Nero-Like April Atop Security Council, Fiddling As Somalia, Chad and Central Africa Burn
Inner City Press at the UN, Once a Month Op-Ed
UNITED NATIONS, April
28 -- The UK has held the presidency of the UN Security Council for the past
month, after which many are left wondering, where's the beef, and what was accomplished?
BBC television, a representative of the UK-based charity Oxfam said that Britain
is a small country which can "punch above its weigh" due mostly to its
veto-wielding status as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council. But does
April 4 briefing for the UN press corps
about his "plan of work" for the month, UK Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said he
would give "blood, sweat and tears" to push an agenda including Darfur, Chad and
the Central African Republic, climate change, Kosovo and Somalia. Let us review
each of these in turn.
Somalia, fighting spun out of control during the month, with nary a peep from
the Council or its president. In fact, on the UK's "end of presidency" day on
the April 27, the UK-led Council heard only from Ethiopia, viewed by many as the
invader, and not from the forces that it is fighting. Click
that story. On
April 12, when asked by Inner City Press if
he or any one else had raised the issues in a recent
European Commission email warning of
complicity in war crimes by
backers of the Somali Transitional Federal Government, including the Security
Council. "I'm not aware of it," Amb. Jones Parry said.
single UN peacekeeper was deployed in Chad or the Central African Republic
during the month, despite the obvious need and, in the case of CAR, no real
opposition to such a deployment. Was it lack of interest? Even on the African
issue on which the UK has spoken most, Zimbabwe, nothing was done in April.
Following the merely humanitarian debate in late March, Amb. Jones Parry
ventured that Zimbabwe was a "potential problem for regional security," a
formulation which has South African Ambassador Kumalo laughing derisively. Later
in April, democracy activists traveled to the UN to testify about their beating
and detention. But they were allow to
speak only to journalists,
not to the UK-led Council.
Emyr Jones Parry in April 2007; one wag wondered, I Claudius or Nero?
Margaret Beckett came to the UN, to sit at a largely ceremonial meeting on
Darfur then preside over the Council's day-long speech-fest on climate change.
This last was allowed to degenerate into a turf war between the Council and the
General Assembly. As predicted, not even a presidential statement came out of
what was accomplished was sending most of the Ambassadors, along with UK Number
Two Karen Pierce, on a trip to Belgrade and Pristina. On the lower profile issue
of Abkhazia, Georgia, the UK could not even prevail on its ally the United
States to allow the Abkhaz foreign minister a visa to attend any of the
Council's meeting. With friends like these...
On issues of UN reform, however, the UK mission has very little to say. Asked
over the past months about the UK's relations with UN funds, programs and
agencies, questions that began well before the North Korea hard currency
controversy first reported on January 19, 2007, the UK mission had nothing at
all to say. Nor about a UNICEF study of the country's policies and practices
with regard to children. All of the Mission's eggs are in the Security Council
basket -- and after a month in the presidency, one is left asking, where's
Throughout the month, issues of the Middle East and the proposed Lebanon
tribunal arose again and again. Yet tellingly, an Arab television journalist
tells Inner City Press he was unceremoniously excluded from a briefing on the
topic in the UK's private room on the third floor about the UN Security Council.
"By invitation only," he was told. By contrast, this was not the practice of
March's Council president, South Africa, nor of Slovakia before it, nor in
different ways of the other Permanent Council members. The UK wants the power to
"punch above its weight" but not what comes along with it.
while on April 13 Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin declined to speak about the
Kosovo mission before Council's president did, Amb. Jones Parry declined to come
out and speak to reporters. Some in the press corps gripe that while Amb. Jones
Parry has cultivated the image of being accessible, the reality is quite
different. He presided over the Security Council in October 2004 as well, to
much the same effect. He seems a decent enough chap. Perhaps it is his staff.
23, deigning to participate on a panel about the possibilities for an arms trade
Amb. Jones Parry was asked how
the treaty could meaningfully proceed with, from the Permanent Five, opposition
from the U.S. and abstentions from China and Russia. Amb. Jones Parry said it
was hard enough to answer for the UK, let alone any other Council members.
UK often says it is much concerned with the destruction visited upon Northern
Uganda by the Lord's Resistance Army, during its month holding the conch of the
UN Security Council, the UK did not only raise the issue. Nor did Amb. Jones
Parry respond to a question about the Museveni government's violent disarmament
of pastoralists in Uganda's northeastern Karamoja region, when asked on April
Oxfam's logic, that the UK can punch above its weigh due to its anachronistic
Security Council status, the UK should have an interest in an effective and
transparent Security Council. Whether these goals were meaningfully further
during the UK's month as president is doubtful. Perhaps next time around...
Byline: Inner City
Press Once a Month Op-Ed that needs to be said
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Diplomat Denounces UN's Warlord Payments, Blackhawk Down - TFG Connection
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, April
27 -- The UN Security Council on Friday heard a closed-door briefing from
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin about his country's continued military
presence in Somalia. Afterwards, Inner City Press asked Mr. Mesfin about reports
that UN humanitarian aid has been hindered by the Transitional Federal
Government, which Ethiopia installed atop the country in December.
Mesfin denied that the TFG or "our troops" had created obstacles, and noted that
TFG Prime Minister Gedi had "the day before yesterday said that humanitarian aid
interview appearing in the Times of London on April 27, Gedi is
accusing UN agencies "of corruption; of using private airstrips to ship in
contraband, weapons and insurgents; of striking cozy deals with warlords and the
ousted Islamic Courts regime and pocketing the proceeds. He said the United
Nations' World Food Program and other agencies were upset because they had lost
power after effectively governing Somalia during its 15 years of civil war and
anarchy. 'They want to operate in this country without any control,' he
declared. 'They know they can't do that any more . . . Now there's a Prime
Minister who knows them too well.'"
City Press at Friday's
noon briefing asked
Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson for a response:
Inner City Press: In
Somalia, the Prime Minister in an interview had said that the UN aid agencies
are used to running the country like it’s their own fiefdom and that they’re
basically disagreeing with Mr. [John] Holmes in terms of humanitarian access.
So I'm wondering if anyone in the UN system has some response to those
statements or what the status is of humanitarian access in Somalia.
according to what I got today, the discussions were good and they were given
access. And the tone was positive on the part of WFP.
some other Inner City Press questions,
a statement was handed to Spokesperson:
can find an answer for you. And about Somalia, as far as I know, and I see the
information I got there, there was a meeting about the Transitional Federal
Government (TFG) of Somalia. The meeting was positive. WFP was given the green
light to begin deliveries, which was done. And basically everything is working
now between WFP and TFG. According to OCHA, the UN has some 200 national and
international staff in south central Somalia whose sole aim is to assist the
people of that country, including in delivering urgently needed life-saving
assistance. So, the UN humanitarian agencies, which are non-political, do not
aspire to enjoy power in Somalia or elsewhere, as was said in an article today."
Friday, Inner City Press interviewed Idd Beddel Mohamed, the Somali TFG's Deputy
Permanent Representative to the UN, who said:
"The UN agencies used
to serve Somalia when there was no government. Now instead of adapting, they
still want to dictate terms. The UN hired warlords, paid them in dollars to
protect and deliver. The warlords bought more technicals and militias. The UN
agencies should not try to address the difference by talking to the media."
City Press asked him to confirm that the TFG has appointed as Police Chief one
of the individuals whom the U.S. was seeking during the incident memorialized in
"Blackhawk Down." Yes, he said, it is Col. Aideed (a/k/a Abdi Qaybdiid).
worm, as they say, has turned...
Beddel Mohamed at the UN
UN had earlier on Friday announced the re-appointment of Francois Lonseny Fall
for another year as the UN's envoy to Somalia, Idd Beddel Mohamed said he hadn't
been aware, and said: "Why isn't he in Mogadishu? Let him enjoy Nairobi, and
even the beaches of Mombassa." Inner City Press asked whether minorities like
the Mushinguli were included in the TFG as required by the "4.5" plan previously
alluded to by Lonseny Fall. "They have the ministry of sports!" Idd Beddel
each of Somalia's four main clans are supposed to get slightly less than 25% of
the posts, with 1/9th for other minorities, such as the ultimate underdogs, the
Mushinguli, brought to Somalia from further South in Africa, and long denied
their rights, a topic to which we will return.]
chided Inner City Press for asking Under
Secretary General John Holmes about quotes from the TFG President and deputy
defense minister, saying that
the quotes are just "internet propaganda." When Inner City Press pointed out
that the source was Voice of America, Idd Beddel Mohamed replied that Voice of
America's "affiliate in Mogadishu is owned by a supporter of these insurgents."
left the UN, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin pronounced that "the
backbone of the terrorists has been completely shattered" but that a different
message gets out, because they have "a wide network globally."
are you going to believe? For now, the UN and Security Council appear to
continue to cast their lot with the TFG, despite warnings. Or is the
European Commission's warning about war
crimes and complicity just
"internet propaganda"? We will continue to cover this.
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