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UN Decries Uzbekistan's Use of Torture, While Helping It To Tax and Rule; Updates on UNIFIL and UNMIS Off-Message

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

  UNITED NATIONS, August 14 -- Two UN agencies last week denounced the return of four refugees to Uzbekistan from the neighboring Kyrgyz Republic, in light of the Karimov regime's persecution and torture of political opponents.

  At precisely the same time the chief of the UN Development Programme in Uzbekistan, Fikrek Okcura, expressed gratitude for being able to train the Uzbek legislature. Monday Kofi Annan's spokesman was asked by Inner City Press to explain his position on Uzbekistan's Karimov regime: practitioner of torture and persecution as stated by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, or government to be helped collect taxes, as practices by UNDP?

            The spokesman replied that "on the return of refugees to face grave danger of torture, the Secretary-General wholeheartedly agrees with what Louise Arbour said last week." Video here, at Minute 24.

            What Ms. Arbour said on August 10 was that Uzbekistan is a country "where there are substantial grounds to believe that [returning refugees and asylum seekers] would face an imminent risk of grave human rights violations, including torture." Ms. Arbour also called "upon the authorities of the Uzbek Republic to treat those extradited in accordance with its human rights obligations."

            In response, the Uzbek government has accused the UN itself of having violated the law, and of being "used as the cover of forces of international terrorism."

Uzbek refugees per UNHCR

            As if in a parallel universe, the same pro-Karimov website which on August 10 had the UN being " used as the cover of forces of international terrorism" on August 11 carried the quote of UNDP country representative Fikret Akcura, that "UNDP is very happy to support the Parliament, the highest legislative organ of state in the Republic of Uzbekistan."

            UNDP is also funding the Karimov regime's collection of taxes, Inner City Press' questions regarding which were responded to in writing:

"in Uzbekistan and most of the 140 developing nations where UNDP operates, UNDP works with government and civil society on a broad range of governance projects, including economic reforms, of which tax administration and fiscal policy are a significant component. Other governance projects in Uzbekistan focus on gender equality, internet access, and public administration reform."

            On gender, Uzbekistan reported to the UN on August 10, on issues ranging from forced marriage to a unique definition of polygamy, limited to a man having two wives in the same home. On internet access, the Karimov regime blocks access to critical web sites. On public administration, one wonders if UNDP's programs in Uzbekistan might involve technical assistance on not putting political dissidents in boiling water, as the U.K.'s former ambassador in Tashkent has testified takes place.

            But the above email response, and another below from Fikrek Okcura, are more than Uzbek citizens get. The Karimov regime blocks access to critical websites, and is in the process of expelling from the country such elsewhere-uncontroversial non-government organizations as Mercy Corps and Winrock International.

     If the UN system's contradictory messages in the face of Uzbekistan's repression are confusing to human rights observers, they are welcomed by the Karimov regime. On August 10, the head of Karimov's National Human Rights Centre, Akmal Saidov, presented the country's report under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW. He stated without irony that Uzbekistan "has a good relationship with the High Commissioner on Human Rights." In Mr. Saidov's prepared testimony, he bragged that "nine specialized UN agencies such as UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, WHO, WB, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNODK, UNHCR underlines, I quote, 'Uzbekistan was more successful than most CIS countries in maintaining human development indicators, especially, from second half of 1990s.'"

            While Inner City Press has gotten explanations, such as they are, from UNDP and the World Bank, the other agencies have not spoken, and UNHCR in fact has indirectly criticized Uzbekistan in the context of repatriation of dissidents from Ukraine, the Kyrgyz Republic, but not yet the pending refoulements from Russia.

            During his presentation, Mr. Saidov acknowledged that the definition of polygamy under Uzbek law is limited to a man keeping two or more women in the same household.  One observer noted, for viewers of HBO's current series "Big Love," that arrangement would pass muster in Tashkent. Mr. Saidov's testimony included a "list of more than 40 books and brochures on gender issues which are displayed in this room... These informational materials have been prepared not only by government bodies but also non-governmental organizations."

            Among the publications brought by the Uzbek delegation was a 150-page book entitled "Women of Independent Uzbekistan (findings of a sociological survey) which concludes, "The political activity of Uzbekistan woman has a stable tendency to increase, caused by the realities of interdependence, which intensively assists in the development of personal potential, including the stimulating effects of public life." Unless, one notes, one is tortured in boiling water. There were also four glossy but untranslated pamphlets paid for by UNDP with the UN's blue logo on them.      

            Much of the question and answer in the CEDAW process never joined issue. For example, the CEDAW committee asked in writing about a report that "20 to 30 percent of the girls in the Kokand Detention Center are prostitutes."

            Uzbekistan responded that "Clients of prostitutes are no held criminally liable under Uzbek law... Where women are prosecuted for engaging in prosecution under article 190 of the Code on Administrative Responsibility, they may not be placed in detention, since that article does not provide for an administrative penalty involving deprivation of liberty." CEDAW / C / UZB/ Q/ 3 / Add.1 at page 20.

            So what are those held in Kokand Detention Centre in for? On the failure of the UN's CEDAW committee to ask about torture, one observer joked that as long as women are not boiled alive more frequently than men, there is no problem under CEDAW.

            More seriously, the UN system's contradictory approaches to Uzbekistan shows the conflict between trying to go-along-to-get-along versus a more forthright advocacy of the human rights standards in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The conflict need not be this bleak. It is one thing to, for example, distribute condoms or provide humanitarian relief in a repressive state, on the theory that its residents shouldn't be abandoned due to their ruler's misdeeds. But to help the ruler collect taxes to boil his opponent alive is something different and unseemly.

            To in fairness present the position of those in the UN system who engage with the Karimov regime and banks in Uzbekistan, herebelow are two detailed explanations. Inner City Press earlier this year asked UNDP's Fikret Akcura how he could publicly praised the Karimov regime despite its torture and expulsion of UNHCR. Mr. Akcura responded at some length:

From: Fikret Akcura

To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Sent: Thu, 13 Apr 2006 19:00:44 +0500 (Ekaterinburg Standard Time)

Subject: Re: Question re your 4/11 statement re Uzbek progress toward MDGs, relation to expulsion of UNHCR, etc.

Dear Mr. Lee,

Yes, strictly speaking, the MDGs do not include the good governance dimension. I guess this was by design in order to reach consensus and be able to hold the Millennium Summit in September 2000. Otherwise, it would have been extremely difficult to agree to a set of goals so clearly described. For many of the MDGs, Uzbekistan is indeed in a good position if one considers that this is a country with no more than $500 per capita. For an as-if least developed country, the absence of hunger, the equal access to schooling for boys and girls, a literacy rate around 97%, the relatively wide availability of electricity & gas & water, wide availability of primary health care are all very impressive indeed. If we compared the MDG indicators of Uzbekistan with those of many African and Asian countries of similar GDP per capita, the favorable situation in this country becomes most evident. Much of this owes to the Soviet infrastructure inherited by the CIS countries. However, the dislocations of transition has made it very difficult for them to maintain let alone build on that inheritance. In the case of environmental indicators, we should mention the terrible legacy that was also inherited - such as the Aral Sea disaster that affects both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan deeply. Another disadvantage for these countries is the base year of MDGs (1990) which coincides with the breakup of the USSR and their involuntary birth. As a result, they faced many problems that detracted from moving steadily up to better indicators by the MDG target year of 2015. A byproduct of the slower transition path taken by Uzbekistan is reflected in the better MDG performance compared to some of the faster reformers. However, MDGs have to be fed by sustained high economic growth and the faster reformers may start showing higher MDG returns soon. The international community is formulating a PRSP process with the Government in order to ensure steady reforms, sustained economic growth and the meeting of the MDGs by 2015. I hope the above is somewhat helpful to your article. I am sorry I could not respond more broadly or earlier - I was busy with arranging for UNDP's take over of UNHCR's work with the almost 1,800 refugees who will be looked after by UNDP once UNHCR closes on 17 April.

   But it was that incongruity -- UNDP praise while UNHCR is being thrown out of the country that led to the initial inquiry. Inner City Press said there would be further questions, and there have been. The World Bank's International Financial Corporation, another part of the UN system, recently approved a line of credit to a bank in Andijan. Inner City Press asked why, and a week later was told:

From:  [Spokesperson at]

To: matthew.lee [at]

Sent: Thu, 27 Jul 2006 2:21 PM

Subject: Fw: Request for comment on WB's IFC's consideration of loan to Uzbek bank

Mr. Lee

Thank you very much for your inquiry, and for our subsequent chat on Monday. 

The proposed investment of up US$3 million in Hamkor Bank has passed board approval and is now pending commitment. This line of credit extended to Hamkor Bank will allow it to broaden its funding base and support the extension of its lending operations to small and medium sized enterprises, (SMEs). Hamkorbank is the largest privately owned bank in Uzbekistan, headquartered in Andijon, one of the poorest and mostly densely populated areas in the country. Hamkor focuses its activities on supporting private sector micro and SME borrowers, particularly in those in the rural areas, and supporting those with limited access to finance.

IFC has worked with Hamkor Bank for over 4 years, providing credit for on- lending to small private sector borrowers as well as providing technical assistance to the bank to improve its corporate governance including management and operational structure, so that it can more effectively compete with the large,and mainly state owned banks in the country. We believe that IFC support for a private sector institution in Uzbekistan, such as Hamkor Bank, helps create stronger 'best practice' institutions that can serve as benchmarks for other financial institutions in the country, while at the same time providing much needed financing for private sector enterprises in the country. This we believe is another way to create both jobs and income for the people of Uzbekistan.

With a population of 26 million, Uzbekistan is one of the poorest countries in the Central Asia  region. In 2004, the gross national income per capita was estimated at US$460 and close to 46 percent of the population live on less than US$2 per day. ( Click here for more country data). Further, the Uzbek economy as a whole is still largely government-controlled with minimal private sector participation. Larger government-backed businesses 'crowd- out' private sector when competing for scarce long-term resources and in addition, banks in Uzbekistan have traditionally only lent to businesses backed by the government, despite better repayment record of private sector entities.

            This expansive if evasive response is at least better than UNDP's two-line, two weeks-late response to the tax collection question sent to lead UNDP spokesman William Orme. UNDP country representative Fikret Okcura, who previously answered Inner City Press' emailed questions in full paragraphs, did not response to the tax collection question. Like the Karimov regime, perhaps, UNDP hopes to weather the storm, the wait-out the period of scrutiny which if the past is any guide will be ended by another crisis, somewhere else, leaving Karimov still torturing in power, and UNDP and now to a lesser degree the World Bank cravenly supporting his regime, with tax collection help and loans. And so, for now, it goes.

* * *

            In other news from UN Headquarters, an impromptu stakeout in the basement outside Conference Room 5 on Monday afternoon yielded a two minute interview with a Department of Peacekeeping Operations official who asked not to be named. Emerging from a meeting about troop contributions to UNIFIL in Lebanon, he stated that Germany and France are among those offering troops; asked of Turkey, he said no, not yet. He stated that fuel has reached Lebanon, including on the French vessel Sirocco. He stated that another troop contributing meeting may take place later this week. Informed reporters characterize Monday's meeting, like one held on Saturday, as merely technical, while the meeting slated for later in the week will be higher-profile. Countdown on a vacuum?

            An unrelated contradiction in the UN system into which Inner City Press inquired Monday concerns whether the UN Mission in Sudan, UNMIS, is ignoring the International Criminal Court's outstanding warrants for the arrest for war crimes of Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti and two or three other leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army. Inner City Press asked Kofi Annan's spokesman about a Reuters story from Juba that "'there are no plans to make arrests in Sudan,' said James Ellery, southern region coordinator of Sudan's U.N. Mission (UNMIS)." Inner City Press asked if this is a formal new position, different from Kofi Annan's recent report to the Security Council that UNMIS and MONUC in the Congo would like to arrest Kony, but may not have enough resources. Video here, Minute 23. The spokesman responded, "The position of the UN is as you've said it -- we would like to see Mr. Kony brought to justice." We'll see.

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Africa Can Solve Its Own Problems, Ghanaian Minister Tells Inner City Press, On LRA Peace Talks and Kofi Annan's Views

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

   UNITED NATIONS, August 9 -- Africa is or should be able to solve its own problems, Ghana's Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said Wednesday in New York. Former Liberian president Charles Taylor, currently in The Hague on charges of war crimes, should have been tried in Africa, according to Minister Nana, who noted that "it would be anomalous for Milosevic to have been tried in Freetown." He added that the indictments by the Hague-based International Criminal Court of the top five officials of the Lord's Resistance Army rebels from Uganda should be put on hold pending peace and amnesty talks being held in Juba in South Sudan between the LRA and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni government.

Ghana's Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and S-G Kofi Annan

              Ghana, which holds the presidency of the UN Security Council this month, had scheduled a full day open session on West Africa peace consolidation.   Ghanaian Foreign Minister Nana began by noting that while "events in the Middle East are important, there are other important events in other parts of the world. I think it is just as well that a balance is established to show that the concerns of humanity are not just focused on one region but focused on all parts of the world that need consideration and discussion."

            In responding to seven questions from Inner City Press at the conclusion of the afternoon session, ranging from Ivory Coast through Liberia to Uganda and Zimbabwe, Minister Nana sketched out an Afro-centric vision of justice and "peace on the Continent."  He expressed hope that diplomatic relations between the world community, specifically the United Kingdom, and the Robert Mugabe government in Zimbabwe can be improved.

            Responding to concerns that Mr. Mugabe's appointed mediator and former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa is too close to Mugabe to be seen as independent, and that Kofi Annan erred in deferring to Mr. Mkapa, Minister Nana said, "I prefer to wait and see." He responded similarly when asked about the peace talks with the Lord's Resistance Army. "Talks for peace? That has to be good, right? We must wait to see what happens."

            Thursday Kofi Annan's spokesman was asked by Inner City Press to respond to these "wait and see" views. At the televised noon briefing, the spokesman said that the indictments are for the ICC to comment on, but that "the Secretary-General and the UN system do not condone impunity." He stated that countries which are signatories to the ICC's Rome Statute, which included Uganda, must arrest and turn over indictees to the ICC in The Hague. More generally, he stated that "each post-war situation calls for a different solution, drawn up by governments themselves."  This appears to apply to the UN's silence on the offer of a colonel's position in the Congolese army to Peter Karim, who took seven UN peacekeepers hostage for over forty days. The spokesman closed with a reference to the UN's new Peacebuilding Commission, which is focused in part on Burundi.

            Turning to The Hague, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno-Ocampo has repeatedly reminded Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where LRA leaders Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti are reportedly staying, of their duties to enforce the ICC's arrest warrants for both men and three other LRA leaders. From Wednesday's statements by Ghanaian minister Nana, it appears clear that Ghana, or its foreign minister at least, has doubts about the indictments. In the sphere of lobbying, some have begun to call for the ICC "to employ Article 53(4) of the Rome Statute, under which the Prosecutor can reconsider a decision at any time based on new facts or information.'"

            Of Charles Taylor, Minister Nana complained that too many "are talking as if he has already been convicted."

            In a separate interview Tuesday with the United Kingdom's permanent representative to the UN, Emyr Jones Parry, Inner City Press inquired into reports that the UK is promoting a draft security council resolution to allow the use of force and crossing of borders into the Congo to pursue the LRA and its leadership. Ambassador Jones Parry confirmed that the UK is drafting such a resolution.

            On another matter before the Security Council, the request to remove the sanction on the trade in Liberian diamonds, Minister Nana noted that ECOWAS has called for a lifting of all sanctions with economic impacts, by implication including the diamond sanctions. Mr. Nana said, " if as we see a responsible and accountable government is beginning to put its feet down in Monrovia, there's every reason to assist that process by enabling them to have access to more and more money to do the work they need to do to consolidate peace in their country."

            The Security Council is also actively seized of the situation in Ivory Coast in the run-up to the elections now scheduled for October 31. Inner City Press asked Minister Nana if he expects that deadline to be met. Mr. Nana responded that "increasingly most of us have recognized that may not be feasible," but that the need to maintain momentum should "guide all actors in the Ivorian drama." Asked to respond to Laurent Gbagbo's recent statement that he will remain in power even if elections are further delayed, Minister Nana said he is "not in a position to comment on the Constitutional propriety either way."

            During Wednesday's open Council session, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke of the competing needs for reconciliation and for strengthening the rule of law. Wednesday Inner City Press asked Mr. Annan's spokesman to prioritize these two. The spokesman's response noted that "the Secretary-General and the UN system do not condone impunity" and that "justice must be served without delay." In the tinted glass building on Manhattan's East River bank, the statements are straight-forward. Out in zones of conflict, particularly out of the media's spotlight like the deal in East Congo with Peter Karim, the messages get lost. Nor, some note, has peace as yet resulted.

The responses of Ghana's Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and Inner City Press' questions, are online at

Kofi Annan's spokesman's response is at the end of

At the UN, Jay-Z Floats Past Questions on Water Privatization and Sweatshops, Q'Orianka Kilcher in the Basement

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, August 9 -- Kofi Annan and two UN agencies appeared Wednesday with rapper Jay-Z to talk about access to water. The news, such as it was, is that water is good. Inner City Press asked Shawn Jay-Z Carter two questions, about water privatization and about the Associated Press charges, unrebutted in the public record, that his clothing line Rocawear used sweatshop Southwest Textiles S.A. in Cholula, Honduras. Video here, at Minute 20:30 through 23:19.

     On the water privatization question, Jay-Z said, "that's just bureaucracy, I don't have any expertise in that," adding that he's about raising awareness. Later he praised Coca-Cola for giving money for play pumps; Coke is under fire for overuse of water in India as well as in Colombia.

Privatization? Never heard of it.

            On the request that he address Rocawear's reported use of sweatshops, and whether the company still uses Southwest Textiles, S.A., Jay-Z said, "Still? That means that they were." Video here, from Minute 21:28.

            Since the charges were on AP and in USA Today, click here to view, and have not been rebutted in the public record, Inner City Press asked for a response. But none was given. And so it goes at the United Nations. There is an unself-conscious partnering not only with pop culture figures, click here and see below, for one with more substance, but also with corporations, from Dow Chemicals to Societe General to Microsoft, and so on without end, for now. Meanwhile the bombs in Lebanon continue.

            At the noon briefing that followed, Inner City Press asked if the UN's refugee agency UNHCR has anything to say about Uzbekistan's bragging that 14 dissidents are about to be returned from Russia. The spokesman responded that UNHCR speaks with the countries at issue. Does that include Uzbekistan and the Karimov regime, which having already thrown UNHCR out of the country is moving to similar oust Mercy Corps, allegedly for espionage? We'll see.

            Inner City Press also asked about the DR Congo election, and the EU observer mission's recent statement that that the vote counting "process is lacking checks and balances of transparency" and that announcing incomplete results could stir up tensions." After the briefing, Kofi Annan's spokesman's office provided this statement:

"SRSG Swing reminded Congolese yesterday that it is vital to maintain the same discipline and orderliness that they showed on 30th July. He said that, at this stage, it is premature to give results, since only 5% of ballot papers have been counted."

            More informative was a briefing by the head of Kofi Annan's assessment mission to Nepal, Staffan de Mistura. While since he was in Nepal the process nearly fell apart, Monday the scheduled joint-but-separate letters were delivered to the UN, click here to view. Inner City Press inquired into the allegations that U.S. Ambassador to Nepal James Francis Moriarty tried at the last minute to scuttle the process, click here for allegation. Mr. de Mistura responded diplomatically, that all on the P5 are now on board. In response to the second question of Inner City Press, about South Lebanon where he was previously an envoy, Mr. de Mistura was more poetic, noting that "the best medicine is preventative." Meanwhile Lebanon continues not only to fester but also be bombed.

   Finally, the  International Day of the World's Indigenous People was celebrated six days late in the Dag Hammerskjold auditorium, where Q'Orianka Kilcher presented, alongside Wilton Littlechild, whom Inner City Press quoted back in May:

"Asked about the issues of missionaries, conversions and adoptions, under the rubric of loss of culture, Forum member Wilton Littlechild said the matter is not only in the draft, but also before the Commission on the Rights of the Child.  In a separate interview in the basement outside Conference Room 2, Mr. Littlechild described several class actions in Canada on these issues, alleging cultural genocide. Since the treatment by courts of claims of cultural genocide is an open question, one wonders if the Declaration -- in one its 19 perambulatory paragraphs or 45 articles -- shouldn't address the need in nations' laws for just such a cause of action."

            That didn't happen, but action is expected in and around the General Assembly in September. We'll see. Wednesday Inner City Press asked Mr. Littlechild for an update on the opposition of the U.S., Australia and New Zealand to the Declaration. Mr. Littlechild said he anticipates that opposition continuing, but that Canada's may be changing.

  Inner City Press asked Q'Orianka Kilcher for her position on the pending U.S. Peru Free Trade Agreement, and on indigenous people's participation in the Peruvian economy. After some whispering on the panel, the first answer came from Romy Tincopa from the Peruvian mission, who said of probably with the Free Trade Agreement, "the government is taking care of that." 

   Q'Orianka Kilcher responded by describing her visit to oil areas of Peru, "polluted by Oxy... without reinjection pipes," and about meeting a boy with chemical burns on 70% of his body. Oxy is formally Occidental; the naming of names is important.

  In the basement, Q'Orianka Kilcher spoke passionately against human rights being violated for economic gain, particularly by multinational oil companies in the Amazon. Upstairs at noon, at the event Kofi Annan attended, these issues were dodged. And so it goes.

In the UN Security Council, Speeches and Stasis as Haiti is Forgotten, for a Shebaa Farms Solution?

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, August 8, 4:22 p.m. -- For a ceasefire in Lebanon to be enacted by the UN Security Council in 24 or even 48 hours appears less and less likely.

Update of 11:59 p.m., last of day -- Despite and responding to CNN's below-quoted report quoting U.S. Amb. Bolton's spokesman of France breaking from the U.S., the French mission's spokesman emailed the UN press corps Tuesday night, "We totally deny that report, negotiations between France and the U.S. are going on." So disagreeing with CNN or the U.S. mission? Earlier Tuesday, the French spokesman and the U.S. deputy spokesman laughed together, when the latter provided correction of who was in the room, the P5 and "the Arab four." How fast they fall out, or CNN's wrong. We'll see.

Update of 7:45 p.m. -- After multiple stakeout interviews, including French Ambassador de La Sabliere choosing to do it in the dark, not before the UN TV cameras, and John Bolton bolting, the mood on the second floor was dark. On the television over the coffee machine, blaring CNN, Lou Dobbs turned from immigrants to pass on word from Bolton's spokesman that France is breaking from the U.S., and joining Lebanon in demanding that Israel withdraw. Washington was floating a counterproposal, that Lebanon's 15,000 troops be supplement with an international force of roughly similar size. No Israeli pull-out, under this trial lead balloon, but an eventual pull-out more credible.

            "These people couldn't stop a pillow fight," one journalist, visual, said. "They should turn this place into a water park."

            "You sound like Bolton," a fact collector for a television network said.


            In the cafeteria, Inner City Press ran into Doctor David Nabarro, the UN's point man on avian influenza.

            "How goes it on bird flu?"

            "Bird flu goes on," Dr. Nabarro said. "It's not big news these days. That's the nature of news -- there's a finite amount." He added that there are in fact worries of bird flu in Lebanon, and that's he'd like to come back to brief about it, once the news is not so... you know. We know...

Update of 5:40 p.m. -- Dozens of reporters press together to hear staffers who refused to be named explain that in the room it's not "P5 plus one" -- and that would be Qatar -- but rather "P5 plus four," including the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile Inner City Press can report that a bomb-sniffing dog, a 3-year old male Labrador who declined to be named, sniffed the coffee cups heading in to the room. So when they drink it...

As Kofi Annan and the afternoon's three speakers, from Qatar, Israel and Lebanon, swept into the Council chambers past 3:30 p.m., staffers of the Permanent Five missions told reporters not to expect immanent action. On the sidelines, Ambassador Mayoral of Argentina was asked to show his identification card to the guard outside the chamber. Photographers rushed up the staircase; Mark Malloch-Brown sat in his sunglasses next to head peacekeeper Jean-Marie Guehenno.

   Meanwhile the air is sucked out of most other issues and regions. A purportedly small but telling detail: the press corps was informed that Edmond Mulet, Kofi Annan's envoy to Haiti, from which Mr. Annan only days ago returned, was to take questions at 4 p.m.. There are questions to be asked, about a slate of kidnappings and murders, and Mr. Mulet's proposal to boost the UN force with a SWAT team of 100.

Haiti, not the Middle East

Meanwhile Carlo Lochard of the Police National d'Haiti is accused of funding his own murderous gang.  But at 4 p.m., with all reporters staring at the television showing Israel's Dan Gillerman's speech before the Council, Mr. Mulet's briefing was unceremoniously cancelled. It was cancelled in the second floor hallway, and not rescheduled. A cameraman told Inner City Press that a sanctions meeting he was slated to be at was cancelled. How long can this go on?

   Long, possibly. Wise minds at the stakeout predict the solution, if there is one, is shifting the word-games toward the Shebaa Farms, so that each side can claim victory how ever Pyrrhic... To be continued.

UN Silence on Congo Election and Uranium, Until It's To Iran or After a Ceasefire, and Council Rift on Kony

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

   UNITED NATIONS, August 8 -- The Congolese uranium mentioned a month ago in a UN report is now suddenly more prominent, due to reports it was destined for Iran. Tuesday, Inner City Press asked Kofi Annan's spokesman about the report, the uranium shipment, and the strange silence of the UN's Congo mission, MONUC.  The spokesman had also been silent on reports of irregularities in ballot counting in the Congo. It's said the UN has spend over $450 million on the election, yet reporters observe ballots held down with pieces of crumbling walls, while counting stations burn.

Congo ballots, all stacked up

            UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, returning from vacation into a blizzard of questions about the Middle East, fielded both Congo questions in a general way. On vote counting he urged patience and calm, calling the election a "humongous challenge." On the export of the Congo's natural resources he was more expansive, calling it a "great problem" but insisting that the UN's MONUC "cannot and does not monitor the export of resources from the DRC." Video here, from Minute 22 to 24:33.

            The UN report, S/2006/525 dated July 18, states of a uranium "shipment from October 2005, the Tanzanian Government left no doubt that the uranium was transported from Lubumbashi by road through Zambia to the United Republic of Tanzania."  Less than a month later in Kinshasa, MONUC spokesman Jean-Tobias Okala said he could not confirm the uranium shipment. Developing.

            In similar silence on Somalia, the UN spokesman has committed to provide details on the UN's humanitarian assessment mission to Mogadishu, which ended last Tuesday with nothing being said of it. Why not go to Baidoa, to see if Ethiopian troops are there or not? Mr. Dujarric said he would ask, but that "I doubt I will have any more to say that what has been said here from this podium" -- that is, that the UN is "not in the position to confirm" the invasion of one country by another, at least not when the invasion is ostensibly in support of the party the UN has sided with. Inner City Press also asked about reports of an " Ilyushin-76 cargo plane, with the Kazakh flag painted on its tail, landed in the capital, Mogadishu, on July 26 and 28," presumably with arms for the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts. Another largely ignored UN report, S/2006/ 229 dated May 4, named six nations violating the Somalia arms embargo -- Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Italy, and other "clandestine" violator, widely assumed to by the United States. And now the Khazaks join the list? Video here, from Minute 34:14 to 35:15.We'll see.

            One line of questioning begun Monday by Inner City Press was on Tuesday moved forward, if only slightly. Responding further to Inner City Press' question about the use of depleted uranium (DU) in weapons in Lebanon, the spokesman said while the UN's Department of Disarmament Affairs has "no clear position" on the use of DU weapons, there is a "need to investigate" the use of DU in "post-conflict situations like Kosovo and Bosnia." Video here, from Minutes 32:32 to 33:08. So apparently the UN would wait at least until after a ceasefire, or cessation of hostilities, in the current draft resolution puts it, before using Geiger counters.

            On yet another too-ignored problem on the Continent, Inner City Press on Tuesday conducted walking interviews with both the Ghanaian president of the Security Council, Nana Effah-Apenteng, and with UK Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, on reports that the Council is preparing a Chapter VII resolution to disarm the Lord's Resistance Army. Ghana's Ambassador said, "We have to wait for the outcome of the Juba talks." Somewhat differently, Amb. Jones Parry confirmed that the UK is drafting and pushing a Chapter VII resolution. In the Juba talks, Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti and three others indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court are being offered amnesty by Uganda's Museveni government. The Ghanaian Ambassador's position seems to not take this into account. The UK position, while always pro-Museveni, is contradicted by the UK's reported refusal to encourage Uganda to stop ignoring the DR Congo sanctions.  Developing...

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Impunity's in the Air, at the UN in Kinshasa and NY, for Kony and Karim and MONUC for Kazana

UN Still Silent on Somalia, Despite Reported Invasion, In Lead-Up to More Congo Spin

UN's Guehenno Says Congo Warlord Just Needs Training, and Kazana Probe Continues

With Congo Elections Approaching, UN Issues Hasty Self-Exoneration as Annan Is Distracted

In DR Congo, UN Applauds Entry into Army of Child-Soldier Commander Along with Kidnapper

Spinning the Congo, UN Admits Hostage Deal with Warlord That Put Him in Congolese Army

At the UN, Dow Chemical's Invited In, While Teaming Up With Microsoft is Defended

Kofi Annan Questioned about Congolese Colonel Who Kidnapped Seven UN Soldiers

At the UN, Speeches While Gaza Stays Lightless and Insurance Not Yet Paid

At the UN Poorest Nations Discussed, Disgust at DRC Short Shrift, Future UN Justice?

At the UN Wordsmiths Are At Work on Zimbabwe, Kony,  Ivory Coast and Iran

UN Silent As Congolese Kidnapper of UN Peacekeepers Is Made An Army Colonel: News Analysis

At the UN, New Phrase Passes Resolution called Gangster-Like by North Korea; UK Deputy on the Law(less)

UN's Guehenno Speaks of "Political Overstretch" Undermining Peacekeeping in Lower Profile Zones

In Gaza Power Station, the Role of Enron and the U.S. Government's OPIC Revealed by UN Sources

At UN, North Korean Knot Attacked With Fifty Year Old Precedent, Game Continues Into Weekend

UN's Corporate Partnerships Will Be Reviewed, While New Teaming Up with Microsoft, and UNDP Continues

Gaza Resolution Vetoed by U.S., While North Korea Faces Veto and Chechnya Unread

BTC Briefing, Like Pipeline, Skirts Troublespots, Azeri Revelations

Conflicts of Interest in UNHCR Program with SocGen and Pictet Reveal Reform Rifts

At the UN, A Day of Resolutions on Gaza, North Korea and Iran, Georgia as Side Dish

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

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

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

As the World Turns in Uganda and Korea, the UN Speaks only on Gaza, from Geneva

North Korea in the UN: Large Arms Supplant the Small, and Confusion on Uganda

UN Gives Mugabe Time with His Friendly Mediator, Refugees Abandoned

At the UN, Friday Night's Alright for Fighting; Annan Meets Mugabe

UN Acknowledges Abuse in Uganda, But What Did Donors Know and When? Kazakh Questions

In Uganda, UNDP to Make Belated Announcement of Program Halt, But Questions Remain (and see The New Vision, offsite).

Disarmament Abuse in Uganda Leads UN Agency to Suspend Its Work and Spending

Disarmament Abuse in Uganda Blamed on UNDP, Still Silent on Finance

Alleged Abuse in Disarmament in Uganda Known by UNDP, But Dollar Figures Still Not Given: What Did UN Know and When?

Strong Arm on Small Arms: Rift Within UN About Uganda's Involuntary Disarmament of Karamojong Villages

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

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