As Arms Trade Treaty Is Taken Behind Closed Doors, NGOs Protest the
Private Club of
July 18 -- Who's against an Arms Trade Treaty? Morocco, for
example, is for it: it is against the transfer of weapons to the
Polisario Front in Western Sahara. Algeria, it is said, is against
the ATT. It is not always easy to know.
Last week the non
governmental organizations following the negotiations were thrown out
of the meetings by the Chairman of the First Preparatory Committee
for the UN Conference on the ATT, Ambassador Roberto Garcia Moritan
which had asked Moritan questions about the ATT as it began on July
12, asked UN Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq about the expulsion of
the NGOs. Haq answered after the briefing:
not aware of any exclusions from the Arms Trade Treaty meetings
in New York. On its first day, the Preparatory Committee agreed on
the modalities for participation in the ATT and agreed that NGOs
could attend open sessions. NGOs were admitted immediately after the
decision was taken on Monday."
with NGO representatives, who protested that what Haq said wasn't
true, Inner City Press asked again. This time, the answer came from
Ewen Buchanan of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs:
Matthew, The modalities for the participation of NGOs in the ATT
process were agreed on Monday. As you will see from this (which
although called draft) was adopted on Monday, it states that 'may
attend open meetings.' In accordance with their rules, the Member
States declared the afternoon session today (and a number of others
in the future) to be closed and NGOs and others were (and will be)
accordingly asked to leave.”
of course is a
tautology. The moment NGOs are thrown out, it is no longer an “open”
meeting. The NGOs say that without notice, and by his own decision,
Moritan threw them out on July 15 from what they say are the most
substantive sessions. When they asked why, he canceled a meeting with
them, calling them “unhelpful.”
contrast to public face that Moritan showed the Press at his July 9
press conference. His answer were sometime inane, but always delivered
with a smile.
Inner City Press asked if the ATT might only benefit governments,
including those seeking to cut off weapons flows to rebel or
insurgent groups. Video here.
discussed by member states, Moritan answered. But that's just the
Moritan, front and center, NGOs not shown
If the ATT is just another way to monopolize force in the
hands of states, might it not have less than progressive impacts in
such places as Karamoja in Uganda, where the Museveni government has
used UN and UNDP funds for the forcible disarmament of the
pastoralists who oppose him?
that “of course” the ATT would prohibit arms transfers to, for
example, Rwanda during the genocide. But would it? Who would decide?
Inner City Press asked Morigan, what about Sudan? Video here.
questions on which some of the NGOs wish to be heard. But now they've
been excluded, and say the UN and Moritan have lied about it. If the
means are the ends, these problems are getting worse. We aim to have
more on this -- watch this site.
* * *
Afghan Murder of UN Staffer Maxwell Stalled by “Cultural Sensitivity,”
Glitch of Karzai Firing
July 18 -- The murder by
Afghan National Forces of UN
Security officer Louis Maxwell last October is supposed to now be
investigated by the Hamid Karzai
City Press has
learned that the Karzai administration has yet to do anything, and
now that the UN is only half heartedly following up, for reasons of
“cultural sensitivity,” as UN Security chief Gregory Starr told
Inner City Press -- or cynical political accommodation, as diplomats
close to the case put it.
Maxwell case on July 14, Starr told Inner City Press, “The problem
is, in many cases you're asking the Afghans to really follow up on
one person. How many thousands of Afghans have died? So you've got to
be sensitive culturally.”
personnel since interviewed by Inner City Press have expressed concern.
“He's supposed to represent us,” as one put it, asking
that his name not be used for fear of retaliation. “He's not
supposed to accept the cover up of the murder of a UN staff, to suck
up to the Afghans - or to the Americans.”
UN Board of
Inquiry report, still be withheld from the public and Mr. Maxwell's
family, calls on the Afghans to identify the individuals who killed
Maxwell long after an attack on a UN guesthouse, which Maxwell fought
Press asked UN peacekeeping official Susana Malcorra for any
progress, she said that the head of the UN Department of Safety and
Security Gregory Starr had traveled to Kabul, and to ask him. But Mr.
Starr has yet during his tenure to hold a press conference.
July 14, Inner
City Press waited outside the UN's ECOSOC chamber to ask Starr about
the case. After six o'clock he emerged, and to his credit agreed to
answer some questions from the Press. He said:
a joint investigation by the American FBI and the Afghans. We know
Louis was killed after the attack. The circumstances of that are
still under investigation. I spoke to the minister of the interior of
Iraq [sic] myself and they are looking into it. I hope
ultimately to find all the circumstances. There is the
problem is interpreting what really happened in that video. We're not
an investigative agency. We've turned it over to the proper
added as a concession, “I think there is a momentary glitch.
The Minister of Interior was dismissed.”
UN's Ban swearing Starr in, Maxwell murder follow
through not shown
Inner City Press asked Starr about (non) answers it got on June 30
from UN envoy to Afghanistan Staffan de Mistura (video here)
from then Security Council president Claude Heller of Mexico, who'd
led the Council's trip to Kabul (video here).
Inner City Press
concluded, it seems like the issue is falling off the map.
it, then said, verbatim: “The problem is, in many cases you're
asking the Afghans to really follow up on one person. How many
thousands of Afghans have died? So you've got to be sensitive
only other UN
Security officers but also diplomats and non UN military personnel
since interviewed by Inner City Press have expressed deep concerns.
are covering up the death of this guy, because the UN and US want
good relations with Karzai,” one said. “So if they go to Somalia,
if the TFG [Transitional Federal Government] or Ugandan peacekeepers
kill a UN staff, they'd cover that up too?”
Starr, and Ms. Malcorra's deputy Tony Banbury who asserted there was no
cover up, but then ducked questions, will now provide more answers,
including to the Maxwell and UN family. Watch this site.
And see cell
here, esp. at Minute 1:01 to 1:04