UN, Myanmar Languishes in Council's Footnotes, Those Fleeing into
China Are UNProtected
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 2 -- Myanmar is in the footnotes of the UN
Security Council's agenda for September, during which U.S. Ambassador
Susan Rice will serve as Council president. On Wednesday at the UN,
Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rice why Myanmar is in the
footnotes, to confirm reports that she warned Ban Ki-moon against
visiting the country lest it just support Than Shwe, and to address
Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul's leaked memo that Ban lacks "moral
authority" on Myanmar, like Sri Lanka. Video here,
replied that "Myanmar -- which we call Burma... is in the
footnote because a number of members of the Council, including the
United States, felt it is timely to stay focused on events there."
She said that Aung San Suu Kyi's appeal of her sentence might result
in an outcome that the Council might want to consider.
Rice did not
address the Juul memo's critique of Ban's performance, and said that
her "advice to the Secretary General, it would be wise for me to
keep it private." Video here, from Minute 23:47. Rather, she
noted that Ban said he received commitments by the Burmese leadership
for "swift positive political steps."
military regime in Myanmar has gone on a Sri Lanka-like assault into
rebel held territory, resulting in people fleeing across the border
Susan Rice on a UN panel, Myanmar or Burmese fleeing
Wednesday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN
Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq what the UN is doing, if anything,
about these flows, and if the UN considers those fleeing to be
answer, except to say that the UN refugee agency UNHCR had answers.
But journalists who have sought answers from UNCHR since Monday on
this Myanmar - China question have gotten nothing. The analysis is
that while UNHCR will criticize less powerful countries, for those
who flee into China, whether from North Korea or Myanmar, UNHCR and
the UN offer no protection. And given China's veto on the Security
Council, that issue will never make it only to the full agenda, and
is not even among the aspects of Myanmar which are in this month's
agenda's footnotes. Watch this site.
the U.S. Mission to the UN's transcript
City Press: Myanmar's in the footnotes of your program, and it's been
reported that you warned the Secretary-General against going this
summer to Myanmar, that it might buttress the regime in some way.
Could -- so Myanmar also shows up in this Mona Juul memo that many
people have spoken about, talking about where the U.N. stands in
terms of what she called a lack of moral authority on Myanmar, Sri
Lanka and even Sudan. Can you say, I guess, either -- you know, why
is it in the footnotes? What do you expect to come up? Do you -- can
you confirm sort of your thinking on the Secretary-General's trip to
Rice: Let me begin with Myanmar, which we call Burma, in my national
hat. It's in the footnotes because members of the Council, including
the United States, felt it timely to stay focused on events there.
aware that Aung San Suu Kyi has appealed her sentence, and that could
potentially result in an outcome that the Council might want to
consider. In addition, the Secretary-General has said, as a result of
his meetings there, that he received commitments from the leadership
to take very swiftly positive political steps, including the release
of all political prisoners. And so we think it merits continued
inclusion in the footnotes of the Council agenda for the month of
to finish the answer, with respect to my own advice or counsel
provided to the Secretary-General, I think it would be wise for me to
keep that private. So I'm not going to discuss press reports in that
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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. Click here
for Sri Lanka coverage.
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