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On Libya, Dozens & Journalist Killed, UNSC Still Silent, US Refers to DoD

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 16 -- Amid a general strike in Tripoli after dozens of civilians were killed, some fired on with anti-aircraft guns, the UN Security Council has still not issued a statement or even called a meeting.

  This stands in contrast to the Security Council's near-instant press statement when two French journalists were killed in Mali. What of dozens of civilians in Libya? What of the Responsibility to Protect, the theory cited to justify NATO air strikes?

  Now a journalist has been killed in Tripoli: Saleh Ayyad Hafyana of the Fassato News Agency. Now will the UK, which holds the pen in the Council on Libya, call for a meeting?

 Will the US, which drafted the Council's statement on the killing of two French journalists in Mali, draft one for the murdered journalist in Libya?  The Free UN Coalition for Access is asking this question, for even-handed treatment of journalists.

  At the US State Department's briefing Monday afternoon, a question about Libya was referred by spokesperson Jen Psaki to the US Department of  Defense, and not directly answered.

  At the UN in New York, Inner City Press asked and was referred to a press release by the UN Mission:

Inner City Press: the events that took place in Tripoli all weekend long, the killing of at least between 40 and 60, what’s the UN, since it has a Mission there, what’s its view, and what’s its role in trying to either disarm the militias or negotiate in some fashion, it seems like it’s a pretty big event and, and what, what’s the reaction of the Secretariat here?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq: Well, the special mission, the UN Mission in Libya, UNSMIL, has been working with parties also to try and foster a dialogue. I can show you a release that they put out last Friday where they talked about expanded efforts to bring together different groups in terms of a dialogue and the forward. But they are trying to resolve the issues. Tarik Mitri, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative there, has been briefing the Security Council about our security concerns and has been making very clear the need to deal with the various parties on the ground; but yes, part of what we are doing is working with them through dialogue with the various factions so that they are all brought into a dialogue in an inclusive manner.

[He later shared with the correspondent the press release from the Mission, which says: “The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) strongly condemns the violence which took place in Tripoli on Friday 15 November, resulting in the tragic loss of life among civilians, and calls for its immediate cessation as well as for supporting the efforts by the authorities to restore calm, stop the bloodshed and ensure security and stability for all Libyans”.]

Inner City Press: But is there a human rights component of the Mission there, and can you confirm the varying uh, accounts of how many people have been killed, and whether they were in fact civilians or other militias that were fighting, does the UN have any kind of insight into that?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we have been reporting back, and we will continue to report back to the Security Council about the details of the various incidents. So, I would wait for them, for the Mission itself to prepare its tally. But, yes, they have been informing them and they do have a human rights component, yes.

And what is that UN human rights component doing?

  Four years ago, 40,000 civilians were killed in Sri Lanka in 2009 and the Security Council said and did nothing. Now UK prime minister Cameron says he'll do something. Will he?

  The pattern seems to be -- nothing, if a situation is not on the agenda of the Security Council, as Sri Lanka wasn't.

  But Libya IS on the agenda. Still -- action only if the perpetrator is a party which someone powerful on the Council is looking to denouncing. Shelling by M23 in the Congo triggered a meeting and statement. Killed of two French journalists in northern Mali? Even faster action. 

   Slaughter civilians by militias in Tripoli? Nothing, so far.

   Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in Latvia, Estonia and now Poland, has STILL had nothing to say. Why is this?

Those who supported the NATO campaign on Libya and declared its aftermath a victory now don't want to acknowledge, much less try to address, what has happened since.

Friday at the UN, disgust was expressed to Inner City Press about the silence and why no UN Security Council meet had been scheduled or statement issued, as for example on Mali. Also why it was left to civilians to try to take on the militias. Others judged a Libyan leadership, diaspora-heavy and long of tooth, as being out of touch.

The bombing of Libya set "Responsibility to Protect" substantially back. Now with civilians being killed in the aftermath, where are the proponents of R2P? Even if the UN now belated speaks, the delay and its reasons are telling.

Where even is the UN's envoy Tarek Mitri? Back in June 2013, Libyan activists told Inner City Press about a May 20, 2013 meeting with Mitri at which he called the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) "nothing."

  They said the new agency UN Women promised to give them information how to reach UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and didn't, and did not attend a May 30 follow up meeting. Now the 35% quota for women is about to be eliminated. And where is the UN?

  On June 19 at UN Headquarters in New York, Inner City Press put these questions to Mitri, and then to Ban's deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey.

  Mitri said it was up to the women to do more, including a "sit in" he said he encouraged them to hold. He admitted saying "wala’ishi" or "nothing" as to CEDAW, explaining that he meant that a Parliament could not be sued. Video here and embedded below.

  "I have spoken to the media on three occasions on this, the UN did everything it said it would," Mitri insisted. "They are nascent, sometimes they are able to act more decisively. It is easier for the UN to support Libyans rather than act on behalf of them."

 And now? Watch this site.


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