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On Halloween, UNSC on Iraq & Syria, No Video or Burkina Faso

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 31 -- Amid mass executions and coups d'etat, this now is how the UN Security Council is operating: issuing multiple Press Statements after hours on Fridays, on some topics but not others.

  Past 5 pm on Halloween, an email from UN Television told some of the press corps at the UN that two statements would be read out. The topics were not stated.

  Inner City Press ran to the Security Council stakeout and waited, with a handful of UN staff and UNTV contractors. It was suggested that, beyond Syria -- a statement on which had already gone online -- the second statement might be about the “change in government” in Burkina Faso, and the military taking control.

  But when Perceval arrived and read the second statement, it was about Iraq, ISIL's executions of Sunni tribesmen in Anbar, the same phrasing used in the US State Department's expressions of concern.

  Afterward Inner City Press asked Perceval if anyone had raised Burkina Faso (and, on Syria, if it was true that a video of the bombed IDP camp near Idlib had been shown to the Council members. On this, Perceval said no, not in formal consultations.)

  On Burkina Faso, Perceval indicated that while it was serious, it might not be a threat to international peace and security. She said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has spoken, presumably for the member states But did he? Earlier on October 31 at the UN's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: the UN seems to in peace processes work pretty closely with Burkina Faso. So I wonder when, if you can maybe say, when the President began to talk about changing term limits and going beyond his current 27 years of rule, did anyone in the UN system say, maybe it's a bad idea, maybe it's time… maybe your Government is too strong, maybe it's time for somebody else? Or was it hands off? What was the view of that?

Spokesman Dujarric: I think it's… first of all, I doubt that there were any consultations by the President and the UN on what his decisions were, what the parliament's decision was going to be, you know, so I think we're trying to imagine conversations that were not had.

Inner City Press: What I'm saying is, the UN has actively asked the Burkina authorities to play a role in a variety of regional conflicts; it seems like there are kind of discussions, and also by making that request, they're saying that this 27-year person is a…

Spokesman: I think, you know, Burkina Faso has a role to play in the regional… in keeping regional peace. I think every country in any region has that role to play.

Inner City Press: What's Mr. Chambas doing there?

Spokesman: He was sent by the Secretary-General. He'll be meeting with key stakeholders. He arrived this morning. Obviously, the situation is changing at a very rapid clip, and he will be talking with key stakeholders.

Ah, the UN. Watch this site.

Footnote: As the Free UN Coalition for Access complained earlier in the month, the stakeout was not announced by the UN Spokesperson's Office, but only via email to broadcasters using UNTV. On the afternoon of October 31 incoming UN Security Council president Gary Quinlan of Australia, in a panel about sanctions, said, “Please, let us speak to the media.” FUNCA agrees - we'll have more on this.


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