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At UN, Nepal Letters Arrive Late in Council, Dodged by Ban, Nepali Police Investigated

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 7 -- With Nepal on its agenda, the UN Security Council began closed door consultations on Tuesday morning in New York. As Philip Parham, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK, the Council's lead country on Nepal, began to speak, suddenly Nepal's letter to the Council about the future of the UN Mission UNMIN was distributed to members, sources tell Inner City Press.

  Parham immediately expressed displeasure at the letter's late arrival, the latest yet in the series of short term roll overs the Council has given to UNMIN. Major player China said it was no longer prepared to set forth its position at the meeting, but would have to study the letter.

  Meanwhile another critical letter, this one from former Nepalese Prime Ministers, was directed at Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, picking apart his latest report on Nepal. At Tuesday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq to confirm receipt of the letter, and for the Secretary General's response.

  Haq dodged the question.

UNMIN mills around in Nepal, response to critique not shown

  He referred Inner City Press to the written testimony of Ban's envoy to Nepal, Karin Landgren, which was written before the ex-Ministers' letter, signed by Ram Sharan Mahat, Nepali Congress Party, KP Sharma Oli, Communist Party of Nepal (UML), Chakra Prasad Bastola, Nepali Congress Party, and Prakash Chandra Lohani, Rastriya Janashakti Party.

  Inner City Press has obtained a copy of the former ministers' letter, and places it online here. Watch this site.

Footnote: Nepali members of a UN Formed Police Unit in Haiti are accused of a role in the death in Cap Hatien of 16 year old Haitian Gerard Jean Gilles on August 17. Inner City Press on Tuesday asked the UN about it, and was directed to a MINUSTAH Mission press release confirming that an investigation has begun. But will it be followed through?

Update of 5:29 pm -- It is predicted that the technical roll over will be only for two months, with no change of mandate. "How can we change the mandate without hearing from the Maoists?" one Council diplomat asked Inner City Press. "The Russian," he continued, "said his country appreciates the diplomatic skills of Ms. Landgren -- and she should use them."

* * *

UN's New Rape Unit Eyes Colombia, Nepal and Kabul, Congo
Trip, Menkerios Runs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 27 -- Margot Wallstrom, the UN's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, was asked Tuesday by the Press what countries outside of Africa she is looking to investigate for rape as a tool of war. She listed three: Afghanistan, Nepal and, to some surprisingly, Colombia.

  Nepal and Afghanistan are on the agenda of the UN Security Council, which Ms. Wallstrom briefed on Tuesday. But Colombia is not, and its representatives have in the past chaffed when their conflict has been mentioned even near the Council, such as by the UN's expert on children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy.

Ms. Wallstrom told Inner City Press she aims to have as many staff as "Madame Coomaraswamy's office." For now, Inner City Press has met staffers who assisted on her recent Congo trip working on a couch in front of the UN library.

  Inner City Press asked on camera when this mandate, called important by the UN, will actually have an office. Austria's Ambassador told Inner City Press his recent meeting with Wallstrom had been in "temporary quarters." Ms. Wallstrom said she is in the DC-1 building, but looking at space in what's called the Alcoa Building on 48th Street. Video here, from Minute 6:15.

  Wallstrom's first trip was to the Congo, where she said that the UN Mission should not leave. Council members are headed on a much abbreviated trip to Kinshasa on May 13. "We are staying over only one night," one attended complained to Inner City Press. "It's hard to see what we'll accomplish."

  This attendee recounted that U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, too, said her colleagues should go to Eastern Congo -- but that French Ambassador Gerard Araud, who is leading the trip, wondered why Ms. Rice would complain if she herself is not going on the trip.

UN's Ban and Ms. Wallstrom, office space, Colombia and vetting not shown

  Inner City Press asked Ms. Wallstrom if she thought one night in Kinshasa was enough for this serious issue, and also about the UN working with units of the Congolese Army which are been accused of rape, even by UN expert Philip Alston. Wallstrom said "hopefully there will be a vetting procedure." Video here, from Minute 1:46. Yeah, hopefully.

Footnote: At least Ms. Wallstrom briefed the Press. Later on Tuesday the head of the UN Mission in Sudan, Haile Menkerios, briefed the Council about the elections there. While Department of Peacekeeping Operations staff had promised a stakeout by Menkerios, he ran up the stairs from the Council, thus taking no questions.

  This may be a shame, as we are learning more and more about his posting to UNMIS, the length and replacement(s). More on this anon.

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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