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In UN Migration NGO Fight, US & Canada Stand Alone w/o Small Islands

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 14 -- It was dark outside on Friday when the UN's Second Committee finally got down to voting on its dispute about migration.
  The fight was not actually about immigration, but rather which non-governmental organizations could participate in the UN's "high level dialogue" on the topic.

   As a proponent of Free Access -- in fact, as a founder of the Free UN Coalition for Access, FUNCA -- Inner City Press is predisposed to more rather than less groups.

  But a serious Group of 77 source told Inner City Press that "the Westerners" were using the resolution and vote to try to go beyond the groups that "ECOSOC and the NGO Committee let in." He added, "you know, front groups."

  Before the voting began, Algeria asked to know who had even requested the recorded vote. The chair, full of jokes as the proceedings went on, said it was Cyprus, for the European Union.

  Then the voting screens lit up. But no votes were recorded. There was laughter; there was a call to re-boot the machine, which the chair said would take 15 minutes. There were groans. Finally some votes started showing up. Australia said it's vote was wrong, then relented.

  Ultimately only two countries voted against: the US and Canada. Their allies in opposing Palestine's Observer State status, Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, didn't even come to vote. (Inner City Press took a photo of Palau's seat, next to where Palestine might be, empty). Israel didn't vote - but it was after dark on Friday.

  Then, this being the UN, there were speeches. Everyone cares about migration, but some said they'd had to abstain: 46 in all. Still there were 110 in favor, so the dialogue will happen. But how will it go? Watch this site.

Footnotes: Simultaneous in the UN North Lawn building Friday night were budget consultations, and a meeting abut the proposed mission in Mali, with resistance to the support package proposed by the AU.

  At 8:30 pm there was a fire alarm - did someone want to leave? Others asked about the delay in giving even the direction to "please stand by." But it was the night of the Department of Safety and Security holiday party, following DPKO's. So it was understandable.

  From within ACABQ, Inner City Press has some advance knowledge of the fights that will last to Christmas. But that will be for next week - with or without fire alarms. Watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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