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On Sudan Ritual of UN SC, Rice Says It's Only Way To Keep Tabs, Critics Say Colonial, Outmoded

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 10 -- As the UN Security Council met Tuesday on Sudan and South Sudan, several Council members complained to Inner City Press that the biweekly sessions had become a mere "ritual" or "make work."

  "It is wasn't for the Mbeki panel," one of them asked Inner City Press, referring to the African Union High Level trio chaired by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, "what could the Security Council even claim it's doing on the issue?"

  This months' Council president Nestor Osorio has told Inner City Press that arrangements are being made for Mbeki to come brief the Security Council on or about July 26, just before a deadline in the AU roadmap. "That's the real meeting," the complaint continued. "This is just... a P-Five problem. It's colonial."

  The analysis continued that the "Western Three" send as Permanent Representatives diplomats who are convinced with the importance of the Security Council. "Maybe that was true after the Second World War," the non-Western diplomat continued. "But now the Council is not suited to the problems it is trying to address."

  A cynic - this one - noted that some regional groups still want the UN to pay for their actions, like ECOWAS' talked about reclaiming of Timbuktu and Northern Mali. And who, we note, is paying for Mbeki, and for the team of Joint envoy on Syria Kofi Annan, dubbed the Seven Million Dollar Man?

  Just then US Ambassador Susan Rice came out of the Security Council, where they'd spent the morning on the Sudan issue. Inner City Press asked her, are these sessions useful? Some of your colleague say they've become just ritual.

  Ambassador Rice turned and gave a serious answer, that these session are "the only way to keep tabs" on the parties and their compliance with commitments. And perhaps it does serve for that.

  Notably, several sources leaving the Security Council after Ambassador Rice told Inner City Press that the August 2 deadline shouldn't be seen like a religious text, as long as there is progress.

  What is sad is how little concern, at least as reflected by media, there is with the Sudan - South Sudan conflict, or even with the protests inside Sudan. Is that the Security Council's fault? Or of the Western Three? Watch this site.

Footnote: Tuesday's session was so low key it was difficult to get a commitment for a UN TV stakeout by Sudan's Ambassador. Envoy Haile Menkerios, who genially spoke with Inner City Press last week in the North Lawn building, was not available to talk, as even Cyprus envoy Lisa Buttenheim had been. What has happened, on the Sudan issue? And whose fault is it?

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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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