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On Haiti, UN Council Members Blame Aristide, Blur Sex Abuse, Pitch Development

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

UNITED NATIONS, April 6 -- In the run-up to a Haiti donors' conference on April 14, the UN Security Council heard speeches for five hours on Monday. Afterwards, Inner City Press asked Hedi Annabi, the chief of the UN's mission in Haiti MINUSTAH, about collapsed school buildings, UN peacekeepers returned to Sri Lanka charged with sexual abuse, and the food price riots of a year ago. Video here.

  Annabi said that one third of Haitian still suffer from malnutrition and perhaps relatedly that fully 111 Sri Lankan soldiers were repatriated under what he called the UN's "zero tolerance policy on sexual abuse." Inner City Press asked what had been done in and by Sri Lanka about the 111 soldiers. Annabi said that he is not well informed of what is filed with UN headquarters, but that Sri Lanka filed something. But what? The UN's policy for now, to paragraph the advertisement for Las Vegas, seems to be "what happens in Haiti, stays in Haiti."

   Costa Rican ambassador Jorge Urbina, who had said he would raise the sexual abuse issue when he led the Council's trip to Haiti last month, likewise had no factual update on any discipline meted out to these soldiers in and by Sri Lanka. He spoke of nation building. When Inner City Press asked if he thought that the upcoming elections should include the party of Aristide, he answered that the exclusion was due to Aristide himself being unwilling to sign for either of his party's candidates. Still, he said, legitimacy would be enhanced by the inclusion of these "important" groups, adding, "I don't know how important" they are. Video here.

UN's Ban and Annabi and Bill Clinton in Haiti, sex abuse follow-up not shown

  Security Council president Claude Heller of Mexico told the Press it is up to Haitians to interpret the Council's Presidential Statement, that the elections should be "inclusive." Inner City Press asked about an incident early in the resumed Council session in the afternoon in which Chile's Ambassador appeared to complain about UN agencies speaking to the Council before member states like his. Heller replied that he thought it important that the agencies speak when they did, immediately after the 15 Council members. Video here. We'll wait to hear from Chile.

Footnotes: on the UN's flimsy "zero tolerance of sexual abuse" policy, its previously proponent and defender, Jane Holl Lute, was recently grilled in the U.S. Senate confirmation process for her Deputy of Homeland Security post about lack of follow-through on sexual abuse, and about her role in steering a $250 million no-bid contract to Lockheed Martin's PAE in Darfur. Her defense, according to Capitol Hill sources, was to blame the UN for refusing to release documents, even to Congress. Zero tolerance, indeed... Just taking the repatriation from Sri Lanka as an example -- one could just as easily choose the repatriation to Morocco from Ivory Coast, or the ongoing spat between the UN, DR Congo and India on this issue -- it is imperative that the UN be questioned for the actual follow-up results, and release them. Watch this site.

Posing seemingly obligatory North Korea questions, Inner City Press asked President Heller for an update (consultations continue) and Ambassador Urbina of Costa Rica if the non-permanent members other than Japan have any involvement. Urbina replied that the process will soon include them, and they hope for a resolution. A resolution, and not a presidential or press statement? That is our position, Urbina said. And that day at the stakeout was done.

  President of the General Assembly D'Escoto to his credit took a North Korea question from Inner City Press -- click here for his answer -- while at a press conference about the human right to food, which Inner City Press is covering in a separate dedicated story, click here to view.

  Click here for a new YouTube video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

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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