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For UNSC's Netherlands and Italy Split, 6 Abstain in UNGA After Ashe Tribute

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 30 -- After tying 95 to 95, Netherlands and Italy agreed to split the Security Council term. Inner City Press proposed and predicted this outcome during the lunch break. Norway said WEOG would meet June 29 at 10 am and consider the proposal. Inner City Press staked out that meeting and heard that WEOG accepted the deal.

On June 30, after a tribute to John Ashe, the deal was appoved, though six countries abstained. It was a secret ballot. Afterward ambassadors lined up to shake hands with the Permanent Representative of Netherlands and Italy. The latter had palled around with an Ambassador of a Caribbean country, not from the Caribbean. 

At a joint stakeout, Inner City Press asked if the two countries will coordinate on voting, for example on Press Statements. Paolo Gentiloni laughed and said it is not yet clear.

On June 29, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Farhan Haq, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: as to the precedents, this is what… maybe you'll answer.  It seems like, in all the previous cases, these were two different regional groups, or it was prior to the existence of regional groups.  So the question becomes, like, in this case, they said yesterday they're going to consult with each other even… not during their year, i.e., Italy consulting with Netherlands during its first year; Netherlands with Italy.  So it's kind of… this didn't take place in the past.  So the question is, does that comply with…

Deputy Spokesman:  That has also taken place in the past.  If you remember a few years ago, there were two different two-year terms for Argentina and Brazil where they agreed with each other that they would consult with each other, so that they had a certain amount of information sharing between the Argentine delegation for its two-year term and Brazil for its two-year term.  That was just a few years ago.

Inner City Press:  So what if somebody doesn't agree… what if the non-sitting party doesn't agree to a press statement?  So how does that work?

Deputy Spokesman:  I'm not here to prejudge what the agreement is that they will reach.  That's for the parties themselves to do.  What I'm just pointing out is the previous record of precedents.

We'll see. It goes for a GA vote on June 30, along with a tribute to John Ashe, who died under indictment for UN bribery, watch this site.

In the contested race for the Asia Pacific Group, Kazakhstan defeated Thailand, joining Bolivia and Ethiopia which ran unopposed, and Sweden which won the first round with 134 for seats.

Before the lunch break,  Netherlands got 96 to Italy's 94. So: another run-off, at 3 pm. Soon it was 95 to 95. Then the diplomats ran to PGA Lykketoft's office, twice - and came back with the deal.

Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre, the President of the Security Council for June, how it could be resolved. “Three thousand phone calls,” he quipped, calling it “UN diplomacy in action.”

   Inner City Press has another simple idea: why not split the two-year term, one year for each? (We'll dub this the "Charter be damned" option - since Ban Ki-moon doesn't care about violating a 1946 GA resolution to seek South Korea's presidency).

Or more realistically, why not a third candidate - Iceland, say?

Inner City Press ran from the strangely-begun UN briefing to catch Swedish minister Margot Wallstrom's stakeout, and asked about sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers. She said the issued should be in every Security Council mandate. Periscope here; we'll have more on this.

Inner City Press asked Bolivia's Permanent Representative about Ban Ki-moon letting Saudi Arabia off the UN's Yemen Children and Armed Conflict list and about Western Sahara (Bolivia is on the Decolonization Committee); Periscope here.

Inner City Press asked Kazakhstan's minister about Ukraine, and what his Permanent Representative had said about Central Asia not until now being represented on the Council. Only Ethiopia, among the winners, had yet to take questions by 2 pm. Watch this site.

After the first rounds voting, while the ballots were being counted, Paolo Gentiloni worked the crowd, as captured by Inner City Press on Periscope. DutchKoeners spend a long time with Benin. Uruguay passed out letters for a Rights of the Child candidate.

In the days before the vote, Italy gave out gelato, the Netherlands played soccer, Sweden did a mid-summer festival, Thailand did  a lot including meeting with African Ambassadors and Kazakhstan had a live singer at the Plaza Hotel, Inner City Press Periscope video here. What would it come to?

On the way in, Inner City Press asked Next SG candidate Vuk Jeremic how it's going. He said no one can compete with Helen Clark's resources from UNDP, not to mention New Zealand, but reminded Inner City Press of his answer, that he would defend whistleblowers. That would set him apart from the current administration.

Earlier on June 27, prosecutors in Federal court downtown described South South News as a vehicle of bribery. The UN treats it with kids gloves, while evicting Inner City Press. This is today's UN.

On May 24, the second day of UN Security Council election debates featured three states - Sweden, the Netherlands and Italy - on May 24 vying for two seats, with the voting set for June 28. Inner City Press is informed that most states have already committed their votes, and it is unclear if anything said during the debate would sway such a decision.

  Italy said it is at the crossroads of East and West; it has been on the Security Council six times since joining the UN in 1955, the most recent in 2007.

 Sweden, by contrast, has been on the Council three times, and also the further back in time, in 1997. For the Netherlands it's been five times, the most recent in 1999.

   Sweden noted that it has recognized Palestine - perhaps offsetting for some its dust-up with Saudi Arabia. Netherlands candidly brought up Srebrenica, as a dark mark on its past; it said as it had set up meetings with states beyond the Security Council for now Foreign Minister Bert Koenders when he was un envoy in Mali and Cote d'Ivoire, it would do the same in the future. Italy cited the theft and sale of cultural heritage by terrorists.

   Among the questions, UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft asked the three, who would come onto the just as the Next SG will, how they would work with her. Italy said it has not spend so much on its campaign, it's all part of foreign policy. A contested application in the NGO Committee beckoned, and so it was time to go. What remained constant was that due to UN eviction and censorship, Inner City Press was required to have a minder to reach the stakeout.

The day before on May 23 when Kazakhstan and Thailand debated, such as it was, for the Asia Pacific seat on the UN Security Council, Inner City Press again could only reach the stakeout with a minder, thanks to Ban Ki-moon's and Cristina Gallach's censorship. Still, while canned questions were posed by DPA and others inside, outside diplomats told Inner City Press this “reform” was more illusory than real.

  “We've already made up our mind,” as one diplomat put it. Or as another specified, votes for Security Council seats are traded early among nations; no debate a few weeks out can change it. Still, Amnesty International asked about about Morocco and Western Sahara, South Sudan and Malakal.

Kazakhstan pointed out no Central Asian country has yet served on the Council. Thailand cited its pedigree. Inner City Press tweeted these and got push back.


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