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At UN, France Holds Ivorian Pen Through Murky Splitting of Council Pie, Drafters Rule

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

UNITED NATIONS, October 22 -- As the UN Security Council put out a Presidential Statement Monday about the Ivory Coast, virtual ignored was the call by the Ivorian representative at the debate to stop France from being the drafter of such statements. There are three African nations on the Council, was the Ivorian argument. Why is France as ex-colonial power the one doing the drafting?

            Inner City Press asked French deputy Permanent Representative Jean-Pierre Lacroix for his response, in the corridor outside the Council. "Yes, we are holding the pen," Amb. Lacroix said. "But the decision are up to the full Council."

            Inner City Press asked for France's position on the call by Cote d'Ivoire, during the General Debate and on Monday, that sanctions be removed. "There is a delisting procedure," Amb. Lacroix noted. "There is a similar procedure to apply to if they seek the lifting of the arms embargo." He paused and then let slip his view that the Security Council is not leaning n either issue toward the position of Cote d'Ivoire, at Monday's Council meeting or as set forth by President Laurent Gbagbo in his September 26 press conference, about which Inner City Press the next day asked French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, who bristled about Gbagbo's electoral duties.

            While the question is broader than why does France, which colonized Cote d'Ivoire, still play such a central role in the UN's Ivorian considerations, two more Ambassadors answered or dodged this specific question from Inner City Press. China's deputy representative Li said that the African Union and ECOWAS should take the lead. Ghana's Leslie K. Christian, Council president this month, said he had "yet to digest" the Ivorian proposal.

Jean-Marie Bockel, French Secretary of... Francophone Affairs, Ivorian pen not shown

Security Council analysis: Inner City Press asked several diplomats and staffers how it is assigned which Council members take the lead on particular issues and peacekeeping missions. The deputy spokesman of a Permanent Five Council member acknowledged that the process of assignment is informal, and thus lacks transparency. Each January, he said, formal decisions are made of which new members will chair which committees; the doling out of leadership roles for drafting might take place at the same time, but without formality.

            He who drafts, it is said, controls. The deputy spokesman pointed that some non-permanent members are "given" countries and missions on which to take the lead, given as the example the shift for Greece to Belgian as leader on Ethiopia - Eritrea, went Greece went off the Council.

            A staffer scoffed that Ethiopia - Eritrea is always assigned to European Council members; of Cote d'Ivoire, he said that if the three current members from Africa wanted to make a stink about France's Ivorian role, they might get somewhere, but in fact no one is pushing on it. Will Burkina Faso, which will begin a two-year term in January, take the lead on Cote d'Ivoire? We'll see.

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Clck here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army.  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent 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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