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At UN, Good Office on Myanmar Unit Works Instead on Island, Tonga, Sources Say, Nambiar Did Not Visit Burma

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 10, updated -- Before and now after Myanmar's November 7 election, the UN's Good Office on Myanmar unit under Vijay Nambiar has remained full of propaganda but increasingly empty of staff.

  Three days after the election, widely viewed as fraudulent, Inner City Press asked the UN's acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about criticism of Nambiar's work, and to confirm or deny the transfer of Good Office on Myanmar staff time to other UN Department of Public Affairs (DPA) projects in Asia oversee by Tamrat Samuel.

  Haq said he would “not confirm” the transfer of staff time, but read out a prepared statement about and perhaps by Nambiar, referring on Myanmar to the “next phase of its transition” and saying the leaders “in the past year failed to respond to [UN] efforts to be engaged.” Video here, from Minute 8:50.

  The fact remains that Nambiar has not been to Myanmar, despite heading the Good Office on Myanmar unit.

  Perhaps because the unit has done so little, despite its establishment as a stand alone unit by the General Assembly, Inner City Press is told that staff and staff time of the Good Office on Myanmar unit have been transferred for example to work concerning an upcoming election on a small island, sources say.

  The island work of the UN Department of Political Affairs is hardly transparent: while Tonga has not made any formal requests for UN help -- directing those instead to such countries as New Zealand -- apparently fungible UN DPA staff are  analyzing the likelihood of violence as 147 candidates vie for 17 seats in Parliament, to be followed by the election or selection behind closed doors of a Prime Minister. If there is a tie, there will be the toss of a coin.

That would be more fair than Myanmar's election, in which for example the NLD party of Aung San Suu Kyi did not participate.

Voting in Tonga, Myanmar polling and violence not shown

 ASSK is slated for belated release on November 13 -- if it happens, little thanks are expressed to the UN's Good Office on Myanmar unit, with its eyes on a far away coin toss.

   The Good Offices on Myanmar unit is being reviewed in the UN's Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, as a special political mission. ACABQ officials have been told about the diversion of the units resources to other uses, and have been directed to the UN's "Teachers' Building" swing space and the office of Tamrat Samuel. Now, this Tonga work bears looking into. Watch this site.

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At UN on Myanmar, Critique of Nambiar, Plea for Refugees in Thailand, Council Delay

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 9 -- In the months leading to Myanmar's military heavy election on November 7, the UN's supposed envoy to Myanmar Vijay Nambiar was not in the country once. This was noted on November 9 at the UN by Thaung Htun, who called on Nambiar to belatedly “go to the region” and try to gain entrance. “The UN need to reactivate its role,” Htun told Inner City Press.

  With Htun was Gum San Nsang, representing the Kachin National Organization, who said darkly that the Kachin Independence Army will “no longer limit the war to the jungle.” A self described Burmese journalist asked him if that means “urban warfare,” but he would not elaborate.

Inner City Press asked about the plight of those who fled into Thailand to escape the fighting between the government and elements of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army under Commander Saw Lah Pwe.

The General Secretary of the Karen National Union Zipporah Sein said they are still in harm's way; the Burmese journalist opined that CNN's reporting that the people had returned to Myawaddy was incorrect. Khin Maung Nyein added that many people were taken back to the Burmese border, then told to turn back, leaving them in “no man's land.”

Earlier on November 9, in front of the Security Council Inner City Press learned that despite the fighting and refugee flow, the Council is unlikely to hold a meeting this week or perhaps even next.

UN's Nambiar at Korean Pavillion at Shanghai Expo, Myanmar not shown

  The thinking of the Western countries on the Council is that they want to wait to see if Aung San Suu Kyi is in fact released. But what about the fighting and fleeing? We'll see.

Footnote: Also in front of the Security Council on November 9, Inner City Press learned that Mexico had raised in closed door consultations the escalating violence in Western Sahara. The Council's president for November, the UK's Mark Lyall Grant, has been charged with conferring with UN envoy Christopher Ross and others and coming up with a day for a briefing. Meanwhile there have been deaths. Watch this site.

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On Myanmar, Ban Ignores Quintana's Call for Inquiry, Daewoo Win-Win Unanswered

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 21 -- While on Myanmar the UN's own Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana has called for a Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on October 12 issued a report on human rights in Myanmar, A/65/367, which did not even mention the Commission of Inquiry idea, or accountability.

  On October 21, Inner City Press asked Quintana to honestly assess the Secretary General's performance on Myanmar. Quintana said “you cannot ask me to tell him what to do,” but also acknowledged the absence of the commission of inquiry idea or accountability from Ban's report.

  Quintana said he had met with Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar -- not with Ban, who will however be in his office in New York on October 22 -- and discussed not only the November 7 election but also “justice and accountability.”

  Since Nambiar has played a role in Ban setting up a purported Panel of Experts into war crimes in Sri Lanka which has no investigative powers, no spokesperson and no presence, Inner City Press asked Quintana is this is what he has in mind for Myanmar.

Quintana said he has in mind the “finding of facts” -- expliclitly NOT what Ban's Sri Lanka panel is about -- but then diplomatically said that perhaps the Sri Lanka panel is a model.

  He also after Inner City Press asked about the plight of the Rohingya diplomatically thanked the Myanmar military government for cooperating and allowing him to “meet political prisoners” -- but not Aung San Suu Kyi.

   Inner City Press asked for Quintana's view on multinational corporations' engagements with the Myanmar junta, including Total, Toyota and South Korea's Daewoo. Quintana said that corporations might become complicit.

Quintana on Oct 21 on accountability, Ban Ki-moon not shown

Ban Ki-moon when he was South Korea's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that a Daewoo pipeline across Myanmar was a “win win” proposition. Inner City Press has asked Ban's Spokesperson's Office to get from Ban whether he still views it this way, without avail. Watch this site.

  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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