UN Waffles on Human Rights in
Central Asia and China; ICC on Kony and a Hero from Algiers
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.
UNITED NATIONS, June 14 -- What is the place of human
rights among the UN's other goals? If Central Asia is the test, the results are
decidedly mixed. Wednesday at the noon briefing, Kofi Annan's spokesman read out
a statement from the UN's refugee agency UNHCR, urging the Kyrgyz government not
to deport four Uzbeks who "arrived in Kyrgyzstan in the immediate aftermath of
the violent events in Andijan in May 2005." Uzbekistan's Karimov regime has
pursued all opponents, getting a dozen returned for example from Ukraine.
Inner City Press has repeatedly asked
UNHCR headquarters in Geneva for some update on those deported from Ukraine.
"There is no update," has been the response. Another refugee from the region,
imam Hseyincan Celil who was pursued for raising his voice for China's Uighur
minority, was disappeared in Uzbekistan in April and has not been heard from
radio report here;
His relatives fear he will be deported or "refouled" to China, for more
permanent disappearance. Nevertheless, UNDP has said that Uzbekistan is making
much progress toward the Millennium Development Goals.
& Hu Jintao
If UNHCR is the left hand and
UNDP is the right, Kofi Annan's Secretariat is supposed to be the heart or head
or both. But on Monday, the Secretary-General sent an unequivocal message of
congratulations to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a entity through which
China has gotten deportation and "refoulement" commitments from the Central
Asian states and Russia, and soon perhaps others. As
Mr. Annan praised the SCO's efforts against "terrorism, separatism and
extremism." Of course, Uzbekistan's Karimov would say his pursuit of opponents
is just that, part of the war on terror. That's what China says of the Uighurs,
using the loaded term East Turkestan.
At Wednesday's noon briefing,
Inner City Press
asked the spokesman about
this, and about Undersecretary General Gambari's current trip to Tajikistan. "Is
the issue of human rights being raised?" Perhaps Kofi will be addressing these
issues this week, mid-way through his last year as S-G.
Ambassador Bolton's meeting with the UN
Staff Union, which Inner City Press Tuesday night predicted, from hallways
sources, would take place in the Indonesia lounge on Wednesday, did in fact take
place. It was after 3 p.m., however, and not at 10 a.m. (parallel universe
reported on below). At 3:45, the president of the Staff Union and the ubiquitous
Judge Geoffrey Robertson emerged, saying it was a good first meeting. Judge
Robertson added, in response to Inner City Press' question about what other
member states they'd meet with, that there would be several.
John Bolton stepped up to the impromptu Fox News camera and graded Mr. Annan
incomplete. At a stakeout on the Hariri investigation earlier on Wednesday,
Professor Bolton said that Mr. Brammertz' characterization of Syria's
cooperation as "generally satisfactory" was only praise in a pass - fail grading
system. He was also asked by AP about his previously-highlighted remark that
Malloch Brown's speech was the worse mistake by a senior UN official since 1989;
AP asked him to contrast to Rwanda. Bolton called that "incompetence and a lack
of political will," versus the speechmaker's "flat out mistake."
Inner City Press asked Ambassador Bolton
if the United States supports a Freedom of Information Act at the United
Nations, and John Bolton appeared to say yes. A flamboyant colleague points out
that the Deputy Secretary-General began speaking of a UN FOIA six months ago.
Another, of pragmatic stock, says that it's not who speaks first, but who gets
the job done. We'll see.
From the Department of Parallel
Universes, in the Indonesia Lounge mid-morning Wednesday, at least three
candidates for election to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women were campaigning by meeting with representatives of the voting
member states. The candidate from Slovenia had a staffer from the Slovene
mission working the phones. "Myanmar can't make it? We have a lunch at one.
Vietnam? Excellent." To those she met with, she made the identical small talk.
"I lobbied you on the Human Rights Council, and now I'm back asking for this.
But my candidate -- I mean, our candidate -- has a long history of advocating
In opposition to these smooth campaigns,
on a couch with a phone was a slight woman of proud bearing, alternately
speaking Arab, French and English. She met with a staffer from Ireland's
mission, and asked him about the status of woman in his country. In response
later to a reporter's questions, she explained that in her previous service as
vice-chairperson of CEDAW, she noticed that while predominantly Muslim countries
were invariably questioned about women's rights to abortion and in marriage,
such questions were rarely put to the representatives of "Christian countries."
And so she asked the questions, even to countries whose vote she seeks for
Her name is Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani, a
lawyer in Algiers who had been in New York since mid-May. Of her service on
CEDAW she says that the problems of women in the developed and the developing
worlds are not the same. "They asked Eritria for employment statistics, when
the average woman has six or seven children and lives only into her 40s, often
dying of AIDS." As she spoke on this topic, on a bench in the basement outside
Conference Room 2, there were tears in her eyes. "The world can get along," she
said. And hearing her, one believes it.
Near press time, the Chief
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court emerged from the Security Council
to take the press' questions. Inner City Press asked his position on arresting
Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti and the three -- or two -- other Lord's Resistance
Army indictees. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo repeated that Sudan has agreed to make such
arrests. A colleague just back from Juba pointed out that "it is not Sudan, it
is not the central government there." The colleague's
reporting was detailed,
and raised during her absence in perhaps garbled form, to move the story
Press asked directly what the Chief Prosecutor thought of the photograph of
South Sudan's vice president handing Joseph Kony money, variously described as
five or twenty thousand dollars. Trailing down the second floor hallway Mr.
Moreno-Ocampo and his former spokesman, Inner City Press asked about Peter Karim,
who according to DPKO holds the seven Nepali peacekeepers. What will happen next
remains to be seen. Meanwhile in DR Congo, not only do the seven UN peacekeepers
remain in captivity -- now there is
A colleague reporter just back from Kinshasa recounts that the plight of the
peacekeepers was not mentioned after the meetings with President Kabila, nor
with this "ex-warlord" vice presidents...
the UN, Internal Justice Needs Reform, While in Timor Leste, Has Evidence Gone
Russell Lee at the U.N.
UNITED NATIONS, June 13 -- With its tens of thousands
of employees, the UN is far behind the times in terms of workers' rights and
whistleblower protections. How out of step with institutions its size is the
subject of a just-released Report of the Commission of Experts on Reforming
Internal Justice at the UN. On Tuesday Justice Geoffrey Robertson Q.C. of the
Commission briefed reporters on his findings. These include a failure to publish
UN Appeals Tribunal decisions, meaning that these can hardly be cited as
precedent. Disputes can take up to five years to lead to a recommended outcome,
which can be ignored or modified by the Secretariat in any event.
Robertson says the UN inherited these Kafkaesque procedures from the League of
Nations, and has not meaningfully improved them. His recommendations include
that "the UN should promulgate its own 'Freedom of Information Act,' under which
its internal documents and decisions will become available in due course, upon
application by the public of the media." (Report at Paragraph 65).
This call for transparency, endorsed by
the UN Staff Union, is consonant with a demand made earlier in the week by,
among others, a visiting U.S. Senator, Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, a
skeptic of the UN system on sovereignty grounds. Asked on Monday by Inner City
Press for his views on a UN Freedom of Information Act, Senator Coburn embraced
the idea, while declining to comment on reported U.S. funding of Somali warlords
in violation of the UN arms embargo.
on Tuesday Inner City Press asked Justice Robertson if his report and its future
before the Redesign Panel and then the General Assembly might be consonant, so
to speak, with the U.S.' and others' different demands for reform. Justice
Robertson answered diplomatically, that the UN would benefit from openness, so
that wild accusations from Senators "or whomever else" could be disproved. So
where in the current mano-a-mano does the report and its trajectory lie? Amb.
Bolton or Deputy S-G Malloch Brown? [regarding both of whom, see 9:25 update
Robertson answered indirectly, saying that some governments are against the UN
for domestic political reasons -- that is, as Malloch Brown described the U.S.
-- while other governments are overprotective of the UN "because they get more
than they deserver" from it. A candid judge whose decisions, up to now, have not
been published or collected.
tents in Dili
In the wider world, the
Secretary General's envoy to Timor Leste, Ian Martin, briefed the Security
Council and then the media. In
response to a question about
how the oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea relate to the conflicts, Mr. Martin
said he sees no connection to the present violence, but that the oil and gas may
be part of the solution, as poverty and unemployment are roots of the current
evidence reportedly looted from
prosecutors' offices in Dili, Mr. Martin said the losses are being catalogued,
but that the UN "has copies." Asked how that could include physical and forensic
evidence, Mr. Martin said it's being checked, but he believes such items have
been returned. We'll see.
Endnotes and follow-ups:
At the noon briefing, Inner
City Press asked about Monday's meeting between Deputy S-G Malloch Brown and
Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona. At press time the answer came in: the meeting was
"about the budget," and had been scheduled before the Deputy S-G's speech.
Inner City Press asked for
more information on Jan Egeland's plan, announced Monday, to work with personnel
of the Lord's Resistance Army before the level of the five indictees; we'll see.
-- they reported on Jan Egeland's answer yesterday. Now, reportedly, Joseph
Kony has named 14 negotiators.
And on the captive UN peacekeepers in Congo, still no update, 15 days in...
p.m. update, heard in the halls: it's said that Amb. Bolton will be meeting with
the UN Staff Union tomorrow. The time and place named by one source was 10 a.m.
in the Indonesian Lounge; this source says the topic is "MMB and a possible
united front." Another, better placed hallway source says he's heard that
they'll meet, at Amb. Bolton's request, but that it's not 10 o'clock. We'll see.
For or with more information, e Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress.com
& US, Transparency for Finance But Not Foreign Affairs: Somalia, Sovereignty and
Senator Tom Coburn
Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.
UNITED NATIONS, June
12 -- In the real world, Congo equals six Rwandas: that is how the UN's Jan
Egeland put it in response to question about the death of seven humanitarian
workers in Ituri in the DRC. "By far the worst humanitarian disaster of our
time," he also said, urging that whatever happens at the end of July, when
elections are slated, the UN not mostly leave the country as it did, in essence,
in East Timor.
aid reaches Dili
issuing $18 million flash appeal for Timor Leste, to supplement $4 million from
the UN's Central Emergency Revolving Fund, Mr. Egeland characterized as "great"
the United States' $10 million. The
CERF web site shows
that this $10 million is an "uncommitted pledge." Time did not permit this
how does this U.S. un-commitment relate to
the issues raised in Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown's speech last
On that, at 11
a.m. U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, came down from a meeting
with Mr. Malloch Brown, and after three times referring to waste-fraud-and-abuse
as if a single word, took questions from the media. Responding to Sen. Coburn's
demand for transparency, Inner City Press asked if he would support at the UN
something like the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. The Senator said yes. Inner
City Press later asked him if he had any insight into the controversy
surrounding the U.S.'s alleged funding of warlords in Somalia. "I have no
comment on that," Senator Coburn replied. It did not feel transparent.
Sen. Coburn --
turns out, during his 2004 campaign
Tom Coburn bragged that
"As a U.S. Senator, I will oppose any
legislation or treaty that compromises the sovereignty of the United States... I
will vote against approving the United Nation sponsored Law of the Sea treaty
which seeks to impose a regime to rule over the use of the oceans and their
resources... No treaty or international organization, including the U.N., shall
ever supercede [sic] the sovereignty of the United States."
as of June 12, 2006.)
wonders if this particular campaign promise came up at the meeting with the
Deputy Secretary General. At the stake-out, Senator Coburn said this meeting had
been scheduled well before "the speech," to discuss on what terms the U.S. would
participate in renovating the UN Headquarters. Deputy Secretary-General Malloch
Brown's daily schedule include a Republican Rep. from Arizona as well. At the
noon briefing, Inner City Press asked if this meeting, too, pre-dated last
week's speech. No answer came, as of press time five hours later.
however some candor.
Inner City Press asked Jan Egeland,
as last week it asked Kofi Annan's spokesman, if the Lord's Resistance Army's
Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti and three other ICC indictees should be arrested. Mr.
Egeland responded that all five should be arrested. He added that he is working
on a plan to reach out to the Lord's Resistance Army personnel below the five
top indictees, to "remind" them that that there is a future, even to get them
back in school. This has not been elsewhere reported. Nor has the second of
these two responses to Inner City Press, from the ICC Prosecutor's spokesman in
From: Christian.Palme [at] icc-cpi.int
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress.com
Sent: Sat, 10 Jun 2006 13:58:24 +0200
Dear Matthew, My only comment is the
following official statement from the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC:
"The governments of Uganda, Sudan and
Democratic Republic of Congo are obligated to give effect to the arrest
warrants, and we are confident that they will honor their joint commitment to do
so. The ICC warrants name Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic
Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya. Each is charged with crimes against humanity and war
crimes, committed in Uganda since July 2002, in the context of a 20-year
campaign of brutality against civilians."
Then, after Inner
City Press' follow-up question, does Sudan have any agreement or arrangement
with the ICC in this regard, this:
From: Christian.Palme [at] icc-cpi.int To:
Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress.com Sent: Sat, 10 Jun 2006 19:20:17 +0200
Dear Matthew, No, the Sudan is not a
State Party to the ICC. Yes, there is an agreement between the ICC and Sudan to
arrest the five leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army for whom arrest warrants
have been issued by the Court.
Subsequently, there were
that ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo that "the
Sudan, a non-state party who had harbored the LRA in the past, has voluntarily
agreed to execute the (ICC) warrants" and that Kony "has used negotiations to
buy time and regroup. To do justice and re-establish security in the region, the
justice network has to arrest the LRA commanders." And then there were
reports of the
LRA killing nine more people
near Juba. Presumably, the triggers weren't pulled the five indictees.
S-G's spokesman's office in New York, speaking of waste-fraud-and-abuse, Inner
City Press asked for an update and briefing from the UN's Jean-Pierre Halbwachs
on the International Advisory and Monitoring Board for Iraq, whose
June 2 release implies
that oil is still not being metered in Iraq, by "continu[ing]
to reiterate its concern that key actions, especially the installation of an oil
metering system, needed to be comprehensive and were taking a long time to
implement." Speaking of waste-fraud-and-abuse, the
discloses delay in the auditing of contracts of Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg,
Brown & Root:
IAMB requested an independent verification of the global settlement of all six
DFI funded task orders under the Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) contract reached
between the U.S. Government and KBR on December 22, 2005 as well as a review of
the remaining sole-sourced contracts to determine whether excess costs were
incurred that would be the subject of renegotiation. However, progress has been
slow in executing these special audits."
On the peacekeepers
in Ituri there was no update, after two weeks of captivity. On a
report of UNHCR's dealings in Cairo with
Sudanese refugees, culminating
in the death of 27 refugees on December 30, 2005, Inner City Press was directed
to UNHCR, which has denounced the report. Let the sunshine in!
Endnotes: First, on
the topic of child labor, BBC today broadcast an
about 10-year old miners in Katanga in DRC, in a mine owned by
Cobalt dug and cleaned by foot by ten year olds... Next, some less enterprising
gloating. Last week Inner City Press asked the spokesman about rumblings heard
that the SRSG for Kosovo Soren Jessen-Petersen would leave at the end of the
month. "I have nothing on that," was the response. Monday it was announced:
Jessen-Petersen is leaving, at the end of the month. Finally, upstairs
downstairs: in the basement in Conference Room 2, speakers inveighed for
independence for Puerto Rico, pointing out the corporate interests which want to
keep their Caribbean tax breaks. Upstairs in the lobby, a throng watched the
Czech Republic beat Team USA 3-0. One wag in the crowd said, "If they still had
Slovakia, would the score have been six - zero?" Let the games continue.
Bolton's Wake, Silence and Speech at the UN, Congo and Kony, Let the Games Begin
Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.
UNITED NATIONS, June
9 -- What is the U.N.'s role, what is it's jurisdiction? U.S. Ambassador John
Bolton on Friday said, "The member states tell the Secretariat what to do, not
the other way around." Meanwhile in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the
U.N. has 17,000 peacekeeping troops, prisoners in Beni, North Kivu are rioting
to protest conditions and their lock-out without charges or trial. Less than a
week after 192 prisoners broke out of jail in Bukavu, in Beni ten escaped and
three were shot, including one prisoner who hadn't even tried to escape. In a
post-shooting written statement, the
UN stated that
it will "remind the authorities once again of their
responsibilities concerning prison conditions and the security of the
population." So the UN does sometimes speak to, or at least remind, member
states of their responsibilities.
But when does the UN speak,
and when does it stay silent? Friday at the noon briefing at UN Headquarters,
Inner City Press asked the spokesman to take a position, primarily directed at
South Sudan, on whether Lord's Resistance Army officials including not only
Joseph Kony but also Vincent Otti, who have both been
indicted for war crimes
and crimes against humanity in Northern Uganda by the
International Criminal Court,
should be arrested. On Thursday, the new staffer in the Spokesman's office,
previously speaking for the ICC, stated at five p.m. that he'd been unable to
confirm reports that Otti is in South Sudan. The effort was appreciated and
acknowledged. Friday after the briefing and Inner City Press'
he appeared to say that it is not the UN's problem. (In fairness, Inner City
Press later in the day sought clarification, see below.) In the briefing as
before, the spokesman had inveighed generally against impunity.
But what about this particular individual, Otti, as
a test: will the UN "remind the authorities" in South Sudan that they have a
responsibility, in light of the ICC indictment?
Cup fans in Congo
So far, for two days the UN has
declined to answer the question. So too when asked about a
detailed report in the New Vision
newspaper, carried on the UN's own MONUC website,
that the Lord's Resistance Army is entrenched in Garanga National Park in the
DRC. Inner City Press raised this article at the noon briefing, and afterwards
showed the new staffer that article, as well as a more recent article, "Sudan VP
Meets Kony Rebels in Juba," in which the Ugandan state minister for foreign
affairs Henry Okello Oryem is quoted that "We are consulting the International
Criminal Court because they have issued arrest warrants, implying the government
of southern Sudan is under obligation to arrest the rebels on sight. This issue
has to be sorted out."
Inner City Press asked again: why isn't the
Secretary General or wider UN providing guidance at this point? (In fairness,
the Secretary General spoke out at the time of the ICC indictments, and since
then generally about not tolerating impunity.) The reasons offered for not
speaking at this time include that the International Criminal Court is not a UN
body, that the UN and ICC have a partnership agreement; that Sudan is not a
party to the ICC (the spokesman for the ICC Christian Palme will be asked to
confirm this); and that the reported talks between the LRA, South Sudan and
prospectively Uganda have no UN involvement. Inner City Press said, and says
here, that there are some who question if the UN would be so restrained if
Mladic for example were spotted negotiation in Pristina or Montenegro, and who
question if the proffered differences are much more than hair-splitting. So far
not many seem to care or question, was the interim response. What is the
standard for speaking? It becomes increasingly hard to tell.
In Kampala, Uganda's president
Yoweri Museveni said,
"the DRC government and the UN are not serious" about acting on the Lord's
Resistance Army. Often in reference to Un inaction it is said, "the UN and what
army?" But in this case, the UN actually has an army, near the refuge of the
long-denounced Lord's Resistance Army, reportedly down to fewer the 500 members.
While 17,000 troops may be spread out, the rhetorical question about "what army"
can, in this case, be answered. MONUC in the field will speak to government
officials about their human rights duties, in jails and elsewhere. Why at UN
headquarters has speech become so selective?
Again no new update was given regarding
the seven UN peacekeepers held captive in Ituri. Before he left for Khartoum,
what we'll call a senior UN official told Inner City Press that the UN has seen
the Nepali kidnappers, but that their captor is lucid one day and not so the
next. More was said but for now not reported. As the Spokesman says, things are
In lighter news, the first day of the
2006 World Cup saw dozens of people milling in front of the television in the UN
Headquarters lobby, watching Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 in French-language TV
5. Such crowds in the lobby usually connote an act of terrorism, or perhaps a
John Bolton speech. But this time, and for this month, it is sport. On the
second floor, a smaller crowd gathered by the TV set to the side of the Security
Council. What will happen when a match overlaps with a Security Council stakeout
is not yet known. Then again, as of Friday there's no ESPN, ABC or ESPN-2
available on UN TV. At 2:50 p.m., DSG Mark Malloch Brown floated through the
lobby. Let the games begin!
3:25 p.m. postscript -- the light mood can't last
long. An impromptu press conference was called at the stake-out regarding the
alleged targeting of civilians on a beach by the Israeli Defense Forces.
Questions were shouted about the impact on the referendum. Games, not funny, of
an entirely different sort.
7:15 footnote: in the UN's Delegate's Lounge,
prospective spokespersons for Lebanese inquiries hold forth with martinis and
thick cigars, at the bar there's rare talk of Turkmenistan and Ruhnama, and even
those who joist back and forth throughout the week are all at ease. If only
world peace were this easy.
Pro-Poor Talk and a Critique of the World Trade Organization from a WTO Founder:
In UN Lull, Ugandan Fog and Montenegrin Mufti
Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.
UNITED NATIONS, June
8 -- The chairman of BP / British Petroleum on Thursday
high cost of remitting money from poor people to their relatives as "a horrific
indictment of the financial system."
Kofi Annan's point-man on migration and founding director general of the World
Trade Organization, also conceded that the poor are ill-served by the WTO's
dissonant treatment of goods and people. Nations accede to the free movement of
goods and increasing services, but restrict those who must travel in search of
work or other improvement.
might make member states be as open to people as goods and services, Mr.
Sutherland responded both that there are economic benefits and that it is
inexorable, given most of the developed world's declining birthrate. Thus
the briefing ended,
but there were ever yet more question some quite concrete. In Russia for
example, with its dwindling population, much of the construction work is done by
migrants from Central Asia. Uzbek immigrants live in sheds, subjected to
shakedowns under threats of deportation. The use of migrant labor may well be
inexorable, but the fair and humane treatment of migrants is not.
Mr. Sutherland & S-G
recent UN migration report's author, Hania Zlotnik, was asked about this outside
the briefing room. She recounted recently watching an old Public Broadcasting
Corporation documentary about Chicago, in which Eastern European immigrants were
exploited but now have even power. She reported that on the substance of
migration, the United States is not being a problem -- only on the issue of the
upcoming forum and its timing. In the wake of Wednesday's John Bolton - Mark
Malloch Brown dust-up, the U.S. position on migration was not mentioned in the
The U.S. was the
elephant in the (briefing) room, as it is on the issue of the funding of the
warlords in Somalia. On that, Ambassador Loj in the morning predicted a Security
Council briefing, which occurred, leading to a more formal presentation from
Francois Lonseny Fall, now slated for June 19. Whether he will take questions is
not yet known. On Thursday, incoming General Assembly president Haya Rashed Al
Khalifa was slated to speak with the press, and then decided not to at the late
minute. Speaking in depth, not in Room 226 but rather in the UN Correspondents
Association, was the Grand Mufti of Bosniak and Albanian Muslims in Montenegro,
Rifat Fejzic, who painted a positive picture of the treatment of the Islamic
community in what's slated to be the 192nd member state. He estimated that there
are 150,000 Muslims in Serbia itself, not including Kosovo.
Balkans observer was surprised at the Grand Mufti's upbeat take, contrasting it
to the Bosnians. He referenced a Balkan proverb, that one who is bitten by a
snake becomes afraid of a lizard. Independence via referendum and not bloodshed
means that lizards can be addressed without fear. The Grand Mufti said that
French officials have approached him, for information on how to bring about a
more hierarchical organization of Muslims in France. How this will work out is
something of a lull at the UN on Thursday. The Secretary General urged reporters
to put the speech story behind them, advice echoed by the forthcoming lame duck
General Assembly president at a four-minute
East Foyer stakeout.
John Bolton was in London; his Security Council colleagues were in Sudan, from
that Joseph Kony's deputy Vincent Otti will be participating in talks with South
Sudan and even Uganda. Since Mr. Otti has been indicted by the International
Criminal Court, at noon the
question was raised,
should Mr. Otti be arrested? Near press time the new member of the Spokesman's
Office team courteously disclosed that the Otti report could not be confirmed,
and thus there'd be no comment. The question remains: should South Sudan arrest
Mr. Otti? Time will tell the answer.
Human Rights Forgotten in UN's War of Words, Bolton versus Mark Malloch Brown:
Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.
UNITED NATIONS, June
7 -- The dueling speech and sound-bytes from UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark
Malloch Brown and John Bolton, the U.S. Ambassador, consumed the press corps and
debate on Wednesday. At a three-minute stake-out in the morning, Amb. Bolton
declared that "this is the worst mistake by a senior U.N. official" since 1989.
quote is at minute 2:13). At the noon briefing, after the spokesman said that
the Secretary-General stands behind his Deputy's speech, he was
any graver mistakes by UN officials since 1989 came to mind. A topic just then
being discussed in the depopulated Security Council,
Rwanda, came to mind but was not
The spokesman was also asked, since the speech named names, if there'd be any
comment on the Council of Europe's just-released
report calling "reprehensible" the U.S.
policy of extraordinary
rendition of terrorism suspects to secret camps -- including it seems in Poland
and Romania -- and from there for torture with nary a court. The spokesman said
he hadn't yet seen the report and had not comment. So much for naming names.
in advance, about the Dutch judicial system's conviction earlier in the day of
Oriental Timber Co.'s
Guus Kouwenhove for
violation the UN arms embargo on Liberia, the spokesman said that it is up the
member states to bring enforcement actions. On Ambassador Bolton's call for now
lifting the arms embargo on Liberia, the spokesman had no comment.
the very Security Council stake-out, Mark Malloch Brown
He selectively took questions from reporters by name, praising the very Fox news
he'd in the speech called a detractor, and dismissing the notions of
polarization, either that he is too closely aligned with the Democratic Party in
the U.S. or that his remarks might make matters worse by enlarging the UN as a
target of Republican rhetoric. When he strode off, there were still hands in the
air and questions to be asked. These include, from the text of his speech, the
identities of the G-77 member "few spoilers... opposed to reform for its own
sake" and his views of the major candidates for the 2008 U.S. presidential
election, referred to in the final substantive line of his speech. While he'd
probably "no comment" an inquiry about Senator Bill Frist, for example, one
might wonder why, given the other specifics in his speech.
wonders why what he calls his friendly critique of the U.S. did not include any
reference to such controversies as
extraordinary rendition or, even more unreported, the essentially confirmed
U.S. funding of warlords in Somalia. The references in the speech to human
rights are to the Unites States' vote against the new Human Rights Council and
decision not to run for a seat, and to the Security Council's attempt to expand
its mandate to include human rights. The speech mentions Rush Limbaugh and not
Guantanamo Bay, and one wonders why.
also wonder why Mr. Malloch Brown gave his speech at such a Democratic
Party-identified venue. Why not the Council on Foreign Relations? Or the
American Enterprise Institute, which he mentioned by acronym at the stake-out?
Why not in the UN Headquarters building, described in the speech as "in most
respects the most hazardous workplace in town"?
the previous week Richard Holbrooke said much the same thing, in an impromptu
stake-out after his
on the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS. Holbrooke said, as taped by this
Corporate Spin on
AIDS, Holbrooke's Kudos to Montenegro and its Independence,
May 31, 2006),
and the unnamed CNN, which never played
"This administration has shown a
schizophrenic attitude towards the UN. We use it when it suits our purposes,
like Iran, and we bypass it in a way that undermines it. It needs to be funded,
and at the same time we need to push for more reforms."
might call this a Cliff Notes version of Malloch Brown's later speech. While all
day reporters were urged to "read the speech," as of 5 p.m. a Google search for
"you will lose the UN" did not find the speech. [5:30 update: on un.org clicking
Dep. Sect-Gen and speeches and latest, one
speech.] In further punditry, the first lesson and question of public
relations is "who are you trying to persuade"? This question was posed to a
right-leaning pundit who was, in fact, called on by Mr. Malloch Brown. "The
people where he gave the speech," was the answer. "It was a job application." If
so, consider the owners of Progressive Insurance in Ohio, Middle America, and
the cashing-out duo of Golden West Financial, selling to Wachovia. But if the
message was directed beyond that room, again the question is, to whom? If
overseas, to omit a substantive critique of U.S. human rights seems strange. And
if it was directed to Middle America, the phrase in the speech, it is not clear
that the speech's venue, its gleeful dissection on Fox News or the subsequent
stake-out are enough.
fruitless stake-out news, while at the noon briefing it was announced that Carla
Del Ponte and her replacement on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda,
Hassan B. Jallow, would take questions after their time in the Security Council,
Ms. Del Ponte walked right by the microphone and brushed off those reporters who
Council president Loj did stop and take questions. On Somalia, she said she
anticipates a briefing on Thursday and next week. Asked again to comment on
Denmark's failure to response to the UNAIDS survey, she deferred to a staffer,
who reiterated this written response:
"From: Michael Starbaek Christensen [at]
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress.com
Sent: Mon, 5 Jun 2006 15:42:42 -0400
Subject: Un AIDS survey
"Dear Matthew, I checked with the Danish
delegation to the HIV/AIDS high level event. In Denmark, the Ministry of Health
is in charge of the Danish efforts to prevent and inform about HIV/AIDS. The
efforts are concentrated on the substantive work in this field, and resources
have not been earmarked to produce a report to the UN."
refusing to even respond to a UN project on AIDS, is Denmark a "spoiler," as
phrased in the Malloch Brown speech? On Denmark's (non-) response, UNAIDS has
yet to respond to a request for comment. Selective naming of names, selective
allowing of questions. How it will turn out remains to be seen
Other Inner City Press
reports are archived on
AIDS Ends at the
UN? Side Deals on Patents, Side Notes on Japanese Corporations,
Salvadoran and Violence in Burundi
On AIDS at the
UN, Who Speaks and Who Remains Unseen
Corporate Spin on
AIDS, Holbrooke's Kudos to Montenegro and its Independence
(May 31, 2006)
Nightmares, from Ituri to Kasai. Au Revoir Allan Rock; the UN's
Warlords, Insulated by Latrines: Somalia and Pakistan Addressed at the
The Silence of
the Congo and Naomi Watts; Between Bolivia and the World Bank
Council Has Its Own Hanging Chads; Cocky U.S. State Department Spins
Child Labor and
Cargill and Nestle; Iran, Darfur and WHO's on First with Bird Flu
Editor Arrested by Congo-Brazzaville, As It Presides Over Security
Place of the Cost-Cut UN in Europe's Torn-Up Heart;
Deafness to Consumers, Even by the Greens
at the UN, But Not the Global Compact; Teaching Statistics from
Turkmenbashi's Single Book
Ripped Off Worse
in the Big Apple, by Citigroup and Chase: High Cost Mortgages Spread in
Outer Boroughs in 2005, Study Finds
Burundi: Chaos at
Camp for Congolese Refugees, Silence from UNHCR, While Reform's Debated
by Forty Until 4 AM
In Liberia, From
Nightmare to Challenge; Lack of Generosity to Egeland's CERF, Which
China's Asked About
Mirage: Beyond French Bombs, Is Exxon In the Cast? Asylum and the
Uzbeks, Shadows of Stories to Come
Through the UN's
One-Way Mirror, Sustainable Development To Be Discussed by Corporations,
Even Nuclear Areva
Disparities Grew Worse in 2005 at Citigroup, HSBC and Other Large Banks
Mine Your Own
Business: Explosive Remnants of War and the Great Powers, Amid the
Human Rights Are
Lost in the Mail: DR Congo Got the Letter, But the Process is Still
Iraq's Oil to be
Metered by Shell, While Basrah Project Remains Less than Clear
At the UN, Dues
Threats and Presidents-Elect, Unanswered Greek Mission Questions
Kagame and Coltan: This Moment in the Congo and Kampala
Swarmer Begins, UN's Qazi Denies It's Civil War and Has No Answers if
Iraq's Oil is Being Metered
Cash Crop: In
Nepal, Bhutanese Refugees Prohibited from Income Generation Even in
The Shorted and
Shorting in Humanitarian Aid: From Davos to Darfur, the Numbers Don't
Transparency Later, Not Now -- At Least Not for AXA - WFP Insurance
Chaos, Shots Fired at U.N. Helicopter Gunship
In the Sudanese
Crisis, Oil Revenue Goes Missing, UN Says
Empty Words on
Money Laundering and Narcotics, from the UN and Georgia
What is the Sound
of Eleven Uzbeks Disappearing? A Lack of Seats in Tashkent, a Turf War
Collective Punishment and Electricity; Lights Out on Privatization of
Cleansing and (Money) Laundering, Says Georgia
Human Rights Abuses, including by UNDP in the Maldives
Who Pays for the
Global Bird Flu Fight? Not the Corporations, So Far - UN
Dissembles at United Nations Environmental Conference
Other Inner City Press
reports are archived on
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