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At UN, De Schutter Explains Gaza Flotilla Fiasco, Madagascar Sanctions Bite

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 24 -- With the UN's report on the Gaza flotilla pending in early July, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that "the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Prof. Olivier De Schutter, has received a draft of this report and he firmly opposes its conclusions," citing an e-mail from "De Schutter's office."

  Inner City Press asked De Schutter on Monday about the e-mail, of which the Office of the Spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on July 7 emphasized "that Mr. de Schutter’s office had clarified that, contrary to an erroneous report by one media outlet, he has not made any public statement on a draft of a report under preparation by the United Nations Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla incident of 31 May 2010. Mr. de Schutter will make his views known in due course."

  De Schutter said that he had been on mission in South Africa, and told his communications assistant that he was concerned the Palmer report would misstate international law. De Schutter, along with rellow Special Rapporter Richard Falk and others, state that the blockade of Gaza is illegal.

  De Schutter said his communication assistant sent out an e-mail, not on the record, previewing his views, and that "one media organization" simply published the e-mail as if it was on the record, forcing him to issue a clarification. When the Palmer report came out, he formally criticized it on the same terms.

  Regarding Richard Falk, Inner City Press at Monday's noon briefing asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky to respond to Falk's statement on October 20 that after Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar wrote a letter criticizing Falk's 9/11 blog, Nambiar acknowledged that neither he nor Ban had even read the blog.

Falk, whose blog Ban did not read, and de Schutter, whose warming Ban did not heed

  Nesirky said he wouldn't provide a response to Inner City Press "in between" Falk and the S-G's office. But Falk said it on UN Television, Inner City Press pointed out, on the record. Still no comment from Nesirky. If and when there is one, we will publish it.

  De Schutter, when asked by Inner City Press about the impact on small farmers of the blockade on Waziristan, and previously of the sanctions on Cote d'Ivoire, said he could only comment if he knew things first hand. (He said the same, but a bit more, about Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile in Sudan.)

  He replied with a story from Madagascar, that the post-coup sanctions were turning Madagascar into a failed state. No worries - now Ban Ki-moon meets with the coup leader! And so it goes at 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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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