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UN's Ban Praises Pillay After Asking Her to Quit, Hypocrisy on Syria & DRC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 10 -- As the UN Human Rights Council's 21st session got underway, it was a striking for what was not said as for what was. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon introduced High Commissioner Navi Pillay, saying he supports her work and independence.

  What Ban didn't say is that he had urged Pillay to quit, then offered Pillay's native South Africa as a deal another high UN post atop the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management, as exclusively reported by Inner City Press, before giving Pillay two years instead of four, as a compromise. Ah, independence.

  Pillay listed a slew of countries beyond Syria that "deserve attention," but did not include among them not only Sri Lanka, where no one has yet been held accountable for mass killing of civilians, but also Somalia, where in connection with the UN Security Council endorsed (and UN funded) AMISOM mission, the Kenyan Navy has been shelling Kismayo, killing a pregnant woman and children.

  Then there was hypocrisy. Qatar spoke, saying that it supports the rule of law in neighboring Arab countries. Does that include its arming of extremist rebels in Syria?

  Belgium brought up the Democratic Republic of the Congo, saying that there must be accountability for crimes against humanity. Given Belgium's colonial history, the obvious question arose of statute of limitations for crimes against humanity.

  An interesting difference in the Monday morning session was Thailand defending how Myanmar has "addressed" the Rohingya issues, while Indonesia did not follow in that line.

  Switzerland has claimed the Human Rights Council one of its major accomplishments for its ten years now as a UN member. (Click here for Inner City Press' review.) HRC proponents are citing the withdrawal of Sudan as a candidate as the most recent proof of the merits of the HRC.

   But it's Kenya taking the spot, which is shelling civilians in Somalia, as well some say as breaking its agreement at the UN in New York to accept a vice presidency of the General Assembly in order to not run also for the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, for which it is now, along with the HRC, also running. And so it goes in the UN.

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