Council Skips Somalia Child Soldiers, Skips Town for Kabul, Where Could
Meet on Gaza
But Not Cheonan
June 18 -- When outgoing UN envoy on Somalia Ahmedou Ould
Abdallah spoke with the Security Council on June 18, many expected
that that recent expose that twenty
percent of the Transitional
Federal Government's armed forces are children would be raised. Why
had Ould Abdallah not seen this war crime, why had he said nothing
in fact, it
was the Security Council members who said nothing. A well placed
Council diplomat, after the closed door consultations with Ould
Abdallah, told Inner City Press than no Council member had raised the
stopped Ould Abdallah as he left the chamber and headed up the
stairs. What about the child soldiers?
convinced," Ould Abdallah replied. He said that such reports
"only weaken the government."
did you see
the video that accompanied the story?
one" child soldier, Ould Abdallah said. In denial to the end,
one wag muttered afterward.
remains in the post until the end of the month, when he will be
replaced by current Tanzanian Ambassador to the UN Augustine Mahiga.
A diplomat who has attended numerous closed consultations with Ould
Abdallah told Inner City Press his behavior had grown more and more
erratic. Even his supporters say he perhaps hung on too long.
Abdallah left, not everyone left the chamber. North Korea's
Ambassador arrived. Afterward the read out was, he reiterated that
Pyongyong sees no need for Council action. So much so that a military
response was threatened, leading Ban Ki-moon to call for "all
sides" to respect the UN Charter.
Ould Abdallah, bemused Vitaly Churkin, who is headed to Kabul
slated to leave for Afghanistan on Sunday. If there is a Gaza
flotilla incident before then, the timing could change. If an
incident happens while they are in Afghanistan, they could hold a
Council meeting there. But would it be webcast?
itself, will any Council member make any inquiries into what the
government of Hamid Karzai has done to investigate the killing of UN
staff member -- and US citizen -- Louis Maxwell? Questions,
* * *
Soldiers Supported by UN in Somalia, UNSC Will Respond After 3
June 16, updated -- Days
after the UN-supported
Federal Government's use of child soldiers was widely exposed, the
Security Council's lack of seriousness on the issue was on display on
Wednesday. Mexican foreign minister Patricia Espinosa presided over a
day-long series of speeches about children and armed conflict. At
noon, Inner City Press asked her what she and the Council would do
about their support of the TFG, which uses children as young as nine
and 12 to wield AK-47s in Mogadishu.
has not been
raised to the Security Council, Secretary Espinosa replied, not even
to the Working Group. Video here.
later, when Inner City Press asked
the UN's envoy on the issue Radhika Coomaraswamy how the TFG's use of
child soldiers could have been missed, she protected that the Council
had in fact been told of the TFG's recruitment in three straight
at the end
of the Council's debate after 7 p.m., a Mexican mission official
confirmed that yes, the Somali TFG has been formally listed for the
past three years. The most senior Mexican mission official shrugged*
that the minister had been mis-informed. [See update below, on both the shrug
and the information.]
The expose of
TFG's use of child soldiers was on the front page of the New York
Times days before the UN's day long "debate." The
representative of a Permanent Five member of the Council told Inner
City Press that the NYT story had triggered inquiries to the
capital(s), and statements ready for the press. How could the month's
Council presidency, with children and armed conflict as their chosen
thematic issue, be so unprepared?
Update: It has been explained to
Inner City Press that what Secretary Espinosa was referring to was an
upcoming Working Group session in September. Our point remains the
same: something is wrong with the Security Council when pressing
issues, involving as this one does the Council's own integrity, get
confined to slow bureaucratic processes.
But that is
hardly this month's Presidency's fault. And the senior -- senor --
diplomat, it's worth nothing, undertook a thankless trip to Eritrea and
other hotspots, in the name of Somali sanctions. The shrug* was not
disinterest but fatigue after a full day of speeches. We will continue
to follow this issue.
UNICEF's Johnson, Ms. Coomaraswamy, UN action on TFG
asked Secretary Espinosa if this didn't show that the Council is too
bound in bureaucracy to deal with egregious behavior in the
peacekeeping or political missions it creates, from Somalia to the
Congo to Haiti. These are the mechanisms, she replied. Indeed.
said that UN Envoy to Somalia Ould Abdallah had been told, UNDP had
been told. Why did Ould Abdallah say or do nothing? Why did UNDP keep
* * *
Somalia Unaddressed in Security Council Speeches,
Conflict of Interest
NATIONS, June 16 -- As the UN Security Council debates one of its
favorite topics, Children and Armed Conflict, it has a conflict of
interest. Since 2006 it has supported, some say propped up, the
Transitional Federal Government in Somalia. Now what was long known
has been more publicly
exposed, that at least 20% of the TFG's
soldiers are underage, some below ten years old.
June 15 Inner City Press asked Council President for June Claude
Heller of Mexico what the Council would do about the report. There is
a debate tomorrow, Heller said on camera. Later, emerging from
consultations in the Council chamber with, among others, delegates of
Ivory Coast and Georgia, Heller said that something would be said on
the topic on Wednesday.
foreign minister Patricia Espinosa Cantellano is in New York for the
debate, slated to speak to the Press at 11:30. But not on this topic,
Inner City Press is told. What then could she be asked? If the
underaged members of drug gangs like La Familia in Michoacan should
be considered children in armed conflict?
UN's Ban and Sec't Espinosa, 2009, support
for TFG and its child soldiers not shown
here's from Secretary Espinosa's statement:
call upon the Security Council, within the limits of its mandate, to
continue being vigilant of the repercussions that armed conflicts
have on children, and to promote concrete actions to fulfill the
recommendations emanating from the Working Group on Children and
Armed Conflict. We defend the interests of children and consider
that, as a community, we must enhance our efforts to give a wide and
effective protection to children. Crimes against children cannot be
stopped if perpetrators remain unpunished."
about enablers in the recruitment of child soldiers, like the UN
Political Office on Somalia, UNDP and... the UN Security Council? We
will be asking. Sixty countries are coming to speechify. Watch this
of 10:38 a.m. -- After Susan Rice strode in at 10:11, the meeting and
speeches started. Another P5 member's spokesperson said they're aware
of the TFG Somalia expose, but "it hasn't come up, there's been
no reason for it to come up." And in today's debate on children
and armed conflict? "Let's see," the spokesperson says.
of 10:41 a.m. -- it emerges in the Security Council "quiet room"
people, including Ambassadors, are watching the Spain - Switzerland
game instead of listening to the speeches on children and armed
of 11:37 a.m. -- US Amb. Susan Rice briefly mentions Somalia, calling
on "all parties" to stop recruiting child soldiers. What
about the "party" the US is funding, the TFG? Not enough
specifics. She also mentions DRCongo, the Lord's Resistance Army and
the Central African Republic. Answers on Somalia, and on US
safeguards, are needed. But here comes Sec't Espinosa.