At UN, Obama Inauguration Causes Work Halt, Jokes, More
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
January 20 -- Much of the UN in New
York came to a halt for the inauguration of Barack Obama. In the
Lounge around a big screen TV a crowd gathered, including the
Switzerland, Rwanda, the Netherlands and Mauritania,
where the same Permanent
Representative remains from before the coup d'etat.
As on the
screen Joe Biden repeated
lines from Justice John Paul Stevens, there was a smattering of
applause in the
UN Delegates' Lounge. It erupted when Obama, after stumbling, took the
office. "Finally," someone in the crowd exclaimed. Expectations in
the UN are high, probably too high, as elsewhere.
"America is a friend of each nation," Obama intoned,
"ready to lead once more." But of what will such leadership consist?
Already his Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has said the time is not
UN Peacekeepers in Somalia, despite the chaos there. Obama's statements
have left many at the UN disappointed.
Barack Obama and Ban Ki-moon in 2007, changes not
spoke, General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann and his
passed by in the hall. Inner City Press went out and asked the PGA
about the January
16 vote on Gaza, in which Nicaragua and nine nations,
including Syria, Venezuela, Ecuador and Indonesia, voted to sideline an
Egyptian and European Union resolution about Gaza. This happens
when you are
caught in the middle, the spokesman said, promising to get back with
directly from d'Escoto.
had stopped to speak
with d'Escoto. Inner City Press stopped him as well, expressing
seeing Indonesia in the Axis of Ten. He laughed and said his votes are
based on how others vote, but the situation on the ground. When asked
Obama, he laughed again. Previously he noted to Inner City Press how
Obama is in his country, based on living their for a time as a child.
in the hall in the middle of Obama's speech were, among others, the
of Ghana and Burkina Faso; arriving late were their counterparts from
Rica and Morocco. Down in the UN's basement in the NGO Committee --
continued meeting during the inauguration -- a human rights NGO is
by Algeria for its human rights complaints. The US representative
Committee told Inner City Press on January 19 that he is waiting from
instructions from Washington, for what will now be a January 23 vote.
instructions change, based on Obama's entry?
Ambassador stayed past the end of the inauguration, the poem, the flash
Clinton looking like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. A cynic from West
up, commenting on the tableau of the Obama and Bush couples. "The
and the Devil," he said, "except this time the angel is black and the
Devil is white."
Press asked Kigali's envoy about the current assault on the remaining
rebels in the Congo. Is the UN Mission involved? Yes, he said, on the
side of the
Congolese government. At Tuesday's UN "noon" briefing, held early in
deference to Obama, spokesperson Michele Montas had told Inner City
Mission, MONUC, is not involved at all.
got on the helicopter which rose into the air. "Do you know where
going?" the cynic asked. Inner City Press and the Rwandan Ambassador
waited to hear. The answer came,
Click here for
Inner City Press' news analysis earlier on Tuesday about what the
incoming Obama Administration may mean for top UN officials from the
US, particularly UNICEF's Ann Veneman. A press conference by her would
seem in order.
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
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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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
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