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UN Pulls Mary Robinson from Great Lakes Post, Won't Say If Will Replace

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 14, more here -- When the UN at an ill-attended briefing on July 14 announced it is making Mary Robinson its envoy on climate change, Inner City Press immediately asked if that means she's out as UN envoy on the Great Lakes.

  Yes, UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq replied, pointing at a canned statement that didn't explicitly say she is leaving. (The UN Climate post is vacant because its previous occupant, Jens Stoltenberg, is tellingly going on to head NATO.)

  Will Robinson be replaced by the UN, with the M23 "neutralized" but FDLR issues continuing, including Robinson's recent request to UN Peacekeeping's Ladsous that the UN flight a sanctioned FDLR leader?

  The UN not only did not have a replacement ready - Haq did not even say that there WILL be a replacement. Even if there is, this shows this UN's priorities.

  Here is the statement the UN sent out at 12:19 pm on July 14:

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today the appointment of Mary Robinson of Ireland as his Special Envoy on Climate Change. Mrs. Robinson will continue to serve as President of the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice. Building on her work on climate justice, she will emphasise the urgency from a people centred perspective and work closely with Special Envoys John Kufuor and Michael Bloomberg in mobilizing political will and action before the 2014 Climate Summit in New York on 23 September 2014.

Mrs. Robinson will succeed Jens Stoltenberg of Norway who was recently appointed as Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude for Mr. Stoltenberg’s commitment in engaging Heads of State and Governments to promote ambitious announcements and action on climate change in advance of the 2014 Climate Summit.
In asking Mrs. Robinson to take on this mandate, the Secretary-General commended her for her work as Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, in particular for her efforts in bringing cohesion and international awareness to the challenges in the Great Lakes region. With her international stature, she was able to galvanize the international community to support the efforts of the Great Lakes region in conflict resolution, socio-economic development and mainstreaming of marginalized groups including women.
Mrs. Robinson brings with her more than four decades of political and diplomatic experience, including as President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997 and as a member of the Irish Senate from 1969 to 1989.  She was the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002.

  Back on June 27 amid reports that the UN flew a sanctioned militia leader of the FDLR on a UN aircraft in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujurric about it at the UN noon briefing:

Inner City Press: why did MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] fly him to Goma to Kisangani and then to Kinshasa when, in fact, I think there’s an arrest warrant for him?

Spokesman Dujarric: I’m not aware of any other services provided to him by MONUSCO.

  When other sources indicated to Inner City Press that this flying service WAS provided by MONUSCO, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again at UN noon briefing on June 30:

Inner City Press: I asked you on Friday a pretty straightforward question, which is whether MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] used its helicopters to, prior to the denial by the Security Council’s 1533 Sanctions Committee, to transfer this… the FDLR’s [Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda] leader within the [Democratic Republic of the Congo]? And I’m wondering if you have an answer on that?

Spokesman Dujarric: I don’t have anything to add.

Inner City Press: Does that mean --

Spokesman Dujarric: If I had something to add, I would tell you. Yes, in the back?

So Dujarric had nothing to add to his June 27 statement that “I’m not aware of any other services provided to him by MONUSCO.” So did he still think that was true? Had he even asked UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous -- who sitting beside Dujarric had refused Press questions on the DRC, video here -- or MONUSCO under Martin Kobler?

On July 1, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again:

Inner City Press: why did MONUSCO undertake to fly to Goma, to Kisangani and Kinshasa? And the reason why I keep asking about this is it seems like it’s a use of UN resources, just knowing why this flight took place.

Spokesman: Sure, if I have something on that I will share it with you

  For Dujarric to have nothing to supplement his statement of June 27 that “I’m not aware of any other services provided to him by MONUSCO,” he either did not ask Ladsous' DPKO or they lied to him.

  On July 2, after Martin Kobler belatedly disclosed that yes, under him MONUSCO flew the FDLR leader, Inner City Press asked Dujarric. Laughably, given Ladsous' refusal to answer Press questions, Dujarric said, you could pick up the phone. UN Video here, from Minute 7.

Dujarric first said he never denied the flight. But he's said, even according to the UN's own transcript, “I’m not aware of any other services provided to him by MONUSCO,” and then said nothing when asked twice more about this.

Inner City Press asked, can we assume that when a question is asked in his briefing room, you at least try to get an answer? When did you get this information? Dujarric did not answer this.

Footnote: Dujarric was asked if he will participate in the softball soccer game of the UN Correspondents Association, to which Dujarric sets aside the first questions in briefings and has defended in meeting(s) with the new Free UN Coalition for Access -- which, to put it mildly, is “deeply concerned” by inaccurate answers in the UN Press Briefing Room. Softballs with scribes? We'll have more on this.


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