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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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At UN, Human Rights In Somalia Downplayed, Treaties on Disabilities and Women Pitched, Despite Congo

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 20, updated Sept. 21 -- Human rights formalities and diplomatic silence, sometimes called duplicity, were on display Thursday at the United Nations. While the UN refused to confirm that in Somalia, its human rights expert had been denied entry, it bragged about its treaties, and the countries coming to sign on in the coming week. But what about the systematic rape and torture of women in the Congo, where the UN has since 1999 mounted its largest peacekeeping mission? DRC, Inner City Press was told, has not been pressed to sign on to the "optional protocol of CEWAD," so nothing can be done. The sexist old saw has it that the law can be a whore. The UN, then, can be a pimp or a procurer.

            On Somalia, Inner City Press at Thursday's noon briefing asked:

Inner City Press: There's this UN mission of people traveling there, Eric LaRoche and this guy Ghanim Alnajjar, who's the human rights expert.  So it's reported that the Transitional Federal Government actually barred him from entry initially... and told him he'd actually have to fly back to Kenya.  So can you confirm that the UN's human rights guy for Somalia was turned away?

Spokesperson:  I can't confirm this at this point, I have to check with them.

            Twelve hours later, no information had been provided, despite clear press accounts. But at the next day's noon briefing, the Spokesperson confirmed that the human rights envoy had been refused entry at Baidoa, due to a "misunderstanding," but now will be allowed in. Video here, from Minute 11:03. We will continue to follow this.

Talkin' treaties, at the UN on Sept. 20, 2007

   Following the noon briefing, three human rights proponents spoke about their treaties, and the countries signing on. Regarding the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Inner City Press hearkened back to a dispute during its passage, about the Arabic, Chinese and Russian translation of "legal capacity." Video here. Thomas Schindlmayr took the high road, saying it hasn't been a problem to date, and that progress continues apace. Less so on the Congo, where despite UN involving and spending since 1999, DRC has not accede to CEDAW's protocol, under which woman could then file complaints and at least get investigations like the one into disappearances and death of women in Juarez. Why is the UN tone-deaf (sorry) on human rights?  The left hand does not even know what the left hand is doing....

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  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent 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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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540