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At UN, No Action on Korea Shootout, Security Council Theater, Questions Banned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 24 -- The shootout in Korea reverberated throughout Wednesday outside the UN Security Council, while within the Council nothing was done about the showdown.

  The Council had two meetings, in the morning on the Congo and at 4 pm about Ivory Coast. The stakeout was full of reporters from Japanese media, who burst into action to chase a mid level North Korean diplomat to no avail.

  In the morning the Permanent Representative of South Korea entered the Council's chambers. He did not go into the consultations, however, but only to meet with UK Deputy Permanent Represent Philip Parham. On his way out, he refused to answer any questions.

  After the morning's meeting, Susan Rice of the US stayed inside talking with UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant, after Russia's Vitaly Churkin had left. At the news that the Council would reconvene in the afternoon, the press was all at(w)itter.

  But the afternoon session concerned only Ivory Coast, sending three battalions and two helicopters from the UN Mission in Liberia for Sunday's runoff election. After the vote on this resolution, the UK's Lyall Grant told the mass of reporters that on Korea “consultations continue.” He said he would take no questions on camera, even about Ivory Coast.

UN's Ban & UK's Lyall Grant: neither takes questions, utmost concern not shown

  Afterward an Ivorian diplomat complained to Inner City Press that his country hadn't been consulted about the resolution to send in the additional troops. By then the major powers have left, the Thanksgiving holiday getting an early start.

The prediction is that North Korea will be discussion on Monday November 29, on resolution 1718 (non proliferation). But what of the non nuclear shootout? A shiny haired South Korean journalist regaled Japanese reporters with tales of Seoul's prowess.

We don't need the Security Council,” he said, “not this time, not when we fought back.” Reporters scribbled this down, perhaps to become Gospel in Tokyo. Another reporter asked, why is Thanksgiving four days? The UN unceremoniously canceled its Friday press briefing.

 At Wednesday's briefing, acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq denied that Ban Ki-moon has seen a UN memo about Korea, and dodged questions about why Korea had not been in Ban's Monday speech. He pointed at Ban's November 23 statement, that Ban conveyed his “utmost concern” to Lyall Grant. But why then no Council meeting? Watch this site.

  On the memo, from the UN's November 24 transcript:

Inner City Press: a memo has emerged for a 6 December meeting of the Policy Committee of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General concerning DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]. I don’t know if you have seen it, but it’s been leaked and talks about the UN trying “efforts to re-engage with the DPRK”. It seems to have been written before this most recent firing, but I just wonder, first, can you confirm that the document exists and or that there is a 6 December meeting of the Korean Peninsula/DPRK Policy Committee of the Secretary-General’s office? And two, does this raise any, does the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, is a stated desire to re-engage with DPRK in any way changed by recent events?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq: Well, first of all, you’re aware of our general policy not to comment on leaked documents, which applies in this case. In this particular case, as for whether there was a meeting of the Policy Committee on this, no, in fact there was not. The document that was reported on Fox is not something that has been seen by senior UN officials. It was not reviewed by senior UN officials, and therefore it does not have any particular status.

Inner City Press: Is there within DPA [Department of Political Affairs] a unit that specifically focuses on Korea Peninsula/DPRK that provides memos to the Executive Office of the Secretary-General?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: You mean does the Department of Political Affairs have a desk on North Korea?

Question: [inaudible] document, it seems to, unless it’s somehow some lower-level UN official writing his own grandiose projections, it seems to be…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Like I said, this is not something that was reviewed by senior officials. It could be a working level initial draft. But it certainly is not something that has undergone any particular review higher up.

Question: Was there at any time a meeting scheduled for 6 December on the topic of DPRK/Korean Peninsula?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Like I said, this not something that has been discussed at the Policy Committee.

But that doesn't answer the question. Watch this site.

* * *

Amid Korea Shots & Worries, UN Ban Silent in NJ Speech, Hours After White House

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 23, updated -- With North and South Korea exchanging fire amid renewed concern about North Korea's nuclear program, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's November 22 speech at Seton Hall, billed alternately as a major policy address or Ban's re-election speech, mentioned Korea only once, in passing and in an entirely positive context.

We help the helpless to help themselves, just as the UN did for Korea many decades ago,” Ban said, before praising his own performance in Myanmar and Darfur.

Throughout the weekend before Ban gave his major / re-election speech, the wires and UN press corps were full of news of North Korea and its nuclear program. Still, no one in Ban's team modified the speech.

Ban speech this month, lagging behind the news

At 4:30 am on November 23, the US White House issued a statement on the Korean shooting. Four hours later, still nothing out of Ban's UN Secretariat. Watch this space.

Update of 10:20 am -- Ban Ki-moon has announced that he has “conveyed his utmost concern to the President of the Security Council.” But President Mark Lyall Grant told the Press no one has requested a meeting on the Korea shootout. S-Gs can request Council meetings, under Article 99 of the UN Charter. So what does utmost mean? What is ut-ter than utmost? Watch this site.

* * *

In New Jersey, UN Ban Speech Ignores Haiti, Congo & Sri Lanka, Brags of Darfur

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 22 -- When Seton Hall hosted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, it told the Press to expect a “major policy address entitled, 'Can the UN Deliver What the World Needs?'”

At a time when for example the UN is accused of playing a role in the introduction and spread of cholera in Haiti, and has killed at least one Haitian demonstrator, one expected this issue to at least be mentioned in the major policy address. But Ban's speech, as distributed under embargo to the UN press corps, did not even mention Haiti.

Amazingly, Ban's speech praised his and the UN's role in Myanmar and went on that “We did the same in Darfur. For years, conflict raged... today, the mission continues to protect civilians.” This right after the slaughter at Tawila, which even Ban acknowledged raised issues about the UN peacekeepers freedom of movement and protection of civilians.

  Ban did not mention Sri Lanka, a country where he has been burned in effigy and where after tens of thousands of deaths, the International Crisis Group said the UN's inaction should be investigated.

Not a mention of the mass rapes in Eastern Congo, and the UN peacekeepers' inaction. After each of these incidents, the UN has said it can and will do better. But this is soon forgotten, not even mentioned amid the self congratulation.

  This speech is described in house as Ban's re-election speech: "all the great things I have done" (and none of the short falls, none of the need to or commitment to reform - spin, in short.)

  An Inner City Press correspondent at the speech reports on questions about the South Sudan referendum, Afghanistan and terrorism, still nothing on cholera in Haiti, mass rape in the Congo.

Ban at a recent speech, re-election not shown

At Monday's noon press briefing, Ban's acting deputy spokesman was asked if Ban would be receiving an honorary degree, as Seton Hall itself had been announcing since last week. Haq would not confirm it. But the speech, even as embargoed, began with thanks for the award. Ah, communications.

* * *

In Haiti, UN Fires Into Crowds, Says Its Only Focus Is Future, Not How Cholera Arrived

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 15 -- With protesters in Haiti still blaming the UN for the deadly cholera outbreak, and UN peacekeepers reportedly opening fire on the crowds, at UN headquarters on Monday Inner City Press asked the UN's interim humanitarian coordinator for Haiti Nigel Fisher why the UN had not acted to fully investigate reports of UN peacekeepers' roles in bringing or spreading the disease. Video here, from Minute 22:21.

My focus is on how to stop” the disease, Fisher replied. But even the UN's deputy special envoy Paul Farmer denounced this approach, call it more politics than science. Beyond being anti scientific, it appears in this case that the UN's attempts to brush off complaints and not fully investigate them has come back to haunt the UN, as suspicions have only grown.

Inner City Press asked when the last time cholera had been present in Haiti. “There has never before been cholera in Haiti,” Fisher answered.

Fisher characterized as “political manipulation” the claims by the Mayor of Mirebalais that the disease may have come from the UN Peacekeeping base there, staffed by peacekeepers from Nepal. But the Centers for Disease Control, even Fisher acknowledged Monday, said the strain is a strain which originated in South Asia.

Nigel Fisher by video, facts on MINUSTAH role not shown, (c) MRLee

Some in the UN system say that even looking into the role of the peacekeepers from Nepal is somehow racist. But political correctness can lead to riots in which UN peacekeepers are shooting into crowds of Haitians. Which is worse? Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

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

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