UN, American Month of Rice Astride the Council Starts, Questions to
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 2, with updates
-- Today at the UN is the beginning of the
"American month," as some here are calling it. President
Barack Obama, after nine months, will come to the UN, for speeches
and climate change and to chair a meeting of the Security Council.
to the UN Susan Rice will be president of the Council
for the whole month, beginning with consultations with the other 15
members on the program of work, then a briefing of the press.
the UN press corps, albeit not by name, have complained about lack of
access to Ms. Rice. She arrives, unlike any other Council member,
surrounded by Security. She rarely takes questions at the stakeout,
and meets off the record with small groups of select reporters. There
is hope, beginning with Wednesday's briefing, that this month will be a
new begining, or the
beginning as one reporter put it.
of the Middle East and North Korea, non-proliferation and Darfur, Ms.
Rice can expect to face the fallout of critiques of the UN and
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. As synthesized in the leaked memo of
Norwegian deputy ambassador Mona Juul, Ban failed this year in
Myanmar, which is on the Council's formal agenda, and in Sri Lanka,
which even as thousands of civilians were being killed was confined
to informal Council session held in the UN basement. Now that a video
of the Sri Lankan Army committing summary executions has surfaced,
one wonder what Ms. Rice has to say on that topic, and on Libya.
Susan Rice and UN's Ban in agreement, Myanmar
and Sri Lanka not shown
morning meeting at which the program of work was adopted was shorter
than usual. "Just breakfast," as one Council member put it.
It's said that in the Council's meeting on the Haiti mission, Bill
Clinton may come. A Council member who had adopted Haiti said he will
fly back to New York that day, arriving at the airport at 3 p.m. for
a 4 p.m. Council session. Better get a helicopter, someone said.
this month's General Assembly with the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh is
causing major planning agita for delegations. One Latin country whose
President will attend both meetings said that a sort of buddy system
is being implemented, paired Presidential planes flying into the
otherwise closed down Pittsburgh airport. Coming right after the UN's
climate session, will any of it be carbon offset? Watch this space.
Update of 12:36 p.m.
-- Amb. Rice, introduced by Mark Kornblau, begins by pitching the
Obama-chaired September 24 meeting. "Consulting with colleagues on a
potential product" from the meeting. Kornblau's ground rule is this
will be 30 minutes, and questions should focus first on the "work of
12:38 -- 2d issue is
Liberia mandate renewal, including meeting with troop contributing
countries. There's a recent scandal in Liberia of an American UN
employee under investigation for child sex abuse. 3d is Haiti - and
yes, Bill Clinton will come.
12:40 -- 4th is
Women, Peace and Security, meeting on September 30 with Hillary Clinton
coming. But will the U.S. support a new ASG post? Rice says "a new
SRSG" under discussion. 5th is Afghanistan.
Update of 12:59 p.m.
-- Inner City Press asked Amb. Rice about Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the
Mona Juul memo, and will report her answers elsewhere on this site.
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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 Schumer
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, Ban's
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.
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