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UN Spins Gambari Greeting ICC Indictee Bashir at Reception As "African Tradition"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 27 -- After publishing photographs of UN - African Union envoy to Darfur Ibrahim Gambari with Omar al-Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and war crimes, Inner City Press three times this week asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman to state UN policy for dealing with ICC indictees, and if Gambari's actions complied with UN policy.

  The UN has said it only deals with ICC indictees when "necessary," for example when Inner City Press asked the UN about having twice provided air transportation to Ahmed Harun, also indicted by the ICC for war crimes.

  But was attending a reception for the wedding of the daughter of Darfur janjaweed militia leader Musa Hilal and Idriss Deby "necessary"?

  After twice saying he hadn't seen the photos, on January 26 Nesirky said that "the ICC is an independent judicial institution. And it needs to be able to carry out its work in an independent fashion. And so I don’t think that it is appropriate to comment further on cases that are being looked at and in the judicial process already."

  Inner City Press asked, "can you see why the Gambari photo creates some confusion? Attending a wedding ceremony is hard to describe as a humanitarian gesture."

Later, Nesirky's office sent Inner City Press the following:

Subject: Your question on JSR Gambari
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Thu, Jan 26, 2012 at 1:02 PM
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]

The Departement for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) advises the following: JSR Gambari attended the wedding at the invitation of President Deby of Chad, who is an important regional partner in the peace process. JSR Gambari had no control over the guest list and it is contrary to basic diplomatic courtesy and African traditions to ignore greeting other invited guests.

  So apparently the UN system's policy on engagement with individuals indicted by the ICC for genocide has a "wedding reception" or even "African traditions" exception.

Gambari greets Bashir, UN policy on ICC not shown: non-existent?

  It's worth noting, as the Sudanese Mission to the UN confirmed to Inner City Press apparently proudly, that Idriss Deby wasn't even AT the reception. But Gambari went anyway, and greeted Bashir.

  The UN's policy on dealing with ICC indicted individuals is in the purview of Ban's head of Legal Affairs Patricia O'Brien, who has repeatedly refused to answer press questions. This is Ban's UN - watch this site.

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