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"Secret" Human Rights Meeting of UNSC Omits Haiti & Darfur, Pillay Won't Answer on Abyei

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 7, update Feb 8 -- When human rights was the topic of a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday afternoon, there was barely any notice to the press.

  Outside a low key meeting of the Council's working group on Children & Armed Conflict, a topic on which the UN's top expert is being eased out by Ban Ki-moon, the sole Permanent Representative in attendance told Inner City Press, "I'm going to the Arria formula in the North Lawn about human rights."

  Minutes later on a windowless corridor, Inner City Press found the sign: Security Council, Arria Formula, Closed. After a time German Permanent Representative Peter Wittig came out, and informed Inner City Press that inside there was discussion of four UN missions, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, Liberia and the Congo.

  As some other Permanent Representatives left the meeting, though none from the Permanent Five members, Inner City Press gleaned that the meeting was pushed by Portugal, which now also chairs the Council's committee on Working Methods.

  Here's a suggestion: if the Security Council is meeting about human rights, at least put notice in the UN Journal.

  Portugal's Permanent Representative Cabral, to his credit, stopped to answer some questions afterward, about the four missions which presented in the meeting. He said the right monitor from Iraq, for example, said there is so much fear, UN staff don't tell their families they are working for the UN.

Update: Click here for "press lines" on the meeting.

The briefing on the Congo, Cabral said, involved natural resources. On that, beyond the new NBA connection, there an Obama administration link. (Susan Rice was not at the session; the US mission said she was going on CNN's "Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer to talk about Syria, but the TV on the North Lawn's second floor was stuck on NY1 then kid's cartoons. Later the US Mission to the UN sent out this link.)

But again, why these four missions and no more? Why for example not Haiti, where MINUSTAH peacekeepers are repeatedly accused of physical and sexual abuse? What about AMISOM, the mission in Somalia which the Department of Field Support assists? Why not UNAMID, or the newer Sudan - South Sudan mission in Abyei? Does it even have a human rights monitoring component?

Inner City Press put this question to High Commissioner Navi Pillay when she left the meeting. She laughed but did not answer, while a staffer shook his finger as if, don't ask her (or her New York representative Mr. Simonovic who was with her) any questions. But aren't they the UN's rights officials?

(c) UN Photo
Ban Ki-moon & Navi Pillay: 1 was slow on Pibor, the other won't count

  When last questioned by the Press, Pillay said there would be a UN count of the dead in Jonglei state, where the UN reacted so slowly. So far, no count. And no answers.

If these meetings on human rights, of which there are too few, were open or at least not held in so much secret, these questions might be more quickly answered. 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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