Joins UN Rights Council,
Washington Post Mulls Closing UN Bureau
Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: Media Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, May 12, updated
-- Amid the modulated hoopla Tuesday morning surrounding
of the United States to the UN Human Rights Council, Inner City
learned of an opposite trend of pull-back from the UN by American, or
at least American-based
media. The venerable Washington Post is moving to close its UN bureau,
end of 2009 at latest, sources said. Post correspondent Colum Lynch,
stories about abuse by peacekeepers and procurement
corruption, will no
longer daily be covering the UN "from inside."
While the financial crisis, globally and of
newspapers, is sure to be
presented as the rationale, others wonder if the drop-off in charisma
in the transition from Kofi Annan to Ban Ki-moon does not also play a
CNN, for example, no longer opens its UN office every day.
Richard Roth, after man in the street interviews about the global
crisis and some spring baseball stories, is said to be trying to get
Rights Council story a spot in the network's Situation Room. The World Body, some says, just doesn't rate
Another network correspondent mused, of the
Washington Post's plans,
that the work space in the UN is free: why would they be closing? Ban
head of management Angela Kane has floated and conflicted a draft
charge rent to the press in the future. With major media pulling back
UN, some wonder why the UN would try to make it more difficult to cover
organization and its work.
At stakeout of Japan, Lynch, center with
glasses, calm amid the storm
While we report further on this story, for now we
wish to note Lynch's
unassuming but fact-uncovering style, both at the Security Council
in the UN briefing room... Lynch has not settled for political
correctness, has not left facts unreported. Hence this interim piece.
Footnote 1: Seemingly connecting these two
competing trends, Lynch was Tuesday
morning at the stakeout in front of the General
Assembly vote asking US
Ambassador Susan Rice a question -- or seemingly trying to. As he asked
three minutes into Amb. Rice's stakeout, she walked away. Apparently,
he did not shout loud enough. We report, you decide: video here,
From the mea
culpa department, it has been pointed out that in an earlier version of
this story, a journalist who Amb. Rice said was mumbling was identified
as Lynch. (Since he was mumbling, the mis-identification occured, and
was repeated at the noon briefing.) "You're
mumbling," Ambassador Rice told the
jounalist. Video here,
from Minute 1:21.
"Mumbling? Oh my
God," he said, and then continued to ask Rice to respond to charges
that given the
membership of human rights abuses, the Council cannot be effective. We
agree, Rice said, and then seemed to refuse Lynch's question: video
Footnote 2: Craig
said, of the UN in Sri Lanka, where interment camps alleged to be site
sexual abuse by soldiers and even of starvation are funded by the UN,
UN must itself abide by international law. We'll see.
Earlier piece on HRC:
For UN Human
Rights Council, 20 Countries for 18 Seats, Nigeria, Azeris
on the Cusp
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
May 12, updated -- The 2009
elections for the UN Human Rights Council, while
drawing last minute outrage from a range of non-governmental
organizations, seems largely a foregone conclusion. Most regional
groups, including the oft self satisfied WEOG, Western European and
Other Group, presented consensus slates with the same number of
candidates as seats. New Zealand backed down for the U.S., perhaps in
exchange for the U.S. dropping its candidates in the face of new UN
Development Program Administrator Helen Clark.
a now hybrid group, sponsored a session with Saudi and Cuba
dissidents in the office of Bahai. Afterwards, Inner City Press asked
why Freedom House, unlike co-sponsor UN Watch, had joined a wider,
mostly liberal coalition. It is good to work together was the answer.
But the liberal coalition complained last time that despite their
endorsement of Zambia, Freedom House broke ranks.
speaking truth to power, noted that some groups it left unnamed have
a revolving door with the UN system. They were diplomatic, not
wanting to attack their Geneva colleagues. But it is not rocket
science: Human Rights Watch in Geneva has a director from the UN. The
door spins the other way, too: to be appointed a special rapporteur
now requires the support of member states, “the Pakistan's of the
world,” as one NGO put it. Those seeking careers in human rights
are holding their tongues. Careerism is a killer, in this field as
HRC ceiling in Geneva, development aid funds used?
The slates, for
election on May 12, include only 20 countries running for 18 seats.
The only contested regions are Africa (six candidates for five seats;
only Nigeria did not submit a voluntary pledge, according to the GA;
Mauritius or more likely Djibouti may end up with the short end of
the stick) and Eastern Europe (three for two, with Azeris on the
Only two will lose out -- if they don't drop out in advance in
the secret balloting. Freedom House has denounced Azerbaijan,
Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Russia and Saudi Arabia. This last,
at a Freedom House event last week, was said to receive UN / UNDP
electoral assistance for an election that excluded women. There are
other UN silences that we will cover. Watch this space.
Update of 11:11
a.m. -- the vote was taken, and a 45 minute adjournment was
announced. In the upper deck, Susan Rice was in the US seat. It
wasn't clear if she would speak and take questions afterwards.
Mexico's Claude Heller spoke with the Press for ten minutes, while he
took congratulations in advance from other Ambassadors. A senior UN
political adviser was unwilling, when asked, to commit himself to a
prediction. He said there might be a sympathy vote for Djibouti due
to their problems with Eritrea. Then again, Djibouti has both French
and US bases.
backstory is that Kenya horned in, but if both Mauritius and Djibouti
are elected along with Kenya, one of the three Regional
Group-endorsed candidates from West Africa will lose out...
Update of 12:26 p.m. -- news flash: Djibouti and
Mauritius both made it, Kenya bounces, for breaking protocol, it seems.
Aberbaijan, as we predicted, lost. But Kenya? Mea culpa...
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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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for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
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