Gay Rights NGO Blocked from Consultative Status by Egypt, Qatar, Russia
and China, Turkey Abstains
June 3 -- The UN rebuffed a gay rights group on Thursday, in
a little covered bureaucratic meeting of its NGO Committee. The
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission had applied for
consultative status. Egypt, Qatar and others peppered the group with
questions, including on whether its advocacy for gay rights might
impinge on freedom of religion and of "discussion."
called for a vote. Egypt objected, saying that its questions to the
group had not been "answered in a straight way." Some in
the quarter-filled meeting room laughed. But Egypt persisted,
prevailing in placing its motion, to put the application on ice,
ahead of the US's motion for an up or down vote on giving
with the US were Romania and the UK, which to its credit called the
Inner City Press to the impending showdown. Ultimately on the vote,
only three more countries took the US / UK position: Colombia, Peru
the gay rights group's access were Egypt, Qatar, Security Council
Permanent members Russia and China, Angola, Burundi, Sudan and
Pakistan. Turkey, ever the self conscious bridge, abstained.
Egypt's Mubarak and UN's Ban, said nothing about NGO
if its questions, about whether the group sought "special rights
UK said that
allowing this block, based on repetitive questions, set a bad
precedent. Even if the group answered every single questions, the UK
said, the detractors would never be satisfied.
for now, at
least in the NGO committee, the detractors are in the majority.
City Press asked the spokesman for General Assembly president
Ali Treki for a statement. Upon taking office, Treki called
homosexuality an abomination. Now his spokesman's draft response
talks about tolerance, but has a paragraph crossed out. But at
today's UN the votes are what they are.
* * *
Libya Poised for Human Rights Council, Georgia - Russia Fight
May 12 -- There are only 14 candidates for the 14 seats on
the Human Rights Council up for election on May 13. Despite
opposition from some groups and requests by others, this almost
certainly means that each of the 14 candidates, including Libya and
Angola, will get elected to three year terms on the HRC, a body which
last year converted a draft condemning the Sri Lankan government's
murder of civilians into a final resolution praising the government.
opponents are imprisoned and disappear. In Angola, poor people are
summarily evicted to make way for projects, while oil revenue
continues to disappear. There are only two examples.
contested race that loomed for May 13 involved Iran running for a seat.
The country withdrew, however, in exchange for a spot on the UN
Commission on the Status of Women. Click here
for Inner City Press' Q&A
with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about how Iran would use that seat. US
Ambassador Susan Rice, being criticized for not opposing this Iran
seat, may speak on the topic after Thursday's vote.
the run up to
the election, Inner City Press asked the representatives of two NGOs
calling for the casting of empty ballots what they thought of the
place of human rights in the UN since Ban Ki-moon took over in 2007.
"Kofi Annan was good on these issues," replied Tom Melia of
Freedom House. "That's my answer."
UN's Ban and Gadafi, human rights off camera
Watch was more diplomatic, later providing Inner City Press with a
detailed explanation of how the voting could go on May 13. He was
responding to questions Inner City Press asked the spokesman for the
President of the General Assembly, Ali Treki of Libya:
Press: Sure, Jean Victor. There was a presentation here in the
UN by two NGOs about the upcoming vote for the Human Rights Council,
countries to be on it. Among other things, they were urging, you
know, I guess Member States, to vote against Libya and some certain
other candidates for it. But it was unclear since the regional, and
I couldn’t really get a straight answer from them how this would
work, if the regional groups put forward only you know, two names for
two African slots. If in fact a country like Libya were not to
receive the 97 affirmative votes, what would be the procedure to
actually, to fill that slot? I mean, what is, is being named by a
regional group an automatic that you get the seat or is there some,
do they have some basis to say that by choosing not to vote, this
would somehow reopen it and another country could be elected?
Victor Nkolo: I think we have to allow the General Assembly
proceedings to be implemented in the full transparency that the
Member States usually apply on these processes. Nothing is sealed,
nothing is automatic. That’s why you have a vote. And there are…
Press: The vote is for two spots, with only two candidates. What
happens if people choose not, just choose, as these two NGOs
were urging, not to vote for one of the two. Then…?
are many votes in the General Assembly and in other organs,
and in other proceedings of the UN when you have a limited number of
candidates or in some other instances, many candidates. So, we
should really not make a pronouncement on this very specific case. I
will not comment on the particular of a specific country.
Press: [inaudible] I’m asking about the procedure, because
they seem to be urging people to simply not, you know, not vote, and
that this would somehow, you know, this could have an effect, is what
they were saying. They were also saying that if people write in
another country, that under the GA rules that is not supposed to be
recorded as a vote for another, for somebody that is actually not on
the ballot. But they say that it is.
I will be very happy to do is to put you in touch with our
colleagues in the General Assembly Affairs who deal with these very
complex, intricate proceedings. But, I believe that Member States
should be given not only the chance, but also should be accepted as
partners in these proceedings and they implement it quite fairly and
transparently. If you do not have many candidates or if proceedings
lead to the conclusion that you take these are your own conclusions.
Press: What I am asking, just to be clear, I am asking, this
was done, this was inside the UN, it was Freedom House and UN Watch,
they had a list, they have a report out; may be you can ask the
President Ali Treki if has any response to this type of lobbying by
NGOs. I just wanted to, you know, it’s a procedural…
this is lobbying by NGOs. This has nothing to do with Member
States, per se. But, I will still ask the questions, and we will try
to find out on the proceedings side. But these are proceedings that
are set and that have to be implemented for the time being. I really
see no procedural problem that might have been infringed, per se.
* * *
Crimes Experts, UN Waits for "Sham" Sri Lankan Panel,
Hiding Behind Rice
May 11 -- The UN's
on May 10 that on naming a
panel of experts on war crimes in Sri Lanka Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon's wheels are turning -- or spinning -- was amplified to
City Press on Tuesday by a senior Ban official. "Now they've
come out with theirs," the UN official said, referring to the
Rajapaksa administration's announcement of a "mechanism."
will be a
sham," the UN official continues. Inner City Press asked, but
how long will it take the UN to reach that conclusion? The UN
official shrugged. "They have to appoint the members." He
paused. "Susan Rice did a very good thing," he said,
referring to US Ambassador Rice's May 10 statement on Sri Lanka.
but listed expectations which they will never meet," the UN
asked the official, as it has now asked the US State Department, what
ever came of the committee the Rajapaksa administration named in
November 2009. The official shrugged. "There is an EU statement
coming," he said.
as US Ambassador Susan Rice entered the Security Council for a
meeting on terrorism sanctions, Inner City Press began to ask for a
question about the statement issued in her name the previous day -
what does it mean for the U.S.' support of Ban Ki-moon intention
announced on March 5 to name a panel of experts to advice him on
accountability in Sri Lanka?
she was busy. Later a genial Mission staffer came to asked
what the question was -- Inner City Press rephrased it -- and said he
would go in and get an answer. But leaving the Council along with
Ambassador Rice, he said he'd have to check with the "Sri Lanka
later in the UN's North Lawn building he again
promised an answer. But still as of close of business and deadline,
none was provided. Inner City Press sent this and other questions to
an Assistant Secretary of State in Washington. Watch this site.
UN's Ban and Susan Rice, experts on war crimes not shown
Press: There is a report in Sri Lanka that the visit of Lynn
Pascoe has been delayed by the Government; that the request was made
that it be in mid-May. The Government said no. Now dates in June
have been proposed, and this article.. seems to link Pascoe’s visit
with the appointment of this Panel of Experts to advise the
Secretary-General on accountability -- meaning they wouldn’t be
named until his visit. And now the visit, according to this, has
been put off to June. Does the UN disagree with this portrayal? What is
the connection between his visit and the naming of the panel? And is
the visit not, in fact, going to take place in May despite
the wheels that you described being motion?
Martin Nesirky: Well, thank you for prompting me; the
wheels are still in motion on both the visit by Mr. Pascoe…
Press: Does the Government have the brakes on your wheels?
Well, that’s for you to ask the Government of Sri Lanka. What
I can tell you is that the UN wheels are definitely turning, and
they’re well-oiled. And what they’re turning towards is, one, a
visit by Mr. Pascoe, and, two, for the Panel of Experts that we’ve
discussed many times here.
Press: This article says that there are some connections between
the two; that that the panel would not be named before the visit is
made. I have been told by the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka
that, given changes on the ground there, no panel is needed and he
predicts that no panel will be named. So, is there any connection at
all between Mr. Pascoe’s visit and the naming of the panel that’s
now been delayed more than two months? Or not been delayed; it’s
been two months since it was announced it would happen.
Well, I don’t think that we should draw a line between
the two or to see this as cause and effect. The visit and the
composition and naming of the panel -- these are two separate
reason clarification of Ambassador Rice's statement, is sought is the
re-emergence in State Department of Samantha "Problem from Hell" Power,
who wrote the -- well, a -- book on the lack accountability for war
crimes. What does she think of the statement?
RELEASE # 083
US Ambassador Susan E. Rice on Sri Lanka's Announcement of a
Commission on Lessons Learned and Reconciliation
Government welcomes President Rajapaksa's announcement of his
intention to establish a Commission on Lessons Learned and
Reconciliation to examine key aspects of the recently ended conflict
in Sri Lanka and his acknowledgment in doing so that accountability
for serious violations of international humanitarian law is a crucial
pillar of national reconciliation and the rule of law. Experience in
other countries has shown that commissions of inquiry can play a
valuable role in advancing accountability when they are appropriately
constituted and enjoy broad public support. Particularly important
in this regard, broad experience has shown that to be effective in
advancing accountability and reconciliation, commission members
should be and be perceived as independent, impartial and competent;
their mandate should enable them fully to investigate serious
allegations of violations and to make public recommendations;
commission members and potential witnesses must enjoy adequate and
effective protection; the commission must receive adequate resources
to carry out its mandate; and the Government should undertake to give
serious consideration to its recommendations. We hope the commission
will also reflect the desires and requests of the citizens of Sri
Lanka, who were the primary victims of the conflict. Being responsive
to their needs will be an important measure of the commission's
success. In light of these general principles, we would welcome the
Sri Lankan Government's commitment to give the Commission on Lessons
Learned and Reconciliation a mandate to probe violations of
international standards during the final stages of the conflict and
to identify those responsible and, we would expect, to make
appropriate public recommendations based on its findings.
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
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
S-453A, UN, NY 10017
Inner City Press are listed here,
and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
Inner City Press, Inc. To request
reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]