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At the UN, Greenwash and Hamstrung Peacekeepers, What Brown Can Do For You

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

UNITED NATIONS, July 31 -- Two of this UN's claimed victories were on display on Tuesday: climate change and Darfur, and a speech by Gordon Brown. UN staff were kept waiting on the sidewalk while his entourage of black SUVs drove off, carbon neutral we're assured. "What can Brown do for you?" one correspondent muttered, referring to the United Parcel Service ads.

            There was a thematic debate, that's what they call it here, about global warming, complete with bragging from the CEO of Duke Energy (click here for Inner City Press' story) and ended by a subsidy-for-sequestration speech by Jeffrey Sachs that ran past six o'clock, immediately after which, UN Television went dark.

            The news highpoint of the day, however, was the Security Council's vote on the Darfur resolution. Before the vote, as Ban Ki-moon, 15 Ambassadors and their entourages settled into the Security Council chamber, Sudan's Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad spoke one floor above about the "cleaning" of the draft.

            I worked all day Sunday with Emyr [Jones-Parry, the UK Ambassador] to clean the text, he said. It goes no further than Resolution 1590 [about South Sudan]. "We can live with it."

            A correspondent asked about the International Criminal Court and its indictments. "The ICC is out of our discussion today on the hybrid" force, Sudan's Ambassador said. "Today we are happy and celebration."

Messrs. Brown and Ban, early Tuesday morning

            Downstairs, the meeting was beginning. Told of it, Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad ran down the escalator and into the Council chamber. Ban Ki-moon began speaking, calling the resolution historical. Later, U.S. Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad would say that the resolution gives the peacekeeping mission to authority to use force, to protect civilians.  But that leaves out what was agreed to, including by the U.S. -- that force to protect civilians is only allowed if it does not "prejudice" the Sudanese government. Visions of Romeo Dallaire?

            Before Amb. Khalilzad spoke, the UN's chief of Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno was at the stakeout saying that all important rebel leaders in Darfur are going to the meeting beginning August 3 in Arusha, Tanzania. Inner City Press asked if Abdel Wahid Nour is going. No, Mr. Guehenno said, he said he is not going. Video here.  Then Guehenno's handler gestured that it was time to leave. The American Ambassador was waiting. The switch-over was made. Click here for Inner City Press' story of the subsequent stakeout, and compare this (Washington Post) to this.  To be continued.

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Click here for a previous Inner City Press UN / climate change story. Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from a still-undefined trust fund.

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540