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UK Schizophrenic on Human Rights, But Says No Impunity for LRA's Kony

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, May 2 -- The UK, which holds the UN Security Council presidency this month, demonstrated incongruous positions on human rights in recent days. On April 30, along with France and the United States, it opposed requests to include human rights in the Council's resolution on Western Sahara. On the morning May 2, it agreed to a Presidential Statement on Myanmar which dropped any reference to Nobel Prize-winning Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi.

   UK Ambassador John Sawers glossed over both issues when asked about them at a press conference later in the day. But when asked by Inner City Press if the UK would agree to suspend the International Criminal Court indictments of Joseph Kony and other leaders of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army, Amb. Sawers said that the UK would oppose the Council doing that. "The indictments of the ICC should stand," he said. "It would be for the ICC to determine if the trial arrangements in a particular country for someone they indicted" are an appropriate substitute for proceeding with the indictment. Video here, from Minute 30:42.

Amb. Sawers on May 2, Aung San Suu Kyi not shown

            On the issue of accountability within the UN, the UK is not so strong. Inner City Press asked Amb. Sawers about charges, widely publicized including in Britain, that UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo engaged in trading of gold and guns, and that the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services essentially covered-up these crimes. "I have no comment on that," Amb. Sawers said.

            One analysis has it that since the UK punches above its weight through the UN, it is hard pressed to criticize the Organization no matter what it does. We'll see.

Footnote: well-placed diplomatic sources told Inner City Press on Friday night that the background to the Myanmar statement was that Ibrahim Gambari had asked the Council to hold off, to allow him to travel to Myanmar and deliver these points in person to the regime. But when he was denied entry, he gave the green light to the Council. China, in this account, demanded that any statement tip its chapeau to Myanmar's sovereignty, the UN's loose "good office" role, and that any solution must come from the Burmese -- well, Myanmarese, or Myanmarian -- people themselves, and that Aung San Suu Kyi's name must come out. And the US and UK agreed, and then agreed to cover it up and dodge questions. And so it goes...

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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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