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UN Working Methods Ritual Masks Small 5 Trauma, Singapore Cites O'Brien Letter

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 26 -- Security Council reform is a perennial UN issue, sadly like the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Monday's session on Working Methods was an open debate for the fifth year in a row.

  But this one was different, coming as it did after the shoot-down of the reform resolution by the so-called Small Five by a letter from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's top lawyer Patricia O'Brien.

  Singapore said, "the Office of Legal Affairs gave an interpretation that 'it would be appropriate if the General Assembly were to adopt the draft resolution with the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the General Assembly membership.' Member States learnt of this legal opinion, not from the OLA or even the PGA who had first raised the query."

  While Singapore went on to focus on a Permanent Five member faxing the OLA letter out -- to Inner City Press' information, this was done during the General Assembly session -- the letter was leaked and published by Inner City Press the night before.

  The larger problem was that O'Brien letter was never made an official document. It was "put out there" in order to get the Small Five to withdraw their resolution. Then it disappeared. And O'Brien never appeared to answer any Press questions about the letter and its reasoning. Such is the lawless UN.

  Still Monday's session, which after Singapore heard from Egypt, Small Fiver Switzerland and Iran spoke in the morning, then incoming member South Korea, Small Fivers Costa Rica and Uruguay and others in the afternoon.

  Russia's Vitaly Churkin in the morning said that working methods are the property of the Security Council -- he confirmed this translation afterward to Inner City Press, while others told Inner City Press that his reference to Charters Six and Eight was MIS-translated as Chapter Seven. The P5 are united on these issues. And many beyond them praised the Council's new website.

   Morocco's Ambassador Loulichki suggested that non Permanent members be consulted on what committees they might like to chair.

    Inner City Press hears that on Working Methods or documentation, outgoing member Portugal might be replaced by incoming Argentina. Fresh from their face off with the International Monetary Fund and a foreclosing vulture fund, here's hoping they can move the ball of transparency forward. Watch this site.

Footnote: Because it is our wont, we link again to this study of impacts of various Security Council reform proposals.

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