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UN Meets Afghan Taliban in Doha, Works Quietly with ICC, On LOTFA & Maxwell

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 19 -- After the UN Mission in Afghanistan's new chief Fink Haysom briefed the Security Council on December 18, he came to the Council's stakeout and took questions from the Press.

His predecessor Jan Kubis had previously answered about the scandal plagued UN Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, promising a “public accounting;” further back when he was Afghanistan envoy, Staffan de Mistura told Inner City Press he would get to the bottom of the killing of UN staff member Louis Maxwell there.

  Haysom on December 18 said that the Louis Maxwell case was being handled by the UN Department of Safety and Security. On December 19, when to his credit he held a sit-down press conference, he said that the LOTFA issues were more for the UN Development Program -- which has been far from responsive -- and that it is largely a matter of answering the questions from donors. That's certainly part of it. But what about the “public accounting”?

  Some of these issues go beyond Haysom as SRSG. It was up to Ban Ki-moon to push the Karzai government about the killing of Louis Maxwell, and he didn't. UNDP should be answering the questions about LOTFA, but isn't. Still, doesn't this make the UNAMA mission's job more difficult?

  Again to his credit, Haysom said that UNAMA formally reached out to the Taliban, on human rights issues, and meet with them in Doha. He emphasized there can be no (entirely) military solution.

  Inner City Press tried to ask UNAMA Human Rights Office chief Georgette Gagnon if her office works with the International Criminal Court's inquiry into Afghanistan.

 But it was Haysom who answered, saying yes UNAMA participates constructively but that it is confidential. With the release, even redacted, of the summary of the US torture report, the ICC's Afghanistan inquiry has become all the more interesting. We'll have more on this.

Footnote: in terms of accessibility during his visit to UNHQ in New York, Haysom should be credited. Under Secretaries General like Herve Ladsous and even, less abusively, Jeffrey Feltman rarely speak to the media. Inner City Press for the new Free UN Coalition for Access on December 19 thanked Haysom -- and posits that willingness to answer questions from the media should be one of the criteria by which UN officials, including for example the next head of OCHA, are chosen.


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