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Amid Questions of DRC Expert Hege, UN Tells ICP It Vetted, UNSC Could Object

By Matthew Russell Lee, follow up to exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, August 7, updated -- A week after Inner City Press first highlighted two articles under the byline of the chairman of the DR Congo Sanctions Group of Experts, Steve Hege, and one of the articles was removed from the Internet, the UN has belatedly answered Inner City Press' question about how such "experts" are vetted.

  On August 1, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: There is some controversy arisen around the group of experts on DRC sanctions... that the coordinator of the group of experts has published articles saying FDLR is not a threat to Rwanda, that Rwandan concern about the FDLR is just a diversion. Some think these are positions that are contrary to what the UN has said elsewhere. What’s DPA’s role in the selection of the people to be on these groups of experts. A similar controversy is about Somalia where Mr. Matt Bryden seems to be leaving. But what’s the UN role and how are these people selected?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I will check on that, Matthew. I think it’s, perhaps a little more prosaic than you are sketching out. But let me check.

It took six days, but on the morning of August 7 the following generic answer came in:

Subject: Your question on panels of experts for sanctions committees
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Aug 7, 2012 at 10:53 AM
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]

Regarding your question from last week, we have the following information:

The Secretariat interviews potential candidates, checks their references and transmits the names and CVs of the proposed experts to the Chairperson of the relevant Sanctions Committee. Following the Committee’s endorsement under the no-objection procedure, the Secretary-General appoints the experts through a letter addressed to the President of the Security Council.

The Secretariat transmits official requests to Member States to submit names of qualified candidates for the roster of experts and also requests that regional and subregional organizations, specialized agencies, and academia propose suitable candidates.

Experts are selected based on the expertise required to fulfill the mandate as specified in the relevant Security Council resolution, with due regard being paid to geographical representation and gender.

   Will this satisfy those raising questions about Hege and his work? We doubt it. Did the UN Secretariat read the two articles being pointed to now? (And why was one of the articles taken off line so quickly once Inner City Press wrote about it and linked to it?)

  Who nominated Hege? Had they read the articles?

Update: Inner City Press asked spokesman Martin Nesirky at the August 7 noon briefing and he replied that "everything that we have to say at the moment is in what we sent you" - the email above. Video here, from Minute 13:50.Watch this site.

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