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In London, Lord Levene Continues in Myanmar with Lloyds and Total, UN Stands Pat

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press in the UK: News Analysis

LONDON, November 14 -- While at the UN in New York, UK Ambassador John Sawers thunders about human rights abuses in Myanmar, which he calls Burma, here in London the business insider Lord Peter Levene continues as chairman of Lloyd's and board member of Total to do lucrative business with Than Shwe's military government.

  Total's gas and oil activities in Myanmar provide an estimated $1 billion a year to the regime. Lloyd's reinsures Than Shwe's aviation and nautical assets, the latter most recently deployed in further of Myanmar's off-shore energy interests. Thus Levene's two roles, in natural resources and insurance, work seamlessly together, and the odd face-saving letter from the UK Foreign Office does not bring about any change.

UK's Lord Levene, oppression in Myanmar not shown

  Earlier in the week in New York, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe

Inner City Press: Given the announcements of these 65-year prison sentences and crackdown on people in Myanmar that organized the demonstrations … given that Ban Ki-moon has said this issue is so important -- what does the UN have to say or is going to do about that?

Deputy Spokesperson Okabe:  I don’t have an official statement on the reports that you are mentioning, but, as you know, the Secretary-General has repeatedly called for the Myanmar authorities to release all political prisoners and allow all citizens of Myanmar to participate freely in their country’s political process, as part of a process of national reconciliation.

Inner City Press: Does this mean that Mr. Gambari is still going to go there?  What’s the … Has anyone in the UN communicated to the junta that this is a step backwards?

Deputy Spokesperson Okabe:  As I said, I don’t have an official reaction to the press reports that you mentioned.  The Secretary-General’s position on the issue of Myanmar remains the same, as you know.

  And that UN remaining the same, as the arrests and length prison terms pile up, may be one of the problems. The U.S., too -- back on September 10, Inner City Press asked U.S. official Daniel Glaser about insurers doing business in Myanmar, click here for that.

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and 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

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