UN, Srebrenica Immunity Downplayed, West Papua No Comment
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, June
8 -- Let us take for granted that there are many problems that the UN cannot
solve. What it and its Secretary-General and Council can choose is what they deem
important, what they comment on (and, more fundamentally, how they run
themselves, in terms of transparency and accountability).
purposes of this report, the single day of Friday, June 8, 2007. Ban Ki-moon's
Deputy Spokesman made it a point to re-read out a
had been released the night before, that Mr. Ban condemns Iran's president's statement about Israel.
The Council met to adopt a statement in a similar vein, but got bogged down.
Afterwards France's Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere came out and said that
one country had reservations, and another had no instructions. Press pundits
assumed that Qatar was one of the two. But which was the other? Indonesia, some
assumed. Russia, said another, thinking of business relations. South Africa, for
G-77 and ideological reason. The dark horse as always was China. Diplomat said,
with all due respect to France, the number of members with some reservations was
four, and not the publicly-claimed two. This will rear its head again on Monday,
when the Council is slated to meet on Lebanon, Sudan and UNMEE (Ethiopia -
Eritrea border), and an Ivory
Coast report is due.
forth below, the UN had no comment, for a second day, on the forced removal of
people from Sri Lanka's capital based on ethnicity. Nor on a protest of the UN's
role in continuing colonialism. From the
Inner City Press: West Papua, otherwise
known as Irian Jaya in Indonesia. The United Nations'
Hina Jilani is going there and
the UN to use its influence to either have another referendum or to somehow
consider them as next in line [for independence]. Does the current
Secretary-General have any thoughts on that long-standing conflict and has he
noticed the demonstrations?
Deputy Spokesperson: I'll check to see if
there's anything new on this that we can report to you.
hours later, nothing had been provided.
Ban on the road, with Spanish president, June 6
a genocide-related case filed against the UN, Mr. Ban says he agrees -- but will
apparently still seek to dismiss the UN from the case, on the basis of immunity.
Deputy Spokesperson: The survivors of the
Srebrenica massacres are absolutely right to demand justice for the most heinous
crimes committed on European soil since World War II. The Secretary-General
joins them in that demand, without reservation, and expresses his deepest
sympathies to them and to the relatives of those brutally executed at
Srebrenica, almost 12 years ago....
Inner City Press: Does that mean that the
United Nations will not be seeking to assert immunity and have the case
dismissed against it?
Deputy Spokesperson: The fact that the
United Nations is immune from the legal process under the Convention on the
Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations in no way diminishes the United
Nations' commitment to assist the people of Srebrenica in the aftermath of this
Inner City Press: Someone from OLA [Office
of Legal Affairs] will be making that argument in court?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, this is the
There are others who argue that the UN's claimed immunity may not be total, and
others who point out that just as power corrupts, so too does immunity. Still at
Inner City Press asked about Kosovo and Cote d'Ivoire:
Inner City Press: At the G-8, it was said
that French President Sarkozy had offered, proposed a six-month delay of the
Kosovo status if Russia would agree to independence. Does the Secretary-General
have a view of that, and is there a readout of that meeting with Russia?
Deputy Spokesperson: I'm familiar with
the press reports that you are referring to on Kosovo, but on Kosovo, what I can
say is, that the Secretary-General notes and welcomes the engagement of the G-8
countries on this issue, which is of central importance to the United Nations.
Following the presentation of Mr. Ahtissari, the Secretary-General's Special
Envoy's comprehensive proposal for a settlement, it is important that the Kosovo
future status process maintain a forward momentum. So that's where we are on
Question: What's the position that was
taken at the G-8 summit on Kosovo? Mr. Sarkozy's position to prolong for six
Deputy Spokesperson: That you'll have to
follow up with the G-8. I'm just simply stating the Secretary-General's
Inner City Press: He's meeting with [
Vladimir] Putin, can we get a read out...
Deputy Spokesperson: As soon as we get a
read out from our chief spokesman, who is with them, I will give you that
[Following the briefing, correspondents
were informed that the Secretary-General did not have a bilateral meeting with
Russian President Vladimir Putin today. The Secretary-General did meet
bilaterally with the leaders of Japan and Italy.]
despite this addition to the transcript, also piped to UN correspondents via the
old-school squawk box system, TASS had reported that the meeting took place.
Inner City Press after the squawking sent this to the Spokesperson, asking if a
retraction would be sought. There was no answer. Only
Inner City Press: There's a
about the Cote d'Ivoire saying that the conflict between the New Forces and the
Government was funded largely by cocoa leaf sold illegally or outside normal
channels. The group that put out this study says that this could easily happen
again. I wonder if the United Nations mission in Cote d'Ivoire or anyone in the
UN system has noted that, what the response is and is there a new Special
Representative of the Secretary-General... what's happening in Cote d'Ivoire?
Deputy Spokesperson: I have not seen
anything on that specific subject from the mission, but we will certainly look
into that for you and, as you know, the Security Council is also headed to Cote
d'Ivoire, as part of their larger mission. So you might want to discuss that
with the Security Council mission before they go, as well.
Inner City Press asked the Council about, beyond
UN corruption and reform.
From the U.S. Mission's transcript:
Inner City Press Reporter: Mr. Ambassador
what's the U.S.'s response to the conviction yesterday of Mr. Behel in the UN
procurement scandal and whether OIOS reports should be released to the press and
Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, we welcome
this and I think that this has been an appropriate action that has been taken.
It shows that the ability to take appropriate action is there so we welcome it.
As far as access to the media, we the United States of course have no problem
with transparency and sharing as much information as can be shared. Thank you
you... To be continued next week.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540
Other Inner City Press
reports are available in the ProQuest service and some are archived on
Copyright 2007 Inner City Press, Inc. To request
reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] innercitypress.com - phone: (718) 716-3540