UN, US Official's Pitch, like Obama's Speech, Omits Darfur, Congo,
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.
* * *
UN, Nigerian Minister Dodges Heat on His Mandate, Aid to Myanmar
Regime, Tax and Parking Tickets: on Auto Pilot
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 22 -- Nigerian Foreign Minister Chief Ojo Maduekwe
brought a $1.5 million check for Haiti to the UN's Ban Ki-moon in New
York on Friday. Afterwards Inner City Press asked him about Nigeria's
previous bilateral grant of $500,000 to the military government in
Myanmar, months after Cyclone Nargis hit that country.
Nigeria's policy, and what follow up had there been on the Myanmar
regime's use of the $500,000? Video here, from Minute 6:22.
the money had gone straight to Myanmar's government so as to be a
"speedy response." But it was months after the cyclone.
Here, Ojo Maduekwe here, the Secretary General made a flash appeal.
But that was also true in Myanmar. Click here for
Inner City Press' first, exclusive story.
said, "it's not that what we did last time was wrong, just that
asked if the Minister had spoken with his President at all during the
weeks he has been in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. Video here,
from Minute 5:35. Ojo Maduekwe said no, he had not been able to
speak with the President, but he feels he is carrying out his
on Friday, as
Inner City Press moderated a second session of Ojo Maduekwe with
reporters, Omoyele Sowore asked how Ojo Maduekwe could thus claim to
have a mandate, adding that he had supported Sani Abacha.
called the question disrespectful and said he would not answer it.
But see video here.
Inner City Press, as moderator, re-phased the question, and asked Ojo
Maduekwe to answer. He did, at length, arguing that while picked
by the President, he represents his region, and the Federal
Government of Nigeria.
this question: if Sudan's Omar al Bashir visited, who would decided
to enforce the International Criminal Court warrant or not?
asked Ojo Maduekwe if he had discussed with Ban Ki-moon the violence
at Jos, and the plight of Nigerians in the Bakassi Peninsula. Ojo
Maduekwe said that the crackdown in Jos showed that mediation by the
government is over, now it is about law, order and punishment.
UN's Ban and Ojo
Maduekwe, Myanmar and Bakassi follow up not shown
reported extra judicial execution of the leader of Boko Haram (No
Western Education), Inner City Press asked if any human rights
investigation had been done. "Same answer," Ojo Maduekwe
said, adding, "due process."
Cameroon's president's response and said he would be meetin with him
next week. But what about the UN's role? The question was asked
recently by the Press at a UN noon briefing, but never answered.
Inner City Press also asked Ojo Maduekwe about the back parking
tickets and real estate taxes the Nigerian Mission and diplomats in
New York own, click here
for Inner City Press' previous story.
Maduekwe on camera said his Permanent Representative Ms. Joy Ogwu
would briefing him and Nigeria will "do what is right"
after "I take administrative action." Video here, from
on Monday he
called it an administrative matter and referred another reporter to
the Mission, where they channel the questions to their lawyer. What
was that again, about doing what is right? Watch this site.
front of the
Nigerian Misssion on Friday morning was a protest, of the "missing"
President. "If you see him, call 1-800," a toll free
number, one sign said. Next door on 44th and 2nd is a soup cart run
by Azim of Afghanistan, with tasty lamb and lentil soup for four
dollars, bread included. If Azim pays his taxes in the City of New
York, why can't Nigeria?
* * *
Loses Focus on Darfur, Pushes to Silence Questions of it Climate
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 20, updated
-- Darfur, which along with climate change used
to be called the UN's and Ban Ki-moon's top priorities, has fallen
further by the roadside.
Days ago, the UN's
own broadcaster in Sudan,
Miraya FM, reported that "the Sudan Liberation Movement
(SLM)-Abdul Wahid Nour Faction called on the United Nations/African
Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to intervene and rescue civilians
from aerial bombings [by the] Sudan Armed Forces in Kutum, North
in New York, Mr. Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky has for the past week
resisted in noon briefings taking any questions except about Haiti,
telling Inner City Press "today I'm sticking to Haiti." So
Inner City Press asked UN top peacekeeper Alain Leroy about the
Darfur report, at the end of a briefing on Haiti on January 18, but
has yet to receive any answer.
January 20, Mr.
Nesirky said he would at last take non Haiti question. Inner City
Press asked about Darfur and climate change (but was cut off from
asking if the UN is doing anything about the 400 killed and 4000
displaced in ethnic and religious clashes in Jos, Nigeria. Ironically, subsequent to this cut-off,
the UN Secretariat prepared, approved and issued a canned statement on
report, by the UN's own radio station and on its ReliefWeb.int,
Nesirky said he hasn't heard of it. On climate change, when Inner
City Press asked about a quote
in the UK Guardian by top US climate
negotiator Jonathan Pershing that it is "impossible to imagine a
negotiation of enormous complexity where you have a table of 192
countries involved in all the detail."
that Mr. Ban had seen the Guardian interview, and that Pership had
been contacted and said he was misquoted. The Guardian, however, has
not run any correction, and it is unclear if Pershing or the UN has
would have asked, but Nesirky insisted that no further questions
could be asked at the briefing. (He said it could be asked
afterwards, but as noted he has left unanswered for weeks numerous
questions Inner City Press has emailed to him, and even some asked
during the briefings this year.)
Press and UN's Nesirky, watching TV, Miraya FM and
Darfur not shown
would also have asked, on Sudan, about the death sentences just
imposed on JEM rebels for the attack on Omdurman, on the "sacking"
of numerous governors in the run up to an election the UN said it
cared about, as well as other questions -- but Mr. Nesirky permitted
no more questions, even after a week.
the UN says
it was able to procure a statement by Pershing that his seemingly
anti-UN statement was misquoted, one wonders if the UN saw one of its
Darfur experts on Al Jazeera last week, calling "extremist"
those who say that Omar al Bashir should actually being put on trial
in The Hague, where he has been indicted. Is that now UN policy? Or
is the UN just not paying attention? Watch this site.
of Jan 20, 6 p.m. -- better late than never, two days after
then after a second ask, this was provided:
Re: Follow-up on your questions
DPKO at UN.org
Inner City Press
1/20/2010 5:51:16 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
is information from DPKO concerning Darfur:
of fighting between GoS forces and SLA/AW fighters around Insuru area
on 16 January, UNAMID team conducted a security assessment patrol to
the area on 17 January. The team visited the scene of attack at
Furoge village (40km northwest of Kutum) and interacted with the
SLA/AW commanders and locals who reported that on 16 January, at
about 12:00 hours, GoS military supported by Arab Militia from Dowa
(13km northwest of Kutum) and Birmaza (53km northwest of Kutum)
launched an attack at Furoge market area. During the attack, 15
locals were reported killed and 20 others injured. On 18 January,
UNAMID Team Site in Kutum carried out humanitarian assistance in the
area and offered medical treatment to critically injured patients at
Furuge Clinic. The team site also plans to supply water to residents
have more on this, watch this site.
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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