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At UN, Colombia Starts July Juggling Pillay & Coffee, Children & Armed Conflict

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 3 -- As Colombia took over Presidency of the UN Security Council for July, many Council members expressed sympathy for Ambassador Nestor Osorio to Inner City Press.

  Normally the first day of a presidency is devoted entirely to bilateral meetings with the other 14 members, followed the next morning by a ceremonial breakfast and adoption of the month's program of work.

  But while France had asked for High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to brief the Council, only about Syria, on June 28, push-back led to four separate briefings, spread over the first two working days of Colombia's presidency.

  And so on Monday Osorio's bilaterals were broken up by a Pillay briefing on Syria at 11 am, and two more starting at 4 (or actually 4:10) on Libya and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

  Upstairs in the General Assembly, as first reported by Inner City Press, Palestine was seeking to enforce its right to be seated at the Arms Trade Treaty as a full member, between Palau and Panama.
  Colombia is a historically a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, which supports Palestine in this, but is more recently is aligned with the United States, which does not.

  When Osorio emerged after Pillay had left without doing a UN TV stakeout about Libya or Palestine, Inner City Press asked him if the Program of Work had been finalized. Not yet, he said, anything might arise on Tuesday, July 3.

  That day, after the breakfast and one assumes the adoption of the Program, the Council will get the fourth of Pillay's four briefings, on Sudan and South Sudan.

  Even that was contentious. Sources tell Inner City Press that the UK asked, as a reply to requests that Pillay briefing about Libya and the OPT, for a briefing on Sudan. Then the other, non-Western side said why not South Sudan too? And so it was Sudans, not Sudan.

  Last time Osorio was president, he began tentative, with a briefing for a handful of journalists including Inner City Press at his mission about the Juan Valdez coffee house on 57th Street.

  This time there is no time: political coordinators emerged from their meeting on Monday afternoon with tins of coffee. There is the promise of iced coffee, too, beginning on Tuesday.

  Osorio has grown into the role, at the beginning of the second of his two presidencies. In the interim he has fought back, on children and armed conflict and other issues. We will cover Colombia's month closely: watch this site.

Footnote: last in June's Chinese presidency, Inner City Press was without notice informed by a UN Security Lieutenant that it could not longer use the room under the stairs to the Security Council, whic was ceded to journalists.

  The Lieutenant, who refused to tell Inner City Press his name, had the room sniffed by a dog and locked up. And now, as another Security officer noted on Monday, the guys who serve the Council breakfast can't store their tables in there. There has been no other fight-back. And so it goes in Ban's UN, Banning the Press.

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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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