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At UN on Mali, France Defers to ECOWAS on Sanctions, UN's Ban Silent

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 3 -- The UN and countries like France often says that sanctions should be targeted, so that civilians do not suffer. But when ECOWAS this week closed the borders of Mali, with an eye to shutting down the country's electrical grid, former colonial power France supported it, and the UN had nothing to say.

French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud came to the stakeout to brag about a draft statement he had introduced, supporting ECOWAS. Inner City Press asked him about the impact of the sanctions, and to explain why Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said France would not intervene in Mali while it played the key role in ousting Laurent Gbagbo in Cote d'Ivoire. Video here, from Minute 2:09.

Araud stammered that "the only difference between Cote D'ivoire and Mali is that in Cote d'Ivoire we had a UN mandate, resolution 1975.... [here] we are not doing to ask for it, no French intervention in Mali."

He continued, "As for sanctions, it's decision by ECOWAS, they have knowledge of the region, president Sal in Dakar, [Blaise] Campoure will be mediator, the coup leader has announced he is going to restore constitutional order, Inshallah."

A country like France which make pronouncement on human rights and the protection of civilians, it is not enough to simply to defer to a regional group. Did Jean-Maurice Ripert defer to ASEAN, when he called for intervention in Myanmar?

But this is a former French colony, and so there is more than meets the eye. At the UN's noon briefing on Tuesday, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: On Mali, some are saying that the ECOWAS sanctions, they’re closing the borders, that there are already people lining up for gas, they are not targeted in any way. So, I heard you say that the UN humanitarians are concerned about shortages, but Valerie Amos, for example, on South Sudan said that they should keep pumping oil because of humanitarian needs. What does the UN say about a sanctions regime that would essentially close the border and block the entry into, of consumer goods like gasoline. Is that, how is it consistent to talk about shortages when they are being caused by the sanctions?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, these are measures that have been introduced by the regional organization, ECOWAS. I would refer you to them to ask about that. From a purely humanitarian point of view, it is obvious that the sooner that the political side of this can be dealt with, and we can get back to constitutional order in the country, the easier it will be to deal with the humanitarian crisis that existed even before this, and has obviously been exacerbated by the developments of recent days. I think that’s what we have at the moment. I will come back to you.

But hours later, nothing more than been provided. Watch this site.

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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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