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Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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At UN in April, As Colombia Pitches Haiti Some Say Not Ready for Prime Time

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 31 -- As Colombia takes over the UN Security Council for April, there are more questions than on-the-record answers. Colombia's thematic debate, as Inner City Press reported a month ago, will be about Haiti, and take place on April 6.

  President Santos will come to New York, along with Bill Clinton. It is understood that the GRULAC Latin Group has told Ban Ki-moon that he cannot name Frenchman Bernard Kouchner to succeed Guatemalan Mulet as UN envoy in Haiti.

But Colombia's relations with the rest of GRULAC, especially the ALBA or White Group, is less clear. Whereas Lebanon was the conduit for Arab League views on the Council's Libya resolutions, GRULAC members tell Inner City Press that Colombia is too standoffish, and its Permanent Representive, former coffee executive Nestor Osorio “out of his depth.”

Osorio & Ban Ki-moon, oversight not shown

The other high points for April, according to non-Colombian sources who've seen the program of work, including an April 8 briefing on Darfur, Sudan, and the “horizon” briefing by the Department of Political Affairs on April 11.

  Michelle Bachelet of UN Women will speak on April 12 -- one hopes at the stakeout -- and Margot Wallstrom on sexual violence on April 14.

Small arms will be discussed on April 25, and the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will accompany Council members on a retreat on April 28-29.

On the horizon are two or three trips: at the end of May, France's month, to the African Union, and maybe a junket to China. Russia's proposal for a Middle East trip does not appear to have moved forward, due to US opposition.

Various Council members and other member states have wondered if Colombia will be independent in its month. We will keep an open mind as long as we can. Watch this site.

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As US Blocks d'Escoto on Libya, Grumblings About Free Speech & Precedent at Chinese Reception

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 31 -- Barely an hour after Susan Rice of the US said Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann would find his tourist visa under review if he purported to represent Libya or any foreign government at the UN, Wednesday's Chinese End of Security Council Presidency reception seven block south of the UN was abuzz about the standoff.

   Several Permanent Representatives expressed shock to Inner City Press that d'Escoto Brockmann's press conference scheduled for March 31 at 10 am had so quickly been canceled or “postponed.”

  Inner City Press was told that the when the UN Secretariat received the complaint, rather than point out that other press conferences have been held by non diplomats they moved to cancel Brockmann's “show.”

  “Ban Ki-moon has gone too far,” a Latin American diplomat told Inner City Press. “Maybe the UN should be moved to Brazil.”

  Another Deputy Permanent Representative, this time of a country on the Security Council, told Inner City Press about a Council credentials rule that if a citizen of one country seeks to represent another, he or she needs letters from both countries.

  The example given, repeatedly now, is of an Irish national who was an expert working for Austria when it was on the Council. He could not get a letter from Ireland and so was not allowed in the Council, at least not for consultations.

But d'Escoto Brockmann could easily get a letter from Nicaragua, and he has a letter from Musa Koussa when he was Gaddafi's foreign minister, before his reported defection.

Another Permanent Representative pointed out to Inner City Press that the Musa Koussa letter is undated, and said the US and UN will use that.

D'Escoto & Ban, previously: March 30 reception & March 31 presser not shown

   The result is that the US, by invoking immigration rules, “mocking” as one Latin diplomat put it to Inner City Press its duties under its Host Country Agreement with the US, is blocking the UN press corps from hearing a perspective that the US doesn't like.

Outside the earshot of the Chinese hosts of Wednesday's reception, some mused back to the case of Tiananmen Square activist Shen Tong, whom China and then Boutros Ghali blocked from entering the UN to hold a press conference.

Then, UN correspondents protested and went (just) outside the UN's gates on First Avenue to hear the canceled briefing. And at that time, notably, the US is said to have sided with the right of the UN press corps to invite and hear from whomever they wanted, inside the UN. Watch this site.

Footnote: because so many attendees commented on it, so will we: the food at China's reception was amazing, from roast duck to fish spiced with chiles. Afterward DVDs were given out about minorities in China.

  Several Council observers praised China's diplomacy as President for March, for example circulating two letters from Libya without obsessing about where they'd come in from. Now Colombia takes over for April; they are already preparing an end of April reception, Colombian music at a museum. But we'll have more soon on their program of work. Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 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.

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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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