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ICP Asked Why UNICEF is “Official Child Rights Org” for Baku 2015: Answer

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 12 -- Why would any UN agency, particularly UNICEF, sponsor Azerbaijan's European Games? Inner City Press asked the UN on June 11 and was told, reflexively it seems, that it might not be true.

  But the publicity material had already been released: UNICEF is the “Official Child Rights Organization” of Baku 2015. Why?

  When Dujarric during the June 12 noon briefing did not provide any answer to the previous day's question, Inner City Press asked at the end, Any answer from UNICEF? Dujarric said yes -- it is unclear why it had not been sent to Inner City Press, necessitating asking again when question time is limited - and afterward, this came in from Dujarric's office to Inner City Press:

"Regarding your question on Azerbaijan, we have the following information from UNICEF:

"For the last 8 years UNICEF has been supporting a programme in Azerbaijan to promote sport for development including through sporting events. The programme aims to lay the groundwork for increased participation of children in sports, particularly the development of inclusive physical education and sport and recreational activities for all children in the country.

"UNICEF is using the opportunity of the European Games to put a focus on safe and inclusive sport for all children in Azerbaijan, especially girls and children with disabilities. Just earlier this week, following a two-day national consultation with adolescents, a declaration on safe and inclusive sport was presented directly to Azerbaijani government officials with recommendations from adolescents on how to improve access to safe and inclusive sport in the country and to involve adolescents and youth in the development of sport and youth policies, programmes and strategies.

"UNICEF has been working in Azerbaijan since 1993 to protect and advocate for children’s rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the country ratified in 1992."

  But why be a sponsor, and get listed as "official child rights organization" of these games, from which some media have been Banned?

  Why did Dujarric offer such fulsome praise on June 11 of Azerbaijan, while on the other hand making a statement on Venezuela which has resulted in that country's mission accusing him of violating the UN Charter? Inner City Press directly asked Dujarric for his response to the Venezuelan Mission's statement at 1:45 pm; no response was received by the time his Office closed for the weekend at 6 pm on June 12. Watch this site.

   UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, rather than pushing on any of the human rights and freedom of the press issues that many groups are, issued through Dujarric an unequivocal expression of support for Azerbaijan on June 11, pointedly saying the another UN official who raised questions was NOT speaking for the UN. So much for engaging on issues.

  UNICEF, along with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Peacekeeping, and later Ban himself, knew of detailed allegations of child rape by French soldiers in the Central African Republic, and did not even tell CAR authorities - it was, in essence, a cover up. Now this.

  Here's what Inner City Press asked the UN on June 11, and Spokeman Dujarric's responses:

Inner City Press: Your statement on the Secretary-General fully supporting the European Games in Azerbaijan: there’s a controversy about UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) has been declared the official child rights organization of the European Games and even some Member States have said it’s inappropriate, given issues that have existed about child rights in the country, in fact a child rights organization that’s been kind of prosecuted by the Government.  So I wanted to know, first of all, for the UN system as a whole, is there a situation in which, sort of, like, Coca-Cola or something else, that a UN fund, program or agency can become the official one, the official child rights organization of a game like this?  And is it appropriate?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I’d have to check with UNICEF as to the very nature of that agreement they’ve signed with the authorities organizing the games and I can answer you in more details.  I think it is… we see often these large sports events having a UN presence.  It’s a good way for the United Nations agencies to engage different public on issues that are of importance.  We often engage in places where things aren’t perfect and engaging is a way of improving that record.

Inner City Press: what the critics say is that it’s one thing to work in a country that has problems but to try to help people.  But it’s something else to basically have this sponsoring—

Spokesman Dujarric:  Like I said, I would not dare disagree with what you’re reading but I would have to check as the very nature of that report.

  Well, six hours later when his Office closed on June 11, there had been no checking or further information. Watch this site.


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