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March 1, 2011: Libya

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In UN Archives, No Sudan Mission Records, Kofi Annan Questions, Khruschev's Shoe

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 25 -- In the UN's underground archives there are films from the old League of Nations about Manchuria amid footage from the Congo in 1963. Tuesday the UN gave the Press a tour, and took some questions.

  In a room kept at 60 degrees in the UN's second basement Inner City Press asked if high UN officials, just for example former Secretary General Kofi Annan, are allowed to keep their own records. No, was the answer on the record, on camera (YouTube video here and below) -- "according to UN record rules, they could get a copy but not the original."

  One wag mused about Nixon and Watergate, wondering if any UN officials kept their own records of meetings.

(c) MRLee
In UN Archives, old film editing machine, outsourcing not shown

  Inner City Press asked what happens to recordings made by UN peacekeeping missions, for example the UN Mission in Sudan which was formally disbanded on July 9, 2011.

  This is might be important due to increasingly detailed reports that UN peacekeepers in Kadugli in Southern Kordofan watched -- and could film -- while civilians were killed just outside their compound.

 In the recent case of sexual abuse in Haiti by Uruguayan peacekeepers, the evidence the UN first denied existed was found on the peacekeepers' own cell phone.

  The answer to this question seemed out of touch: the UN doesn't want material in local languages, and allows peacekeeping missions to give their recordings to national or local archives -- try that with Sudan's National Congress Party or the local governor of Southern Kordofan Ahmed Haroun, who is indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

(c) MRLee
Tapes in UN Archives on Oct 21, Oil for Food confessions not shown

  Or, the answer continued, the peacekeeping mission can give its records to "ARMS," the Archives and Records Management System, run by the Department of Management. We'll see.

Inner City Press asked if the UN has the footage from the dust up of UN Security by the entourage of Turkish prime minister Erdogan on September 23. No, came the answer, "that's a YouTube job - did you do it?"

The question and answer session ended with the revelation that the UN does not have the video of Russia's Khruschev banging his shoe -- a conspiracy theory recounted in the basement Tuesday was that the KGB stole and destroyed the film, or that CBS borrowed and lost it. Only at the UN.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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