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On N. Korean Ship in India, UN Sees No Evil, Hears No Evil, as on Afghan Black Out

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 19 -- As a North Korean ship is being searched in the India port of Kakinada, in New York the chairman of the Council's Sanctions Committee Fazli Corman was asked by Inner City Press about the ship and searching. "That information is not available to me," Ambassador Corman said. Video here, from Minute 8:05.

This lack of knowledge seemed strange since the ship, the MV Musen, was seized on August 6, and is being searched under the UN Security Council's sanctions resolution. Inner City Press followed up and asked, to whom would India then report? Corman replied that "they might be doing it under the resolution, and if they come up with a conclusion that it is a case that should be reported to us, it would be the committee... But this is something I have not received yet... it is the obligation of each member state to interpret and implement the resolution." Video here, from Minute 10.

   There is something strange about this ship, which stopped near India's Andaman Islands. The claim is that the stop over involve the price of sugar. But why would the Security Council's committee know nothing about it? Inner City Press observed India's permanent representative to the UN coming out of the Secretariat Building at 10 a.m., just before the Security Council meeting began. Watch this site.

Turkey's Fazli Corman, information about N. Korean ship not shown

Footnotes: Also on the Council's agenda Thursday morning were Sudan, Lebanon and Afghanistan. Sudan's permanent representative to the UN is, according to his deputy, still in India. Sources tell Inner City Press that during the Council's closed door consultations on Sudan on Thursday, while China and Russia praised Obama's envoy to Sudan Scott Gration, the U.S. Mission did not. Sudan and others see, and perhaps exploit, this as an almost comical split in U.S. Administration policy.

  As she exited the Council chamber, Susan Rice was greeted by outgoing French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, who told the Press this was his last Council meeting, "unless something happens before I leave." He will be thrown a party Thursday night.

  When Council president John Sawers emerged, Inner City Press asked if there had been any discussion of the media blackout imposed by Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai. Video here, from Minute 4:45. "No, we didn't hear discussion of that," Sawers said. Perhaps as with the North Korea ship: see no evil, hear no evil.

* * *

As UK Questioned on Arms Exports to Sri Lanka, No Action at UN on Flooded Camps

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 19 -- As in London a House of Commons report zeroed in and requested answers on UK licensed arms sales to Sri Lanka in the run-up to this year's bloodbath on the beach, at the UN in New York UK Ambassador John Sawers emphasized that he would only take questions, including on Sri Lanka, in his capacity as the president of the Security Council for this month.

   Inner City Press asked Ambassador Sawers, since the Council earlier this year held meetings about Sri Lanka without putting it on the Council's formal agenda, about the flooding on the UN funded internment camps and the call by various human rights groups that those locked up in the camps be allowed to leave. Video here, from Minute 3:29.

   "There is no request for a meeting on Sri Lanka in any format," Sawers said adding that Sri Lanka is of concern "to a number of Council member" and will be kept "under review." But how? The lack of action by the UN at any level, even as the government in Colombo blames it for the breakdown in sewage systems in the camps, highlights the effect of the UK not having called a procedural vote to put Sri Lanka on the Council's agenda.

  If the situation in Manik Farms camps were to be happening in the camps in Darfur, the Council it seems clear would consider and speak on it. But since the UK, by Sawers' own account, chose Council unanimity over a split but winning vote to put Sri Lanka on the agenda, now ongoing abuses there are not being considered.

  It appears that Council members, even those who expressed concern earlier this year, are not even staying informed on the situation. Inner City Press asked Mexico's Ambassador Claude Heller about the flooding and he said he was not aware of it, but would look into it. While that's to be commended, is it any surprise then that Sawers replied that no request for a meeting on Sri Lanka has been made?

  After Sawers' answer, Inner City Press asked a spokesperson for the UK Mission to the UN about the House of Commons report, Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2009). Sawers had emphasized he would only answer as Council president, and so this troubling but UK specific report could not be asked about.

  Later on Wednesday the UK mission responded to Inner City Press that there is a review of the licenses for exports to Sri Lanka ongoing, that some licenses might be revoked. The spokesperson noted that some licenses were rejected, for example for weapons or ammunition, and said that those grants were mostly for "humanitarian or dual" use.

  Inner City Press asked how the UK could verify how the items were used, if its personnel along with all independent media were excluded from the northern part of Sri Lanka as now from the camps. The spokesperson said that the UK wouldn't reply on the media for verification anyway. But how then is the verification done?

Behind barbed wire in the Manik Farms, sewage not shown

  The spokesperson said that there has not been any discussion within the UK Mission to the UN about the situation in the camps, that such discussion might take place in London, mostly because of the Tamil diaspora there. But given the UK Mission's publicly stated decision not to call what they say would have been a victorious but split vote to put Sri Lanka on the Council's agenda, some expect a more robust response from the UK when the internment camps it is is part funding, including through the UN, become threatened by epidemics and the people not allowed to leave. We'll see.

From the House of Commons' Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2009)

Sri Lanka

123. In the course of our evidence sessions, we raised our concerns with witnesses on the

subject of Sri Lanka. On 11 March 2009, we asked representatives of the Export Group for

Aerospace and Defence (EGAD) to what extent they saw similarities between exporting

arms to Sri Lanka and Israel. David Hayes, Chairman of EGAD, told us that an embargo

would be “a matter for Government, not for industry”.180 However, Nigel Knowles, Vice

Chairman of EGAD, felt able to offer an argument against an embargo, citing the leverage

generated by trade. He suggested that it was sometimes necessary “to take a little grief in

order to keep a friendship”.181 We were not persuaded either by the leverage generated in

this case, or indeed the general principle. Indeed, the Campaign Against Arms Trade notes

in its written memorandum that the Defence Industrial Strategy concluded that “the

balance of argument about defence exports should depend mainly on non-economic


124. We pursued the issue of Sri Lanka with Bill Rammell at our session on 22 April

2009.183 He told us that the FCO’s judgment was that an embargo, or the threat of one, was

not the best vehicle for trying to secure a ceasefire.184 Using an embargo signalled “the end

of the diplomatic road” and demonstrated that a lot of influence had been lost.185 The

Minister told us that few licences had been granted for exports to Sri Lanka since the

beginning of 2007 which he cited as evidence of procedures being effective.186

125. The issue of Sri Lanka illustrates the difficulties faced by the Government, and by

those who, like us, scrutinise the licensing decisions made by Government, in assessing

how exports of arms might be used by the destination country at a future date, particularly

if political situation in the country at the time of the exports appears stable. Bill Rammell

told the Committees that licensing decisions were based on evidence from FCO posts,

from NGOs, newspaper and media reports and a variety of other sources.187 He said that

you make judgments based on the situation at the time; you do not make judgments for

ever and a day.”188 In its submission to us, Saferworld listed the type of weapons that had

been licensed for export to Sri Lanka from 1997 onwards, including the period of the

fragile ceasefire starting in 2002.189 During the ceasefire, a wide variety of military

equipment and weapons were exported to Sri Lanka, and, due to the extremely limited

access of international observers to Sri Lanka, it is impossible to be certain how many of

those weapons were used subsequently against the civilian population when hostilities

began to escalate again in 2006. Bill Rammell argued that few licences had been issued for

Sri Lanka since 2007, but accepted that the international community had not focussed

enough on what had been happening in Sri Lanka.190 We note the fact that in the period 1

April 2008 to 31 March 2009, 34 licences were issued for export to Sri Lanka, and we will

be keeping a keen eye on all future exports.

126. We conclude that the policy of assessing licences to Sri Lanka on a case-by-case

basis is, in our opinion, appropriate. However, we recommend that the Government

should review all existing licences relating to Sri Lanka and provide in its Response an

assessment of what implications the situation in Sri Lanka will have on how the Foreign

and Commonwealth Office judges the possible future use of strategic exports by that

country and the risk that the export licensing criteria might be breached. We further

recommend that the Government provide in its Response an assessment of what UK

supplied weapons, ammunition, parts and components were used by the Sri Lankan

armed forces in the recent military actions against the Tamil Tigers.

Inner City Press' June 18 debate on Sri Lanka, click here

 Channel 4 in the UK with allegations of rape and disappearance

  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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