At the UN, Chad and Darfur Fall Into Footnotes,
Sudanese Praise of French But Not UN Soldiers
Byline: Matthew Russell
Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, March 2 -- While some
predict Security Council resolution in March on sending UN peacekeepers to Chad,
the Council's president for February, Slovakian Ambassador Peter Burian, on Feb.
28 told Inner City Press that it is unlikely that "anything can happen in Chad
until summertime." The obstacles include Chadian president Deby's now-stated
opposition to peacekeepers (he would prefer a "civilian" presence).
On March 2, the incoming
president of the Security Council, South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said
that Darfur, Chad and Central African Republic only in the footnotes of this
month's Council agenda, that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has said
that even a civilian force would need protection, and that discussions continue.
Inner City Press also asked when to expect UN envoy Joaquim Chissano to brief
the Council about Uganda's
Lord's Resistance Army.
Outgoing Council president Burian raised to the issue to Amb. Kumalo during
their bilateral meeting of transition.
A less studied response to Inner City
Press' questions, on March 1, Sudan's Ambassador to the UN told Inner City Press
that he, too, doubts that Chad will let in the force the UN would like to send.
"We are the same people," he said, saying that one of Deby's sons is named Omar,
after Sudan's president Omar al Bashir.
Inner City Press asked for his
explanation of last year's abortive march by rebels on Chad's capital,
ostensibly stopped by France dropping of a bomb next to the rebel column.
"France showed too much force," Sudan's Ambassador said, adding that his
government has fewer doubts about French troops than UN blue helmets, against
whom the Ambassador raised issues of sexual and other abuse.
Ban at the Lest We Forget - The Triumph Over Slavery
It was at an event on slavery -- the
opening of the "Lest We Forget - The Triumph Over Slavery" exhibit -- in the UN
visitors' entrance on Thursday night that the Sudanese Ambassador made his
remarks to Inner City Press. He began be remarking that the commemoration of
slavery should be a national holiday in the United States. He continued:
don't like this force. They want a small civilian force here and there, just to
make the world community happy they are doing something. Darfur and Chadians are
the same people. Idriss Deby [Chad's President], his wife delivered in the
medical hospital in Khartoum. His youngest son is named Omar, for Omar al Bashir.
His second wife is Sudanese...
the Security Council is considering this resolution. They say they have not
money for Darfur, but they want to deploy to Chad and to Somalia. [CAR
president] Bozize? There is a reconciliation there, the Libya mediation. There
are many problems there and in Chad that have nothing to do with Darfur. Like in
our case, it is better to advance the peace process."
Inner City Press asked about France's
dropping of a bomb in Chad to defend the Deby government last year. Who were the
rebels? Why did they stop advancing? Had they been told to simply knock on
Deby's door -- either related to oil and the World Bank's conditional loans, or
to recognizing China and not Taiwan -- and then to back away?
French response was too big, too massive... We prefer the French to the UN
troops, the French do not engage in sexual exploitation like the UN peacekeepers
do. In Sudan we don't consider the French as destabilizers."
When Ban Ki-moon spoke at the Thursday
event, he said that slavery continues to this day, including in the use of child
soldiers. Canapes were passed around and Ambassadors chit-chatted. On the walls
were pictures of slave traders, including Humphrey Morice (1679-1731), who
besides owning eight slave ships, named for his wife and daughters, was also a
governor of the Bank of England. Beside this picture, the Ambassadors of Sudan
and the UK made small talk. Only at the UN...
At deadline, in other inside-the-UN news,
Inner City Press has learned that Warren Sach has been removed from the post of
Ban Ki-moon's representative to the UN Pension Fund, replaced on March 1 by
Alicia Barcena of the Department of Management. Perhaps this explains Mr. Sach's
recent non-response to recent questions. [At 4 p.m., eight hours after
questions, an auto-response arrived, that Mr. Sach is away from UN Headquarters
from Feb. 28 -- the
day of the Pension Fund press conference -- through March 12.] Ms. Barcena,
on the other hand, will be taking questions from the Press on March 5...
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At the UN, Sudan's Letter Is in the Mail, UNDP Envoy
Is on the Lam, Blix Is in the House
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, February 26 -- While
Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir on Monday
UN Security Council "has hidden agenda aimed at putting Sudan under the United
Nations trusteeship," in New York Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson said that Al
Bashir's letter to Mr. Ban is in the mail. That is, the letter has been sent
from the Sudan, but has not been received in New York. Inner City Press, which
Monday asked for comment on Al Bashir's theory, now asks: Where, then, is the
letter? Video here, from Minute 14:33.
Meanwhile, a World Food
Program-hired ship was hijacked off the coast of Somalia. Inner City Press asked
the spokeswoman if WFP is in contact with the
U.S. warship reportedly speeding toward
the pirates. There was no
Ban and Gambian ambassador Crispin Grey-Johnson, pre-explusion and
On the other hand, the
spokesperson was willing to confirm that the president of the Gambia -- whose
election the UN blessed last year, click
here for that Inner City Press story
thrown out of the country
the representative of the UN Development Program. What happens next? The
spokesperson said that while the UNDP representative will be in New York in two
days' time, outreach being done to Gambia's president by Ban Ki-moon and before
that, Deputy Security General Asha Rose Migiro.
Ms. Migiro was slated to give a speech
Monday at 10:15 in conference room 2 of the UN, to the Commission on the Status
of Women. At 10:15, then 10:25, no sign of Ms. Migiro. The chairpeople droned
on. Then she arrives, and spoke movingly of the plight of girl children.
Afterwards she walk through the halls with scarcely an entourage: a single
colleague. Undersecretary General for Economic and Social Affairs Ocampo also
left, while the head of the UN Population Fund remained on the podium, at least
until noon, listening to a lucid 17-year old speaker.
More lucid still was Hans Blix,
the former chief UN weapons inspector, who gave at least two speeches in the
Millennium Hotel on Monday. At an afternoon panel on disarmament sponsored by
The Century Foundation, Mr. Blix decried the "recent over-reliance on military
strength" to search for weapons of mass destruction. Which country and current
war might he be referring to? At an earlier breakfast for correspondents, and as
AP's bureau chief, Mr. Blix said of Iran that he "would be surprised if a poker
player would toss away his trump card before he sits down at the table. Who does
In terms of table-sitting, we're
compelled to memorialize Mr. Blix' farewell dinner, organized by the same bureau
chief and members of the Security Council, and complete with a toast by
then-Russian ambassador Sergei Lavrov. Reporters still follow Blix' every
Guinea Crisis Appears on Margins of Security Council
Debate, UN Takes Backseat on Darfur
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 20, updated Feb. 21
-- With more than 100 dead in the
turmoil in Guinea,
on Tuesday in a UN Security Council debate, Canada said that the situation there
should be put on the Council's agenda.
Afterwards, Inner City Press
asked Council president Peter Burian if he envisioned Guinea being discussed
before the end of the month. Amb. Burian said that that topic was broached at a
luncheon between Council members and Ban Ki-moon, and that now they would wait
to hear from Mr. Ban's envoy. Video
Another Council diplomat, this time from the Permanent Five, clarified that the
UN will be assessing the situation, along with the regional body ECOWAS.
Two African Ambassadors, however, took a
different stance. Amb. Nanna of Ghana told Inner City Press, "It is too early"
for Guinea to be discussed by the Security Council. South Africa's Ambassador
Dumisani Kumalo was more blunt. "It doesn't qualify" for treatment by the
Security Council, he said. When told that Canada had asked that Guinea be added
to the agenda, Amb. Kumalo sighed, "So much for our neighbors."
UN Takes Backseat on Darfur, Looks
The UN's apparently
Sisyphusian efforts to get its peacekeepers into Darfur leads it to stay
strangely silent. On Tuesday in Libya, the Darfur-based rebels of the National
Redemption Front met with the Sudanese government. At UN Headquarters in New
York, Inner City Press asked if UN envoy Jan Eliasson was attending, as at least
reported, and if the UN had any comment on the Libyan initiative.
- not Libya?
Subsequently the office of Ban Ki-moon's
spokesperson said that while Mr. Eliasson is not attending, the UN welcomes
anything that might help. But why then not mention this Darfur meeting in Libya
until asked about it? The same was raised about the UN's silence until asked
about attacks on UN vehicles in Kosovo. Two journalists on Tuesday asked the
spokesperson about calls on the UN to do something about an asteroid which has a
45,000 to 1 chance of striking the Earth in the mid 2030s. One wag noted, "Yeah,
the UN can't get peacekeepers into Darfur, but it can shoot down an asteroid in
the future." A listener said, "You are a UN-hater." But that's not true.
Tuesday evening at the Security Council
stakeout, Sudan's Ambassador took questions off-camera in Arabic. Asked by Inner
City Press if Jan Eliasson had attended the Libya meeting, the Ambassador
indicated that he thought Mr. Eliasson had attended... [ ]
Update of Wednesday, Feb. 21, Reuters again
that Mr. Eliasson will be at the Libya talks, click
view. AFP, however, got denials of attendance from both the UN and the AU.
UN, Calls for Transparency and Short-Lists for Genocide Prevention Post, Russian
Sporting, Salad Days
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
February 14 -- The place of human rights in Ban Ki-moon's UN was questioned on
Wednesday. Acting on reports that the Kofi Annan-created Office of the Special
Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide might be downgraded or merged out of
existence, three non-governmental organization held a press conference at which
they urged transparency and that short-lists be released of any possible
successor to the current advisor, Juan E. Mendez. The NGOs, including Human
Rights Watch, the Institute for Global Policy and Amnesty International, urged
Ban Ki-moon to make public the report and recommendations of the Advisory
Committee to the S-G on the Prevention of Genocide.
Afterwards, Amnesty International's Yvonne Terlingen was asked if she had a copy
of the report. She at first indicated that she did have a copy, then declined to
provide a copy to requesting journalists, one of whom scoffed, "So the NGOs want
transparency for everyone but themselves."
subsequent UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokeswoman if
that report, and another one by Mr. Mendez about the Ivory Coast, could be
from Minute 14:53. Four hours later, the spokesperson's office responded:
question about NGOs urging the SG to consider making public the report and
recommendations of the advisory committee to the SG on prevention of genocide:
The SG has received the report and is considering its recommendations -- it is
not presently public."
report on the Ivory Coast, dated back to December 2005, nothing was said. The
spokesperson did say, however, that Mr. Mendez won't be reappointed, because he
has asked not to be. So will a short-list be released in this test case? We'll
Terlinger, 2d from left, 2006
wants transparency at the UN? Inner City Press asked the spokesperson for a
comment on the
controversial settlement of
the toxic waste dumping scandal between the Gbagbo government in Ivory Coast and
Trafigura, the European dumper which, as Inner City Press first
was part of the UN Oil for Food scandal. It is a settlement between a private
corporation and a member state, the spokesperson said, declining comment. Kofi
Annan speechified on the topic, but the new Administration apparently views it
as a "private" matter.
request made on Wednesday was for a list of all UN Goodwill Ambassadors and
"Dollar a Year" dignitaries. The latter requests dated back to the prior
Administration, and has yet to be filled. At a press conference with UNDP --
for that article -- tennis player Maria Sharapova was named a Goodwill
Ambassador. UNDP's Ad Melkert declined to provide a simple number on the volume
of UNDP's payments in North Korea in 2005, a year for which the books are
presumably closed. Afterwards, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was seen
exiting the protocol room containing Ms. Sharapova with a broad smile on his
face. In the hallway he told of his "sketchy" sporting career, including speed
skating. Inner City Press asked him for his favorite length. 1,500 meters was
the answer. There followed a story of breaking his leg in St. Tropez. Ms.
Sharapova left with an entourage including UNDP's Communications Office staff.
At the UN these days it is all spin, all the time. As one wag put it,
commenting on recent fix-ups of the staff cafeteria, the only thing that's
gotten more transparent at the UN is the salad bar, which is now under less
also marked the first snow of the season in New York. The UN closed down its
main walkway, shunting pedestrian entrants into the basement corridor by the
library. Dignitaries arriving by car, denied access to the tent by the General
Assembly, parked by the front door and entered along a thin and quivering path
like on suburban yards everywhere. Many senior officials left at 3 p.m.. One
long-time correspondent remembered back in anger at when, when the Rodney King
verdict was read out in Los Angeles, the UN closed down and sent everyone home
early. What was that again, about a human rights culture?
Other, earlier Inner
City Press are listed here, and
some are available in the ProQuest service.
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