At UN, Colombia Serves
Coffee, Anti-FARC Spin in Council Bid,
Delegates' Might Close
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, July 1 -- Amid writhing dancers,
drums and a
soprano saxophone, Colombia on Thursday night at the UN promoted its
candidacy for the Security Council in 2011-2012.
In a more cloak and
dagger fashion, a subtext was that the UN should not be speaking with
the FARC rebels. Under the banner of children and armed conflict, a
diplomat complained, the UN is seeking to give credence to the
rebels, who are losing. One size, the diplomat said, does not fit
Up on the stage, with the East River as a
dancers moved quickly. Some Ambassadors gaped. This, one said, is
what Security Council reform should be all about.
Also working hard was Uzbekistan's Permanent
spoke to Inner City Press, emphasizing his country's bona fides
despite the closure of the border. He lobbied the UK and other
Permanent Five members. He was more mobile than the wait staff, which
distributed lamb chops and small bowls of ceviche.
Of under secretaries general, those of
management and public
information were visible. Turkey's Ambassador stood appreciating
music. Brazil's greeted all and sundry. Both voted no on Iran
sanctions. While Iran did not appear, North Korea put in an
appearance. Out the window ships passed by.
Russia's Vitaly Churkin was in attendance,
and was asked by a
journalist-- not this one -- whether a family member working for
Russia Today let slip that he might take over from Lavrov. Churkin
denied it all. There: for the record.
Rio Sucio, children and armed conflict and Colombian
klezmer not shown
Colombia's swag bag contained a pound of
Juan Valdez coffee, in
a small burlap bag one could imagine on a burro. They have an office
in Beijing. That, as they say, is the future.
Footnote: Sadly, the Delegates' Lounge where this
took place might
soon be a thing of the past. Due to UN planning, a week ago Aramark
stopped food service in the UN cafeteria at 2:30 instead of 7:30. Now
the buzz among employees is that the Delegates' will close, due to
lack of business. What made the UN, the UN, is all falling by the
wayside. Diplomacy is suffering, but no one seems to care.
* * *
Buck Passed on Somali Child Soldiers and Cheonan, UNESCO Bars Press
June 30 -- Mexico's
month atop the UN Security Council ended
Wednesday with a whimper not a bang. There was a debate in the
morning on Afghanistan, with few mentions of McCrystal. Apparently no
Council member even raised the matter of murdered UN staff member
Louis Maxwell while in Kabul.
the UNDOF mandate was extended. But it was only for six months, not
twelve, due to a failure to consult. Still outgoing Council president
Claude Heller put a brave face on it, saying that six months was
afternoon, Japan media swarmed around the stakeout, hungry
for any action on the sunken Cheonan ship. But all that happened was
the hand over from Mexico to Nigeria. Some worried about a North
Korean surprise for the US July 4 holiday.
asked Heller one last question:
Press: I wanna ask a non Cheonan question. This issue that came
up that the UN supported the TFG of Somalia using child soldiers.
Where does it go from here? I know that it didn’t seem to come up
on [inaudible]. In your role as chair of the CAAC, when will that be
This issue is in the agenda of the Working Group on Children
and Armed Conflict, and it should be considered in the next two
months. I don’t have the date, but it’s in the agenda. We have to
consider this and make recommendations on the cases, of course
depending on the information that we get. But its in the agenda of
the Working Group. Well, thank you very much.
UNDOF 1970s, plus ca change
through the UN garage to the
farewell party for Marie Okabe of the spokesperson's office. Some
reporters had been lined up to ask planted questions, where Marie is
going (the UN in DC) and who will fill her shoes (no one can, Martin
Nesirky answered; the recruitment process is unclear.)
reporters were invited. Down the hall in the UN's press room, most
journalists were excluded from the staged TV debate of UNFPA and
UNESCO. Inner City Press, which was on record as wanting an answer on
UNESCO's dalliance with Equatorial Guinea, was barred from entering
the room. UNESCO, then, barring journalists.
Footnote: to update
a previous Inner City Press UN footnote, while the journalists have
proposed including bloggers in the UN accreditation guidelines, it now
emerges that the UN is opposed. This is ironic, given the Department of
Public Information's involvement in "blogging," to the highest levels.
Watch this site.
* * *
Month Marked by Margaritas and a S.Korean Ship, From
Flotilla to Tortillas
30 -- It began with the flotilla
and ended with
tortillas. It was June's Mexican presidency of the UN Security
Council, celebrated Tuesday night by Ambassadors and diplomats and
Asha Rose Migiro, the Deputy Secretary General. She chatted with
July's president, Nigeria's Joy Ogwu, and told Inner City Press that
moves are afoot to reconsider the UN's sudden closing of its after
school program. Then she was gone.
ceviche, the talk was diplomatic. Why was there no action on the
the South Korean ship? Why can UN Missions not share
information on the Lord's
Resistance Army? This last, admittedly, was
a bee in the bonnet of Inner City Press.
it was a matter
that Claude Heller, the month's president, took more seriously than
others, perhaps due to his role on Children and Armed Conflict. He
and Mexico have six more months on the Council. Will the LRA be
committing more or fewer massacres by the changing of the guard?
Marco Morales greeted all and sundry. Reporters without
exception praised his detailed updates replete with World Cup jokes.
Soon to complete a PhD, he will return to Mexico.
counterpart Verena Nowotny, her country cursed by the alphabet to have
Presidency, seemed to agree that the two should pass their knowledge
to incoming spokespersons. Who will be the next five Council members?
Germany, it was
said, will be among them, and may not be open to advice from the
beyond the Permanent Five members of the Council, some countries
feeling they are close or should have permanent status don't take the
damn the torpedoes -- pardon the Cheonan
reference -- approach of an
Austria or Mexico, which know they only have two years and so try to
raise their issues. Japan has long had this semi-permanent status.
Now Germany approaches, and Brazil it moving that way.
reception, the Permanent Representatives of four of the Permanent
Five made an appearance. China's Li Baodong spoke with Rugunda of
Uganda. Gerard Araud appeared, glad handing Heller. The UK's Lyall
Grant spoke of his time in Pakistan.
Russia, Inner City Press was told, appeared and left early. “They're
running from the spy case,” one margaritaed wag opined. The Russian
Mission's spokesman Ruslan left suddenly mid month, between a wag and
margarita, making Tolstoy invitations. He will be missed.
Permanent Five, as the wags say is so often the case, was Susan Rice
of the US.
Heller and Marco Morales: dynamic duo with nearly
In her stead
was Alex Wolff, soon to leave the Mission.
Inner City Press asked him, when will he shift over to become US
Ambassador to Chile? As soon as the Senate confirms me. Also there
was Brooke Anderson, right to the end of the reception. Unlike Wolff
on the night of the flotilla -- again with Rice not there -- she has
had to do a stakeout, taking questions on the record. That day must
was the Office of the Spokesman. Ever since the Council moved
to its new basement home, the Spokesman has been barred from
attending consultations. It was said that he is trying; he has said
he needs to hear from the Council on its reason. Tuesday night with
guacamole was a chance to heal this rift.
Spokesperson Marie Okabe is saying farewell to New York,
heading south to DC for a similar deputy post at the UN office there.
Wednesday this transition will be marked from 4 to 6 pm. While to
some readers of Tolstoy afternoon celebrations may be as good as any,
this time it overlaps with Council meetings and a staged TV debate
including the heads of UNESCO and of UNFPA. Insiders say the latter
has tried to plant friendly questions. We'll see: watch this site.