Russia Blasts Georgia, Germany Dodges & Spins, Egypt
February 11 -- The UN Security Council's daylong debate on
peace, security and development ended in discord Friday night with
Georgia accusing Russia of ethnic cleansing, and Russia's Permanent
Representative Vitaly Churkin calling Georgia's president a criminal.
this right of reply time at the end, Costa Rica's foreign minister
told Inner City Press at the stakeout about his country's attempt to
get land back from Nicaragua. A copy of his statement was promised,
but before it arrived Nicaraguan diplomats told Inner City Press of
the land, it's ours, we're not leaving.
Press asked Colombia's foreign minister about human rights violations
and the killing of union organizers. We will crack down on crime, she
said, turning to questions about Egypt. We'd like to hear more from
Council member Colombia.
it had begun with so much promise, with a concept paper drafted by
the Council's president for February Brazil, whose foreign minister
met with his G-4 counterparts from India, Germany and Japan to push
to get permanent seats on the Council.
minister Guida Westerwelle, who refused to answer a question from
Inner City Press about Iran at the Council stakeout claiming that the
day was devoted to Egypt and Hosni Mubarak's exit, later on Friday
was called on to answer a question from Inner City Press about
Security Council reform:
Press: having looked at the index of the document prepared by
Amb. Tanin, the membership seems divided, at least on the issue of
categories. Can you respond to the idea that there's still no
agreement? What steps will you take?
mean the main issue is exactly what Foreign Minister Krishna said.
... What we agreed last year before, that we want to have a restart,
to use the opportunity now to reform the Security Council, to reform
the United Nations, is the main message we can send now. This is the
point. And I would like to add something to my opening remarks. It is
not only the fact that 3 of us are at the moment members of the
Security Council. It is also a lucky coincidence that heavyweights
like South Africa and Nigeria are now also members of the Security
Council. And this opens new opportunities and these opportunities is
what we'd like to use. ... I underlined that we think it is not just
in our national interest, what we are doing here. The idea is, if the
United Nations will not reflect the world like it is in our days, the
authority of the United Nations will decrease, and because we want to
have a strong United Nations, a successful United Nations, with
authority in the world, we think it's necessary to reform this
worldwide working organization.
time Russia and Georgia faced off, there was not a single person in
the public gallery to watch. Inner City Press was escorted up to the
photo booths, most of which were locked. Only UN TV was filming.
the chamber before Georgia's sur-reply. His seat was taken by
Konstantin Dolgov, who Inner City Press is told will be leaving his
deputy post at the UN, the end of an era.
On Feb. 11 at 8 pm Churkin, behind him Dolgov, soon to leave
the audience was
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative Palitha Kohona, who began by
joining in the statement of the Ambassador of Mubarak, or Egypt,
Maged Abdelaziz. Maged had refused to answer the Press' questions,
running out of the General Assembly.
was another day
on which the news of the world was only peripheral to the words at
the UN. In the Council during the week, the Magritte phrase was used,
“These are not just words.” But aren't they? The Council
meet on Thai - Cambodia on Monday. Watch this site.
* * *
Meeting of UN Council Confirmed for Feb 14, Marty in
10 -- With fighting continuing between Cambodia and
Thailand, including reported
of cluster bombs, a February 14
meeting of the UN Security Council on the conflict was confirmed
Thursday night to Inner City Press by India's Permanent
Representative to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri.
Marty Natalegawa will attend, he said, though only
in his “personal capacity.” The meeting will be closed, with no
press. Other countries with an interest can attend but not speak.
Council members had hoped that Cambodia could be convinced
to withdraw its request for a meeting, this has not happened. In
fact, Cambodia's prime minister Hun
has accused his Thai
counterpart of war crimes.
Marty in the Council, previously: for this time, no photos
UN and its
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have had little to say about the
fighting on the Thai - Cambodia border, despite UNESCO and the World
Heritage designation having fanned the flames of nationalism. Now,
not only Indonesia's current foreign minister but previous Thai
foreign minister Surin Pitsuwan are touted as a possible replacements
of Ban. Why isn't Ban speaking to the Council Monday on this issue?
Watch this site.
* * *
Cambodia, UN Moves for Monday Council Meeting, With ASEAN
8 -- A day after the UN Security Council did not
act on Cambodia's request for a Council meeting, late Tuesday
agreement emerged to hold the requested meeting on Monday, February
make clear that
the UN is deferring to the regional group ASEAN, its mediator between
Thailand and Cambodia Marty Natalegawa will be invited to come and
Ban Ki-moon told the Press on Tuesday that he had
spoken with the prime ministers of Thailand and Cambodia. Some wonder
why Ban isn't mediating, or even asked to mediate, under UN Charter
UN's Ban & Marty
Indonesia's Permanent Representative to the UN, and some
now mentioned him for higher, even the highest, UN position.
Footnote: also in
Council consultations Tuesday, discussion was had of a Council trip to
the Middle East. Watch this site.
* * *
UNSC Defers to ASEAN's Natalegawa, UN Replacement?
-- Despite a
request from Cambodia's prime minister Hun Sen for a UN Security
Council meeting on the fighting with Thailand, the Council on
Monday did not schedule a meeting,
deferring instead to the mediation of Indonesia's foreign minister
Marty Natalegawa, for ASEAN.
Press, which reported
before the Council's consultations on the matter that two countries
wanted to hold a meeting, is now told that in the consultations,
Russia spoke in favor of having a meeting, saying this is what the
Council is for.
Representative Vitaly Churkin left the Council on
Monday, Inner City Press asked him about the Council having a meeting
on Cambodia's request. We are
not against it, he replied.
asked the Council's president Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti if Hun
public request that the UN establish a buffer zone around the Preah
answered, that request had not been made to
the Council. Meanwhile, Thailand's prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva
has said he will call UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday.
permanent representative to the UN, and knows
the system well. His successor on January 31 told Inner City Press
that ASEAN led by Indonesia is trying to get Western sanctions on
Myanmar lifted, while getting Myanmar to agree to an ASEAN envoy to
be able to keep the Thai - Cambodia issue off of the
Council's formal agenda, by the withdrawal of Cambodia's request just
as a similar request was withdrawn in 2008, when Viet Nam was
president of the Council. But for now the fighting has continued.
buzz at the UN
this week concerns the open dissatisfaction with Ban by several
countries, including veto-wielding Security Council member Russia. If
Ban were denied a second term, as the US denied one to
Boutros-Boutros Ghali, the next five or ten years would be seen as
belonging to the Asia group, just as Kofi Annan replaced Boutros for
the African group.
more adept replacement could there be from the Asia
group, some say, than Natalegawa? Watch this site.
* * *
- Cambodia, 2 Council Members Said to Want Meeting, Not ASEAN
-- After Cambodia's prime minister Hun Sen wrote
Sunday to the President of the UN Security Council, Brazil's
Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, she made 14 calls to Council
members and the Secretary
General's office about the border skirmishes with Thailand.
Sunday, Inner City Press is told by sources, was to have ASEAN deal
with the conflict in the first instance, with Indonesia's foreign
minister (and former UN ambassador) taking the lead.
however, something change. With the issue set to be discussed in
closed door consultations under Any Other Business, two countries are
said to want there to be a formal meeting on Cambodia's requests,
which now include a request for UN peacekeepers and a buffer zone.
Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, calls and responses not shown
morning at the UN was the last time this border
and temple dispute came to the Council, in 2008. Then, with fellow
ASEAN member Viet Nam holding the Council presidency, pressure was
brought to bear to keep the dispute at the national and regional
Representative told Inner City Press, “Letter
withdrawn.... problem disappear.” But will that happen this time?
Perhaps not. Watch this site.
Fighting Escalates, UN & Its Council
-- As fighting escalates between Thailand and
Cambodia, the UN and its Security Council presidency did
not answer questions on the matter, even after Cambodia's prime
minister Hun Sen wrote to demand an urgent meeting of the Council.
had asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesmen about the
dispute starting February 4, asked the top two listed contacts at the
UN Mission of Brazil, this month's Council president, to confirm the
receipt and circulation to members of Cambodia's requests. More than
12 hours later, there was no response. Nor to detailed questions to
Ban's two two spokesmen.
the UN to be more responsive, perhaps this disinterest is
related to the last time this border and temple dispute came to the
Council, in 2008. Then, with fellow ASEAN member Viet Nam holding the
Council presidency, pressure was brought to bear to keep the dispute
at the national and regional level.
UN's Ban & Hun Sen, human rights forgotten
Representative told Inner City Press, “Letter
withdrawn.... problem disappear.” Will that happen this time?
morning of February 6 were asked this:
that this UN affiliated process has increased
tension and should be suspended? [Thai PM] “Abhisit said Thailand
was attacked first so it had to respond. The country also viewed the
areas around the Preah Vihear Temple as "very sensitive",
therefore nothing should be done to increase the tensions between the
countries. 'That means the World Heritage registration procedures
[with regard to areas surrounding the ancient Hindu temple] should
now be suspended. We have been warning the World Heritage Committee
for quite some time,' Abhisit said.”
was no response. Watch this site.
* * *
of Nothing Predicted: No Egypt or Gbagbo Sanctions,
No Vote on Settlements or DPRK Report
As protests spread from Egypt to Sudan and
even Albania, February's UN Security Council president Brazil
undertook Tuesday to meet with each of the Council's members about
the month's program of work.
City Press asked Ambassadors questions as they
emerged, starting with whether Egypt might be considered in the
Council, at least in the “horizon” or big-picture briefing by the
Department of Political Affairs.
that it would not be considered. “It'll be
talked about, but not here around the horseshoe table,” India's
Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri said on his way out.
his way in, when Inner City Press asked about the month's “hot
topics,” he said that the hot topics would not be dealt with in the
Security Council. Some wonder: then why want so badly to be on the
with Bosnia, January's president, passing the torch to Brazil -- or
the “hot potato,” as Bosnia's Ivan Barbalic put it to Inner City
usual troika of Vitaly Churkin, Konstantin Dolgov and the
ubiquitous Vladimir. Asked about the truth of the US pushing
additional Cote d'Ivoire sanctions in the Council, Churkin said no,
given the African mediation efforts, no new sanctions would be
line, agreed that additional sanctions would not
proceed in light of the African mediation -- which includes Chadian
president Idriss Deby. Inner City Press asked Araud -- and UK Deputy
Permanent Representative Philip Parham -- about Sudan international
justice issues, which will be the subject of a separate story.
Brazil's Perm Rep casting biggest vote to date: Egypt not shown
of Sudan, that there might be one meeting instead of
the planned two about the Southern Sudan referendum, and that
Brazil's Permanent Representative Ribeiro Viotti-- he called her by
her first name Maria Luiza -- would consult, “as a mature member,”
draft resolution on settlements by Israel being
considered, he said on the record that he did not, that leaving it
“in blue” for an extended period of time would not be a problem.
this as well, noting that the US under Barack
Obama is under pressure to veto the resolution, and that “would not
Ambassadors spoke, among other things, about the new report on North
Korea: when would the 1718 Committee consider it? It has been
circulated, was the response, and will follow the normal procedure.
Inner City Press asked for a response to the cynic's view that China
will not want the report to proceed anytime soon. “That's a cynic's
view,” was the response.
wild card for
the month will be the Department of Political Affairs briefing. Inner
City Press asked if it would include reference to Egypt and Tunisia,
even Jordan and Yemen. “Probably not,” came the response. “That
is too big picture.” And so it goes in the UN Security Council.
* * *
Egypt and Culture Wars on Lesbian Rights, of Muslim
Peacekeepers and Decay under Ban
Amid protests by Egyptians in Cairo, New York
and elsewhere, the UN Security Council held its end of presidency
reception Monday night, hosted by Bosnia in a rooftop space a half
dozen blocks from the UN.
news but not present in the Security Council, nor
meaningfully addressed by the out of town Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon was the talk of the night.
Permanent Representative of one of the Council's permanent
members why Egypt had not even been mentioned in consultations. “It's
an internal matter,” he said. “We're following it closely, it's a
question of timing and that it must be done without violence.”
a Western member said that “the capitals are studying it, they have
to get their own positions clear before even thinking of acting
through the Council.”
UK has been
most clear, in statements by David Cameron and foreign minister
William Hague: Mubarak is a “friend of Britain” and the prospect
of Muslim Brotherhood involvement in a subsequent government is
abhorrent. To some it echoes the Cold War: the enemy of my enemy is
my friend. For thirty years of “emergency” rule.
topics. Inner City Press, which reported
earlier in the
day on attacks in the ECOSOC Committee on NGO on a women's group from
Serbia which mentioned discrimination against lesbians in its
application for consultative status, asked Serbia's Permanent
Representative about the group. He was jovial but hadn't heard of
this new Serbian showdown.
irony is that
after Serbia's lower down representative spoke in favor of the group,
so did the US and Bulgaria, as well as Belgium and the EU. On the
other side were Pakistan, Russia, Sudan and Morocco.
Permanent Representative about his country's
opposition to to the group, the Autonomous Women's Center. “It must
be on behalf of the OIC,” he said. Later another Moroccan said his
country represents the Arab Group this year in the NGO committee,
replacing Egypt whose staffer famously said of a gay rights applicant
for consultative status to the UN, “We've asked questions but we
just can't get any straight answers from them.”
regime is on the rocks, despite its long time Permanent
Representative trying to act otherwise at the UN on Monday,
delivering a speech to the UNDP executive board as if nothing was
while the world
sees and talks about a wave of change sweeping the Arab world, this
leaves no mark inside the UN, where Arab countries like Morocco score
points by opposing gay rights.
peacekeeping, with an Asian Muslim country's Permanent
Representative telling Inner City Press his country has offered
troops to Somalia's Transitional Federal Government if the force ever
“gets blue hatted,” or comes under UN command. He said that same
of Afghanistan: his country will only send soldiers if the UN is in
charge, not ISAF.
presidency in January as rather
sleepy, its reception got higher marks from the crowd of diplomatic
Epicures, noshing on Kobe beef sliders and burek like Bosnian pastry
filled with meat and spinach.
missions first couple ended the evening by dancing, as the lights of
midtown Manhattan flickered through the glass roof. Their Deputy was
congenial, having served her country through thick and thin.
City Press' question to the Perm Rep about a new documentary about UN
peacekeepers in Bosnia buying women -- where was the Autonomous
Women's Center then? -- met with a smiling “I'm not working
tonight.” But of course he was. And through the course of January he
got more accessible and comfortable at the Council stakeout, to his
credit, unlike some in the UN.
Team Bosnia in the Council, Egypt & Ban's
spokesman not shown
under the Ban Ki-moon “regime” as one called it was also in the
air. A well placed Council source recalled “Martin [Nesirky] got
excluded from the Council's consultations and all we got was a letter
from [Vijay] Nambiar.” Ban's chief of staff Nambiar was in
attendance Monday, but chief adviser Kim Won-soo did not seem to be.
Susan Rice was nowhere to be seen, nor it appeared was her UK
counterpart Mark Lyall Grant.
Representatives of France, China and Russia were all present, along
with those of just left Council members like Austria and Turkey.
Israel's prime minister is much concerned of regime change in Egypt.
Israel's hard line Permanent Representative was not seen at that
reception Monday night, but earlier on Monday Israel joined the
defense of the Serbian group on lesbian rights. And so it goes at the
dozen UN correspondents discussed the lack
of information coming out of Ban Ki-moon's UN, unfavorably comparing
Ban's answering in New York to what he does, for example, while in
Addis Ababa the last few days, including a France 24 interview
against deferring announcing a campaign for a second term.
reviewed, called alternately rude and “in a
tough spot” not getting any information from Ban. We'll address
this going forward - later today, and in this new month when Brazil
heads the Council, holding a debate on Security and Development on
February 11. Watch this site.
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.