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UN Cites Danger to Alawites, But Urges Them Not to Move, No Protection Offered

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 21 -- The UN is "deeply concerned" that in Syria the Alawite minority, "perceived to be affiliated with the Government... could be subject to large scale reprisal attacks."

  The UN's adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng in December 20 issued a press release, and on Friday took questions from journalists at the UN in New York.

   Inner City Press asked Dieng what the UN would think and more importantly do if Alawites began to relocate to mountain areas they could defend. Dieng replied that would be a bad thing, that separation is not good.

   So Inner City Press asked if the UN, whose Department of Peacekeeping Operations has said it is involved in contigency planning for a possible deployment in Syria, has been planning how to protect minority groups, including the Kurds.

  There was no real answer to that, except Dieng saying that deploying a peacekeeping mission is up to the Security Council.

   Yes, but the Secretary General -- and in this case his head of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous -- make proposals to the Security Council of what they think should and can be done.

   So are they preparing a plan to protect Alawite, to take to the Security Council if and when it become necessary? Apparently not.

   Dieng mentioned the Responsibility to Protect, the office for which at the UN has been headless since Edward Luck left. Inner City Press asked if Luck will be replaced, and what Dieng makes of questioning of the R2P mandate, now in the UN's Fifth (Budget) Committee, by countries including Cuba.

Dieng said that Luck will be replaced, by another adviser on a dollar a year contract. He questioned why Cuba would have a problem with this. It was moving without General Assembly approval.

  This UN bends the rules to push through words, but claims powerlessness when it comes to actually offering protection.

Footnote: Inner City Press thanked Dieng for the briefing, the type that the Free UN Coalition for Access has been pushing for from all Under Secretaries General including the UN's top lawyer Patricia O'Brien, and suggested that he do one on the Eastern Congo.

  Dieng was previously the registrar at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, in which post Inner City Press mentioned him as a candidate to take the top post in the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management.

   He didn't get that USG post, but rather the one on genocide. Syria is a start -- but he should speak on more country situation, including for example the Tamils in Sri Lanka on which the UN is now on its third report. Watch this site.

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