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Chez Susan Rice, Cote d'Ivoire Plots, Sudan Greets and Meats, UN Holidays

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 9, updated -- The Ambassadors of Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire were among the guests at US Ambassador Susan Rice's diplomatic holiday party Thursday night in the Waldorff Towers. The former, Dafallah Osman, had two hours earlier delivered a speech saying that humanitarian groups in Darfur were engaged in “espionage.”

  The Ivorian charge d'affaires asked Inner City Press what now should happen to Laurent Gbagbo, who had appointed him. His interlocutor, another African Permanent Representative, predicted that Gbagbo will try to stay in power a la Robert Mugabe.

  The Ivorian invitation, it was argued, was sent before Gbagbo ignored the election results, and the remnant Deputy Ambassador wasn't part of the “dark side.” But he was plotting how Gbagbo could stay in power, in Susan Rice's living room. This is diplomacy at the UN.

  The crowd was laudably eclectic, including the Special Adviser for the Responsibility to Protect rushing to catch a train for Westchester, the Special Representative on Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict and a slew of Ambassadors, many of whom had stopped first at a Kazakhstan event. There was some talk of upcoming UN budget fights, and more of WikiLeaks.

  The Ambassador of Serbia, a long time UN employee from Georgia and India, bragged about his country's Davis Cup tennis win over France. The Ambassador of Palau, from the Upper West Side, talked up his wife's country's move to create a sanctuary for sharks.

  Tajikistan is taking the chair, at least in New York, of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which sides with Sudan's Omar al Bashir over the International Criminal Court. “I am only the chair,” the Tajik Ambassador told Inner City Press. Israel's Ambassador also spoke at length, which may be a separate story.

Susan Rice entering US with Ban, eclectic party not yet shown

  In the US Mission residence's dining room there was turkey, ham and cheese and slew of ASGs, from Human Resources to ACABQ. Interesting art on the walls was said to be on loan for a program for US Embassies. The full USUN team was in the house, from the spokespeople to  Rosemary DiCarlo through Brooke Anderson to Rick Barton and Ambassador Melrose, who covers the Budget Committee.

The US' big event this month will be Youth in the Security Council. Austria will have three youths there, but only if they can pay their own airfare. While they will fetchingly stay overnight with the Austrian Perm Rep, could this be just an event for rich kids? [see update below]

Even in the US, schools are on hiatus when the event is being held. We'll see who shows up, and what scholarships are provided. It was a friendly event full of holiday spirit. And in Sudan, the UN Mission in Darfur covers up killings. UN Peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy told Inner City Press he will look into it. What will the US do? Watch this site.

Update of December 13: Inner City Press is informed that as regards Austria, the foreign ministry is "providing some financial support for the airfares for the three kids." Duly noted. So rather than ask about the danger of it being an event for rich kids, might it not, without the UN or US taking precautions, be an event disproportionately for kids from richer COUNTRIES? Watch this site.

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On Darfur, As UNAMID Covers Up Killings by Sudan, ICC Reports Them

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 9 -- After the UN refused to release what it knows about the killing of civilians at Tabarat and the destruction of Soro and other villages in Darfur in September, the International Criminal Court's report unveiled in the Security Council on December 9 names 13 other destroyed villages (with Soro transliterated as “Souroo”), and has witness quotes what it calls the government sponsored killing in Tabarat (which it calls Tabra).

After ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo's presentation to the Security Council on Thursday, Inner City Press on camera asked both him and Sudan's Permanent Representative to the UN Dafallah Osman about the Tabra killings and the destruction of villages.

Sudan's Ambassador said that the killings were “tribal,” involving kidnapping and promises to pay blood money. He praised UNAMID and its leader Ibrahim Gambari (calling him a “seasoned diplomat”).

Inner City Press asked if he thought UNAMID should release what it knows about the Tabra killings. This, he did not answer, instead ranging from saying that Ocampo's report shows NGOs were engaged in “espionage” to claiming that Radio Dabanga was disseminating destabilizing and even “genocidal” information.

Ocampo had stood several yards away, unlike with the previous Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed, whom Ocampo stood right next to during their final stare down. When Ocampo came to the microphone, Inner City Press asked him if he thought UNAMID was in essence covering up Sudan's and Bashir's acts by not reporting on them.

Ocampo said that UNAMID is under threat, that's why it doesn't report. This means that UNAMID is not reporting, which is its job. What will Ban Ki-moon, the Security Council and Obama administration do?

ICC's LMO close to Sudan's last Ambassador, new backing away mirrored by UN- & US?

Earlier on Thursday, Mark Hanis of the Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur Coalition on a press conference call said Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden campaigned on (among other things) protecting civilians in Darfur, and named Samantha Power and Susan Rice as officials. Hanis called them “disappointing” so far. Inner City Press asked what UNAMID should do. Report, Hanis said. But UNAMID does not.

On both December 8 and 9, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about fighting and death in Darfur, including in Tabarat / Tabra:

Inner City Press: a request made to UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] for the report that they were supposed to do on the Tabarat killings of 2 September, near Tawilla, the one that the Secretary-General summoned Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari to speak about. Anyway, somebody that asked him was told that there is no report for external dissemination available on it, and I just wonder, what is the UN’s final finding? Did it do the right thing, in apparently not getting out to the site despite the warning by relatives of those killed? Are all such reports confidential, and in which case, how is the Security Council or the international community to assess the level of violence and killing in Darfur if these new reports never come out?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, that’s a very long question.

Question: This is the only time I’ll ask it, but if there is anything the UN can say about those killings, I’d like to know.

Spokesperson: Well, I hear your question, I think, and let’s look into what the Mission tells us.

More than a full day later, UNAMID has said nothing. When Inner City Press asked again about UNAMID on December 9, Nesirky claimed he had already answered questions, including about attacks the Sudanese government had just bragged about.

In assuming Presidency of the Security Council for December, Susan Rice told Inner City Press that UNAMID (and UNMIS) are required to investigate and report on attacks on civilians. Does that mean report to the public, as the ICC does? What will Susan Rice and the US Mission do?

The press had been told that Susan Rice would speak at the stakeout, where Ocampo and Sudan's Ambassador did. But she did not. A reporter given advance notice that she would not come was told that “one country” had blocked the elements to the press that she would have read. But she could have spoken, especially after what Sudan's Ambassador said, including denying things that the US Mission has previously said, about the Council's interlocutors being harassed and Radio Dabanga's Khartoum office being shut down.

Footnote: Inner City Press also asked Ocampo about Guinea -- he said he is watching “national proceedings” -- and Kenya, where witnesses are under threat. Ocampo answered by bragging that none of his witnesses have been injured. But how about retaliated against, given what Sudan's Ambassador said about the NGOs. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel 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.

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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

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