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On Syria, UK Debate Schizo, Racism on Gilbraltar, Sri Lanka Denial, DRC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 3 -- Days after the UK House of Commons voted down Prime Minister David Cameron's proposal for military action on Syria, Cameron's foreign minister William Hague and his team took questions in the House.

  Hague shifted the UK's focus to plight of refugees; his team talked about the UN monetary appeal. But before last week's voting loss, the UK government was arguing for military action without UN Security Council approval. What is their position on the UN?

 The UK government's spokesperson on the Middle East and North Africa Rosemary Davis tweeted about UN action on September 3. But when asked by Inner City Press what the UK expect from UN official Angela Kane's briefing of those who requested the probe of chemical weapons in Ghouta, there was no UK answer.

  From the floor, Hague was asked that since he tweeted about his telephone call with US Secretary of State John Kerry, had he spoken with Russia's minister Lavrov? Hague said he last spoke with Lavrov last Wednesday -- that is, before the voting loss in the House of Commons.

  Shifting focus, Hague was asked about the further authoritarian shift in Sri Lanka, reflected in UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay's report. Hague answered that he and Cameron will still be going to Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November.

  As is noted of the UN on Syria, this could be called the UK's own Race for Relevance. Continued connection to the former empire is important - more important than human rights, apparently.

  On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UK government played up its involvement: speaking with UN envoy Mary Robinson on August 27 and Rwanda's foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo since, citing talks called for in Kampala on September 5.

  There was a wee bit of racism, too, in the House of Commons session. On Gibraltar it was suggested that the Spanish ambassador to the UK be told to "pack up his sombrero, straw donkey and sangria" and leave. Hague joked about the question that this might be done in more diplomatic language. Muy comico. Watch this site.

Footnote: Also on Gibraltar, Hague was asked why he doesn't push Spain to give Ceuta to Morocco. Hague said he'd focus on the issue at hand - Gibraltar - but others could make that connection.  But at the UN, the UK disdains any comparison of its positions on self-determination in the Malvinas / Falkland Islands and in, say, Somaliland. But others can and will make that connection?


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