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At UN, Racism Expert Drops Pakistan and Omits Myanmar like NGOs from Durban II

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 4 -- With ethnic strife raging from Eastern Congo to Kashmir, from Italy to Myanmar, the UN's expert on xenophobia and "related intolerance" tried Tuesday to not answer Press questions about specific countries. Kenyan lawyer Githu Muigai, describing himself as very involved in planning the so-called Durban II conference on racism, said that he shouldn't like to be quoted about his negotiations to visit countries.

    Inner City Press asked him, since his predecessor Doudou Diene has specifically criticized Pakistan, India and Nepal for not responding positively to requests that he visit, why he only including India and Nepal on his new list of country requests. "Pakistan did not drop off the list," Muigai insisted, without disputing that it is, in fact, no longer on the list. He offered an explanation, that if he visits India, he won't want to stay around "in the neighborhood" and create the impression that only that region has problems. Video here, from Minute 18:27.

   It should be noted that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently visited that neighborhoods and visited India and Nepal, as well as Bangladesh and the Philippines, without stopping in Pakistan. Could this be a UN trend?

  Inner City Press asked Muigai, since Myanmar has been assigned Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana, if he would be willing to try to visit to investigate the reports of the military government's oppression of minority ethnic groups. No, Muigai answered, it "would not be a very good use of resources, I would imagine the rapporteur" would bring out the information. Video here, from Minute 28:32. In the case of Tomas Ojea Quintana, who went strikingly easy on Myanmar's Than Shwe regime's human rights record, such "imagination" only harms the Burmese people.

Githu Muigai, counselor, investigator, UN special rapporteur

   That said, Muigai comes off as an able lawyer. He is representing the former foreign minister of Kenya -- while insisting that he would have no conflict in investigating the ethnic violation, Kikuyu and Luo, that occurred during the dispute Kibaki - Odinga election -- and at the same time serving as a judge. And, as noted, he is a major force in the run-up to the Durban II conference.  Already, even the preliminary funding for this sequel conference became a major issue during the December 2007 late night budget fight.

  When asked on Tuesday about Durban I, which occurred just before September 11, 2001, Muigai said that most of the problems had come from NGOs, not member states. Inner City Press asked him about the statement by the chairman of the Durban II Preparatory Conference, that the Conference "decided without a vote not to invite 33 NGOs to the first substantive session."  Muigai nodded and said it is his understanding that they are inviting only the NGOs which "need" to be there. But who then is deciding?

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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