Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

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

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

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


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

On W. Sahara, Prospect of 3 Abstentions, China Bonds With France on Rights, Morocco Given Veto Power?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 30 -- Six hours into Western Sahara negotiations in the Security Council, the threat to call the vote was made. There would be three abstentions against the resolution drafted by the so-called Group of Friends: Uganda, Nigeria and Mexico.

A compromise that was apparently acceptable to all 15 members, but was opposed by Morocco, would refer to UN "mechanisms" as a euphemism for human rights.

  Frente Polisario says it could live with this language, and is angry that Morocco has become on this issue the one in "P-5 Plus One." Others wonder if France only agreed to put this language to Morocco because it knew Morocco would shoot it down.

Inside the consultations, Inner City Press is told, Austria's Ambassador wondered out loud how France, so important in forming the concept of human rights, could be so vehemently opposing the inclusion of the term in the Western Sahara resolution.

French Ambassador Araud responded angrily that no one can teach human rights lessons to France.

Whereupon the Chinese representative slyly said he was glad that Chinese was no longer alone in its position on -- and against - human rights being considered in the Council.

France's Araud, with UN's Ban, close to China on human rights?

This echoes a statement by China when France was calling for humanitarian intervention into Myanmar after cyclone Nargis. As Inner City Press exclusively reported, China responded that when thousands of French elderly died in the heatwave when doctors were on vacation, it had not called for intervention. This angered then French ambassador Jean Maurice Ripert. And now Gerard Araud?

On timing, the UN's note takers have already left for the Greentree retreat on peacekeeping. At some point the Ambassadors will have to go. Last year, the MINURSO extension talks started in the afternoon, and went to 11 p.m.. And this year? Watch this site.

Update of 5:10 pm.- Araud notes he should have left for Greentree 10 minutes ago. Predicts unanimity. Chinese laughs at story of bonding with France on rights.

Update of 5:41 p.m. -- the only change to the draft in blue is a reference to MINURSO's existing mandate, a hat tip to the call for a referandum. But as Nigeria pointed out, the draft does not refer to the 1991 resolution on the referendum. Still Nigeria and Uganda and Mexico voted for it, 15-0. Japan's Takasu has brought his month to a close. His staff have entered the Council with hand trucks, to move their paraphenalia. Speaking after the vote are the U.S. and now Araud and Mexico.

 * * *

On W. Sahara, France Draws a Line in the Sand, Pillay Solution Floated, Moroccan Spin

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 30, updated -- As the Western Sahara resolution was taken up by the UN Security Council on Friday morning, possible compromises were floated, including one which would call on Morocco and the Polisario Front to work with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay.

  France, however, was said to oppose any change to the text they shepherded out of the so-called Group of Friends on Western Sahara. The UK is a member of the Group. On April 29, UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told Inner City Press that while his country thought the text was balanced, it would be happy to see human rights language in the final resolution.

  Last year the fight devolved into a reference to the "human dimension," not human rights. This year, the question is what mechanism to use. Putting human rights into the mandate of the UN Mission MINURSO seems unlikely. Rather, the floated compromise would call on the parties to work with Navi Pillay.

  Polisario, however, says that one of the parities -- Morocco -- would resist working with Ms. Pillay. Morocco would, so to speak, draw a line in the sand on Western Sahara. Polisario would prefer that the resolution call on the High Commissioner to work with the parties, or with MINURSO. In the balance: the planned Council retreat to Greentree, about peacekeeping operations.

Navi Pillay, Western Sahara monitoring not shown

  Morocco's spin -- and we do try to cover it as well -- is that if Polisario wants a reference to the Human Rights Commissioner, they should agree to a census. They talk about damning reports by Danielle Mitterand's France Liberte in 2003 and OLAF in 2005. Their accusation: while Christopher Ross has convened meeting in Austria and Armonk, and is even trying to get re-opened the border between Algeria and Morocco,

  Polisario is deploying the "Trojan horse" of human rights, as the Moroccans put it. They mock the human rights records of Uganda and Nigeria. Their scorecard on the Group of Friends: France and the U.S. pro Morocco, Russia and Spain "leaning toward" Polisario, and the UK in the middle.

But, Inner City Press asked, why are there no African or even Arab countries in the Group of Friends? It was established a long time ago, was the answer. Maybe it must change.

Update of 11:25 a.m. -- the Council has gone into recess. Austria notes that there have been 55 resolutions on Western Sahara, 53 of them unanimous. Why not today?

Update of 12:02 p.m. -- a source exiting the consultations describes "a French proposal to change the perambular paragraph about the human dimension....We feel excluded by the process, the Group of Friends is composed of only four Council members and one non member [Spain], so eleven of us are excluded. So we expect from flexibility now." But the reference to Navy Pillay may not happen.

Question: does the revolve of at least some of the excluded ten foreshadow what will happen if and when the P5 Plus One come out with an Iran sanctions draft? Watch this site.

Update of 2:52 p.m. -- in the text in blue, from the Group of Friends, the paragraph is

"Stressing the importance of making progresss on the human dimension of the conflict as a means to promote transparency and mutual confidence through constructive dialogue and humanitarian confidence - building measures"

Now, after Mexico carried sandwich in -- bad sign, one said -- word is that Uganda and Nigeria would abstain. Would that be unity?

Update of 3:11 pm - Gabon's Ambassador tells InnerCityPRess, "We don't need to mention human rights! Human dimension, ok." How about human element? "Maybe."

* * *

W. Sahara Rights Fight Heads Through Sushi Down to Wire, Nigeria and Uganda Put Greentree Retreat in Play

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 29 -- The usually dry issue of Western Sahara has become a test of the Japanese presidency of the Security Council, as well of some Council members' commitment to human rights, namely France and Gabon which oppose rights in the mandate, and Uganda and Nigeria, which say they will fight to get it in.

  Already the vote slated for April 29 was pushed back to the month's (and week's) last day. The difficulty is that the Council is slated to leave for Greentree for a retreat with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about peacekeeping. This, and the traffic to get there, provide Uganda and Nigeria with leverage. But Morocco, France and Gabon are digging in their heels.

  Gabon was left alone to defend Morocco's position, engendering sympathy as delegations including Mexico's leveled criticism, how ever diplomatic. On the other hand China, which is not part of the Group of Friends on Western Sahara, told Inner City Press on Thursday they oppose any mix of human rights and the Security Council.

  At Japan's end of presidency reception Thursday night Yukio Takasu, this month's presidency, said his term cannot yet to graded, it all depends on how he revolves the Western Sahara issue tomorrow. Later in the reception, as the two bars were being closed and the sushi rounds were stopped, Takasu conferred with Uganda's Ambassador Ruganda. Some said Japan was or was trying to "put the screws" to Uganda.

Uganda's Ruganda and mission officials, pressure not shown

  Afterwards, Inner City Press asked Ruganda about his country's commitment to human rights in Western Sahara. We do not bluff, he indicated. One UN staffer canceled his Friday plans. But what about the retreat? Watch this site.

Footnote: at the Japanese reception, four of the P-5 Permanent Representatives were there. Susan Rice, however, was apparently in Washington, from which she will appear by video on Friday to tell the press about the NBT, for which Ahmadinejad will be the second speaker. At the Japanese reception, Alejandro Wolff filled in for her. But Ambassadors Araud, Lyall Grant, Churkin and Li Baodong were all there, along with their counterparts from Austria, Brazil, Bosnia and Uganda, among others. Noblesse oblige...

* * *

On W. Sahara, Second Tier Titans Clash on Rights, Gabon and Uganda in Proxy War

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 29 -- The Western Sahara resolution, which was scheduled to be voted on in the UN Security Council this morning, has been dropped from the agenda.

  Sources tell Inner City Press that a dispute remains about a human rights component, or even language, in the resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Western Sahara, MINURSO.

  In what some call a battle of second tier titans, France on behalf of Morocco opposes any human rights component, while the UK favors its inclusion. France does not like to be seen in its opposition to les droits de l'homme.

  The battle, sources say, has been outsourced into a post-modern, but not post-colonial proxy war between France's Gabon and U(k)ganda.

France's Gerard Araud, UK (UN) official John Holmes, proxy war not shown

  Meanwhile MINURSO itself gave in, at least temporarily, to Morocco's demand that its suspend its subscription only news service on Western Sahara. Once inquiries were made, the service was revived. So, free press but still not human rights. Watch this site.

Footnotes: 1) Uganda has its own human rights issues, not only at home in Karamoja and the north, but also with its forces in Somalia. On April 28, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky for the UN's response to a report by HRW that Uganda's and Burundi's troops in Mogadishu fire indiscriminately into civilians areas in violation of the laws of war.

  Nesirky claimed that the UN didn't have to respond, despite its logistical support to these AU forces. (After being Pressed, he said he would seek guidance). Later, Inner City Press asked Uganda's representative for his country's response, which has been promised. Stay tuned.

2) While Western Sahara was removed from Thursday agenda, Lebanon is on it. On his way in, the UN's part time envoy on Resolution 1559, Terje Roed Larsen, told the Press he might, at long last, appear afterwards at the stakeout and take questions. "Only if nice, soft questions," he said. Only at the UN.

 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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

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

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

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -