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PGA Ashe Disputes There's Been "Pushback" on UNSC Reform Advisers

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 18 -- When UN President of the General Assembly John Ashe did his end of the year press conference on Wednesday, Inner City Press asked him about the "pushback" at his six member Advisory Group on Security Council reform, and if he'd envisioned a broader mandate for them when he named them. (He's had to clarify that they neither draft nor negotiate.)

  Ashe took issue with the words "pushback" and especially "mandate," arguing that he did not need a mandate to set up the Advisory Group, just as the Secretary General does not need a mandate to set up groups to advise him.

  But the status and yes, mandates of such advisory groups in the UN system often is contested. For example, Ban Ki-moon got advised on war crimes in Sri Lanka, but the Rajapaksa government continues to insist that the report was "not a UN report."

  In the case of Ashe's advisory group, as Inner City Press first reported, letters of concern and pushback came in from Unitining for Consensus, the Arab Group and China, with the Eastern European group raising its concerns orally. This led to multiple clarifications from Ashe; that's how the process works. But why purport there was no pushback?

  As the work of the GA's Third Committee comes to a head later today in the full General Assembly, Inner City Press asked Ashe for his view and action on the dispute between the African Group and others on whether a proposed new "Focal Point" for the UN Human Rights Council needs General Assembly review and approval.

  Would a reversal of the African Group's slim win undermine the power of the GA or its Presidency?

  Ashe replied that he had not been asked to get involved in this, but that he did not think that it implicated the powers of the PGA. How about of the GA? We will cover it this afternoon.

While it didn't need confirming, click here for previous Inner City Press story, Ashe did it, saying that his successor will be the foreign minister of Uganda, Sam Kutesa. Would he have a view on this afternoon's hot topic? Watch this site.

Footnote: In his last press conference, Ashe quoted Justin Timberlake. Inner City Press praised it, then had to justify the praise - and would do so again. We're still awaiting some transparency, for example a list of who pays for or seconds the positions in the PGA's office. Now, Ban Ki-moon is proposing that ACABQ members be paid directly from the UN budget. Why not the PGA's office? We hope to have more on this.


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