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At UN, Long Dormant Council Issues Kept Barely Alive as Leverage, Seizure List Leaked with February 28 Deadline

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, January 19 -- Items on the UN Security Council's agenda face deletion in a backroom process, as illuminated in a 2011 document exclusively obtained by Inner City Press.

 Of the 86 matters on the Council's agenda, 28 have not been taken up in a formal meeting in the last three years and therefore face deletion unless a member state speaks up before February 28. This currently pending so called “Seizure List” is attached, here.

  Meanwhile, Security Council members have been asked if they want to delete any of the more recent 58 items, even if they have been the subject of meetings in the last three years.

  One could imagine Russia asking to remove Item Number 10, “The situation in Georgia,” first raised in 1992 but last considered on June 15, 2009, when Russia blocked continuation of the Mission and even discussion in the Council for the past year and a half.

  Now that the UN Mission in Nepal has unceremoniously left that country, will it remain on the Council's agenda? Or might India make a request to take it off?

  “The situation between Eritrea and Ethiopia,” Item Number 21, has not been discussed since July 30, 2008, when the UNMEE Mission left with the border dispute unacted on.

  The “Situation in Myanmar,” Item Number 46, has not been the subject of any formal Security Council session since July 13, 2009. Ban Ki-moon has yet to act on the widespread request, in the last informal meeting, that he name a full time envoy to Myanmar to replace Vijay Nambiar.

  Countries fight hard to keep matters off the agenda of the Security Council, which can impose sanctions and authorize the use of force. Thus, even as tens of thousands of civilians were killed in Sri Lanka in 2009, Russia, China and others fought to keep it off the agenda.

  Some matters are on the agenda, but have not been discussed in years. Facing deletion from the Seizure List, unless as usual a member state speaks up, are for example

The Hyderabad question” (Item 61, raised in September 1948 and last discussed in 1949);

Complaint by Ukraine regarding the decree of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation concerning Sevastapol” (Item 79, first raised AND last discussed on July 20, 1993);

The situation between Iran and Iraq” (Item 72, raised in September 1980 and last discussed in 1991);

the “Kimberly Process Certification scheme” (Item 82, only discussed once, in 2003);

numerous letters and complaints from Cuba (Items 63, 64, 67);

Letter dated 19 April 1988 from the Permanent Representative of Tunisia to the UN” (item 76, first raised on April 21, 1988 and last discussed four days after that on April 25, 1988).

  With the current turmoil in Tunisia, one wag suggested, perhaps this last obscure item could be revived.

P-5 + 1 on the UNSC floor, seizure list not shown (until now)

  Inner City Press asked a well placed non-Permanent Security Council member about the lists, which he said may later be consolidated. He pointed out that at least some items do get deleted, mentioning Angola and Libya.

  The debate now, he said, is whether and how these lists should be publicized to the wider UN membership. Some countries, knowing the process, have form letters ready to keep “their” items alive on the agenda. But the others?

  At an on the record briefing on January 18, Portugal's Ambassador acknowledged to Inner City Press that while Bosnia beat his country out to head the Working Group on Working Methods for this year, Portugal has been promised the chairmanship next year.

  These seizure lists, and how they are disseminated to the wider UN membership, are the type of procedural issue that Portugal says it has worked and wants to work on. We'll see.

* * *

At UN, Deal with Russia on Cote d'Ivoire Resolution Has Bamba Staying Silent, Speaks Afterwards to Inner City Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, January 19 -- As the UN Security Council on Wednesday morning belatedly adopted a resolution increasing UN forces and focus in Cote d'Ivoire, the new Alassane Ouattara appointed Ambassador Yousoufou Bamba sat at the Council table but did not speak.

On Tuesday, when the UN troops four week period ran out and the resolution was supposed to be adopted, arguments in the Council's closed door consultations focused on the procedural question of whether Ouattara's Ambassador Bamba could sit at the Council's horseshoe table, and if he could speak.

Russia opposed this, as well as demanding that the phrase “without prejudice to the freedom of expression” be added before a call to halt Radiodiffusion Television Ivoirienne (RFI) from “incit[ing] hatred and violence, including against the UN and particularly UNOCI.”

After Bamba sat in the meeting for the vote approving the amended resolution but did not speak, Inner City Press sent Bamba a text message asking for his reasons. He emerged from the Council and told Inner City Press, “I voluntarily chose not to speak, with the support of the African members, not to create a breach in the unity of the Council.”

Later it was explained to Inner City Press by the Permanent Representative of an African country not currently on the Council that it was mostly South Africa which implored Bamba not to speak, in order they said that the world not see that the Council is not, in fact, united.

UN's Ban and Bamba at swear-in, (c) MRLee

Inner City Press asked Bamba about Russia's demand that “without prejudice to the freedom of expression” be added to the resolution. Bamba said that's “not to silence their side” -- seeming to say that the Gbagbo “side” is Russia's side.

After a pause, Bamba came back to tell Inner City Press that “on behalf of the Ouattara administration,” he appreciates the increase in UNOCI's “defensive force” - he pointed at the phrase about “three armed helicopters with crews from UNMIL” as he said this -- and the RTI paragraph and “especially,” he said “the lifting of the blockage of the Golf Hotel without delay.” We'll see.

 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.

* * *

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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