Inner City Press


In Other Media-e.g. Somalia, Ghana, Azerbaijan, The Gambia   For further information, click here to contact us          .

Home -

Search is just below this first article

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07 7/19/07 6/29/07 6/14/7 6/1/7

How to Contact Us


Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"

Inner City Press Podcast --

UN Under Fire From Its Experts, on Torture, Executions and Peacekeeping Standards

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, October 29 -- The UN itself may be engaged or complicit in extra-judicial executions, the UN's special rapporteur on the topic has told Inner City Press. Concerns about the UN's own practices were echoed by the rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism. On Friday, law professor Philip Alston told journalists that he limits his inquiries to execution cases that are not being effectively investigated by the responsible authorities. Inner City Press asked Prof. Aston if, given that the UN system does not discipline its peacekeepers but rather allows them to return to their home countries, he has made such inquiries with the UN. Yes, he said, "the UN has a long way to go," adding that he intends to make further inquiries with the UN. Video here.

            It emerged that he has already written to the UN's mission in Haiti. Inner City Press raised to further example: allegations of torture and even executions by peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the case of the shooting death of Kosovar protesters by Romanian peacekeepers using 13-year old rubber bullets. These peacekeepers returned to Romania, where neither they nor the officials who, with presumptive criminal negligence, supplied long-out-of-date rubber bullets, have faced any justice.

            The UN rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, had been quoted that "as long as the military in Nepal tortures, no (Nepalese) troops should be consulted for peacekeeping missions" of the UN. Inner City Press asked about the quote, and Nowak specified that he had made a finding of torture in Nepal, in 2005, and that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DKPO) should able stricter scrutiny to peacekeepers offered by countries engaged in torture. He said that he personally had spoken with a Nepali officer who served as a UN peacekeeper and also admitted to engaging in torture. Video here. Nowak said similar issues exist as to Jordan, in terms of torture, and cited the unresolved case of sexual abuse allegations against Moroccan peacekeepers in Cote d'Ivoire.

UN headquarters in Geneva: human rights are a two-way street

            At Monday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Michele Montas if Nowak had spoken with, or would be listened to by, the UN's DPKO. Ms. Montas said that Nowak as a special rapporteur directs his recommendations to the Human Rights Council. But is DPKO listening? A report emerged of more Fijian peacekeepers headed to Sudan. In light of previous UN statements about not accepting more Fijian peacekeepers until Fiji is returned to democracy, Inner City Press inquired into this as well. Ms. Montas responded that seven Fijians initially slated to serve the UN in Iraq had been kept in Fiji, based on "criminal" issues. Video here, from Minute 22:21. Whether this indicates DPKO listening to the issues raised by human rights experts like Nowak remains to be seen.

            Finnish academic Martin Scheinin, the rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, also said that the UN could and should do more. Inner City Press asked about the UN having "cast its lot" with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, even as TFG figures began openly characterizing as "terrorists" women and children of clans which generally oppose the TFG. Scheinin said that while he is just beginning inquiry into Somalia, he is of the view that the UN Security Council, which calls on member states to respect human rights while implementing its resolution, should require the same of the UN itself. Video here. He also said that human rights should become a formal part of the work of the UN's Counter Terrorism Committee, which for now is set to sun-set by the end of 2007. Scheinin predicted, like most including Slovak Ambassador Peter Burian, the Council's liaison, that the CTC will be continued. But will it give more place to human rights? We'll see.

            UN rapporteur Paul Hunt, beyond meeting with pharmaceutical companies, was one of five rapporteurs who tried to go to Guantanamo Bay. Inner City Press asked about this; Hunt said that the U.S. invited three of the five, and disallowed two. While Hunt did not say it, he was one of the two who was disallowed. The five issued a scathing report, without having made the visit.

            Following his last appearance before the UN General Assembly's Third Committee, the outgoing rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, told reporters that "bio-fuels are a crime against humanity." Inner City Press asked if he knew the view of Ban Ki-moon. Ziegler said he had raised the issue to Ban at a lunch on the 8th floor of the UN's Palais in Geneva, but could not ascertain Ban's thoughts. Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson, who said, "That is a controversial issue."

            Ziegler mentioned that North Korea had not allowed him to enter the country. Meanwhile the UN's rapporteur for that country, Vitit Muntarbhorn, spoke again without having entered the country. He appeared to be trying to convince the Kim Jong-il government to let him in, by echoing claims by the World Food Program that access is being given, and that there is "no aid without access." In fact, WFP staffers on the ground say different, click here for that.

* * *

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Search WWW Search

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service.

            Copyright 2006-07 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540