At UN, Kouchner
Speaks On Sri Lanka to Select Reporters, IMF and Tariff Views Not
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
May 11, updated -- In the
face of the weekend's bloodbath on the beach in Sri
Lanka, the UN Security Council had its more throw-away meeting yet on
the topic, not even an informal Council session, without members such
as China and Russia, the Council's president this month. In April,
the Council met in the UN basement in informal interactive sessions,
with all 15 members present and a common statement at the end.
Monday, only some members went up to a meeting room booked at the
last minute on the UN”s 33rd floor.
The basement “wasn't
available,” a Permanent Five member's spokesperson told Inner City
Press. No list of the NGOs participating was available. Inner City
Press asked U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice about Sri Lanka. She said she
would be attending the meeting. Inner City Press asked if she would
speak publicly on the topic after the meeting. Maybe, was the answer.
As of 3 p.m., it had not happened.
meeting, the foreign ministers of France, the UK and Austria came
down to the microphone in front of the Council. Inner City Press
directed a question at France's Bernard Kouchner, whether he would
use the expiration of the European Union's favorable tariff treatment
for Sri Lankan textiles, the so-called GSP Plus, as a way to try to
protect civilians from government bombing as took place over the
The answer came
from the UK's Miliband, that “Sri Lanka does not want to isolate
itself from the international community... Sri Lanka depends to some
extent on trade with the European Union [so] the human rights aspects
of the discussion are taken seriously, by the European Commission at
this stage.” Only then did Kouchner answer, that “Benita
Ferrero-Waldner has been involved.”
stakeout was over, Kouchner was spirited to one side of the stakeout,
and security officers let some reporters through and not others.
France's Kouchner behind men in suits, excluded
press not shown
City Press was blocked, physically, by French Ambassador
Jean-Maurice Ripert. “You just had him,” Ripert said. “He can
talk to the French press, can't he?” Inner City Press nodded.
Behind Ripert were numerous non-French reporters and publications,
from New York, London, Tokyo and elsewhere. Some Ripert had reached
into the crowd and pulled in. “I don't want you to use that,”
Ripert insisted, pointing at the recorder Inner City Press was
holding. “We work well, right?”
heard to say, Devant nous, des milliers -- “right in front
of us, thousands,” presumably meaning civilians, killed on or near
the beaches of north east Sri Lanka. At this same location, Ripert
had told the Press that while the American want to play with the IMF
loan, France wants to stop the violence. That hasn't worked. Now the
UK is on record tying the IMF loan to the conflict, and speaking
about the EU tariffs. And France? Watch this space: when we are
informed of France's views, they will be published on this site. The French mission suggests http://www.franceonu.org/spip.php?article3903
May 7, Inner City Press
asked Associate UUN Spokesperson Farhan Haq:
City Press: I wanted to ask about this invitation that’s been made
to the Secretary-General to visit Sri Lanka. First I wanted to ask
if on Monday when he met with the Ambassador of Japan, whether he was
briefed on a visit by Mr. [Yasushi] Akashi to Sri Lanka and was urged
by Japan that he should take this visit. And I also wanted to know
whether he would be in New York 11 May for the Middle East debate,
and 15 May to meet with the Chinese diplomats, that in fact this is
one reason that he is considering not going, as I have been told by
senior Secretariat staff.
Spokesperson Haq: Well, first of all, we don’t announce the trips
of the Secretary-General until they are close to occurring. And in
that regard, I don’t have anything to announce about a trip to Sri
Lanka at this stage. At the same time, as Michèle told you
yesterday, and is still true for today, if the Secretary-General
believes that visiting Sri Lanka can have an impact in terms of
saving lives there, he will certainly try to go. So he is
considering that. But part of what he is studying is what the impact
of a potential trip would be.
City Press: But if he had that belief, that would be without regard
to attending the 11 May Middle East thing or the 15 May meeting with
the Chinese diplomats? I am told that’s a major factor in his
Spokesperson: Scheduling is a separate issue. What we’re talking
about is the decision of whether or not to go. And certainly if he
can make a difference and can save civilian lives, which is what his
priority has been on this case, then he will go. At present, we
don’t have anything to announce at all in this regard, though.
Question: Just one last
one on that. I wanted to know, can you at least
confirm that he met with Ambassador Takasu on Monday in his office
inside the Security Council? Can you give a read-out of that meeting
and say why it wasn’t on his public schedule?
Spokesperson: I can confirm that he met with the Permanent
Representative of Japan. He did that, yes. It was in his office in
the Security Council. We don’t provide readouts of meetings with
Question: And why wasn’t
it on the schedule?
Spokesperson: It came up all of a sudden when he had a bit of free
time in between other appointments on a fairly hectic day.
Ban Ki-moon is working on his issues as a trip to Manama, Bahrain,
after a news-less trip to Malta, the killing of civilians accelerates
in Sri Lanka. On Friday
May 8, Inner City Press asked Deputy
City Press: On the invitation by the Government of Sri Lanka to the
Secretary-General to visit, is there any progress in thinking? In
the alternative, is the Secretary-General, is he considering invoking
Article 99 or responsibility to protect or making some other move of
some type on the situation in Sri Lanka?
Spokesperson: I have nothing beyond what we’ve been saying from
this podium this week on Sri Lanka, including what the
Secretary-General himself has said earlier this week.
What Ban said
did not involve calling for a cease-fire, did not respond to the
invitation to visit Sri Lanka, or the accelerating rate of civilians
death over the weekend, during which no statement issued about Sri
Lanka. Watch this site.
4 in the UK with allegations of rape and
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 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.
* * *
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.
2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request
reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]