UN's Georgia Mission Faces Russian Axe, Selective Sovereignty
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 15, updated post-veto
below -- Amid dark talk of a Russian veto threat, Monday
in the Security Council the UN's Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG)
faces cancellation or at most a mere two week reprieve, Western
Council diplomats tell Inner City Press. Georgian diplomats, who are
not on the Security Council but pace the hallways outside, seemed
resigned that any resolution containing a reference to their
country's territorial integrity and continued claim over Abkhazia and
South Ossetia would be vetoed by Russia.
June 12, Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert
about the status of negotiations about the Georgia Mission, given
French president Sarkozy's loud diplomacy last August to ostensibly
solve the problem. We are working on it, Ripert said. The German
mission said work would continue over the weekend. But on Monday,
Western Council diplomats told the Press that they might not be able
to get even a two week roll over. "Russia is playing hard ball,"
one said. The Georgian diplomat nodded wanly.
position is that its recognition of the unilateral declaration of
independence by South Ossetia and Abkhazia rendered moot much of the
so-called Sarkozy agreements. Now, many predict that South Ossetia
will simply be incorporated into Russia. Abkhazia, on the other hand,
seems to be aiming for more independence, putting out a call for its
diaspora in Turkey and elsewhere to return and "build the
of nations and wanna-be nations, it is hard not to notice that
Russia, which supported Sri Lanka's position that the Tamil
"separatists" in northern Sri Lanka could be attacked along
with civilians without any formal Security Council meeting, now
enforces the separatist rights of Abkhaz and South Ossetians.
Russia's argues is that these people were attacked. And the Tamils
At UN, Russia's Churkin under UK Sawers' watchful eye
10:38 a.m. outside the Council, a Georgia diplomat shook his head and
told Inner City Press, "It's either short lived or its dead."
Watch this space for updates.
of 12:53 p.m. -- Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin has made the veto
threat public. First he spoke with the Russian press -- "eight
minutes straight without taking a breath," one non-Russian
speaking reporter described it -- then in English at the stakeout,
for UN TV. He said that even on June 12, the "Friends of
Georgia" indicated they would look into what to call the
mission, for purposes of a rollover. But now, Churkin said, they've
put in blue a resolution which includes the name Georgia and
pre-conflict Resolution 1808. Russia had said it would vote no, and
has counter offered a one month rollover with no reference to Georgia
or its territorial integrity. A vote is scheduled for 5 p.m.. They
are playing chicken: who will blink first?
City Press asked Churkin to distinguish the UNMIK mission in Kosovo,
the extensions of which refer to Resolution 1244 (1999) and Russia's
insistence in dropping any reference to Resolution 1808 (2008 --
April). Churkin, choosing his words careful, said among other things
that Kosovo is still governed by 1244, while this is not the case in
Abkhazia, given the different format of peacekeeping. Video through here. Like we
said: selective sovereignty, on both sides...
of 5:45 p.m. -- the Council has consulted, now reportedly waiting for
China to get instructions. A Western diplomat tells Inner City Press
that it could be over by 6 p.m.. By over he means, the end of the
City Press asks, what would happened with envoy Verbecke? Back to
Lebanon? Or is he... a man without a mission? Watch this space.
of 6:10 p.m. -- the members are in the Chamber, and Inner City Press in
the cheap seats filing this report. Russia's Churkin is speaking before
the vote, against "old terms in documents." Veto seems assured.
of 6:13 p.m. -- Churkin says the Westernerns were "chasing political
chimera." A word straight out of Baudelaire, rarely heard these days
even at the UN. "Our partners preferred poison to medicine" -- Russia
"cannot allow its adoptions."
of 6:17 p.m. -- Russia votes no, alone. Then four abstentions,
including China, Libya and Vietnam. Ten in favor. Not adopted, based on
the negative vote of a permanent member. Now Ripert of France is
speaking, a counter-telling of the run up to the veto.
of 6:21 p.m. -- Ripert says there are areas of hatred still remaining,
France regrets this Russian veto and expresses its support for
Georgia's territorial integrity in its internationally recognized
borders. Now Mr. La of China says "we should have made further efforts"
with six hours to go. China urges the Group of Friends to arrive at a
compromise plan, to show "maximum flexibility."
of 6:25 p.m. -- the US' Rosemary DiCarlo takes the floor, expressing
regret. We may now need to consider measures to deal with a Georgia
without a UN presence. She says, "Abkhazia, Georgia" and thanks Johan
Verbecke for his service. The man without a mission...
of 6:28 p.m. -- Vietnam says it abstained to allow negotiations. The
UK's Deputy Permanent Representative says he "regrets' Russia's
decision. He says the Abkhaz want the mission to stay, only Russia
of 6:32 p.m. -- Japan's Amb. Takasu speaks of humanitarian issues, and
"disappointment." There was no reason, he says, to have dropped the
reference to Resolution 1808. Croatia follows suit. Uganda calls UN
presence "on the ground... vital."
of 6:40 p.m. -- Costa Rica's Urbina speaks of the "Grupos de Amigos."
Mexico's Heller also laments the end of the Mission.
of 6:47 p.m. -- Libya's Deputy has that any activity on behalf of UN
must have the agreement of "all parties of the United Nations." So, my
delegation abstained on the vote, he says.
of 6:49 p.m. -- Burkina Faso says "malgres tout," his delegation calls
on all parties to try peaceful response. And now Turkey, the last
member after the vote. Turkey co-sponsored the attempted roll over,
that Russia vetoed.
of 6:51 p.m. -- now Georgia's ambassador speaks, that a single member
has killed the mission. He refers to "Russia's invasion last
summer." The occupied region of Georgia is the phrase he uses. He
says without UNOMIG there will be less objective information. It is
evidence that Russia does not wish to have evidence, he says. Sound
like Sri Lanka....
Expect Russia to reply.
of 6:56 p.m. -- here comes Churkin, using his right of reply. For many
years now, we were very patient, in listening to Georgia. Abkhaz
representatives were not given an opportunity to tell the Council their
position. I could be critical of the statement of the Georgia
representative, there is not enough time.
But he takes on two or three colleagues. Contrary first the French --
Churkin says all that was at issued today was a draft, on a technical
rollover. Then against two unnamed members -- no one mentioned
Georgia's aggression, he says. At 7:02, that's it -- to the stake out!
of 7:50 p.m. -- And after the veto and the abstentions, the doomed
resolution's proponents took to the stakeout microphone. Absent, it
seemed, was Turkey. Inner City Press asked the UK Deputy Permanent
representative for the basis of his statement that the Abkhaz favored
the continuation of the mission. He said it was UK sources there. But
did they oppose inclusion of a reference to resolution 1808 in the
resolution? In the ultimate big resolution, yes they did oppose, was
the answer. The implication was that the Abkhaz could have lived with
1808 in the roll-over resolution that Russia vetoed.
City Press put the question to Russia's Churkin, who said that Russia
is in touch with the Abkhaz, and that it was a shame that the Council
never heard from the Abkhaz authorities. As he began speaking, the
US' Rosemarie DiCarlo was whispering to some reporters over the
stakeout barricade. Churkin indicated that she should be more quiet
or move further away. "We are a rules based community," he
praised (former?) Abkhazia envoy Johan Verbecke as a good colleague.
Inner City Press asked the proponents what happens next with Verbeke.
You have to ask the UN, Amb. DiCarlo answered.
Georgia's Ambassador came out, saying that "one country"
had blocked everything. Inner City Press first asked if he stood
behind his allegation that Russia blackmailed Ban Ki-moon into
changing his report on Abkhazia, to drop the name of Georgia. Yes I
do, he said, adding that the day's result showed that Russia couldn't
blackmail the whole international community. He again said, one
country alone blocked it. Inner City Press asked, what about the
abstainers. He replied that each of them had expressed support for
territorial integrity. Note that Russia does too, some of the time
-- and the proponents didn't, at least when it came to Kosovo.
we said, selective sovereignty.
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Sri Lanka, UN Has No Comment on Prison Labor, New GA President Will
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 12 -- The UN at all levels demonstrates blindness with
respect to Sri Lanka, from the use of prison labor in the now emptied
out north to even recognizing the name of the country. Incoming
General Assembly president Ali Abdussalam Treki of Libya on Friday
took questions from the Press.
Inner City Press asked him about two
countries, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. To the latter, Libya agreed to a
$500 million loan, to make up for the $1.9 billion loan from the
International Monetary Fund delayed by reports of mistreatment of
civilians. Inner City Press asked Treki, since Libya was among those
blocking Security Council action, if he could imagine Sri Lanka being
taken up in the General Assembly, as Myanmar has been. Video here,
from Minute 17:46.
Treki latched on to the Myanmar part of the question, praising the
UN's envoy to that country Ibrahim Gambari, whom he said he knew when
Gambari was the foreign minister of the Sani Abacha administration in
Nigeria. He said he would meet with Gambari on Friday afternoon to
get a report about Myanmar. About Sri Lanka, Treki said nothing,
then moved on to another questioner.
City Press followed up, asking why Libya didn't view the conflict in
Sri Lanka as impacting international peace and security. Treki said
it "interests the world, the human rights aspect," but that
what "Asia says is very important, they tell us if what goes on
in Myanmar" effects peace and security. Video here,
had Treki simply refused to answer about Sri Lanka? He will be
president of the UN General Assembly from September 2009 through
UN's Ban and Libya's Ali Treki, action on Sri
Lanka and prison labor not shown
at the UN's noon media briefing on June 12, asked Ban Ki-moon's
Spokesperson Michele Montas had read out a statement that access to
the camps in Vavuniya in northern Sri Lanka is getting better and new
camps are being built -- internment camps, with UN money -- Inner
City Press asked for the UN's response to Sri Lankan authorities'
statement that they will use prison labor in the north.
said "no comment at this point, maybe later we will see how the
issue is being discussed." Video here,
from Minute 18:39.
Ms Montas' office sent Inner City Press the following response:
Response from OCHA on your question at the noon briefing
unspokesperson-donotreply [at] un.org
Inner City Press
6/12/2009 12:43:56 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
use of prison labour in reconstruction in Sri Lanka, we have not
heard these allegations and have no information.
the UN's "close monitoring" of Sri Lanka doesn't even read
from Colombo, with quotes from government officials:
inmates to be deployed for the redevelopment process in Sri Lanka's
Jun 11, 2009, 11:51 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
11, Colombo: Sri Lanka government is planning to deploy prison
inmates for the redevelopment process in the liberated areas of the
Commissioner General, Major General V.R Silva told the media that
this would be an appropriate decision to develop the liberated areas
to statistics there are nearly 30,000 inmates are in the prisons at
the moment. Most of them are able bodied people with various skills,
the skills of those in jail, including for violent crime, are those
the Sri Lankan government is unleashing in the north. And the
They "have not heard these allegations and have no information." Watch
* * *