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For UN Council, Iran Rises to Second Footnote, Sudan as Truce, Lebanon Switch

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 2, updated -- As the UN Security Council's work program for March emerged to the Press as this month's president Gabon served muffins and fruit salad, what struck correspondents was a footnote. The second footnote, to be exact: "Non-proliferation." The Iranian nuclear issue, so much discussed in the press, has risen to be the second footnote of the Council for March. "Maybe by May it will actually be on the schedule," snarked one jaded reporter.

  The only late breaking development not reflected on the program of work -- which Inner City Press is putting online here, two hours before Gabon unveils it at a press conference -- is that Chad's Idriss Deby has agreed to an extension of the MINURCAT peacekeeping mission for two months, to May 15. So there will be a meeting of Troop Contributing Countries about the mission.

  On the developments in Darfur, the deal between the Omar al Bashir government and Khalil Ibrahim's JEM rebels, the public praise by the Secretary General and Security Council, and even US envoy Scott Gration, is contradicted in private meeting of the Permanent Five by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, according to inside sources. They say Ms. Rice calls it a mere "truce," not an agreement, between "two Islamist factions."

  One would like to ask Ms. Rice to speak on this, but she was not seen at the Council's Tuesday morning breakfast. Some correspondents are invited to her reception for Committee on the Status of Women delegates on Wednesday evening at the U.S. Mission. Perhaps more will emerge from there.

As Gabon got election to Council in Oct. 2009, not seen since

  On March 12, the Council will consider the periodic report on Resolution 1701, regarding Lebanon and Israel. Pro-Hezbollah sources tell Inner City Press that while UN envoy Michael Williams gave assurances to the Lebanese that the report would confirm that a shepherd captured and interrogated by Israel had been on Lebanese territory, in New York Lynn Pascoe was responsible for changing the report to say that UNFIL's investigation is not complete.

   Loss of face for Williams, the source says. And so it goes.

Update: when the program of work was issued in final form, as predicted it included a "private meeting of MINURCAT TCCs," on Tuesday March 9. It also included on more footnote: ICTY judges. Inner City Press asked Gabon's Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet about the footnote on West Africa - could it include the coup in Niger -- and about Myanmar, why it is not even a footnote for the month. Video here, from Minute 13:28.

Issoze-Ngondet replied that by West Africa being a footnote, the Coucnil "remains vigilant," including he said on Niger. But does Myanmar not even being a footnote mean the Council is not vigilant?

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Sex Abuse by Peacekeepers UN-Solved Amid CSW Shindigs at UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 1 -- With the UN teeming with participants in the Conference on the Status of Women, Inner City Press on Monday asked the personal representatives of the president of the Congo and of the prime minister of Morocco about UN peacekeepers charged with sexual abuse or exploitation.

  "In the DRC," the Moroccan representative said, "there were accusations proven to be false." Video here, from Minute 23:30. The Congolese representative stared at her.

  But even as to the Congo, when a UN peacekeeper is accused, the most that is done is to repatriate the soldier back to his home country. After that, it is never clear if there is prosecution or punishment. Inner City Press asked the Moroccan representative about the case of more than 100 Moroccan soldiers repatriated from the UN Mission in Cote d'Ivoire, UNOCI -- where they ever prosecuted?

  I am not sure, was the answer, then a reference to one person being prosecuted. The representative said that in Morocco the army and gendarmes take this seriously, the police less so. But where is the showing of what was done with the repatriated peacekeepers? The UN provide obscurantist statistics, saying the Troop Contributing Countries don't want to be exposed.

  The Congolese representative said that the repatriation is the most that can be done. Inner City Press asked about charges that Joseph Kabila, whom she represented, has done too little about rapes committed by his army, particularly by the units that came in from the CNDP. Video here, from Minute 19:45. This question was not answered. On this, and other UN system sleaze in Kinshasa, we will continue to inquire this week. Watch this site.

CSW meeting in UN on March 1, accountability for UN sex abuse not shown

Footnote: the CSW as not only filled the UN cafeteria, so recently the site of an anthrax scare, but at a more elite level has given rise to a string of receptions. On Monday, the UK's Mark Lyall Grant has invited heads of CSW delegations to the UK mission, while Egypt's Maged Abdelaziz makes a similar invite to his country's Art Deco mission on 44th Street..

  On Tuesday, Chile's Heraldo Munoz invites delegates and Permanent Representatives to his residence on East 57th Street. This competes with the EU reception on 72nd Street and Madison Avenue. On Wednesday March 3, Ambassador Susan Rice invites the same crowd to the U.S. Mission. Many parties, little accountability. Again, on this, and other UN system sleaze in Kinshasa, we will continue to inquire this week. 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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