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At UN, China Complains Its Name Was Erased, Blair By Video Only, Croatia Takes No Questions

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 11 --A generally slow day at the UN ended in the General Assembly not with a whimper but a bang as China insistently complained about mistreatment by the UN Secretariat. After Turkey intervened to clarify it had erroneously been listed as the sponsor of a resolution with which it does not agree, China said the opposite, that it had wished to be a sponsor but was denied.

   The Tanzanian Ambassador, chairing the plenary meeting, asked the Secretariat for an explanation. There is no evidence of any sponsorship by the delegation at issue, was the flowery but terse ruling. And then the Tanzanian Ambassador gaveled the meeting closed.

The Chinese representative raised his voice, asking for translation, and said he personally had gone on December 10 to the 29th floor of UN Headquarters, to be listed as a sponsor. There a woman he called Donna but others phonetically call Nada told him the forms were not available, but took down China's request. On December 11, China was not told that any more information was need. "No voicemails," he said. And then the failure to be listed.

  The Tanzanian Ambassador spoke again, saying the further explanations would be forthcoming. For weeks Inner City Press has asked that the head of the unit at issue, Shaaban Shaaban of the Department of General Affairs and Conference Management, come and give a briefing, answer question. Still he has not done so. Will Thursday's incident finally result in the requested briefing? We'll see.

   Even when questions are supposed to be answered at the UN, often they are not. At the end of the morning's Security Council session, this month's president, Croatia's Neven Jurica, came to the stakeout microphone and read out a statement about Guinea-Bissau. When he was finished,  he immediately started to walk away from the microphone. Inner City Press immediately said, "Can I ask you a question?" But he did not turn back. Even a recalcitrant President earlier this year used to wave or shrug apologetically. So far, December has been the most silent month, in terms of Council Presidency.

Croatia's Neven Jurica, answers on Tony Blair not shown

  The question Inner City Press wanted to ask was about Tony Blair of the Middle East Quartet. At Amb. Jurica's opening of the month press conference, Inner City Press asked if Blair had been invited to brief the Council. At first Amb. Jurica indicated yes, then he switched to no. Now Inner City Press is told that two letters exist, one to Blair and one by Blair, saying he will not come until February.

  At the December 11 UN briefing, Inner City Press asked if Blair will be physically attending the December 15 meeting of the Quartet in New York. The following came in response:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
To: Inner City Press
Sent: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 12:32 pm
Subject: Your questions about participants at the Quartet meeting on 15 December

In addition to the normal principals (the SG, Ms. Rice, Mr. Lavrov, Mr. Solana and Ms. Ferrero-Waldner), it is also likely that Foreign Minister Kouchner will attend the meeting and that Tony Blair will participate by video-link. But details remain to be confirmed.

  Some in the Security Council say that Blair is not coming to New York so as to avoid having to brief the Council. But who works for whom?

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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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