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UN "Cannot Protect," Nor Call a Coup a Coup, on Madagascar, News of Daewoo's Deal

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

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- The UN "does not have the capacity actually to provide protection to anybody," the Organization's Assistant Secretary General Haile Menkerios told the Press on April 7, the 15th anniversary of the beginning of the genocide in Rwanda.

  He was referring to the protection provided earlier this year to the then-opposition leader in Madagascar, which he said was the responsibility of "partners on the ground" -- most say, France's embassy. Inner City Press asked about the UN's role in the coup d'etat, and why the UN Secretariat refused to call the military overthrow of an elected president a coup. Video here, from Minute 1:57.

  Menkerios said it is not up to the Secretary-General to designate or condemn a coup, only to opine that the change was neither constitutional nor democratic. Menkerios was noticeably well informed about a major business deal in Madagascar, South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics' lease of 1.2 million hectares of land to grow palm oil and wheat. He said that Daiwoo had "already declared it had withdrawn" from the pact before those who overthrew the president claimed credit for canceling the deal. Video here, from Minute 10:42.

UN's Ban and Menkerios, coup and Daewoo not shown

  The question remains, did Daewoo demonstrate corporate social responsibility in cutting such a deal with a president widely viewed as monopolizing not only political but also economic power on the island?

  Inner City Press asked Menkerios to speak about another Africa issue discussed in the Security Council's closed door consultations on Tuesday, Eritrea - Djibouti. With a look that other reporters described as "uncomfortable" -- video here from Minute 10:27 -- Menkerios said that since he did not do the briefing on that issue, he could not discuss it. It does at least geographically fall within his portfolio. If he is disqualified, then what of Ban Ki-moon's stated "disappointment" in North Korea's rocket launch?

  Click here for a new YouTube 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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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