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UN Panel on Sudan Vote Said “Independent from UNMIS,” Which Pays It $4.3 M

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 29 -- When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named a three person panel on the South Sudan referendum, it was said that the panel would be independent from the UN Mission in Sudan, UNMIS.

  When Inner City Press asked panel members Benjamin Mkapa, Antonio Monteiro, Bhojraj Pokharel and their staff “are being compensated or having their expenses paid,” UNMIS spokesman Ashraf Eissa replied that “the SG's Panel is a totally independent panel from UNMIS. It reports directly to the SG in NY. The Panel Spokesperson can be contacted for such information.”

  After some delay, the Panel Spokesperson told Inner City Press that “the Panel, including the salaries of its staff, is being funded from the budget of UNMIS.”

What then about the panel being independent from UNMIS, if its members and their staff are being paid by UNMIS? How can the UN and UNMIS be credible, including in reporting on troops build ups on the border, if they call something independent from UNMIS when it is getting paid by UNMIS?

In fact, in the Secretariat's current budget submission A/65/509 it is said in Paragraphs 9-10 that

the Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in the Sudan has been established. This monitoring body will be an instrument for building trust in the process and acceptance of the outcomes of the referenda.... The Panel is independent from the rest of UNMIS, to distinguish it from the Mission and its role in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and other mandated activities, including support for the referenda and planning for the following period.

The Panel, which has been established for a period of six months, effective September 2010, involves 41 temporary positions, including one Under-Secretary-General and two Assistant Secretary-General positions comprising the Panel itself, supported by 38 international staff (1 D-1, 6 P-5, 21 P-4 and 10 P-3). Given the urgent need for these additional staff, 41 temporary positions have been approved for a period of six months, on an exceptional basis, to enable the Panel to commence its operations. The cost is estimated at $4.3 million, including $4.1 million in staff related costs and $0.2 million in travel costs.”

  How can one square this statement that “the Panel is independent from the rest of UNMIS” with the later admission that the Panel members and their staff are paid by UNMIS?

Inner City Press, in writing on October 28, asked both the Panel Spokesman and Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky. By noon on October 29, neither had responded, or even confirmed receipt.

  At the October 29 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Nesirky how the Panel could be described -- as in the Secretariat's budget submission, above -- as independent from UNMIS, if its members and staff are being piad by UNMIS. Video here from Minute 12:26.

Panel -
Monteiro, Mkapa, Pokharel - $4.3 M & independence from UNMIS not shown

  Nesirky replied that “it's a question of financing and funding... at the end of the day its by [the UN Department of Political Affairs] that this is being handled.”

Inner City Press asked why then isn't DPA paying the Panel members and staff, and how can the UN say the Panel is “independent” from UNMIS if its members and staff are being paid by UNMIS?

Nesirky cut Inner City Press off, saying “Next question.” But the questions will continue. Watch this site.

* * *

UN Genocide Adviser Refuses to Answer on Sudan, Defers to Khartoum PR

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 28 -- When the UN's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide hosts an event about “Dangerous Speech on the Road to Genocide,” it seems fair to ask about Sudan, the only country subject to an indictment for genocide by the International Criminal Court -- especially with the Adviser is from Sudan, and the UN helps produce and sell his books about Sudan.

  But when Inner City Press asked Francis Deng and his co-presenter Dr. Susan Benesch for this opinions of genocide and Sudan, and the place of media strategies in this, the UN's Deng refused to comment, and instead deferred to the Ambassador of Sudan, Dafaala Al Haj Ali Osman, who ridiculed the ICC's genocide charge by only partially quoting the definition of genocide.

  Neither Deng nor Dr. Benesch offered any response to Sudan, including the misquoting of the Genocide Convention.

  After Inner City Press asked its question, Dr. Benesch said, “Mr. Lee asked Dr. Deng about Sudan and about Sri Lanka and since he's far more expert over those topics, I would defer to him to answer.”

  But Deng in turn deferred, to the representative of the very government accused of genocide. Deng said, “I think we should restrict our questions and comments on the subject of today's lecture.”  Video here, from Minute 57:08.

  Since the event was about genocide and media, a question about genocide and the Sudanese media seemed well within the subject. Inner City Press emphasized this, so that Deng couldn't use fairness as a basis for not answering noting the presence of Sudan's Ambassador in the room.

So ask him,” Deng said. Video here, from Minute 57:08.

Sudan's Dafaala Al Haj Ali Osman took the floor, and made a presentation he later admonished Inner City Press to “reflect.” He began by saluting “my fellow citizen” Francis Deng, then launched into Inner City Press, video here from Minute 58:

Despite the fact that Professor Susan has answered you [that] this is out of the context of this workshop or lecture, I will try to give you a few glimpses, how this is related to Sudan. I think you have read this pamphlet it talks about a definition of genocide, 'the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group.'

[Note: the full quote, relegated by the UN to the inside of its pamphlet, is the “intent to destroy, in whole OR IN PART, a national ethnical, racial or religious group.']

Deng (2d from right) on a UN Panel, answers on Sudan and books not shown

Sudan's Ambassador, using the half-quote of the Genocide Convention, continued:

If we want to apply it to Darfur we find a rebellion against central authority... they killed Army people and Police... I think any student of law would know that the central authority or the President is obliged by the constitution of the land to react to put an end to a military operation, to establish peace and security.. To share some information not unveiled for one reason nor another, the Prosecutor General of ICC in his accusation that the President has committed genocide mentions three tribes. For your information 45 individuals or more of those three tribes are members of the National Parliament in Sudan and more than that number are Parliament members in the 25 parliaments in the regional states of Sudan. The federal Minister of Justice in Sud belongs to one of these tribes. I really don't follow you, if it really a genocide, how would the President spare all these people, and not exterminate them?”

Apparently, the survival (for now) of 45 people disproves genocide. One would have expected Ban Ki-moon's Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide to have spoken up against such an interpretation. But he did not. As Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky on October 27, it is unclear when Deng is working and speaking for the UN, and when he is not. From the transcript:

Inner City Press: This is also on Sudan, but it’s sort of on the UN. There was an event yesterday held by DPI [Department of Public Information] in the North Lawn Building called Event, New Vision, it was about Sudan and it had Mr. [Francis] Deng speaking at some length about books that he has written. It had books for sale outside the room and had the host, the Ambassador of Sudan. But what had led me to wonder is, I know Mr. Deng is the Special [Adviser] on prevention of genocide, but it seems… I’ve heard from people that these books are written on UN time; that this is actually one of the things that he does in his UN office. And so, I just, I am unclear of what to make of the book, of the books that he produces. If they are created on UN time and with UN money, are they UN views or is there some, what are topics is his office working on in terms of…?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Did you attend it yesterday?

Inner City Press: I did attend it.

Spokesperson: And you asked him?

Inner City Press: And I asked him afterwards what other countries he is working on prevention of genocide; he said, “We don’t like to be country-specific.” But it seems like it’s hard to prevent genocide unless you name countries.

Spokesperson: Well, this is obviously something that Mr. Deng can comment on. I don’t have anything on that.

Inner City Press: What are rules, I guess I am saying, for UN, if a UN official spends his time in the UN building while on UN time writing books? Does the UN own the copyright?

Spokesperson: That’s what you are saying. Or you said, “Some people say”. That is not an established fact, Matthew. You shouldn’t then turn it into an established fact. You said, “Some people say”.

Inner City Press: Okay. If you can look into it and find that no staff member’s time is entirely…

Spokesperson: As I said, it sounds like you had the chance to ask Mr. Deng yesterday.

Inner City Press: But also, was, is the book being sold…

Spokesperson: Any other questions? Yes, Khaled?

A Permanent Five member of the Security Council told Inner City Press on the morning of October 28 that these “Deng book questions” were good. So while Deng as Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide may have refused to answer the question genocide and Sudan, maybe these questions about Deng and the UN will be answered. Watch this site.

* * *

At UN on Darfur Arrestees, Susan Rice Issues Skeptical Statement, Sudan Blames on NGOs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 25 -- So did Sudan arrest internally displaced people who spoke with the UN Security Council in Abu Shouk IDP camp earlier this month?

The US belatedly went public about the issue, first in background comments late last week. Then on Monday after a Security Council meeting at which Sudan denied the arrests, including after the meeting in a stakeout Q&A with Inner City Press, the US issued a written statement by Ambassador Susan Rice, who was not present at the Council meeting.

Rice's statement concluded that “the U.S. and the UK asked the UN to address this issue in today's UN Security Council briefing so that the full Council could hear directly from UN officials about this matter. We have yet to receive any information that alleviates our deep concern over this issue.”

Sources inside the Security Council's closed door consultations told Inner City Press that the UK and one non-Permanent member asked UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy to say what the UN knows about arrests, and to “not politicize” the issue. Le Roy's subsequent answer was described as “strange” and “not convincing.”

Inner City Press asked Le Roy, as he left the meeting, if the US or UK had provided him with names, on a confidential basis. No, he said, adding that the names were not known.

On camera at the UN stakeout, Inner City Press asked Sudan's Ambassador to the UN Dafaala El Haj Ali Osman about the arrests. He acknowledged arrests, but not of anyone who had met with the Security Council. Video here.

Dafaala El Haj Ali at stakout, Susan Rice not shown

A Sudanese diplomat scoffed to Inner City Press that “Susan Rice got a letter from the Enough Project and Genocide Intervention, that's all this is.”

   But did these two groups and the four other ones signing the letter think that Susan Rice would be at the Security Council meeting where it was discussed, to push on the issue and speak afterward to counter the defient denial of her Sudanese counterpart Dafaala El Haj Ali? Watch this site.

* * *

At UN on Darfur Arrestees, Sudan Defiant While Gambari Absent

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 25 -- As on Darfur the UN Security Council met on Monday, the Ambassador of Sudan Dafaala El Haj Ali Osman denied to Inner City Press that any of the internally displaced people who met with the Council in Abu Shouk IDP Camp have been arrested.

  While the US on Friday belated went public with charges of the arrests, there was no direct response from the US Mission to Sudan's denial.

  Inside the Council, top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy said cautiously -- and vaguely -- that “we are not in a position to provide names of the alleged victims, out of concern to protect our sources from retaliation.”

  Did this mean that the UN is confirming the arrests but withholding the names? Inner City Press asked lead UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky, who insisted, you've heard what Mr. Le Roy said. Yes, but it is intentionally unclear.

UN's Le Roy & AU's Ping, clarity on Darfur arrestees and Gambari not shown

  It seems to some that Sudan knew in advance that the UN would decline to provide the names of arrestees. But how would Sudan know?

  Ibraham Gambari, it emerges from Nigerian Mission sources, has been in New York since Friday. Surprisingly, as the Council met Monday about his peacekeeping mission, he was not present. Inner City Press asked Nesirky about this, and Nesirky said he would inquire. Watch this site.

Watch this site, follow on Twitter @InnerCityPress.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel 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.

* * *

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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