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On Syria, "ICC 5" Promote Doomed Referral Plan, France No Answers on Mali

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 18 -- After the Syria briefing of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, five Security Council Permanent Representatives came to tell the press of their countries' support for referring the matter to the International Criminal Court.

  The countries were France and the UK, and new members Australia, Luxembourg and South Korea.

  They said that "one country" in the closed door meeting was against referral to the ICC. When they finished, another Security Council member told Inner City Press this was far from true, that there is much more extensive opposition in the Council.

   Of Pillay herself, on Syria, Inner City Press asked why her Office outsourced its study of casualties to Benetech, a firm funded by the US State Department, and wouldn't disclose which two other companies her spokesman says were considered, or even what the criteria for selection were. Click here for that.

   Pillay said Benetech worked on Kosovo; she did not answer on her Office's lack of transparency on this. Video here, from Minute 5:25. (Pillay answered another Inner City Press question, which we'll separately report.)

   Of Security Council president Masood Khan, Inner City Press asked if the hostages in Algeria had been raised -- Inner City Press had heard the UK had raised it, but wanted this confirmed -- and if France has given any update to the Security Council on its military intervention in Mali.

   Khan told Inner City Press that France has given no such update -- this even as more legal and political questions are arising about France's intervention at the invitation of Malian authorities including coup leader Amadou Sanogo.

  Khan confirmed that the Algeria issue arose, and may give rise to a press statement.

    But when French Ambassador Gerard Araud, UK Ambassador Lyall Grant and the three other representatives who did not speak (welcome to the Security Council!) came out, no question about Mali was allowed.

   Araud's spokesman directed the microphone (at least he didn't seize the mic, like another UN Frenchman). After a slew of questions along the line of how Assad could be referred to the ICC despite opposition in the Security Council, it was over.

   So the French Mission to the UN not only does not update the Security Council as its bombings in Mali killed civilians and have cross-border impacts -- they also don't select questions on the topic. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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