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At UN as Pillay Urges ICC Action on Syria and Palestine, Churkin Chides (French?) Emotional Outbursts

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 12 -- When Navi Pillay emerged from briefing the UN Security Council on Monday, she told the press that Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court.

   Inner City Press asked her if she thought the ICC might usefully get involved in the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. Video here, from Minute 4:23.  She said there has been a request, and that yes, she thought there should be an investigation, every place that these four serious crimes have occurred.

   Moments later, representatives of four Council members from Europe, and US Deputy Permanent Representative Rosemary DiCarlo, took to the same microphone. The Palestine portion of Pillay's briefing, or at least the request for it, was called a "red herring."

  French Ambassador Gerard Araud, who spoke first and had his spokesman run the entire Q&A* at the stakeout because he said he had requested the Syria briefing, insisted that he had not "opposed" the Palestine briefing, but rather had asked for 24 hours to consult with his capital.

  While the French spokesman would not allow Inner City Press, which exclusively reported the Friday counter-moves in the Council, to inquire into this, moments later Inner City Press asked Council president Vitaly Churkin of Russia to respond. Video here, from Minute 1.

  Churkin said "what opposed means may turn into something of a linguistic discussion... I saw every trick in the book being thrown at me, short of trying to strangulate the president of the Council." He said there was "pretty strong resistance" to the briefing on Palestine, and presumably referring to Araud called unnecessary the "emotional outbursts." Video here, at Minute 6:10.

  It's worth noting that Araud was talking about Russia and China opposing any Syria briefing, and saying he'd call for a procedural vote, before either acknowledges any opposition.

Lyall Grant & Wittig flank Araud, Churkin's "emotion outburst" jibe not shown (c) MRLee

  Syria's Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari took to the microphone to denounce Navi Pillay as unfair, saying she would destroy the Human Rights Council just as the Human Rights Commission was destroyed. He repeatedly referred to the four European Council members, without mentioning the US.

  Inner City Press asked him to explain omitting the US, despite DPR DiCarlo being at the stakeout, and US Ambassador Susan Rice issuing her own statement about Pillay's briefing just after it ended. Did he think the US position was different? No, he said, adding that the US "disassociated itself" from the "European" war on Libya "once they saw the oil had already been stolen."

  By then even the Western spokespeople didn't remain to hear what Ja'afari was saying. He said that a member most expressing concerning about Syria -- again, presumably Araud of France -- had opposed an open briefing in which Syria could also speak.

  Tellingly, after it was all a non-Western member emphasized to Inner City Press that while Pillay at Friday's press conference spoke of 4000 killed, including 1000 with the security forces, in Monday's closed door briefing she raised the number to 5000, NOT including security forces. "It's a bubble," the non Western member said, deploying decidedly black humor. And so it goes at the UN.

 Media footnotes: Ja'afari said that Barbara Walters had been allowed to interview Assad for 59 minutes but only broadcast 20 minutes, misleadingly. Even on ABC, a full hour is costly: check, for example, JPMorgan Chase's recent info-mercial on NBC about its post-bailout charitable giving. Must Assad go that route? Don't watch that site.

* - Some wonder of the wisdom of the other four Missions and Ambassadors, three of whom  (US, Germany, UK) later send out transcriptions of their parts of the stakeout, letting the French spokesman control the Q&A by directing UN TV where the microphone should go for questions, given partiality. To each his own stakeout?

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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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