UN, US Official's Pitch, like Obama's Speech, Omits Darfur, Congo,
Darfur Goes Quiet at UN, US Rep on China Guns, Gration and
Gambari of 1 Mind?
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 13 -- After the UN Security Council held a meeting
about Darfur on February 11 -- it was rushed according to Sudan,
leaving only UN Peacekeeping's number three official to brief -- the
press stakeout remained empty.
presidency of the Council did not come out and summarize the closed
down discussions. The US Mission to the UN did not come out and
speak, a pattern of silence some reasons for which the Mission does
not want reported. But a Sudanese diplomat gave his version of the
background to the meeting, and U.S. Congressman Christopher H. Smith
(R-NJ) spoke exclusively to Inner City Press, calling for more to be
done, including about weapons flooding South Sudan, "coming in
from China," he said.
Inner City Press, "We should be doing more. We had Gration
speak, but it has to become a front burner issue. The Comprehensive
Peace Agreement is at risk if there is no agreement in the North."
meeting President Omar Al Bashir, "before going to Darfur. All
he talked about was lifting sanctions."
UN troop in Darfur camp, G and G not shown
asked Rep Smith if he favored or opposed the U.S. joining the
International Criminal Court. "I'm not against it, but I'm not
yet for it," he said. He said the General Wesley Clark had be
"charged with crimes against humanity" due to bombs dropped
from U.S. planes flying "over three thousand feet."
diplomat, meanwhile, told Inner City Press that the Security
Council's meeting would have made more sense later, with new UN envoy
Ibrahim Gambari, but "France wanted to rush it, before Gambari
-- so they ended up with only Mr. Titov [the #3 in UN Peacekeeping]
and not even Le Roy."
the UN Mission in Darfur UNAMID flies around a delegation from the
Arab League, for resettlement of IDPs, U.S. envoy Scott Gration
prepares to visit. At the UN, little is being said for now on the
record: it's only Sudan, and visitors. Watch this site.
* * *
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 8 -- Forty days into 2010, a self-described "United
States official" gave a background briefing to select UN
correspondents about the achievements of the U.S. at the UN in 2009,
and its priorities for 2010. In the half an hour session, there was
no mention of the word "Darfur," or even Sudan or any
country in sub-Saharan Africa. Were the region's problems all solved
in 2009, or are achievements hard to come by?
US official emphasized two 2010 priorities -- Iran and Haiti
-- and spoke proudly of
President Barack Obama's day presiding over the UN Security Council.
The official argued, when asked, that recent criticism of the
Administration's performance at the UN in 2009 came only from those
who do not like engagement or the year's achievements.
Coalition, following President Obama's State of the Union speech last
month, issued a press release expressing disappointment that Darfur
had not been mentioned, contrary they said to the Obama campaign's
statements before getting elected.
This is not
merely word- or bean-counting. The trend of speaking less about Darfur
has extended from the US Mission to the United Nations itself, as Inner
City Press has reported
on, here. In context, the US official's failure to mention Darfur
even in opening remarks to UN correspondents was surprising, news and
Enough Project and Global Witness speak about the impact on civilians
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere from the
unregulated exploitation of natural resources, by rebel groups and
even units recently integrated into the Army with which the UN
Mission, MONUC, works.
official, in half an hour including 11 questions, did not mention the
Congo, or resource exploitation. Nor were Asian human rights issues
like Myanmar and the war
crimes in Sri Lanka mentioned.
Sri Lanka was blocked from the Council's agenda by China and Russia,
which just lent Sri Lanka $300 million to buy more weapons. At the
UN, the US said very little about this as tens of thousands of Sri
Lankan civilians were killed in 2009. And Monday it was not
mentioned by the US official.
Mission controls who to invite and who to call on, after the session
a rosy reporter who was called on agreed that no sub Saharan Africa
issue was mentioned, but blamed it equally on the press corp. Only
Western Sahara and Polisario were raised, he said. Not Sudan, nor the
Congo, Zimbabwe or even Somalia.
US President Obama at Save Darfur Now -- when?
Where? UN not shown
Inner City Press, noticed the lack of claims, much less questions,
about trying to root out corruption and mismanagement and abuse in
the UN. The US used to be the only country doing this, and now it has
the head of the UN's mission
in the Congo, Alan
Doss, has supposedly been getting investigated for eight months now
about a six line e-mail in which he asked the UN Development Program
to "show leeway" and give his daughter a job. No
accountability, and not a word from the US Mission.
decision harshly criticizing
the performance of another UN Under
Secretary General, Shaaban Shaaban. The UN's own Dispute Tribunal has
ordered the UN to pay $20,000 -- perhaps by Shaaban personally --
the Ban Ki-moon administration has simply said it will appeal. No
word from the US Mission.
said that the new team doesn't disagree just for the sake of
But on issues ranging from Darfur to anti-corruption in the UN, what
were the accomplishments or even attempts in 2009? Contrary to what
the US official said, the critique is not only from the right. The
seeming lack of focus, and more importantly accomplishment, on
Darfur, Congo and Somalia, is a concern that is growing from the Left
as well. Watch this site.