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Peacekeeping Debate Misses Rapes, After Party Fetes Censorship Group UNCA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 21 -- Monday while France bombed Timbuktu in northern Mali the UN Security Council held a six hour "debate on multi-dimensional peacekeeping."

  Many of the controversial issues in peacekeeping did not come up, at least not directly. Russia did complain about its helicopter being shot down last month in South Sudan and four of its citizens killed. The UN has been slow with this and other investigations.

  An even more delayed "investigation" (or cover-up) by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has been of 126 rapes in Minova by the Congolese Army, DPKO's partners.

  Three times on camera DPKO chief Herve Ladsous has refused to answer Press questions about the rapes and the non-application to date of the UN's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.

See November 27, 2012 (video), on December 7 & on December 18 (video).

  Monday Ladsous sat in the Council without speaking until France, the tenth speaker, finished. Then Ladsous immediately left. He is the fourth Frenchman in a row to sit atop DPKO.

  Things heated up at the end, with South Sudan using its speech to raise aerial bombardment by Sudan. The speakers' list included Sudan, but in the end they did not speak.

  After the "debate" was over, Inner City Press went to the North Lawn building and asked a Sudanese representative there about the lack of reply. There perhaps will be one.

  India and Pakistan traded short rights of reply about Kashmir; at the very end, Benin came in and spoke. And then it was over. But the controversies and failings under Herve Ladsous have yet to be addressed.

Footnotes: But two hours after the debate in a reception in the Delegates' Entrance for Pakistan's peacekeepers, Ladsous was praised by... the new president of the UN Correspondents Association, an organization which demanded and pursued action against the publication of a story truthfully recounting how Ladsous was foisted on Secretary General Ban Ki-moon by France.

  Ban himself feted UNCA, while his Department of Public Information has yet to publicly answer the NY Civil Liberties Union's July 5, 2012 public request to know when journalists would be informed of stealth complaints such as those made by UNCA on June 20, 2012, and by UNCA First Vice President Louis Charbonneau of Reuters earlier that year.

  A group that's for censorship being celebrated in this way at the UN? It's very telling. And there's more to tell: a story of Upstairs, Downstairs.

 Upstairs in the floor of cubicles occupied by correspondents, fliers summarizing the issues raised by the new Free UN Correspondents Association to the Department of Public Information had been torn down. They were replaced, right next to the new UNCA President's CBS office, with counterfeit fliers. Downstairs in the Delegates' Entrance, this was celebrated.

  That the more substantive story of Pakistan's activities in peacekeeping were polluted by unnecessary deference to an organization that does not represent all journalists at the UN is a shame. The references to the decaying UNCA at the Pakistan event with Ban Ki-moon were so over the top that several listeners were quite sure how they were procured. Watch this site.

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