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At UN, of Dressed Dogs and Ban's Beef, Nigeria Reviewed under CEDAW, Gambari's Delta Days

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

UNITED NATIONS, July 4 -- There were seventy-two women from Nigeria in a room in the UN's basement in New York, listening as a Moroccan feminist exhorted them, in French, to "defendez vous!" (defend yourselves). Nigeria was being reviewed by the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and the Islamia shari'a law in effect in the northern part of the country was much discussed. "It does not apply to non-Muslims!" a government minister, male, argued. Let's hear from the women, was the sense of the Committee.

  But who had paid to fly these seventy women to New York and put them up? The previous record was Saudi Arabia, which brought forty-some to a similar CEDAW review. "It's not necessarily just a shari'a thing," said one wag. "Maybe it's also an oil thing."

  On that, the UN allowed its Under Secretary General Ibrahim Gambari to moonlight, on his own time, as a mediator in the Niger Delta. But the rebels there have reportedly not accepted him, noting that he represented the Sani Abacha regime at the UN, including at the time of the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa. Gambari was seen this week back in New York. Next stop Myanmar?

  Pushing loudly for inclusion of Myanmar, or Burma, on the Security Council agenda is the United States, represented at the UN by Zalmay Khalilzad. On July 2, Khalilzad invited other Ambassadors and staffers, and select journalists, to his suite in the Waldorff towers for hamburgers and hot dogs. There was the Khalilzads' white dog, dressed in an American flag sweater.  There was a heated exchange between the Ambassadors of Sudan and the UK; there was a framed automatic weapon on the wall, and numerous Iraqi artifacts. As Donald Rumsfeld once said, and one attended wag paraphrased, a bit of looting is par for the course.

Amb. Khalilzad, his flag-draped dog not shown (yet)
Update 5:50 p.m. July 4 -- grateful to have received this photo:

 [con't] Speaking of hamburger, or American beef more generally, Inner City Press on July 3 asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson for his views on the standoff between South Korea, where he is, and the U.S. on mad cow disease.  From the transcript --

Inner City Press: does Mr. Ban, while he is in South Korea, does he have any intention to have American beef?  Does he have any view of that whole American beef situation?  What’s his view?

Spokesperson:  (laughter) I think he will certainly eat American beef.  I don't think he has any special theoretical view on it.  It is, of course, an issue that has really been taken very seriously in his home country, but he has no specific opinion on that.

Question:  But I think the Prime Minister, whom he knows well, bought like 18 kilograms of American beef to somehow show that it is safe, I am just wondering if he wanted to say that it’s safe or does he--

Spokesperson:  You mean whether he will eat it?  I don't have such details!  (laughter)  Thank you very much.

  But then came an AP article entitled " UN chief tells South Koreans to trust beef imports," quoting Ban that " it is very important for the people to support policies of the government and to actively have trust in the government and to ensure and support the Korean government's desire to act in accordance with international standards and agreements." Where's the beef?

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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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