Council's temporary location in the UN basement due to the lay out. But, seemingly, the question on the Polisario Front not being allowed to speak at the Security Council stakeout is not addressed.

  This is a larger issue: the role of the media, including social media, in today's Security Council is not address. Perhaps in a fifth edition - or in a different book. Watch this site.

Footnotes: we note because we want to the involvement, per the acknowledgments, of Vinay Kumar, Monica Bolanos, David Quarrey (previously UK political coordinator), Colin Keating, and Ionnis Vrailas. Generally, the book veers to the West. It's easier that way. Compare for example to this recent (December 2014) example. But perhaps there is another book, or chapter, to be written.


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