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UK's SC Month Featured 17 Stakeouts, Tiffs With Syria, Zim & Libya

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 28 -- The UK's month as President of the UN Security Council President had more question-and-answer stakeouts than is the norm, 17 with a possible 18th on Yemen.

  The UK's month also more emergency meetings than usual -- the craziest August in one staffer's 30 years at the UN, he told Inner City Press -- and, uniquely, a presentation of Hamlet in the Trusteeship Council Chamber.

  The UK's end of presidency reception, overlooking the FDR Drive and East River on August 28, features discussion of Ukraine, Syria and US President Barack Obama's tan suit earlier in the day, and diplomats' tension for the upcoming General Assembly ministerial week.

Hours before, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said in the Council chamber that while the UK's month had many things “not correct,” they had worked hard. The latter was indisputable. When Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant couldn't summarize a consultation or read out a Press Statement at the stakeout, his deputy Peter Wilson did. They took questions, they sent out transcripts of what was asked and answered.

The UK considers itself a leader on Darfur, but as its month atop the Council ends it is still not clear if cover-ups by the UNAMID mission won't continue. The issue wasn't sufficiently addressed, it seems, in the mandate renewal resolution the UK shepherded through.

There were a few kerfufels in the chamber: not only Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari being cut off while speaking, of which the UK might be proud, but a speeding along of Zimbabwe and a failure to seat Libya's Ibrahim Dabbashi at the Council table before voting on the Council's Libya resolution, for both of which the UK apologized.

  (The Libya apology was delivered on-camera by Lyall Grant; the Zimbabwe apology was amplified off-camera by his deputy Peter Wilson, who did four of the 17 stakeouts.)

What role did the UK and its envoy Jonathan Powell play in the switch in UN envoy from Tarek Mitri to Bernardino Leon? Inner City Press would still like to know. But spokesperson Iona Thomas provided comment on issues ranging from freedom of the press in Somalia to #BringBackOurGirls in Nigeria.

The UK ran a hybrid Council trip to Europe, South Sudan and Somalia; from Inner City Press' and the Free UN Coalition's perspective, there could have been more follow up on the troubling crackdown on reporters in South Sudan, including most recently even a staffer of UNMISS public affairs.


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