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On Iraq, UN's Melkert Silent on Blackwater and Black Balling of Baath Candidates

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 16 -- What does the UN's top envoy to Iraq, Ad Melkert, have to say about the acquittal and impunity for the mercenaries of Blackwater now Xe who killed Iraqi civilians? "That is a specific case," Melkert told Inner City Press on Tuesday at the UN, "we don't advise on specific cases." Video here, from Minute 11:34.

  Inner City Press asked Melkert about a range of human rights issues in Iraq, from honor killings to executions to freedom of the press. Melkert said his Office, UNAMI, issues human rights reports every six months, "critical on several of the issues you mentioned." Video here, from Minute 6:03.

  But how can the UN be critical if, as Melkert claimed about Blackwater, the UN "doesn't advise on specific cases?"

  Melkert's main job right now is, like Kai Eide's was in Afghanistan, to try to make national elections appear credible. Inner City Press asked him about barred candidate Saleh Mutlak, who has been told he cannot run for office because he was a member of the Baath party. Mutlak says he quit in 1977, and was only goaded into saying he was still a member.

  Melkert called the grounds for exclusion "legitimate," and said the UN only advocates for transparency in the application of the rules, citing Iraq's "Accountability and Justice Law of 2008." While speaking about reconciliation, Melkert said that excluding former Baath party members is similar to what happened in Europe "after the Communist regimes."

 While Melkert told Inner City Press that the UN "has a permanent position against the death penalty" -- one that Ban Ki-moon backtracked on during his first day in office, on the subject of Iraq -- when Melkert was asked about the execution of former Baath party members, he replied, "I could not take your point on that, the way you formulated it, so I could not comment further."

Melkert and his less than democratic guards in Baghdad

  As Melkert walked away from the microphone, Inner City Press asked him if he now agrees with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's call that senior UN system officials make some minimum public disclosure of their finances. Melkert laughed and said, "You see that I" -- then signed his name in the air. "What is good is that you don't forget."

  When he was the Associate Administrator of UNDP, he came out publicly against Ban's call for financial disclosure. Video here, from Minute 37:55 through 44:41. He also said, on UN reform, "you ain't seen nothing yet." Inner City Press recounted this history for a Dutch television station tailing and filming Melkert for the day. Another correspondent criticized Melkert go along [to] get along performance in Iraq, wondering what next job he might have his eye on.

  Many in the UN grumble that Melkert "chased" fellow UN official Ibrahim Gambari out of Iraq. Now it's his show, for better or worse. Watch this site.

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Killings by Haitian National Police Ascribed to Imposters by UN, No Anti-Corruption Role, UN's Pro-Government Focus

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 11 -- The UN says it is investigating reports of summary executions by the Haitian National Police. Video here, from Minute 57:52.

Inner City Press for the second time in ten days asked acting UN chief in Haiti Edmund Mulet about the killing of alleged thieves, this time citing Haitian religious leader Max Beauvoir's account of a January 16 meeting of President Rene Preval, the Prime Minister and police chief at which "we decided we had to deal with them in an emergency way... capital punishment, automatically, for all bandits."

Mulet stammered that "we are aware of some incidents of shooting [by] private security guards... perhaps Haitian National Police members involved." But even this, he tried to convert into imposters, who stole the HNP uniforms.

  On February 1, when Inner City Press asked, Mulet said that the UN Mission MINUSTAH was "investigating" such claims. Ten days later, there are no "conclusions," he said.

  Top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy began the February 11 presentation by praising Mulet for maintaining such good relations with the Haitian government.

   How can Mulet credibly investigate and speak out against Haitian National Police killings, which Max Beauvoir said were decided on at a meeting including Rene Preval and the Prime Minister, if he is also tasked with "getting along well" with these officials?

The UN has at least two conflicting goals: to get along with the government, and to ensure that at least basic human rights are being respected. Right now the UN in Haiti appears to be paying only lip service to the second, human rights goal.

The UN need to be (made to be) much more clear about its role in Haiti. The UN has some hard working international and national civil servants in Haiti, but only if the UN admits what it cannot or will not meaningfully do will the need for others to do it become clear. Lack of clarify ill-serves the Haitian people.

UN's Ban and Mulet with Rene Preval, HNP not shown

  Inner City Press also asked about another ostensible UN role: to try to minimize corruption, so that needed donations will be made. Inner City Press asked about documented meetings with President Preval by a Florida-based business, AshBritt, which is under fire for how it got Hurricane Katrina contracts -- with Haley Barbour as a lobbyist -- and how it performed under other contracts.

  Of the meeting in which AshBritt pitched for major contracts in Haiti, Mulet said "we have nothing to do with that." Video here, from Minute 58:49. So much for an anti-corruption monitoring role for the UN. But if the UN is not going to do it, who is? Watch this site.

Footnote: Mulet also said he had no information about Haitian land owners seeking payment, now or in the future, for land used for housing, temporary and later permanent. Since aid funds are involved in this re-housing process, and the question was squarely raised to Mulet's deputy Kim Bolduc on February 8, it seemed strange that Mulet had no information three days later.  We will continue to pursue this.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

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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