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UN's Ban on CAR, Says Post Sri Lanka Rights Up Front Not Country Specific

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 16, updated -- Following the UN's "failure" in Sri Lanka in 2009, this year Secretary General Ban Ki-moon worked on a plan called "Rights Up Front" to try to avoid failing in the future. Now the UN stands accused of inaction in the Central African Republic, by Doctors Without Borders and others.

  Inner City Press asked Ban about both of these on Monday, during his end of the year press conference. Ban said the Rights Up Front "action plan" has been sent to the General Assembly, or to President of the General Assembly John Ashe for distribution to all member states. (Inner City Press obtained and published the plan on October 1, here.)

  Ban insisted the Rights Up Front plan is not country-specific. This came after Inner City Press asked him why his deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson was meeting, right at that moment, with Sri Lankan defense minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who is depicted in connection with war crimes and threats.

  This question, Ban did not answer. His spokesperson's office indicates that it does not normally provide read-outs of meetings of the Deputy Secretary General. Inner City Press has asked again, given the context.

  On MSF's critique of UN inaction in the Central African Republic, which Inner City Press asked Ban about, the answer was more detailed. Ban said the security situation has been a problem, but now with the deployment of MISCA forces, the UN should become more mobile.

  Ban said he spoke with UN Humanitarian chief Valerie Amos about it on Sunday, and with others Monday morning. We'll see. Inner City Press YouTube video here and embedded below:

Of the ten questions Ban took, three and a half were on Syria. None was on bringing cholera to Haiti (Inner City Press had this one in mind) or on Mali, where two peacekeepers were killed Saturday by car bomb while protecting a bank, regarding which questions remain outstanding. Ban addressed in his opening remarks, and took a question about, the execution in North Korea.

On UN reform -- Inner City Press had expected to hear of Rights Up Front in there -- Ban cited UMOJA, mobility and (corporate) partnerships, an office he seeks to set up. We will report on each of these, and on another event Ban alluded to at the end of his press conference. Watch this site.

Footnote: The alluded to event involves the UN Correspondents Association, which beyond being willing to censor and to try to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN is now in line for donated Samsung television equipment it falsely claims no mission is involved in. At least these three aspects need to be addressed. Inner City Press on behalf of the new, censorship-free Free UN Coalition for Access offered thanks and a hope for more Secretary General Q&A briefings in 2014. We'll be here.

This response was received, which we publish in full:

Subject: Gotabaya Rajapaksa
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 2:10 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your emailed question: There is no readout of the Deputy Secretary-General's meeting with Gotabaya Rajapaksa, which is part of our regular interaction with Member States.

Here's the UN's transcript, from which they took out the Free UN Coalition for Access as requester of more briefing in 2014 while leaving UNCA in - the (censorship) Alliance --

Inner City Press: Thanks for doing this briefing, and we hope to have more of them in 2014. I wanted to ask you about one of your policy moves in 2013, this post-Sri Lanka Rights Up Front Plan that both you and the Deputy Secretary-General have spoken about. What I wanted to know: is the plan now effective? Is it UN policy? I notice that the Deputy is meeting with Sri Lanka’s Defense Minister, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, this morning, and I wanted to know: is there any relation between the two?

Finally, someone said, I am sure you have seen this criticism by Medecins Sans Frontieres about the UN – what they describe as inaction in Central African Republic, of sitting in bases, maybe out of security concerns, but not going out and helping people in Bossangoa and Bangui. Do you see any relationship between that plan and the need to take humanitarian action on the ground? Thank you very much.

SG: First of all, on this Rights Up Front Action plan, it is what we learned from the recent situation in Sri Lanka. As you know, I established a Panel of Experts and the Panel of Experts requested me to see whether the United Nations had done all… addressed properly. We had a very serious internal review. As a result of this we established this very important action plan. Of course, this Rights Up Front Action Plan is not aiming at any particular country or any particular case. This will be used for all countries and all cases, all situations. That is why I have submitted this to the General Assembly, with my strong recommendation. The President of the General Assembly has circulated to the Member States, so that this will be a sort of guideline to protect human rights, and prevent any further possible human rights violations in any cases. I am very firm. We discussed this matter even this morning among our senior advisers.

On CAR, I took note of all the criticism by Medecins Sans Frontieres. We are now beefing up our action to help the Central African Republic. Because of the very dire and dangerous security situation, it was very difficult in some cases to deliver, and the Government is not functioning. There is no such functioning government. This transitional government is not property functioning. Now, with the deployment of MISCA and the French Senegalese contingent, the situation has now been controlled. With this we will continue to beef up our capacity. I have discussed this issue with Valerie Amos yesterday, and we are doing our best, as much as we can.

The transcription of "French Senegalese" contingent should be reviewed...


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