Call for Vote at UN on Libyan Al
Megrahi, Amid UN Scandals, Will Obama and Susan Rice Act?
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 22 -- Ten days after U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan
Rice touted the Obama Administration's quiet diplomacy from within
the UN, "getting things done," New York State Senator Chuck
called on Ms. Rice to introduce a resolution condemning
Libya's hero's welcome for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, released
after conviction for the Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Libya has a seat on the UN Security Council with Rice, and a Libyan
diplomat is slated to take over the presidency of the UN General
Assembly next month. Comment was sought from the US Mission to the
UN, but four hours later, none had been received.
put Obama and Ms. Rice in an uncomfortable position. As al Megrahi
was being released, Obama urged Libya not to celebrate his release,
tied to his terminal cancer, but rather to confine him to house
arrest. But the celebrations were televised around the world.
who has yet to visit the UN in his seven months in office, is slated
to be present for three days next month, on nuclear disarmament,
climate change and for the General Assembly, now to be presided over
a speech at New
York University on August 12, Ms. Rice intoned that "Today, as
we steer a new course at the United Nations, our guiding principles
are clear...We work for change from within rather than criticizing
from the sidelines. We stand strong in defense of America’s
interests and values, but we don’t dissent just to be contrary. We
listen to states great and small. We build coalitions."
build a coalition at the UN concerning Libya? Some contrasted Ms.
to notable watering down of the statement on Myanmar's imposition of
18 more months of house arrest on democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi,
to which China added sections deferring to Myanmar's sovereignty and
even the mercy it showed. Now that Scotland and Libya have shown
mercy and respect for al Megrahi, what sort of statement will issue
from the U.N.? Will Ms. Rice introduce the resolution Schumer and
others have called for?
strategy will be to have UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon release a
statement, which would not require any vote in the Security Council
or General Assembly. In her August 12 NYU speech, Ms. Rice referred
to Ban Ki-moon only once, saying that "our priorities are
greater transparency and accountability, stronger ethics and
oversight mechanisms, and buttressing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s
initiatives to overhaul the UN’s procurement and human resources
the time, Inner
City Press questioned
Rice's seeming failure to meaningfully raise or push
for reform at the UN, where simply in the field of human resources
number of nepotism scandals were erupting. Ban Ki-moon's envoy to the
Congo, Alan Doss, was exposed by Inner City Press as asking the UN
Development Program to show him
"leeway" -- that is, to
bend the rules -- to get his daughter Rebecca a job.
Ki-moon, through his Deputy Spokesperson, called the allegations
"series" and said he expected to receive a report upon his
return to New York, which took place on August 18. The US Mission has
yet to comment on l'affaire Doss; a response has now been sought.
Obama and Gaddafi - from
UN's web site
himself is seen
by some as conflicted in responding to nepotism, given his
and lack of transparency about the hiring
of his son in law Siddarth Chatterjee first by the UN in Iraq, and
now by the UN Office of Project Services in Copenhagen. Most recently,
son in law has made legal threats to get stories about his
hiring and qualifications removed from the Internet. The US,
sometimes described as the home of the free press, has yet to speak
on the appropriateness of the UN Secretary General's son in law
seeking to censor media coverage of questions of UN nepotism.
countries' Missions to
the UN, meanwhile, have been more vocal in calling for improvements
at the UN. From within Norway's Mission to the UN, that country's
deputy ambassador to the UN Mona Juul
wrote a memo criticizing Ban's
performance on such issues as Myanmar and Sri Lanka, and even climate
change. The memo speculated
that the UK's John Holmes might take over
the UN's Department of Political Affairs from Lynn Pascoe, a Bush
what is the
U.S. doing at and about the UN? Watch this site.
* * *
Iran and Vendex, Sudan to No Bid Contracts, NYC Comptroller
Candidates Square Off
Matthew R. Lee
YORK, August 19 -- Veering from issues of no bid contracts and
corporate background checks, four candidates New York City
Comptroller were asked by Inner City Press on Thursday morning if in
investing City funds they would bar or penalize companies engaged in predatory
lending, or which do business in Sudan, Sri
Lanka, Burma or
Iran. This being NYC, and all four candidates Democratic members of
the City Council, the answers ranged from "yes" to "of
course," with a few differences.
that seven years ago, she proposed such a ban on companies "having
anything to do with Hamas or Hezbollah." She added that when
current Comptrollers Thompson and DiNapoli proposed divestment
regarding Sudan and Iran, she applauded them. All four which she
named are Islamic, unlike
Burma and Sri Lanka were which asked about
avoided mentioning the two Asian countries, along he answered
generically about human rights violators. He expanded the question to
companies with abusive human resources practices, and those which
took Federal bailout funds and still pay huge bonuses to their
he was an early proponent of divestment in Sudan and Iran, based on
genocide and terrorism respectively. He cited the precedent of the
campaign against apartheid. He also reminded the audience that under
Mario Cuomo he was a deputy superintendent of banks for New York
State, and required in-state checks to clear in three days.
began the morning's debate by touting his endorsement by Felix
Rohatyn, said he sponsored a ban on Sudan, and co-sponsored one on
Iran. He said that the City should invest in companies whose
profitability came from such places. As such, at least he admitted
all moral decisions cannot be defended as economically best as well.
Similarly, to an audience of human services professionals, he said
that he is against member items in which Council members direct funds
to specific groups.
Candidates Weprin, Liu, Yassky and Katz on 8/20/09,
(c) M.R. Lee
event, held in
the auditorium of PricewaterhouseCoopers on Madison Avenue, was
co-sponsored by the United Way and the Human Services Council, and
the other questions were focused on how slow the City is to disburse
contract awards to non-profits and how burdensome the City's VENDEX
background check is. John Liu joked that the audience seemed tired
because they'll stayed up the night before filling out VENDEX forms.
There was polite laughter and then the event was over.
back in December 2007, Inner City Press put a similar question to
Adolf Carrion, who had just announced he would run not for Mayor but
Comptroller. Carrion said he would "also take into consideration
the return for pensioners" -- click here for that story.