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At UNSC, Argentina's Month Has 7 Stakeouts, Vulture Funds, Disappeared, Dialogue

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 28 -- Argentina's month atop the UN Security Council has three more days to run, with meetings on East Jerusalem and the International Court of Justice, but their mission held their End of Presidency reception on October 28 so we review it.

   First, press openness, reviewed by the new Free UN Coalition for Access. Maria Cristina Perceval held seven stakeouts during the month, on top of the Program of Work press conference reviewed below. By the numbers, it was neither the best nor the worst recent presidency.

  Argentina leaves a mark on the Council's "Working Methods," advocating for more participation by the elected ten members, questioning the veto.

  But what Argentina in particular brought to the table was a human feel, not only talking about the Mothers of the Disappeared and where appropriate the issue of sovereign debt and vulture funds, but also saying to Palestine and Israel, and Ukraine and Russia, we will let you speak, we want dialogue.

   These all came together at 6:30 pm on October 28, when with rights of reply between Russia and Ukraine still ongoing in the Council, Perceval bid adieu to go host her reception.

  Up in the Delegates' Dining Room, after a video and a talk by a “recovering grand-daughter” of the disappeared and amid the tango, Inner City Press was approached by the workers, saying the Aramark has lost the DDR contract, replaced the workers said by “Culinary” (Arts?). Will they keep on the workers, as the UN's cleaning contractor did, no thanks to the UN but rather to the union? This seems the kind of question Argentina cares about, to their credit.

   Venezuela is coming into the Council in Argentina's place, as Angola will replace Rwanda and New Zealand, Australia. Quiet South Korea will be gone, with Malaysia coming in; Spain will take over for Luxembourg, one of the champions of the stakeout. Speaking of the stakeout, the Internet has been dead there for two days, as the UN seems to want Council coverage to die. But not only Inner City Press but also the Free UN Coalition for Access will oppose it, unlike the UN's Censorship Alliance.

 Back on October 2 when Argentina took over the UN Security Council's Presidency, the closed-door consultations on the program of work went longer than usual. Inner City Press learned from sources in the meeting that the hang-up was Ebola, specifically whether the issue and new UNMEER mission are on the agenda of the Council for a briefing.

  When Argentine Permanent Representative Maria Cristina Perceval came to take questions on the month's Council schedule, Inner City Press first asked her on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access to hold many Q&A stakeouts, then asked about Syria as well as the Ebola debate. Video here and embedded below.

  On Syria, Inner City Press asked if she anticipates there being a vote in the Security Council about the airstrikes in Syria by the US and (so far) five Arab countries. She replied that the program of work has Syria meetings on chemical weapons and on humanitarian access but the airstrikes are not included. Not yet?

  On Ebola, Perceval confirmed that the debate behind closed doors had been about the issue; she recounted that since there are already UN Peacekeeping (and political) missions in the Ebola hot zone, the Council has some jurisdiction. She said to give her time to find a solution. Guess: Arria formula meeting?

Argentina, given its stand-off with hedge / “vulture” funds, has been raising the issue of sovereign debt in every UN forum possible. Why not in the Security Council? Especially if the Ebola mission gets in there? Watch this site.

Footnote: Before replying to Inner City Press, Perceval said as an aside that “our friend is at the Security Council before many of us, and afterward too” and therefore has precise questions. The reality is that covering the Security Council has been made more difficult, with no fightback and sometimes collusion by the old UN Correspondents Association.

   More on HuffPost Live, here.

  Those are some of the reasons Inner City Press quit and opposes UNCA, calling it the UN's Censorship Alliance, and co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access, which pushes for transparency including a Freedom of Information Act covering the UN, and protection of the right to investigative journalism. FUNCA is looking forward to Argentina's month atop the Council.


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