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Bad Omens for Rio +20 as Votes Called on Israeli NGOs, "All States" Foregone

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 21 -- The bad omens for the Rio Plus 20 conference continued to accumulate Monday in the UN General Assembly, where contentious votes were held on whether to accept a list of NGOs which included, according to Syria and others, two Israeli groups which claim to operate in Occupied Terrritories.

  It was a rainy morning with no turn out; US ally Liberia was in the chair. When Syria spoke up asking for a delay of the vote, supported immediately by Cuba, Nicaragua and Egypt, the Liberian chairwoman said this is time-sensitive and should be be delayed. The Rio conference is in a month.

  Syria named the two groups, and said they had been rejected for accreditation in the UN's Economic and Social Council and were now getting in the backdoor. Notwithstanding, votes were held, with this low turnout.

Algeria's Permanent Representative, the chair of the Group of 77 and China, came rushing toward the GA Hall. He stopped and told Inner City Press "we had the votes for the 'All States' format but didn't push for a GA vote, but now they do this." He noted that the chair of the session was "the Liberian PR." He went in and promised repercussions.

  Afterward more than one Permanent Representative complained to Inner City Press as one of them put it that since "they pushed for a vote on this, they shouldn't expect consensus in Rio." So who is being short-sighted?

  Afterward Algeria's Permanent Representative and then others explained that under the usual "All States" format, Palestine "and two islands" would have had full participation in Rio. But as an accomodation, they said -- perhaps as UNESCO membership fall out? -- they agreed not to call for a vote, but to accept the MDGs format, in which Palestine is an observer. Will they ask to reverse this?

  On Syria's motion to defer action, 33 votes with Syria, 53 against with seven abstaining.

  On Syria's motion to amend the resolution to delete the two NGOs at issue, 28 voted for -- including for example both Sri Lanka and Jordan, which have another disagreement -- with 58 against. Should this turn out be sufficient?

  Afterward a series of non-ALBA Latin American countries explained that their votes did not mean they changed their position on Israel and the Occupied Territories.

  The Democratic People Republic of Korea -- that is, North Korea -- complained that its vote had been registered as that of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Only at the UN. Watch this site.

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

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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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