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On WSahara, As UN Council Weighs Early Briefing on Morocco Violence, France Claims Not Political, Ross Without Agenda

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 10 -- As Morocco has attacked demonstrators' camps in Western Sahara, the Security Council has been silent. On November 9 in a closed door session, non Permanent Council member Mexico finally made a push for a briefing on the violence. (Click here for note by Inner City Press.)

   This month's Council president, Mark Lyall Grant of the UK, was charged with asking UN envoy Christopher Ross if he would brief the Council now on the current violence, or wait until the previously scheduled November 23 session. This morning Lyall Grant is to report back to Council members, again in a closed session, on what Ross prefers.

  Inner City Press asked a concerned Permanent Representative on the morning of November 10 when the Western Sahara briefing would be.

  “Late this week or early next,” the Permanent Representative replied. But this was before Lyall Grant's slated report-back to the Council. Major Morocco supporter France may have something to say about the timing.

  Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud when the briefing on Western Sahara and the violence would be. Araud said with the talks in Greentree ending, Ross was being asked if he wanted to come to the Council earlier than November 23.

  Araud said that next week is busy for the Council, with a debate on Sudan on Tuesday, November 16, a day off for Eid on November 17, and a retreat with new Council members (including South Africa, which on Western Sahara stands on the opposite side from France). Araud called it a matter of “agenda, not politics.”

Christopher Ross, agenda and briefing not shown

  Afterward another Council source told Inner City Press that Lyall Grant will be calling Ross for the second time on this afternoon of November 10. The first time, he said skeptically, Ross “did not have his agenda” or schedule with him. Now Ross will be asked if he can come brief the Council on Friday November 12 or Tuesday November 16, after the Sudan debate. Watch this site.

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At UN on Myanmar, Critique of Nambiar, Plea for Refugees in Thailand, Council Delay

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 9 -- In the months leading to Myanmar's military heavy election on November 7, the UN's supposed envoy to Myanmar Vijay Nambiar was not in the country once. This was noted on November 9 at the UN by Thaung Htun, who called on Nambiar to belatedly “go to the region” and try to gain entrance. “The UN need to reactivate its role,” Htun told Inner City Press.

  With Htun was Gum San Nsang, representing the Kachin National Organization, who said darkly that the Kachin Independence Army will “no longer limit the war to the jungle.” A self described Burmese journalist asked him if that means “urban warfare,” but he would not elaborate.

Inner City Press asked about the plight of those who fled into Thailand to escape the fighting between the government and elements of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army under Commander Saw Lah Pwe.

The General Secretary of the Karen National Union Zipporah Sein said they are still in harm's way; the Burmese journalist opined that CNN's reporting that the people had returned to Myawaddy was incorrect. Khin Maung Nyein added that many people were taken back to the Burmese border, then told to turn back, leaving them in “no man's land.”

Earlier on November 9, in front of the Security Council Inner City Press learned that despite the fighting and refugee flow, the Council is unlikely to hold a meeting this week or perhaps even next.

UN's Nambiar at Korean Pavillion at Shanghai Expo, Myanmar not shown

  The thinking of the Western countries on the Council is that they want to wait to see if Aung San Suu Kyi is in fact released. But what about the fighting and fleeing? We'll see.

Footnote: Also in front of the Security Council on November 9, Inner City Press learned that Mexico had raised in closed door consultations the escalating violence in Western Sahara. The Council's president for November, the UK's Mark Lyall Grant, has been charged with conferring with UN envoy Christopher Ross and others and coming up with a day for a briefing. Meanwhile there have been deaths. Watch this site.

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On Myanmar, Ban Ignores Quintana's Call for Inquiry, Daewoo Win-Win Unanswered

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 21 -- While on Myanmar the UN's own Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana has called for a Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on October 12 issued a report on human rights in Myanmar, A/65/367, which did not even mention the Commission of Inquiry idea, or accountability.

  On October 21, Inner City Press asked Quintana to honestly assess the Secretary General's performance on Myanmar. Quintana said “you cannot ask me to tell him what to do,” but also acknowledged the absence of the commission of inquiry idea or accountability from Ban's report.

  Quintana said he had met with Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar -- not with Ban, who will however be in his office in New York on October 22 -- and discussed not only the November 7 election but also “justice and accountability.”

  Since Nambiar has played a role in Ban setting up a purported Panel of Experts into war crimes in Sri Lanka which has no investigative powers, no spokesperson and no presence, Inner City Press asked Quintana is this is what he has in mind for Myanmar.

Quintana said he has in mind the “finding of facts” -- expliclitly NOT what Ban's Sri Lanka panel is about -- but then diplomatically said that perhaps the Sri Lanka panel is a model.

  He also after Inner City Press asked about the plight of the Rohingya diplomatically thanked the Myanmar military government for cooperating and allowing him to “meet political prisoners” -- but not Aung San Suu Kyi.

   Inner City Press asked for Quintana's view on multinational corporations' engagements with the Myanmar junta, including Total, Toyota and South Korea's Daewoo. Quintana said that corporations might become complicit.

Quintana on Oct 21 on accountability, Ban Ki-moon not shown

Ban Ki-moon when he was South Korea's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that a Daewoo pipeline across Myanmar was a “win win” proposition. Inner City Press has asked Ban's Spokesperson's Office to get from Ban whether he still views it this way, without avail. 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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