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In S. Sudan, Death in UN Base, in NY US Mission "Can't Speak Today," 10 AM

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 19 -- Even amid a crisis like that in South Sudan, the UN Security Council can move too slowly, and be less than transparent. On the afternoon of December 19, after news of civilians killed INSIDE the UN Peacekeeping compound in Akobo, there was a peacekeeping seminar in the UN's Economic and Social Council chamber. There was a minute of silence for three peacekeepers killed in South Sudan:

Photo by Matthew Russell Lee,

  Outside, Inner City Press asked diplomats about South Sudan. Four told Inner City Press there would there would be Security Council consultations on South Sudan at 10 am on December 20. Several added this was at the request of the US, which "has the pen."

  A request for simple confirmation of this from the US was met with the response, "I don't think we're going to be able to speak today." If not today, when? The US Mission is engaged in tightly planned public relations, rather like 60 Minutes with Amazon, or the NSA last week.

Earlier today Inner City Press ran a story about US Ambassador Samantha Power's trip to Central African Republic, complete with analysis of Cameroon opposing Chadian involvement in MISCA. The US arranged for coverage of Power's trip. Who has asked: where is she, and the US Mission, on South Sudan? Norway has been more vocal this week.

  One watches the US State Department briefing, with Jen Psaki or Marie Harf taking question after question, for example about the arrest and strip searching of the Indian diplomat, and one thinks that the US State Department is a model of openness. That is not mirrored in Turtle Bay -- maybe there are reasons, such as that the press corps is different. But on South Sudan? Watch this site.

Footnote: In the Peacekeeping meeting, sitting in Sri Lanka's seat was military figure Shavendra Silva, on whose inclusion in the UN Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operation USUN's departing Joe Torsella worked. Joe's leaving; Shavendra's still here. This is the UN.


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