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After Bashir Meets UN's Ladsous, Call for Transparency, Private Grumbling

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 17 -- In an International Justice Day event held at the UN on Wednesday, there was much talk of Sudan's president Omar al Bashir, indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, visiting but quickly leaving Nigeria.

Despite the event being held inside the UN, during the two panel discussions there was no mention of UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous having met with Bashir earlier this month.

  Why did Ladsous meet him? What was accomplished? Would Ladsous do it again?

  There was no question and answer period for the first panel, which included the Permanent Representatives of Liechtenstein and Costa Rica, as well as UN anti-genocide official Mr. Adama Dieng, US Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp, former US official Richard S. Williamson (now Co-Chair of R2P working group) and Karen Mosoti, Head of the Liaison Office of the ICC to the UN.

  The panel went so long that no questions were allowed. One wonders each of their positions on the UN's Ladsous meeting with Bashir.

  But after the next and last panel, Inner City Press asked the first question, including: was Ladsous' meeting with Bashir “strictly necessary?”

  From the podium, John Washburn said that since there was “no one from UN on this panel,” he would answer as a former UN official. He said there should be a review of the issue of non-essential contacts.

  He said the UN should be clearer about rules for conduct of non essential contacts, should define the circumstances in which a contact can be deemed to be essential, and should “be transparent.”

An additional problem with Ladsous, as we've shown, is that he refuses to answer questions. Click here for video compilation. And some non-governmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch so prize their access to the UN that they will not criticize it, only member states.

  Tom Andrews, a former Maine Congressman now heading United to End Genocide spoke passionately that countries which invite Bashir should be penalized. But he did not answer the question of the UN's Ladsous meeting with Bashir.

  Then a “half-French” speaker from Human Rights Watch questioned that government's invitation to “ministers from Africa who meet... with dictators,” musing that these invited African states should be subject to economic sanctions. But nothing on Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping.

  After the panel, and discussion with a variety of groups from Sudan, Inner City Press was approached by NGO representatives who would not speak publicly about Ladsous. They said they had asked the UN not to let Ladsous meet with Bashir, “but it happened anyway, with these consequences,” as one of them put it.

  Maybe if the groups spoke more publicly, and if Ladsous were at least required to take if not answer questions, things might improve.

  Inner City Press also asked about Sri Lanka, and the lack of accountability. Scott Edwards, the director of Amnesty International's Crisis Prevention and Response Unit replied, “when I think of atrocity, nothing sticks out more than the obvious war crimes in Sri Lanka, lack of will for investigation,” including by the international community.

 Does that include the UN? We'll continue to cover that. Watch this site.


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