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On S. Sudan, Ladsous Won't Speak, Araud Curt on Peacekeeping & Mali

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 17 -- Amid the crisis in South Sudan, with it unclear what protection the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations mission there is providing beyond two compounds in Juba, DPKO chief Herve Ladsous gave a closed door briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday.

  It was announced that Ladsous would, as his predecessors Alain Le Roy and Jean-Marie Guehenno before him did, speak to the media at the Security Council stakeout afterward. But when the time came, Ladsous simply walked out without speaking. This is a pattern: UK coverage here.

  Moments later scribes serviced by Ladsous' spokesperson Kieran Dwyer reported breathlessly a blind quote that a "UN official" said 500 had been killed.

 Here's a question: if the UN means its post Sri Lanka "Rights Up Front" action plan, why would it only give its estimate of deaths anonymously? It seems clear there will be no "Rights Up Front" for UN Peacekeeping as long as Ladsous is at the helm.

  Ladsous' spokesperson Dwyer remained as Gerard Araud, the Ambassador of Ladsous' native France and December's Security Council president, took questions on South Sudan, Syria and Mali.

  Araud's spokesperson Frederic Jung tried to control the proceeding, telling the UN Television (actually, outside contractor Team People) microphone operator to go to Reuters, then to Agence France Presse.

  Inner City Press asked, what about clashes outside of Juba, in Pibor and Bor?

  Araud acknowledged there had been fighting in Pibor; he did not mention Bor where it is reported at least three people have been killed.

  Inner City Press asked if Ladsous had briefed on how this split, between Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar, might impact fights with the David Yau Yau rebels. Araud said that hadn't been considered yet, and that he'd told another Council members it couldn't yet be known.

  Then after a typical AFP question -- from the scribe who once asked breathlessly what time a head of state's plane would land in New York -- Araud called on Reuters to ask a question about Syria.

  Predictably, it was about Assad leaving power, at least executive power. It was not the type of question a President of the Security Council would answer, but Araud used the stakeout and microphone to state France's position and brag that France's "side event" with Saudi sponsored rebel Ahmad al Jarba was the best attended side event. (As noted, the UN Censorship Alliance a/k/a UNCA also hosted Jarba for a faux "UN briefing.")

  Then Inner City Press asked a question about Mali, which Araud refused to answer. It was the type of question the president of the Security Council should answer: have the peacekeepers that the Council has sent into Mali become combatants and therefore targets?

  Araud gave a lecture about three levels of decision making, calling himself "the political" and saying "it's not to me to care" what happens on the ground with the MINUSMA mission. Inner City Press YouTube video here.

  Then Araud walked away from the stakeout. The AFP scribe snickered and Ladsous' spokesperson Kieran O'Dwyer stood feeding the scribes for some time. Watch this site.


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