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UN Denounces Gender Violence But Takes No Questions or Actions on Peacekeeper Abuse

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

UNITED NATIONS, November 25 -- The UN loves to celebrate itself and its good intentions. Usually, however, it at least takes questions about these. This was not followed on Tuesday, when in the name of Ending Violation Against Women, actress Nicole Kidman appeared with the UN's Ines Alberdi, who was put in charge of the UN's women's agency UNIFEM due, experts concluded, to her Spanish government's monetary contributions to the UN. 

   Only four questions were allowed, including one from People Magazine and another from a ten year old girl. This despite an overstuffed press package reciting that the applicable UN Trust Fund received applications for over $500 million, including applications from UN Country Teams themselves, and gave out $19 million. One question by Inner City Press would have been whether any UN Country Team saw fit to try to address the well known problem of abuse of women and girls by UN Peacekeepers.

   Getting the UN to try to live up to its ideals was not, however, on the agenda. Rather, questions to Ms. Kidman about what she tells her teenage daughter, and when she realized that she "had" to do this work. Outside in the hall, a large crowd had gathered to take cell phone shots of Ms. Kidman. This is all we have time for, spokesperson Michele Montas said, noting that at 1 p.m. Ms. Kidman had to present anti-violence signatures to Ban Ki-moon. Since the press conference began over 12:30, perhaps less than four speakers would have allowed for questions on the materials handed out. If, by chance, that's what the UN wanted.

Nicole Kidman and UN's Ines Alberdi, peacekeeper action and FYRO not shown

  In the seven-page handout about the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, on page 3 a grant is listed to the UN Country Team in... "Macedonia." Within the UN, this is to be called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Someone was asleep at the switch, or worse, on this and other things at UNIFEM.  Or perhaps wider: UNIFEM is administered, in its way, like the country teams, by the UN Development Program, whose Administrator on Monday went out of his way to praise Spain for its donations, which refusing comment on the UN's use of Spani's international cooperation budget funds for a $25 million ceiling in Geneva, click here for that.

News analysis: the UN seems to think that its work is always and everywhere assisted by celebrities. But often it is overshadowed. And, getting the UN names of countries right might be considered important.

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

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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