MINURSO's Wake, Doubts About Van Walsum, Ripert on the
Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
April 30 -- At 11 p.m. around the microphone outside the Security
meeting on Western Sahara, the scene was pure UN: a gaggle of diplomats
a handful of journalists, with hawk-eyed UN staffers standing on the
Council president Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa called it a dark day
human rights, with France, the UK and United States opposing any
the term in the MINURSO resolution, when he said he would be fast to
to Sudan, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and "even South Africa." Inner City Press
asked Kumalo why then he hadn't called a vote on the Costa Rican
would have added human rights to the resolution. Kumalo answered, that
have sent a message that the Council is divided. But perhaps it is.
Inner City Press asked the Frente
Polisario representative if UN envoy Peter van Walsum should continue
post. Maybe he has undermined his role, and "the basic principle of
neutrality and impartiality," was the answer. To the side, van Walsum's
staffer for the Department of Political Affairs stood taking notes.
reporter asked her for comment, she turned away. That too is
that van Walsum rarely if ever takes questions about his work. Inner
asked the Polisario representative to compare his situation to that of
"I don't want to go in that direction," he said. No one does, these
Security Council in December 2005: where's
U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, in
a low and hoarse voice, explained of the resolution, "This is as far as
could go." In response to Inner City Press' question if the
had excluded non-permanent members of the Council, as Kumalo had
said that all had been consulted. But several non-permanent member
said, two days before the scheduled vote, they had not been shown the
pointed out that while the Council presidency may have been excluded,
Algerian ambassador Abdallah Baali was around all week, perhaps with
As said up top, it's pure UN. What's the point, one non-permanent
asked rhetorically, of running for a seat on the Council? In the open
Costa Rica expressed this same doubt, which Kumalo called courageous.
On the other hand, French Ambassador
Jean-Maurice Ripert ran past the stakeout without speaking. "Les droits
l'homme," the press called after him. But he was gone.
told the press he is leaving Thursday for "hiking in Nevada." Later
one wag joked, "The Matterhorn casino, no doubt." He is the funniest
of the members of the Council, even if the "I'd didn't do it" protest
needs to be updated. One day, speeches on the Council may be matched by
But today was not the day.
* * *
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