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Nigeria's UNSC April Has 10 Stakeouts, Candor on W. Sahara, E10

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 30, updated -- When Nigeria's Ambassador to the UN Joy Ogwu came to the Security Council stakeout late on April 30 after a month as Council president, she paraphrased Shakespeare. All the world is a stage, or the Council is at the center of the play.

  She certainly did her best during the month, in terms of accessibility: she did nine question and answer stakeouts. Including one by foreign minister Aminu Wali on April 28, Nigeria did ten, on topics ranging from Western Sahara, to Syria and the Central African Republic, Darfur, South Sudan and genocide.

  On Western Sahara, to take that example, Ogwu to her credit came out and said that she had pushed the African Union position, that there should be a human rights monitoring mechanism in the MINURSO mission.
  But the MINURSO resolution is written by a "Group of Friends on Western Sahara" that does not include any African Union members, and no mechanism was included.

  On April 30 Inner City Press asked Ogwu about something France's Ambassador Gerard Araud, who once held a mere three question and answer stakeouts in a month as president, had said: that "The UN has never been a place for 'real' negotiation.  It legitimizes or implements agreements reached elsewhere."

   Ogwu said she disagreed, saying that the elected members of the Security Council have sought and obtained a global mandate. It is good, then, that it is Araud set to leave the Council, in July, and not Nigeria.

  In the run-up to Nigeria's end of presidency reception, multiple sources describe angry communications from the old UN Correspondents Association led by Pamela Falk of CBS demanding to know why they weren't at least initially invited. When it was mentioned that Inner City Press was actually at the stakeout during the month, from within the UNCA Executive Committee came an e-mail described as absurd, from a person whose first name begins with "M," on which we may have more.

 The new Free UN Coalition for Access is not just about free food, and 4:30 pm cocktail receptions as UNCA held on April 30 as Iraq's Ambassador spoke at the stakeout - along with Nigeria's Joy Ogwu. Good month.

  And good end of presidency reception, complete with a short and heartfelt speech by Joy Ogwu, again citing Shakespeare. Talk turned to Burundi - off the record - and to the departure of the Under Secretary General for Public Information (DPI), widely known but on which FUNCA out of respect has sought comment.

  Meanwhile on the fourth floor bulletin board which DPI agreed to after FUNCA advocacy, the FUNCA flier about Araud telling a correspondent "you are not a journalist, you are an agent" had been torn down. This is the UN.

  Back on April 2 when Ogwu assumed the UN Security Council presidency Inner City Press asked her about Ukraine being a footnote in the month's Program of Work, and about the predicted fast approval of a new mandate for the MINURSO mission in Western Sahara. Video here, from Minute 21:21

  In the Program of Work the "consultations" on Western Sahara are set for April 17 and adoption of the resolution on April 23. Inner City Press asked if this means it is in the hands of the "Group of Friends," which does not include any African member.

Ogwu replied, "we expect to be fully involved." Given that the African Union position on Western Sahara, will that mean that a human rights monitoring mechanism for MINURSO, as exists in other peacekeeping missions, will be seriously considered?

  Will the US, which proposed such a mechanism last year, push forward again? Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting both Morocco and Algeria early in April. We'll see.

  On Ukraine, Inner City Press asked if the expect report of UN human rights deputy Ivan Simonovic will trigger a meeting or consultation of the Security Council. Ogwu replied, with due regard for strategic planning, that bridge will be crossed when reached.

  As the second question -- why there is a claim of tradition of UNCA, often the UN's Censorship Alliance trying to get others thrown out of the UN and blocking access to documents on the Internet, automatically getting the first question is and will be addressed elsewhere -- the new Free UN Coalition for Access encouraged Ambassador Ogwu to hold question and answer stakeouts, even brief ones, after closed door consultations, as Luxembourg did (14) in March.

  Ogwu noted the invitation. With agenda items on the Middle East, Central African Republic, Darfur, South Sudan and it seems North Korea, in Arria formula style, such stakeout should be useful. Watch this site.


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