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Sri Lanka Gets UN Legal Chair, Absurd, Sartre-Translator Gets Human Rights

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 1 -- UN dysfunction was on display on the last day of General Debate speeches and beginning of Committee work on Tuesday.

  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky postponed the day's briefing in deference to the speech by Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, but then talked over Iran's reply. (Click here for Inner City Press questioning and video.)

  After Iran's talked-over reply, there was back and forth between Libya's past and current Ambassador Dabbashi and Bolivia's Sacha Llorenti. Evo Morales had noted that the change of regime in Libya led to changes in who got the oil; Dabbashi said Bolivia was mourning the loss of Gaddafi as a funder.

  Later in the afternoon new President of the General Assembly John Ashe lavished praise on Dabbashi, a bit over the top and seeming to take sides, given the context. But perhaps Bolivia will get a committee, as Dabbashi got the chair of the First Committee. (A diplomat from Iran became the rapporteur, with Montenegro as a vice chair.)

  Palitha Kohona of Sri Lanka, a country recently lambasted by the UN's Navi Pillay for intimidating witnesses to the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in 2009 was named the chair of, what else, the UN's Sixth (Legal) Committee.

  In his speech, Kohona said these are challenging times for particular member states. You don't say. But despite Pillay, Sri Lanka seems to still "have" Ban. He is withholding the most recent report on action and inaction in Sri Lanka in 2009. What leverage will the Sixth Committee give Sri Lanka?

  The Fifth (Budget) Committee strangely stayed with the Western European and Other Group, WEOG -- from Germany's Peter Berger to Finland's affable Janne Taalas. But voting on the vice chairs was put off, as it was for the Second Committee, with Senegal as the chair.

  A Sartre-translator from Bulgaria got the Third Committee, with vice chairs from Lebanon and Iceland. The Fourth, on Decolonization, went to El Salvador. Western Sahara, Gibraltar, and even Puerto Rico, get ready. Watch this site.


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