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Inner City Press Podcast --

UN Grapples with Somalia, While UNDP Funds Mugabe's Human Rights Unit, Without Explanation

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.

  UNITED NATIONS, July 11 --Somalia as crisis, Somalia as politics: both were discussed at the UN on Tuesday. Jan Egeland of UN humanitarian affairs said that talks with the Islamic Courts Union are progressing, toward re-establishing programs in Mogadishu, despite the looting of UN vehicles and a journalist's killing. Inner City Press asked about Puntland, only nominally controlled by those in Baidoa or Mogadishu; Jan Egeland said access there has been better.

            Half an hour later, Kofi Annan's envoy for Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, answered reporters' questions with patience but evasion. He said the Security Council is still considering a draft Presidential Statement. Inner City Press held up a copy of the draft, and asked about paragraph 12, in which the Council would express "its readiness to consider modifying the arms embargo to enable the Transitional Federal Institutions, on the basis of a sustainable peace process, to develop Somalia's security sector."

            "Do you favor this?" Inner City Press asked.

            "It is up to the Council," Mr. Fall replied.

            "Do you think it will pass?"

            Mr. Fall smiled but gave no prediction. 

Somali refugees per UNHCR

  Outside in the hallway, a spinmeister from Somalia's Transitional Federal Government said the Council is onboard to lift the arms embargo. On July 17th, the International Contract Group is slated to meet again in Brussels. As with the North Korean missiles and the upcoming G-8 summit, the UN may be rendered less than relevant. Sometimes a failure to speak is a failure to lead.

            Some diagnosis this in Kofi Annan's failure to speak on the North Korea missile launches on July 4. Now a week later, there are still dueling press statements outside the Security Council, but no action. The UN is otherwise silent on North Korea, too. Inner City Press asked Mr. Egeland about the UN's access to the DPRK.  "We were thrown out in December of last year," Mr. Egeland said. Unlike several other issues, that was all kept surprisingly quiet. Here is OCHA's discontinued website.

            After Mr. Egeland's briefing, Inner City Press spoke with him about forcible disarmament in Eastern Uganda.  "I've heard of that," Mr. Egeland said. "We are against that. We think it has to be voluntary." Mr. Egeland expressed surprise at the lack of transparency exhibited by the UN Development Programme; he committed to keeping the issue, and the Karimojong, in mind. The staff of French Ambassador De La Sabliere approached Inner City Press at the stakeout to say, "We are working on putting Uganda on the Security Council agenda, we don't have a date yet, but we're working on it."

            On the matter of refusal to speak or explain, Inner City Press had to inquire again at the noon briefing if Kofi Annan's spokesman's office has had any better luck in getting answers from the UN Development Programme. After facing stonewalling and insults while inquiring into UNDP's since-halted disarmament programs in Uganda, now Inner City Press' questions are ignored by UNDP. Last week the request was for an explanation of UNDP's program to help Uzbekistan's Karimov regime collect taxes. There has been no response; Kofi Annan's spokeswoman said, "They are looking into it."  But it is their program!

            Now, Inner City Press has asked UNDP to explain its funding of a "Human Rights Council" controlled by Robert Mugabe, who among other things has been lambasted by UN-Habitat for politically motivated mass evictions. What standards does UNDP have for such program?  There has been no answer. Inner City Press on Tuesday formally asked for UNDP's Administrator to come and answer questions.

            "We will ask," the spokeswoman. "But you're free to ask as well."

            Inner City Press has, and in writing. The silence is hard to understand, not only given the UN's and UNDP's stated missions, but also, politically, given that the UNDP's current administrator Kemal Dervis is described by some in UN Headquarters as a candidate to be the next Secretary-General. Make that, SECRET-ary...

Feedback: editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 718-716-3540

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In North Korean War of Words, Abuses in Uganda and Impunity Go Largely Ignored

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.

UNITED NATIONS, July 10 -- Monday at the UN Security Council stakeout, the Ambassadors of the Permanent Five traded sound bytes until almost six p.m.. China's Ambassador Wang Guangya said things should not be enflamed, Chapter 7 should not be invoked in light of other "situations still ongoing." (The reference was to Iraq, reporters surmised.)

   Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima noted that the Chinese position might be different, if the North Korean missiles were aimed at China. The US' John Bolton, asked at noon about Uganda, had nothing on the topic as five p.m. came and past. "If it takes all night, it's alright," he said, as he did ten days ago at the budget cap deadline. That night, he left the building at 5. If there are late nights to come on the North Korean missiles, it will be later in this week or next. Time is being given for the Chinese mission to the DPRK.

Stakeout madness

   At and following the noon briefing, two questions about the Democratic Republic of the Congo were answered. Inner City Press asked regarding the now-freed UN peacekeepers in the DRC, "were they held by Peter Karim?" Yes, the spokeswoman answered. She deferred providing further specifics; later in the afternoon, the following was provided, in writing:

"UN troops in the DRC, who are stretched thin, are focusing on ensuring countrywide security ahead of the 30 July elections and continue to seek peaceful means of ensuring the safety of all Congolese people, including those in the village of Tchei, which as of today remains in the hands of the militias that took it from DRC troops a week ago."

   Meanwhile in Uganda President Museveni's offer of amnesty to the Lord's Resistance Army was reported accepted by Vincent Otti, on behalf of Joseph Kony. At the UN Monday requests for comment from Kofi Annan and John Bolton were met with maybe and later, respectively. The UK's Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, after Inner City Press followed him down the hallway from the stakeout, said plainly that it is the position of his government that those who are indicted by the International Criminal Court should face justice by the ICC.

    Kony, Otti and three others have been indicted for war crimes by the UN-affiliated ICC. For that reason, one would expect a comment from Kofi Annan on Museveni's amnesty offer, even while he extends his trip to attend the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg. At Monday's noon briefing at UN Headquarters, Inner City Press asked the request for comment be transmitted to Europe, by telephone or Internet. Just after the briefing, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton spoke to reporters at the Security Council stakeout, initially about North Korea but then taking questions on other matters. Inner City Press asked for reaction to Museveni's amnesty offer to Kony. "I've read press reports," John Bolton answered, "but I'll have to get back to you with a response." We'll see.

   Meanwhile, here's the response from Denmark's embassy in Kampala to Inner City Press' questions about the Danish role in disarmament in Eastern Uganda. (UNDP, which has declined to response to any of Inner City Press' questions for more than a week, had initially named Denmark at the funder of UNDP's currently-halted disarmament program in Karamoja.)

From: Dorte Broen [at]>
To: Matthew.Lee [at]
Sent: Mon, 10 Jul 2006 10:52:55 +0300
Subject: Disarmament in northeastern Uganda

 Dear Mr. Lee,
With reference to correspondence between you and Permanent Mission of Denmark to
the United Nations please be informed that the Royal Danish Embassy in Kampala
1. does NOT support forceful disarmament in Northeast Uganda, Karamoja, but
2. has actively supported the Office of the Prime Minister in developing "Karamoja Integrated Disarmament and Development Programme" (KIDDP), in which voluntary disarmament is an integrated part.
The Embassy furthermore participates in discussions on implementation of KIDDP, and it's possible, but not yet decided, that Denmark will support strengthening of the implementation structures in the region. The Danish support to conflict resolution in Karamoja is part of the overall "Democracy, Justice and Peace Programme".

The ongoing forceful disarmament undertaken by Uganda peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) is not supported by any donors.

Kind regards
Dorte Broen, Counsellor - Development
Royal Danish Embassy, Kampala, Uganda

   The distinction made between points 1 and 2 is predicated on the Ugandan government's KIDDP program not including forcible (or "forceful") disarmament. Developing...

On North Korea, Blue Words Move to a Saturday Showdown, UNDP Uzbek Stonewall

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.

UNITED NATIONS, July 7 -- The missiles flew, and at the UN the words turned blue. Friday in the hallways outside the Security Council, the Japanese and American ambassadors said their resolution imposing certain sanctions on North Korea is ready for vote within 24 hours. France's Ambassador De La Sabliere, the Council president this month, said the vote might or might not happen on Saturday. Inner City Press asked him if the vote might be put off pending a Chinese visit to North Korea. "I cannot tell you the timing," Ambassador De La Sabliere replied. A staffer added that the resolution's sponsors will let members and reporters know of their Saturday plans by late Friday afternoon. Russia's ambassador, meanwhile, walked away from the stakeout with reporters in tow, joking but refusing to comment. "I don't want to steal the French ambassador's show," he said. As the stakeout presentation turned to the Central African Republican, most reporters left in droves.

DPRK a/k/a North Korea

            "The vote will not happen," one Council exiter said, "on Sunday between three and five," the time for the World Cup's final game between Italy and France. Another wag, this one, mused that North Korea might conduct an additional test at just that time, a sort of half-time show. Inner City Press asked a French staffer if there was any North Korean commitment to hold its fire on Sunday.  "Fireworks," the staffer answered. "Perhaps on the 14th of July?" Bastille Day -- you read it here first. Here's a key paragraph of the proposed resolution now in blue:

"The Security Council... 4. Decides that Member States shall take those steps necessary to prevent the procurement of missiles or missile-related items, materials, goods and technology from the DPRK, and the transfer of any financial resources to end users involved in or supplying DPRK's missiles or WMD programmes."

Closer reading by Inner City Press' bleary-eyed legal team of the gone-blue resolution leads to this question, among others: who are the targeted "end users... supplying DPRK's missile or WMD programmes"? Logically, an end user doesn't supply anyone else: they end use. So, at whom is Paragraph 4 directed?

            And speaking of financial resources, substance over semantics, many observers note that the crackdown on North Korea's dollar counterfeiting program, and the seizure of its assets in Macau, precipitated this crisis. And in the darkened stakeout, a photographer opined that John Bolton needs to get his glasses fixed, to stop fiddling with them. "Lens Crafters," he recommended. "They're having a sale."

            At the noon briefing, the spokeswoman announced that the talk on the small arms conference, scheduled for 12:30, would now be held at five. Great timing, to get the news out. Having received no responses from the UN Development Programme's external communications head, nor UNDP staffers in Zimbabwe and Uzbekistan, Inner City Press asked Kofi Annan's spokeswoman about the UNDP program to help the government of Uzbekistan collect taxes. Given that the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' finding that the government of Uzbekistan shot its own people in Andijan in May 2005, and has demanded the refoulement of all dissidents from Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Kakakhstan, as critiqued by UNHCR, what safeguards does UNDP have in place, if any, to ensure that the taxes it helps to collect are not used for such purposes?

            "We'll try to follow up on the question with UNDP for you," the spokeswoman said. While such intersession should not be needed, whatever gets answers...

Interim follow-up: On Uganda, the UN Department of Political Affairs report circulated to the Security Council on Monday is still not an "official document," though that slow alchemy is expected next week, the spokeswoman said. [Post-briefing, she specified by email that July 12 should be the day.] Then it should move to the Council's agenda.

Postscript 8:30 p.m. -- on the North Korea fracas, it's been announced that there'll be no Security Council meeting over the weekend. The text went blue and for what? In the interim in the basement, the small arms conference plodded to its end. No text was agreed on, the main objector being the United States which opposed any review conference in six years.

  In a wan post-conference sit-down with five reporters in an adjoining room, Chairman Prasad Kariyawasam of Sri Lanka called the U.S.'s stance "unique."  Inner City Press asked how this compared to the HIV/AIDS conference, and whether he thought the process could have benefited from more involvement from the General Assembly president (who will travel mid-July to China wearing two hats, that of Sweden and the G.A. presidency). While the spin was that this small arms conference was a victory, that wasn't the review from the floor or audience in the final proceedings. "Disgusting," an arms-violence expert in the cheap seats said. The UNDP seat was empty, and past deadline the S-G's spokesman's office had only this to say: "On your question today about how UNDP can work with the Uzbek Government on assistance to its tax collection efforts when the UN human rights officials say the government harms its own people [we're] checking in with UNDP on this."  Inner City Press has been checking in with UNDP on this and other questions for more than a week. And so, again, it goes...

Other Inner City Press reports are archived on

UN in Denial on Sudan, While Boldly Predicting the Future of Kosovo/a

UN's Selective Vision on Somalia and Wishful Thinking on Uighurs

UN Habitat Predicts The World Is a Ghetto, But Will Finance Be Addressed at Vancouver World Urban Forum?

At the UN, a Commando Unit to Quickly Stop Genocide is Proposed, by Diplomatic Sir Brian Urquhart

UN's Annan Concerned About Use of Terror's T-Word to Repress, Wants Freedom of Information

UN  Waffles on Human Rights in Central Asia and China; ICC on Kony and a Hero from Algiers

At the UN, Internal Justice Needs Reform, While in Timor Leste, Has Evidence Gone Missing?

UN & US, Transparency for Finance But Not Foreign Affairs: Somalia, Sovereignty and Senator Tom Coburn

In Bolton's Wake, Silence and Speech at the UN, Congo and Kony, Let the Games Begin

Pro-Poor Talk and a Critique of the World Trade Organization from a WTO Founder: In UN Lull, Ugandan Fog and Montenegrin Mufti

Human Rights Forgotten in UN's War of Words, Bolton versus Mark Malloch Brown: News Analysis

In Praise of Migration, UN Misses the Net and Bangalore While Going Soft on Financial Exclusion

UN Sees Somalia Through a Glass, Darkly, While Chomsky Speaks on Corporations and Everything But Congo

AIDS Ends at the UN? Side Deals on Patents, Side Notes on Japanese Corporations, Salvadoran and Violence in Burundi

On AIDS at the UN, Who Speaks and Who Remains Unseen

Corporate Spin on AIDS, Holbrooke's Kudos to Montenegro and its Independence (May 31, 2006)

Kinshasa Election Nightmares, from Ituri to Kasai. Au Revoir Allan Rock; the UN's Belly-Dancing

Working with Warlords, Insulated by Latrines: Somalia and Pakistan Addressed at the UN

The Silence of the Congo and Naomi Watts; Between Bolivia and the World Bank

Human Rights Council Has Its Own Hanging Chads; Cocky U.S. State Department Spins from SUVs

Child Labor and Cargill and Nestle; Iran, Darfur and WHO's on First with Bird Flu

Press Freedom? Editor Arrested by Congo-Brazzaville, As It Presides Over Security Council

The Place of the Cost-Cut UN in Europe's Torn-Up Heart;
Deafness to Consumers, Even by the Greens

Background Checks at the UN, But Not the Global Compact; Teaching Statistics from Turkmenbashi's Single Book

Ripped Off Worse in the Big Apple, by Citigroup and Chase: High Cost Mortgages Spread in Outer Boroughs in 2005, Study Finds

Burundi: Chaos at Camp for Congolese Refugees, Silence from UNHCR, While Reform's Debated by Forty Until 4 AM

In Liberia, From Nightmare to Challenge; Lack of Generosity to Egeland's CERF, Which China's Asked About

The Chadian Mirage: Beyond French Bombs, Is Exxon In the Cast? Asylum and the Uzbeks, Shadows of Stories to Come

Through the UN's One-Way Mirror, Sustainable Development To Be Discussed by Corporations, Even Nuclear Areva

Racial Disparities Grew Worse in 2005 at Citigroup, HSBC and Other Large Banks

Mine Your Own Business: Explosive Remnants of War and the Great Powers, Amid the Paparazzi

Human Rights Are Lost in the Mail: DR Congo Got the Letter, But the Process is Still Murky

Iraq's Oil to be Metered by Shell, While Basrah Project Remains Less than Clear

At the UN, Dues Threats and Presidents-Elect, Unanswered Greek Mission Questions

Kofi, Kony, Kagame and Coltan: This Moment in the Congo and Kampala

As Operation Swarmer Begins, UN's Qazi Denies It's Civil War and Has No Answers if Iraq's Oil is Being Metered

Cash Crop: In Nepal, Bhutanese Refugees Prohibited from Income Generation Even in their Camps

The Shorted and Shorting in Humanitarian Aid: From Davos to Darfur, the Numbers Don't Add Up

UN Reform: Transparency Later, Not Now -- At Least Not for AXA - WFP Insurance Contract

In Congolese Chaos, Shots Fired at U.N. Helicopter Gunship

In the Sudanese Crisis, Oil Revenue Goes Missing, UN Says

Empty Words on Money Laundering and Narcotics, from the UN and Georgia

What is the Sound of Eleven Uzbeks Disappearing? A Lack of Seats in Tashkent, a Turf War at UN

Kosovo: Of Collective Punishment and Electricity; Lights Out on Privatization of Ferronikeli Mines

Abkhazia: Cleansing and (Money) Laundering, Says Georgia

Post-Tsunami Human Rights Abuses, including by UNDP in the Maldives

Who Pays for the Global Bird Flu Fight? Not the Corporations, So Far - UN

Citigroup Dissembles at United Nations Environmental Conference

Other Inner City Press reports are archived on

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