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At UN on Western Sahara, Ban's Final Report Has No Rights Monitor in MINURSO

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 15 -- Nine days after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was supposed to issue his annual report on Western Sahara, and after extensive lobbying by Morocco and France, Ban on Friday put out a text which did not include the human rights monitoring mechanism that even the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged.

  Instead the finalreport, being put online here and here, has Ban “appreciating” Morocco's “expressed commitment” to allow Special Procedures and presumably Special Rapporteurs from the UN Human Rights Council. See Paragraph 121 in this file, and compare to this.

  Not explained is why having a human rights monitoring mechanism, which other UN Peacekeeping missions in Africa have, is not being done in the case of Western Sahara, particularly at a time when France and other Permanent Five members of the Security Council are citing human rights and the protection of civilians as the basis for military action in Libya and Cote d'Ivoire.

The lead Ambassador of a non-permanent member of the Security Council told Inner City Press that Morocco's push was that it would “stop the political track” if a human rights monitoring mechanism were imposed. But if such threats are successful here, they will be tried even more elsewhere, in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Sudan.

Is it, he wondered, that France is more unequivocally the attack dog for Morocco than any P-5 member is for Sudan? The consultations were postponed until Monday. Watch this site.

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On W. Sahara, Delay As UN Says Report “Has Rights Language" - But No Monitoring?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 13 -- Though the UN's Western Sahara report and resolution are only once a year, this April the UN is in chaos, which it blames the leak to and publication by Inner City Press of the UN's draft report on Western Sahara.

  The report was due April 6, but after publication of the leak -- and the UN refusing to take Inner City Press' questions on the topic -- it was delayed. Then meeting of the Troop Contributing Countries of the UN Mission MINURSO, set for April 12, was postponed.

  Now, Inner City Press is told, the consultations scheduled for Friday, April 15 have also been postponed. Morocco and Algeria are trading arguments. In the “Group of Friends” on the resolution, France is fighting off not only a proposal for a human rights monitoring mechanism, but also to distribute the draft Security Council resolution on a timely basis to the Council members, including South Africa, which are not in the Group of Friends.

  Meanwhile at the UN noon briefing on April 13 -- the day after the UN claimed it hadn't misled about Ban Ki-moon's panel meeting with Sri Lanka officials -- Ban's acting deputy spokesman was asked (by BBC) about the leaked, published and delayed report:

Question: Can you tell us what’s happened to the report on Western Sahara? I heard that it might be published today. And also can you tell us why it is being delayed for a week? Because according to our schedule, it was supposed to be published last Wednesday.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: It took some time to finalize the report. Sometimes over the drafting process there is editing and approval and I believe — although I’d need to check — but I believe it is being finalized now. So hopefully it will become a document shortly. I’ll just check when it will be a document.

Question: Can you just respond to allegations from the Polisario that Morocco managed to get a copy earlier on and has been lobbying with French support to change some of the language, particularly on human rights, on a human rights mechanism for MINURSO [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara]?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Well, first of all, once the report is out, you can see for yourself the language about human rights. There is language on human rights in the report, and I would simply refer you to the language used in the report. As for changes and whether a copy had been leaked, I am aware that there was a draft version, which I believe Martin [Nesirky] had mentioned. It was simply a draft with no official status which had been leaked, and you can probably see it on the website of one of your colleagues.

Question: But the question, really — sorry, maybe I wasn’t clear — is that the allegation is that’s the reason for the delay in publication; that the Secretariat has come under a lot of pressure to change some of the language in the report.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: No, no; with any number of reports on any number of topics, different countries will seek to talk to the Secretariat and influence the language of a report one way or another. But ultimately, the Secretariat makes its own evaluations and writes its own language. And you will be able to see for yourself what language is, but there is human rights language in the report.

  Yeah -- human rights “language” -- but is it for a monitoring mechanism, or merely what Morocco and France want, a welcoming of Morocco allowing in special rapporteurs? Watch this site.

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On W. Sahara, Not Answering on Morocco Lobbying, UN Decries Leaks to Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- A day after the UN refused to take questions about its draft Western Sahara report, on April 7 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky had a written statement ready.

Inner City Press asked about Morocco lobbying the UN Secretariat to ensure no human rights monitoring mechanism for the MINURSO peacekeeping mission, and what Ban's position was:

Inner City Press: There is a report that’s due of the Secretary-General on the situation on Western Sahara. Various leaked copies of it have circulated. And I have heard that there was some extensive lobbying of the Secretariat by Morocco to have paragraph 119 not ask for human rights monitoring mechanism but rather for, welcome Morocco inviting in special rapporteurs. So, I wonder if you could describe, some of these accounts come from within the Secretariat; could you describe what the communications, what the process is for creating such a paragraph? Who the Secretary-General has spoken to and what his thinking is on having a human rights mechanism in the MINURSO [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara] mission.

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, what I can tell you is that we are aware that an internal working document pertaining to the situation in Western Sahara was leaked and published electronically. This document is not a final report. It has not been endorsed by the Secretary-General and, therefore, it has no status. The United Nations finds it regrettable that internal working documents of the Organization have been leaked and published. Thank you very much.

Inner City Press: Are you being lobbied by Morocco, as someone inside the Secretariat has told me? I mean, just yes or no?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Matthew, I said one last question and you’ve asked another question. I have answered your question.

  But the initial question, which Nesirky refused to take on April 6, was about the lobbying of the Secretariat and its Department of Peacekeeping Operations that Morocco is allowed to do -- and Nesirky still hasn't answered it.

Ban and Nesirky in North Lawn, Morocco lobbying & answers not shown

  Rather, Inner City Press has now learned from multiple sources, after Inner City Press left the briefing room Nesirky stayed loudly complaining about Inner City Press somehow “speaking over” him. But Inner City Press had said it had a question to ask about Western Sahara - and the lobbying Ban allows, at least from one side - and will continue to ask the question until it is answered.

Footnote: while the UN's Western Sahara report was slated to be released on April 6, by 6 pm on April 7 it had still not been released. Watch this site.

* * *

On Western Sahara, Draft Reports Published as UN Refuses to Take Morocco Q

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 6 -- For days, senior UN officials have been telling Inner City Press about aggressive lobbying by Morocco about the specifics of the forthcoming UN report on Western Sahara, a leaked copy of which Morocco was given from within the UN Secretariat.

  Inner City Press on April 4 wrote about the topic -- having also obtained a copy from diplomatic sources -- and on April 6 repeatedly told Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky that it wanted to ask a Western Sahara question at that day's noon briefing.

  “I have a question on Western Sahara,” Inner City Press said, ceding first to another journalist on Haiti. But Nesirky then declared without explanation he would take only one more question, on another topic. Inner City Press repeated, “I have a question on Western Sahara.” But Nesikry stood up, declaring his briefing over. Nor does he respond to or even acknowledge the majority of e-mailed Press questions.

  Diplomatic sources tell Inner City Press that Ban's final, post-lobbying report is due out. And so, Inner City Press now published a scanned version of the draft to obtained, both with Paragraph 119 as urged by Morocco and a proposal by the Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights, which proposes a human rights mechanism for the UN's MINURSO mission.

  Click here and here.

  Even those close to Ban say that the level of pressure -- which Ban has apparently given into -- was extreme. At the same time, Ban is closely linked with France in military action in Cote d'Ivoire.

  A day after French foreign minister Alain Juppe said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon agrees that Laurent Gbagbo must sign a letter ceding power to Alassane Ouattara, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if that is, in fact, Ban's position.

I don't speak for the French Foreign Minister,” Nesirky said.

But you do speak for the Secretary General,” Inner City Press asked. Is it Ban's position or not?

Nesirky would not answer, saying he would not characterize the Secretary General's communications with Juppe. Then he refused repeated requests that he answer a question about Western Sahara.

Thus does the UN thumbs its nose at transparency and lose credibility, by being used by France and Morocco, not only in Cote d'Ivoire but Western Sahara too. Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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