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As UN Plays Musical Chairs in Congo, Anti-Rwanda Experts, Mis-Use of Reports

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 10 -- Sometimes the UN plays musical chairs; sometimes it allows post-holders to abuse the system to try to keep their positions and discredit their critics.

  Sometimes, as in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN is engaged at cross-purposes in both at the same time.

  Today Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky announced that Martin Kobler, Ban's envoy in Iraq, will be moving to Kinshasa to replace Roger Meece as head of the MONUSCO mission there.

  By any objective measure, Meece has been a failure. The DRC slid back into conflict under his tenure; the UN partners with Congolese army units which then engaged in mass rape in Minova.

  Despite a stated zero tolerance and human rights due diligence policy, the UN has not suspended support to these units, the 391st and 41st Battalions. Nor has the UN provided the Minova rape accountability update Inner City Press asked for on May 29 (video here) and May 30.

  Can Kobler do better? Could he do worse?

  Meanwhile on June 10 at the UN, Inner City Press asked Nesirky to confirm that Ban's Dublin-based Great Lakes envoy Mary Robinson has taken on as an adviser on Frederico Borello, author of several anti-Rwanda articles similar to those of former sanctions Group of Experts coordinator Steve Hege.

  Nesirky said he would check with the Department of Political Affairs.

  Hege used his final report to take shots at some of those who criticized his objectivity, even naming them in his report. To many that seemed like an abuse.

Footnote: now Hege's pot-shots have been echoed in Geneva, where the Special Rapporteur on Palestine has in his report, debated today in the Human Rights Council, denounced a

"series of defamatory attacks demeaning his character, repeatedly distorting his views on potentially inflammatory issues. This smear campaign has been carried out in numerous settings, including at the Human Rights Council, as well as university venues where the Special Rapporteur gives lectures in his personal capacity on subjects unrelated to the mandate. The lobby groupsí smears have been sent to diplomats and United Nations officials, including the Secretary-General, who has apparently accepted the allegations at face value, issuing public criticism of the Special Rapporteur."

  Should a UN Special Rapporteur, even if (mis) described as "honorary," or the coordinator of a sanctions Group of Experts, use a UN report to denounce his or her critics, and as here try to get them dis-accredited? The closed-in world of the UN need more, not fewer, voices. Watch this site.

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