UN Ban Calls for Action for S. Korean Homeland, Silence on Slaughters
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 26 -- Since Ban Ki-moon has been UN Secretary General,
he has said little to nothing about matters in the purview of the
Security Council, and even in the face of the slaughter of tens of
thousands of civilians he has merely urged caution and restraint, not
even a ceasefire.
when a South
Korean ship is sunk killing 46 sailors, Ban Ki-moon comes out on the
side of his native South Korea, calling the evidence against North
Korea troubling, and urging the Security Council to take action.
Ban had tried
to say that though it is his "homeland," he will try to be
objective, it is worth comparing his reaction to the killing of
thousands of civilians in Sri Lanka to the killing of 46 South
Koreans military employees.
reports about Sri Lanka, as leaked to and published by Inner City
Press, enumerated thousands of civilians killed by the government.
Still Ban Ki-moon never called for Council action, nor for a
46 South Korean
deaths, Ban accepts a non-UN report as definitive truth, and calls
for Council action.
UN's Ban and SKorea's Lee, Council action not
yet shown, but call made by Ban
officials and staff members have approached Inner City Press, asking
what Ban Ki-moon is doing. Inner City Press first asked Ban Ki-moon's
South Korean Associate Spokesperson. After receiving no response, at
the May 26 noon briefing Inner City Press asked:
City Press: it may be on this theme of prejudgement, but some have
questioned whether the Secretary-General has viewed the statements of
the Republic of Korea and of the Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea sort of equally in the sense of like South Korea said this ship
was sunk by North Korea. North Korea has said “we deny it”. Countries
have taken sides and said that “we side with North
Korea”, I mean, excuse me, with South Korea, we believe them. Some
other countries have said, let’s wait and see.
Martin Nesirky: Which countries?
City Press: For example, China. China has said “let’s wait and
see”. So, I guess my question would be, I mean, one, does the
Secretary-General, does he view the statements of Republic of Korea
and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea equally? Has he, as some
say, sort of taken sides in the matter? And reached a conclusion?
Well, first of all, let’s be very clear on this. This
investigation and the results of that investigation, this is not
simply an investigation done by the Republic of Korea. This was done
by an international group of investigators, including 24 non-South
Korean experts. This was an extremely thorough investigation, and
the Secretary-General was extremely cautious waiting until the
results of that international investigation had been announced. So
it’s not as if he jumped precipitously into this. And he waited to
see what the results of what was clearly a serious and objective
investigation into a serious incident. And of course, it’s the
Secretary-General’s duty to be objective; but not to sit on the
fence on all issues. And you know very well that he has expressed —
he consistently expresses — strong concern on any number of
worrisome events taking place in many different parts of the world. And
he does that frequently. That’s his job. And this is a very
City Press: Well, just one follow-up. He seemed to say in his press
conference that he has confidence that the Security Council will take
measures appropriate to the gravity of the situation. This seems to
prejudge that the Council will in fact take the matter up, whereas in
other circumstances he says it’s totally up to the Council to take,
I mean, I am just wonder… I am just asking because I think
questions are out there. But is he assuming that the Council will
take it up? Is he expressing a preference that the Council take it
up and issue either a presidential statement or a resolution?
He has made his views
clear on that, and I don’t need to repeat
City Press: So I mean, he has power under Article 99 to actually
raise things to the Council. Is that something he would…?
Any Secretary-General has power under Article 99 indeed to raise
issues where he believes that the maintenance of peace and security
are threatened. However, the Republic of Korea has already said that
it’s going to take this to the Security Council. So that I don’t
think it’s a moot point at this stage, I think, Matthew…
City Press: [inaudible] not members, they can say they intend to
take it, but…
They can intend to take it and I think you’ve heard at least one
permanent member of the Security Council saying that they would
support the Republic of Korea in doing that.
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Seoul Accuses Pyongyang, Ban Reacts After Obama, But Will Not Take to
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 19, updated -- On the sinking of South Korea's ship
proverbial other shoe dropped on Wednesday evening, New York time.
The South Korean government formally accused North Korea of sinking
the ship with a torpedo, and killing 46 sailors on board. The finding
had been telegraphed the day before by South Korea's foreign
minister, who said there was little doubt that North Korea did.
the UN noon
briefing on May 19, Inner City Press asked
Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky for a comment:
City Press: Can I ask about [the Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea]? I am figuring you will have an if-asked on this
The Foreign Minister of [the Republic of Korea] has said that there
is little doubt that [The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is
responsible for the sinking of that ship and the killing of the
sailors. What is the Secretary-General — given his interest,
obviously, in the peace in the peninsula — what does he, does he
have any comment on that?
has obviously been following this situation with concern and he has
seen the comments reported in the media today. We will have to
await the official report, which is expected to be forthcoming
tomorrow from the Republic of Korea before we can make any further
the morning of
May 19, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon himself about Korea,
albeit about reports that the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of
Expression Frank La Rue said he was tailed around by the country's
intelligence service. I have seen the press reports, Ban genially
answered. Then he gave a pun-laden talk about distracted driving.
on May 19,
after 6 p.m., Nesirky was seen in the UN's new North Lawn building
with Ban's top political advisor, the American Lynn Pascoe. And so,
when South Korea made its announcement and the White House in
Washington already had a statement out, Inner City Press asked
Nesirky for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's response.
coming shortly," Nesirky wrote at 10:15 pm. Twelve minutes
later, 22 minutes after the White House statement, Nesirky commented
Secretary-General has learned of the results of the investigation
into the sinking of the Cheonan naval ship of the Republic of Korea
with a heavy heart and serious concern. The Secretary-General
appreciates the restrained and patient efforts of the Government of
the Republic of Korea to investigate this incident in an objective
and scientific manner by both domestic and international
The facts laid out in the report are deeply
troubling. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, he will
continue to closely follow developments. The Secretary-General takes
this opportunity to express once again his deep sadness over the loss
of the sailors. He also extends his heartfelt sympathy to the
bereaved families as well as to the people and the Government of the
Republic of Korea.
Ban's call for an investigation of 46 deaths by "international
experts" with his reluctance, even in the face of calls by the
International Crisis Group, Amnesty International and Human Right
Watch, to call for any outside review of the killing by the Sri
Lankan government last week of tens of thousands of civilians. Others
might point out that this is a cross border incident, not as Ban
seems to view Sri Lanka's bloodbath on the beach, a merely internal
really, can or will be taken on North Korea? The U.S. is said to want
to keep Kim Jong-Il in power, at least for now, for fear of unknown
forces gaining control of Pyongyang's weapons.
this year dispatched his senior advisor Kim Won-soo and Pascoe to
North Korea. They came back with surprisingly upbeat reports about
the potential for rapprochement. And now?
UN's Ban and South Korea's Lee, Ban and OSSG in UN
Council not seen
the morning of
May 19, Inner City Press asked another of Ban's spokespeople, with
even great knowledge of Korea than Mr. Nesirky, who covered the
Peninsula for Reuters, if Ban would consider raising the matter to
the Security Council pursuant to his powers under Article 99 of the
UN Charter. No, was the answer. Inner City Press has sought
confirmation and explanation from Nesirky, but at press time it had
not yet been received. Watch this site.
perhaps relatedly, Nesirky on May 19 confirmed that he and his
Office, unlike prior to April 2010, do not have access to any of the
Security Council's closed consultations. On May 19 Inner City Press asked
City Press: can you confirm that the Chief of Staff, Vijay Nambiar,
did write a letter to the Council when this issue first came up, and
can you say whether the Council responded? It just seems
strange that you have… when you say “your office”, was there a
response made to the Executive Office of the Secretary-General,
saying that they could enter but your Office could not, as we
Spokesperson Nesirky: I
repeat what I have said. My Office has not been directly
informed; this does not mean — and I have said it here, too —
this does not mean that we have not been trying. And when I say
“we”, that means the Executive Office of the Secretary-General as
well, trying to understand and to have a clear answer. But I
personally have not received a clear answer.
is hard to think this will be helpful for this Secretary General to
raise or monitor the North Korea -- or DPRK as Nesirky is always
quickly to point out -- issues in the Security Council. Watch this
of 10:57 p.m. -- Mr. Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky has responded to
questions about Special Rapporteur La Rue being tailed by
intelligence agents, and whether Mr. Ban would use his powers under
Article 99 of the UN Charter to raise the issue to the Council with
this stage I would add that we need to follow developments closely
before we make any further comment - the findings are only just out."
Beijing the vice foreign minister of China has called the sinking
"unfortunate," but has similarly declined to address the
specifics of South Korea's report and accusation. Watch this site.
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