UN, China Takes Few Questions, ECOWAS Unheeded on Guinea, Myanmar
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 5 -- As China takes over the UN Security Council
presidency for the month of January, at the customary program of work
press conference, its Permanent Representative Zhang Yesui took only
six questions -- four topics and two follow ups -- and barely
One of the
questions was from Chinese state owned media Xinhua and was a
softball. What is China's thinking in choosing to hold its thematic
debate about regional organizations -- including the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization -- and how can regional organizations help
Yesui, seeming entirely prepared for the question, said that often
regional organizations know more about the problems that they deal
with. He cited the African Union's work on Sudan, and later Somalia
-- although that doesn't seem to be going so well -- but he might
have mentioned ASEAN and its "hands off Myanmar" stance.
believe that China's and the U.S.'s increasing use of regional
organization reflects that militarily dominant countries, not wanting
the UN to criticize what they do, from Xinjiang to Afghanistan, like
to limit the Security Council's jurisdiction. One test of this will
be whether the U.S., up in arms about Yemen, raises the matter at the
Yesui was asked if China thinks that "moderate Taliban in
Afghanistan" should be spoken with. He replied that "internal
affairs of a state should be determined by its people."
that China goes along however reluctantly with the Council's
statements on Myanmar, urging the military junta to engage with the
opposition and free Aung San Suu Kyi. China, of course, has just
imposed an 11 year sentence on Liu Xiaobo. No questions on this,
however, were taken at the briefing.
Yesui said there has been progress with North Korea -- his American
counterpart Susan Rice says the same. Kim
Jong Il is reportedly headed to Beijing. Meanwhile, the Indian
miltary has spoken darkly of "two front" preparations
for Pakistan and China, but this rattling of nuclear sabres was not
mentioned in the press conference. It's a regional thing.
At UN, President Hu, ECOWAS views not shown
the program of
work's footnotes is the phrase "Peace consolidation in West
Africa." While no question on this was taken, one assumes this
means Guinea, the massacre of September 28 and the resulting UN
report. A Presidential Statement is being prepared.
China may go
along with it, China signed a business deal with the junta soon after
the massacre. This contradicted the stance of the regional
organization, ECOWAS. What was that again, about respect for regional
organizations? Watch this site.
* * *
UN Council, Iran and Guinea But Not Yemen Discussed by Five New
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 5 -- In the UN's nearly empty building, 2010 dawned
at the Security Council with January's president China serving
breakfast and giving photo albums to the other Council members, five
of them new this month.
of the five
outgoing countries pointedly asked, at the Council retreat for the
new members, what is the function of the ten non-permanent members,
other than to legitimize the decisions of the Permanent Five?
Croatia, to pick one example, accomplished nearly nothing during its
stint. (Perhaps explanatory, its Permanent Representative left in
diverting Mission funds for gambling in Las Vegas.)
members, many are watching Brazil, given its rising power and the
outspokenness of President Lula. In late 2009, Brazil wrote a letter
to the Council about the safety of its embassy in Honduras, into
which the deposed Manuel Zelaya took refuge.
told Inner City Press on Tuesday morning that this will have to be
reviewed, along with other outstanding items from 2009.
of breakfast dishes, various Council members spun the Press on their
topics of interest. A Presidential Statement is in the works about
the September massacres in Guinea, a "hot issues, on the hot
burner," the PRST's drafter gushed.
Iran, a well
placed Council member said the country's failure to be responsive to
the Sanctions Committees letter was helping to build the case for
further sanctions. "If there's no regime change before then,"
quipped another member.
Around the Horseshoe Table, one perm perm rep and
reform not shown
outgoing member has questioned why the Council's Committees are only
chaired by non-permanent members. Is it a mark of respect, or of the
P-5 trying not to dominate? Or, because the work is large
administrative and conducted by lower level bureaucrats, is chairing
the committees beneath the P-5 Permanent Representatives?
only four were seen on Tuesday. Missing was the U.S.'s Susan Rice.
The U.S. has, some say, thus staked out a position above the over
Permanent Four. Now in 2010, will the U.S. which says it wants to use
the UN be raising the issue of Yemen? Watch this site.
Also on the
U.S. Mission, at the UN barely a word has been said about the flame out
in scandal and withdrawal of the nomination of former Goldman Sachs
executive Jide J. Zeitlin to head the
Mission's UN reform efforts. Who's next?
footnote: while the Council is usually off-limits to the UN press
corps, on Tuesday morning the bureau chief of China's state owned
Xinhua came smiling out of the breakfast. With human rights issues
like Myanmar, Iran, Sudan and Guinea on the Council's agenda, some
wonder how China can be an honest broker. We'l be covering this, and
secondarily any honest brokering with the press.