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On W Sahara, Inner City Press Asks UN What Kohler Is Doing In Lisbon With Morocco, Nada

By Matthew Russell Lee, Periscope, song

UNITED NATIONS, March 5 – On Western Sahara, Inner City Press has twice now asked the UN for an update on the work of Antonio Guterres' personal envoy Horst Kohler, who has no presence at UNHQ in New York, only in Germany. On March 5 Inner City Press asked again, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: you'd said, on Western Sahara, that you were trying to get something from Mr. [Horst] Köhler.  There was reportedly a meeting between him and the Moroccan side in Lisbon.  Is that the case?  And what was-- Spokesman:  That's my understanding. I'm trying to get some more details." That's what he said last time. On February 27 the Court of Justice of the European Union "held that, taking accountof the fact that the territory of Western Sahara does not form part of the territory of the Kingdom of Morocco, the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara are not part of the Moroccan fishing zone referred to in the Fisheries Agreement. Lastly, the Court examines the territorial scope of the Protocol to the Fisheries Agreement. Although that Protocol does not contain any specific provisions on that subject, the Court states that several of its provisions use the expression 'Moroccan fishing zone.' That expression is the same as that to be found in the Fisheries Agreement, which defines it as 'waters falling within the sovereignty or jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Morocco.' The Court concludes that the 'Moroccan fishing zone' under the Protocol does not include the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara." But at a human rights event at the European Union's office in New York City last week, in an hour long session of bragging, this EU over-reach did not come up, and no questions on it were permitted (Inner City Press had to run back to the UN to meet the 7 pm censorship deadline imposed by UN Global Communicator Alison Smale. This curfew does not apply to the many Morocco state media she and Antonio Guterres give full access and work space to.)  And the UN of Smale and Guterres, when Inner City Press asked on February 27, wouldn't say anything about UN representative Kohler or the EU decision. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: on what you just said of no comment on the EU Court of Justice decision that the… that the waters off Western Sahara don't… can't be agreed to by Morocco.  I wanted… could you… when you said you have no comment on it, is there some way to seek whether this… the personal representative, Mr. Horst Köhler…? Spokesman:  I have no particular comment on it.  As soon… if and when we do have a comment, I will share that comment. Inner City Press: And relatedly, what I wanted to ask is, I've heard that unlike his predecessors, for Mr. Köhler, there's no New York presence of that office or mandate.  It's all in Germany.  Is that the case?  Is there some way… how would one go about seeking a comment from this Special Envoy and… and… can you have any update on his work? Spokesman:  "Through us or through DPA [Department of Political Affairs].  Yes, I'm waiting for an update, because I think there are some meetings going on.  Masood-ji?" Yeah.  In the earlier decision from the EU Court of Justice: "In his Opinion today, Advocate General Melchior Wathelet proposes that the Court should answer that it has jurisdiction to assess the legality of international agreements concluded by the EU, that an association such as WSC is entitled to challenge the legality of the Fisheries Agreement and that the Fisheries Agreement is invalid because it applies to the territory and waters of Western Sahara." It's here, in eight languages. On January 11, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I'd asked you about this… and I guess on Tuesday, apparently, you confirmed that the Secretary-General did write a letter to the Frente Polisario, the part that you read out was on Guerguerat. In the interim, the EU Court of Justice Advocate General has issued a… a ruling yesterday that the EU Morocco Fisheries Agreement is illegal for a variety of grounds, including the… you know, that it violates international law.  Some people in Moroccan state media said that there was no letter; now there is a letter.  Can you say, were the… was the concept of natural resources, now highlighted once again by the EU Court of Justice, part of this letter or not? And would you just release the letter to prevent this kind of…? Spokesman:  No, I won't… the letter was a private letter.  I just wanted to confirm that it had been sent, and I'll leave it at that. Inner City Press: So, really, it's not… so…  Does the Secretary-General or Mr. Köhler have any comment on this EU decision… in terms of natural resources…? Spokesman:  "Not this a point [?] Obviously, we're focusing on Mr. Köhler and his ability to do his work.On Western Sahara after a long delay, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres named Horst Köhler as his Personal Envoy, replacing Christopher Ross. Inner City Press was exclusively told by UN Department of Political Affairs staff that the delay was attributable to Kohler's demand to have his own personal staff put on UN contracts - a demand that Guterres gave into, allowing Kohler to put long-time German staff in P-5 and P-3 UN positions. On November 20, the UN implicitly confirmed what Inner City Press has first reported: Kohler did not visit Layoune, the seat of MINURSO.   On January 8, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, transcript here: Inner City Press:
you'd read out the Guerguerat comment.  There's also… there's a press report of a… of a letter from António Guterres to the Polisario, received by them on Saturday, that has quite a different… at least their description of it is quite different, saying that it involves… it's about natural resources, and it agrees that, you know, various steps are needed.  Did he write such a letter? And if so, do you have any… Spokesman:  I don't have any confirmation that such a letter was sent." Twenty four hours later, instead of emailing Inner City Press his belated answer, he waited and read it out at the next noon briefing. It will be in the day's transcript. This is the same Dujarric who threw Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing Room as it pursued the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case. Now Dujarric is stonewalling on Guterres' inaction on the Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio UN bribery case. Today's UN is corrupt.O
n January 5 Guterres, after an 11 day vacation followed by four days with nothing on his UN schedule ("all appointment internal") has issued a statement purporting deep concern. Here it is, full text: "The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about recent increased tensions in the vicinity of Guerguerat in the Buffer Strip in southern Western Sahara between the Moroccan berm and the Mauritanian border. The Secretary-General underlines that the withdrawal of Frente Polisario elements from Guerguerat in April 2017, together with the earlier withdrawal of Moroccan elements from the area, was critical to creating an environment conducive to the resumption of dialogue under the auspices of his Personal Envoy Horst Kohler. The Secretary-General calls on the parties to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid escalating tensions. Regular civilian and commercial traffic should not be obstructed and no action should be taken, which may constitute a change to the status quo of the Buffer Strip." We'll have more on this. During the November 22 consultations, Inner City Press asked the UN spokesman for the third time why the UN Department of Public Information has denied access to the building to Western Sahara media. Spokesman Farhan Haq, while trying to cut off Inner City Press' question, confirmed this is the UN's policy. But it is just a statement on DPI's website, to which for example the Free UN Coalition for Access has never agreed. After the consultations, Horst Kohler and his factotum emerged, saying only, I am encouraged, then rushed down the hall with a UN Security officer assigned to him, unlike other UN envoys, due to his past position in Germany. This is waste.  Later Italy's Ambassador Cardi summarized the meeting; Inner City Press asked if Kohler explained his failure to go to El-Ayoun / Laayoune. Apparently not. Moroccan state media tried to get more on "encouragement;" this is their privilege, unlike media of Western Sahara. In this context, this: "Ahead of the UN Security Council’s 22 November meeting on Western Sahara, the Frente POLISARIO reiterates its support to the mission of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Mr. Horst Köhler, and urges Council members to provide necessary contributions to the relaunch of the UN peace process. The Frente POLISARIO expects the Security Council to uphold its responsibility towards the people of Western Sahara and to ensure full respect to their inalienable right to self-determination and independence. The Council has the duty to guarantee that its own resolutions are respected and fully implemented. In this regard, UNSC Resolution 2351(2017) has requested the Personal Envoy to provide an update on progress towards a lasting and just solution to the conflict of Western Sahara, as a question of decolonization, within six months of his appointment. This update – to be held next February – should comprise a concrete framework for the path forward that would culminate in urgent time-bound, face-to-face negotiations between the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco.  In the interim, it is more than necessary that the Council addresses ongoing issues in order to create more favorable conditions for the new negotiating process. Morocco continues to reject the return to Western Sahara of the AU observers that were illegally expelled by Morocco in March 2016.   There has still been no ‘technical mission’ to the Guerguerat region of Western Sahara to examine the very serious problems created by Morocco’s unilateral violation of the terms of the ceasefire, as called for in UNSC Resolution 2351 (2017). Likewise, Morocco’s ongoing, widespread human rights abuses and plunder of natural resources in the occupied Territory of Western Sahara suggest a culture of impunity that is not conducive to a constructive and lasting peace process."
On November 7, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Dujarric if Kohler was already blocked, why the UN is blocking Western Sahara media accreditation while giving offices to Moroccan state media, and of the King's speech. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: you may have seen the speech by the King of Morocco in which he said that there will be no solution to Western Sahara that's not fully in accord with Morocco's sovereignty, which basically means… it's not really clear what is really being negotiated given that statement.  I wanted to know, is there any response by either Mr. [Horst] Köhler or by the Secretariat? And, on Mr. Köhler's recent visit to the region, was he restricted of traveling anywhere that he wanted within Western Sahara? Because I've heard that he has, and I wanted to just ask you… Spokesman:  I'm not aware of… Inner City Press:  Did he visit MINURSO [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara]? Spokesman:  I'm not aware of these, of whatever restrictions.  Obviously, on these trips, itineraries are negotiated.  I'm not going to react to the King's… the King's speech.  There is a mandate from the Security Council for the Personal Envoy as well as the… as well as MINURSO, and we will follow that mandate and continue our work. Inner City Press: And you'd said earlier… I'd asked you about this case of the Western Sahara journalist, who's now been twice denied accreditation.  You said you'd look into whether this is under the policy of needing to be from a Member State of the General Assembly.  Were you able to check that out? Spokesman:  I don't recall, but I'll check again." Seven hours later, again nothing.
On October 11, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  in the Fourth Committee, the Ambassador of Morocco, Omar Hilale, said two things.  He said that Mr. Horst Köhler is going to the region next week.  So, he put a date on it.  And he also said that the idea of a referendum is dead.  That's… that's what he's quoted as saying.  And, since that's the name of the mission, Referendum in Western Sahara, does the UN have any, does the UN believe that the referendum is dead? Spokesman:  "On a potential visit by the new special personal envoy, as soon as we have something to confirm, we will do so.  As far as… I'm not going to comment on the Ambassador's statement.  The mission there has a mandate given to it by the Security Council, and its work is to implement that mandate.  Thank you." Dujarric never did announce anything about Kohler's travel, even after it began. So on October 17 Inner City Press asked him, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: this note to correspondents [on Myanmar] is long.  Can we get a similar one for, for example, Mr. [Horst] Köhler's visits to Morocco, Tindouf and elsewhere? Spokesman:  Mr. Köhler is currently in Rabat.  We hope to have more at the conclusion of the visit." On October 19, Inner City Press asking Duajrric about the attendance, at Kohler's meeting with Morocco's King, of  "Kohler's special advisor David Schwake" - how was he hired? Dujarric said the positions were advertised; Inner City Press noted that Schwake was Germany's ambassador to South Sudan, for example. Was he just brought in? Is he seconded? Dujarric has not answered. Yet. On September 17, the UN issued this: "The Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Horst Koehler, took up his functions on 8 September in New York, where he held meetings and consultations until 16 September. Mr. Koehler met with the Secretary-General and senior United Nations officials, representatives of the parties and neighbors, Member States and the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security. The Secretary-General welcomed the intention of his Personal Envoy to travel to the region. He stressed the importance of the visit to help re-launch the political process in a new spirit and dynamic, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2351 (2017). Mr. Koehler looks forward to travelling to the region and engaging with the parties in a spirit of trust and compromise. " Inner City Press twice asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric the simple question of if Kohler will be in New York for UN General Assembly high level week. Dujarric has not answered; he invited Moroccan state media to his "background" briefing on September 15 but not Inner City Press, which asks him questions every day. We'll have more on this.
 On August 4, Inner City Press asked the UN why there is STILL not UN Envoy on Western Sahara, UN transcript here: and below. On August 15, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Dujarric again, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: the position of a Personal Envoy on Western Sahara.... well, you know how long it's been. Spokesman:  I do know how long it's been. Inner City Press: Can you give some idea? Is the problem consultations?  Is the problem with widely reported Mr. [Horst] Köhler and the size of the office, the location of the office?  What is the problem? Spokesman:  "You know, a lot of things happen below the water line.  When the personal envoy is ready to emerge from above the water line, we will make the announcement." After the briefing, Dujarric walked out chatting with Moroccan media (Magreb Arab Press) which comes in and ask questions much less than Inner City Press but which Dujarric and the UN Secretariat did not evict, and so have full access. On August 16, after Guterres declined to answer Inner City Press' question choosing instead five others pre-picked, his Office announced: "Secretary-General António Guterres announced today the appointment of Horst Köhler, former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara. The new Personal Envoy succeeds Christopher Ross of the United States who completed his assignment on 30 April 2017.  The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Ross’ tireless efforts and dedication to facilitate negotiations between the parties in order to achieve a just, durable and mutually acceptable political solution, which would provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara." We'll have more on this. From August 4: Inner City Press:  this Western Sahara envoy question, it's getting stranger and stranger.  How long has it been since there's been an envoy?  And what is the, I guess, at this point, what is the holdup? Spokesman:  "I'm not going to comment on your characterization.  When we have a Personal Envoy to announce, we will announce one."  Likewise when Inner City Press asked about Morocco's alleged torture of the Gdeim Iziki defendants, asking both before and after the victim, the UN had no comment at all. Now they have receipt a letter that "it has become clear that the Moroccan authorities do not respect international law and persist in their grave violations of human rights in Western Sahara, under the responsibility of the United Nations, in view of the decolonization of the territory and the exercise by its people of their inalienable right to self-determination and freedom. The Moroccan authorities have never had the intention of enabling Saharawi political prisoners to have a fair trial because they were arrested mainly because of their political views and public defense of the Saharawi people's right to self-determination. The recent judgments represent a serious development in Morocco's notorious record of human rights violations in occupied Western Sahara." Maybe the UN will deny receiving this letter too, while leaving the envoy on Western Sahara position vacant for weeks and months without ever explaining it. This is conflict prevention? On July 18 Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on Western Sahara, I think the Frente Polisario sent a communication to [the Department of Political Affairs] and [the Department of Peacekeeping Operations] and the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) about they've captured, they say, 19 people coming over the berm from Morocco and put them in… there's photographs.  It's been… it's in El País.  And I'm just wondering, given the… the… the… what happened in Guerguerat, is the UN… what's the UN comment on it?  Will you confirm that you've received the communication?  And what does the UN intend to do about it? Deputy Spokesman:  I'll check whether we've received any communication from them." Six hours later, after Haq closed the office, there was still nothing. On July 19 Haq walked out as Inner City Press. So on July 20, along with Rif, Inner City Press asked again, UN transcript here, Inner City Press: In the ongoing protests in the Rif Region of Morocco, there's a large protest today by which the Government has responded to by blocking roads, trying to block entry by sea, slowing down the Internet.  And so, I just wanted to know… I know this has come up and at one point, Stéphane [Dujarric] said that there may be something coming down.  Given that, in fact, the protests are growing and the oppression and the number of people locked up has grown, has the Department of Public… excuse me, Political Affairs or the Secretariat taken any note of this? Deputy Spokesman:  Certainly, we take note of this and I'll check with them about any response. Inner City Press: I tried to ask yesterday as you left.  I had asked you two days ago I think, whether… whether you had confirmed receipt by [the Department of Political Affairs] and [the Department of Peacekeeping Operations] of a communication by Frente Polisario about this… these arrests now reported in three countries' media of people coming over the berm into Western Sahara, where you have a peacekeeping mission.  Have you received that?  And what's the…? Deputy Spokesman:  We're aware of this.  The thing about that is that the [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara] (MINURSO), does not have any sort of civilian law enforcement role.  We don't have any mandate to have access to these individuals, and they have not had access to them." When Inner City Press on July 17 asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about complaints of the use of torture in the Gdeim Izik cases set for decision tomorrow, this UN spokesman said they UN had nothing to say. Watch this site. Despite South African and European court decisions, Morocco's OCP and its subsidiary Phosboucraa said they consider the South Africa's decision to impound illegally exploited phosphate from Western Sahara to be "political piracy committed under judicial cover... They therefore reserve their right to pursue and protect their property rights for this cargo using all means permitted by international law." So, like Ban Ki-moon's indicted brother Ban Ki-Sang who used the UN's name to try to sell real estate in Viet Nam, they are thumbing their noses at the court - while Morocco's King continues to abuse those in the Rif region. By refusing to defend, they concede. Where now will New Zealand's Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients source their phosphate? Back on April 9 Inner City Press reported UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' proposal of Horst Kohler of Germany to replace Christopher Ross as the UN's Western Sahara envoy. Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, when Inner City Press, repeatedly refused comment. Now the reason for delay can be reported: UN sources tell Inner City Press that Kohler demanded a large staff, some long time associates, to be put on the UN payroll, leading to delay. On June 21 Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq...


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