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On Ukraine, OHCHR on Pull-out of Hospital & Schools Belatedly Concerned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 15 -- In the Ukraine meeting of the UN Security Council on November 12,  UN Assistant Secretary General Jens Toyberg-Frandzen said, among other things, that "on November 5, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk announced that pensions would be halted to areas under rebel control."

  Today's UN report on November 1-30 says this policy extended to the withdrawal of hospitals, schools and nursing homes.

  On pensions, Inner City Press asked, in a November 12 story and at the November 13 UN noon briefing, isn't the halting of financial social benefits in rebel held areas by the government in Kyiv a form of collective punishment? Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Office of the Spokesperson never offered any substantive response.

  Today, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said "the Government of Ukraine decided to temporarily relocate all state institutions, including medical and educational facilities and nursing homes, to territory under its control. The situation of citizens under the protection of the State, or dependent on such services, who have been unable or unwilling to move to locations where those services are now provided remains of great concern.”

  The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission's eighth report, released today, said the breakdown in law and order as well as the violence and fighting in the eastern regions, fueled by the inflow of heavy and sophisticated weaponry as well as foreign fighters, including from the Russian Federation, has had “a direct impact on all fundamental human rights, including the security, liberty and well-being, of individuals living there."

  On social security, today's OHCHR statement specified that “residents from Donetsk and Luhansk regions will have to register by December 31 in Government-controlled areas to receive social benefits. However, IDP registration points, already overwhelmed, did not have sufficient capacity to cope with the increased inflow of IDPs following the adoption of this policy.”

  The OHCHR press release quotes the head of the office, Prince Zeid of Jordan, who has yet to say anything publicly about a mounting scandal of leaked cables depicting two high employees of the Office, one still there, servicing Morocco on the Western Sahara issue.
Nor has Zeid's spokesperson responded to a Press request for comment about the UN Peacekeeping mission in Haiti shooting pistols and tear gas at demonstrators for democracy, and pushing reporters around, videos through there.

 This is today's UN system.

  In October, Ukraine was scheduled to speak at the UN about its “Committee on Information” on October 21, but as UN speeches usually go longer than allowed, its turn was postponed until October 22.

That didn't stop the “UN Radio” Russian service from reporting on the speech on October 21 as if it had in fact been given that day. As translated, UN Radio on October 21 reported

The representative of Ukraine accused Russia of using the information strategy of the Cold War

One of the main prerequisites of violence in Ukraine became a propaganda information. This was stated by the representative of the Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations, speaking at a meeting of the Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly.”

  The UN's Fourth Committee did meet on October 21 - but Ukraine didn't speak. Instead it was the first speaker on the afternoon of October 22. Its speech, delivered in perfect French including the word “rigolo,” linked Russia to Joseph Goebbels.

  In reply, the Russian mission's spokesman brought up the recent Human Rights Watch report of the Ukrainian government using cluster bombs in and against Donetsk, and the lack of clarity on who called the snipers shots in Maidan Square.

  Later in the Fourth Committee meeting, Bolivia slammed “powers” who use information technology to intervene and violate privacy, bringing to mind USAID's “Cuban Twitter” and, of course, the NSA.

  Then Jordan said it was first among Arab nations to enact an Access to Information law, in 2007. The Free UN Coalition for Access has been pressing for a Freedom of Information Act at the UN, click here and here for that.

  FUNCA covers the Fourth Committee, including on Decolonization, and the Committee on Information, where at least theoretically the UN's descent into censorship could be raised and resolved. The old UN Correspondents Association, a part of this trend toward privatization of briefings and even censorship -- ordering Press articles off the Internet, getting leaked copies of their complaints to the UN's MALU banned from Google's search, here -- was nowhere to be seen. We'll have more on this.


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