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With UN Vague on South Sudan & DPKO, Ban's Press & Rights Policies in Shambles

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 -- Does the UN support the looming offensive by the South Sudan army on the David Yau Yau rebels, and if so does Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's supposed Human Rights Due Diligence Policy apply?

  Inner City Press asked both of these questions at an abbreviated UN noon briefing on Wednesday. Neither question was answered, and then the briefing was abruptly ended.

  Earlier in the week the UN's envoy to South Sudan Hilde Johnson spoke about the coming offensive, not in the UN but across the street at the International Peace Institute. Inner City Press asked her what the UN is doing about South Sudan's expulsion of a UN human rights officer in November.

  Johnson, who is close with South Sudan's government, said that decision will not be reversed.

  She said that Russia is happy with the speed with which they were given the black box and voice recorder of their helicopter which was shot down by South Sudan's army in December, killing the crew of four Russian pilots. (Russia, it seems, does not agree.)

  Johnson indicated that the peacekeepers or troops under her command are somehow coordinating with the South Sudan army, but not directly in support of them.

  (An Indian peacekeeper, whose nationality the UN would not confirm at Wednesday's noon briefing when Inner City Press asked, was shot by rebels left unidentified by the UN. Is the UN taking sides, or is it perceived to be taking sides?)

  How much support triggers the applicability of Ban's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, already made a mockery of by Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous by inaction on 126 rapes in Minova by the Congolese Army which he supporters?

   Inner City Press has asked, and gets no answer. Instead, DPKO is allowed to belatedly give half-answers to friendlier journalists who never asked the question, as happened on March 7 when DPKO purported to answer the question Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon on camera on March 5 -- to a group of scribes not including Inner City Press.

  (Subsequently, Inner City Press replying to two of these scribes, AFP's Tim Witcher and Reuters' Michelle Nichols, entirely verbally about their "reporting" has resulted in a bogus UN Security complaint, no copy of which has been provided nor the rules that apply to it -- and to the filing of false complaints.)

   No one in the UN communications world will come out and say what Ladsous and DPKO are doing is wrong.

  The UN Department of Public Information, which should handle this issue, has not. In fact, it has tried to keep quiet its reaction to Ladsous' spokesman seizing the UNTV microphone, under the jurisdiction of DPI, on December 18 to try to avoid Inner City Press' questions about the Minova rapes. Video here.

  Ban's spokesperson's office, which fields questions and says “we will get back to you,” does nothing when the answers to the questions are given by DPKO to journalists who didn't ask, and not to those who did.

  It is becoming a joke, un relajo as they say in Spanish. But this is today's UN -- we are Pressing to reform or expose it. Watch this site.

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