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On Palestine as ATT Vice Chair, UN Tells ICP Any “Participating State” Can Do It

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 20 – With Palestine's bid to be a vice chair of the upcoming Arms Trade Treaty talks proceeding, Inner City Press on Wednesday asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman about positions the Press is told Ban's Secretariat took in closed door “informal” meetings.

  Multiple sources tell Inner City Press that Ban's Secretariat took the position that the format used in the summer, before Palestine was voted as a non member observer State on November 29, should still be used this coming March: that is, a “member states” format that would exclude Palestine.

   (Palestine argues that it is all states, for which it qualifies.)

   Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky told Inner City Press that the “Secretariat often provides technical advice on matters of protocol,” but that it is “up to those who are participating in that conference to determine.”

   After the noon briefing, Ban's spokesperson's office sent Inner City Press the following:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 12:41 PM
Subject: Your questions at today's noon briefing
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your question on the rules of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Conference: By resolution 67/234 the General Assembly decided that the rules of procedure for the 2012 ATT Conference would be applicable to the upcoming meeting. Rule 6 of the Rules of Procedure for the 2012 ATT Conference provides in part as follows: "The Conference shall elect from among the representatives of participating States the following officers: a President, 14 Vice-Presidents and a Rapporteur-General, as well as the Chairs of the Main Committees.”

   Inner City Press showed this answer to a well placed supporter of Palestine's bid to be vice chair. Ah hah, this source said, pointing at the words “ participating States.”

  He said, that means All States. Then he wondered why the Secretariat would have said one thing in closed door informals, but now apparently another publicly, in writing.

The ATT talks kick off on March 18. Watch this site.

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