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At the UN, Micro-States Simmer Under the Assembly's Surface, While Incoming Council President Dodges Most Questions

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

   UNITED NATIONS, September 5 -- Nagorno Karabakh, one of the world most frozen and forgotten conflicts, surfaced at the UN on Tuesday, if only for ten minutes. The General Assembly was scheduled to vote on a resolution concerning fires in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The diplomats assembled, or began to assemble, at 4 p.m.. At 4:15 it was announced that in light of ongoing negotiations, the meeting was cancelled, perhaps to reconvene Wednesday at 11:30.

            Sources close to the negotiations told Inner City Press that the rub is paragraph 4 of the draft resolution, which requests that the Secretary-General report to the UN General Assembly on the conflict. Armenia wants the matter to remain before the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has presided over the problem for more than a decade. Leading the OSCE's Minsk Group are Russia, France and the United States, members of the veto-wielding Permanent Five on the UN Security Council, nations which Azerbaijan claims have ignored its sovereignty as well as blocking Security Council action, as for example Russia has on Chechnya.

            Of the fires, Azerbaijan has characterized them as Armenian arson, and has asked for international pressure to allow it to reach the disputed territories where the fires have been.

Nagorno-Karabakh, per WFP

            At a July 13, 2006 briefing on the BTC pipeline, Inner City Press asked the Ambassador of Azerbaijan Yashar Aliyev about the pipeline's avoidance of Armenia. We cannot deal with them until they stop occupying our territory, Ambassador Aliyev said. "You mean Nagorno - Karabakh?" Not only that, Amb. Aliyev answered. That's only four percent. Few people know this, but Armenia has occupied twenty percent of our territory.

            Both Amenia's Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and UN Ambassador Armen Martirosian have said publicly in the past month that if Azerbaijan continues pushing the issue before the United Nations, the existing peace talks will stop. Armenian sources privately speak more darkly of an alliance of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, collectively intent on involving the UN in reigning in their breakaway regions including South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transdniestria -- examples of what some call the micro-states. Armenia is concerned that in the UN as opposed to OSCE, Azerbaijan might be able to rally Islamic nations to its side.

            It is not only to predominantly Muslim nations that the Azeri's are reaching out. The nation's foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov met recently with this Swedish counterpart Jan Eliasson, the outgoing president of the General Assembly.

            Following Tuesday's General Assembly postponement, Inner City Press asked Mr. Eliasson if, in light of his involvement in reaching the 1994 cease-fire, he thinks the GA might have more luck solving the Nagorno-Karabakh than the OSCE has.

            "I hope so," he said. "I'm in favor of an active General Assembly." He recounted his shuttle diplomacy to Baku in the early 90s. And then he was gone.

            Elsewhere in the UN at Tuesday, the income president of the Security Council, Greek Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis held a press conference on the Council's plan of work for September. Inner City Press asked when the Council will get the long-awaited briefing on violations of the arms embargo on Somalia. Amb. Vassilakis responded about a meeting on September 25, at Kenya's request, on the idea of the IGAD force in Somalia. Inner City Press asked what has happened with the resolution on the Lord's Resistance Army of which the UK has spoken so much. It will be up to them to introduce the motion," Amb. Vassilakis replied. He did not reply on the issue of the outstanding International Criminal Court indictments against LRA leaders including Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti.

            Inner City Press asked why, on Ivory Coast, the long-delayed report by the Secretary-General's expert on the prevention of genocide has not been released. In this response, Amb. Vassilakis grew animated, saying that one has to choose between justice and peace.  This implies that the finished report identifies alleged perpetrators, as pertains to genocide, but is being withheld either to facilitate peace, which has not come, or as negotiating leverage over some of the perpetrators. To be continued, throughout the month.

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Rare UN Sunshine From If Not In Chad While Blind on Somalia and Zimbabwe, UNDP With Shell in its Ear on Nigeria

BYLINE: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

  UNITED NATIONS, August 29 -- In Chad there are ninety political parties and over seventy rebel groups, with a focus on overthrowing Idriss Deby. Meanwhile Deby last Friday ordered Chevron and Petronas out of the country, for failure to pay taxes.

  Chad is the fifth poorest country in the world, with countries in turmoil or trouble along at least half of its perimeter. To the west, Niger and to the east, on the other side of camps housing over 200,000 refugees from Darfur, lies Sudan. To the south, the Central African Republic with its own rebel groups. In  the tri-border area of the Sudan, Chad and the CAR is a lawless zone of mercenaries for hire, and area none of the three governments control.

            Tuesday the head of the UN's operations in Chad, Kingsley Amaning, provided reporters a lengthy and well-received briefing. He began by sketching how the situation in Darfur is further destabilizing Chad, spreading ethnic conflict and banditry across borders. Mr. Amaning said that alongside 90 political parties, the roster of rebel groups has grown from 47 to 72. Inner City Press asked, as even invited political parties have, why the rebels are excluded from Deby's new national dialogue. There are a dozen refugee camps in eastern Chad, each with fifteen to twenty thousand residents, in a region where the average town size is only three thousand. In fact, Mr. Amaning said, right now "the quality of life of the refugees is higher than the quality of life of the local population."

            Mr. Amaning, originally from Ghana and having previously served the UN in Guinea, has been in Chad for a year and a half. During that time, rebels marching on the capital N'djamena were stopped only by a bomb dropped by the French air force. A colleague of Mr. Amaning, OCHA Chad desk officer Aurelien Buffler, noted in an interview that the official description of the French bomb was a "warming shot." He added that Chad is not even on the agenda of the Security Council and that raising funds for development is difficult, since donors don't know where the money goes. Later this week 25 donors led by Canada will meet with Mr. Amaning in UN Headquarters. The dichotomy seems to be that while emergency humanitarian funds can be raised, long-term funds for development are more difficult. Mr. Amaning said, "Humanitarians get resources, but we don't follow up political solutions with development so that people have jobs."

Refugees in Chad per UNHCR

            Inner City Press interviewed Mr. Amaning after the briefing, and asked him first about specific vulnerable refugee camps near the border with Darfur, Am Nabak and Ouve Casson. Mr. Amaning confirmed that these camps will be moved, belated, to a lot north of Biltine, now that it's thought there is underground water on the government-owned site.

            Turning to history, the UN Security Council, history and one of its veto-wielding Permanent Five, Inner City Press asked about France's involvement. Mr. Amaning said that the UN principles are to oppose violent takeovers and to encourage dialogue. "I tell the French Ambassador that instead of trying to explain what type of intervention that was," Mr. Amaning said, referring to France's bomb-drop in support of Idriss Deby, "they should say they did it on behalf of the international community, so there would be no violent overthrow."

            Speaking more generally, or regionally, Mr. Amaning said, "If we do not stabilize Darfur," weapons will continue to spread throughout the region. "It's a line that's going to join up... from DRC through Central Africa to the northern part of Uganda, to Chad and the Sudan -- where are we going?"  At least Mr. Amaning is asking.

            For weeks Inner City Press has asked all and sundry in UN Headquarters to confirm or deny that Ethiopian troops are present in Somalia. Kofi Annan's representative for Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, skirted the issue despite six questions from Inner City Press last time he was in New York. Mr. Fall's spokesman has told Inner City Press to look elsewhere, since his office does not have a monitoring mandate in Somalia.  In a stakeout interview, the head of the UN's Department of Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari responded with generalities. An email followed, that DPA relies for information on Mr. Fall's office -- which has not monitoring mandate.

            Kofi Annan's spokesman's office suggested that Inner City Press contact the members of the group monitoring the UN's Somalia arms embargo. Group member Joel Salek confirmed receipt of Inner City Press' request, but said he would "give floor to Bruno [Schiemsky], the Chairman of our Group, to answer your questions." Time passed, Inner City Press sent a second request. Mr. Schiemsky responded, "Sorry, at this stage I have no comments. I need first to brief the Sanctions Committee" of the Security Council.

            Tuesday at the Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry who in the UN can speak regarding Somalia. Amb. Jones Parry responded that the UK is working on a resolution. Video here.

   But when Inner City Press five minutes later asked the President of the Council, Ghana's Nana Effah-Apenteng, about Amb. Jones Parry's resolution, the Ghanaian Ambassador said no resolution has been introduced.  Video here. Meanwhile the Horn of Africa slides toward regional war.

            Earlier this year at the African Union summit in Banjul, Kofi Annal pulled back from involvement in Zimbabwe, saying he was deferring to the new mediator Ben Mkapa. Now documents from the AU submit show that Mkapa never accepted the role of mediator. Tuesday Inner City Press asked Kofi Annan's spokesman if this now means that the Secretary-General will re-engage. Video here, at Minute 21:50. The spokesman said he will respond; this has not taken place by 6 p.m. deadline.

            Nor as the spokesman answered Inner City Press' question of Monday, about why UNDP took funding from Shell Petroleum to write a report on human development in the Niger Delta, where Shell has a long record of violating human rights. I will get you an answer, the spokesman said. We're still waiting...

At the UN, from Casamance to Transdniestria, Kosovans to Lezgines, Micro-States as Powerful's Playthings

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, August 25 -- Because they are so often forgotten, today's report is micro-states. The thread ran through UN Headquarters on Friday, from noon briefing to stakeout to UNCA Club upstairs. Kofi Annan's spokesman on his way to the podium stopped to tell Inner City Press not to ask certain questions. Some involved the housing subsidy story below, one involved the Casamance region of Senegal, where fighting is raging and refugees flee. 

   Thursday Inner City Press had asked who in the UN, other than the refugee agency UNHCR, was addressing Casamance. Friday the spokesman whispered, "On Casamance I don't have anything more than when UNHCR has said." So instead Inner City Press asked about a seminal micro-state, Kosovo. At a press conference hours earlier in Pristina, the UN's mediator Martii Ahtisaari had announced that no package will be put before the Security Council in September. Inner City Press asked, but what of the postponed municipal elections? Video here, at Minute 29.

            The spokesman's office arranged a conference call to UNMIK in Pristina, where the acting press chief said no elections can be held in the winter anyway. The OSCE, he said, estimates that to schedule elections takes at least six months. So much for local democracy, even in areas run by the UN.  Kofi Annan's incoming envoy to Kosovo should have a better answer. We'll see. Other data the spokesman belated provided on Friday is being analyzed.

            The micro-states theory is that if Kosovo becomes fully independent, the same will happen -- or be called for by Russia -- in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in Transdniestria and even Ajara in Georgia. From this list we can drill down even keeper. Inner City Press asked Kazakh Ambassador Yerzhan Kazykhanov about a civil disturbance earlier in the week in Aktau on the Caspian coast, involving attacks on immigrants from the striving micro-state of Chechnya, on Azeris and the little-known Lezgines, who come from Dagestan.

   "There are many groups," the Kazakh Ambassador said, adding that his recent flight from Almaty to Aqtobe took nearly four hours. On the map he pointed at Oral and noted that World War II passed through. In his prepared remarks, Kazakhstan's Ambassador stressed, not without reason, that the "closure of the Semipalatinsk testing site was one of the most significant events in the field of nuclear disarmament." Asked about Kazakhstan's joint anti-terror operations with China in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, like Chechnya another potential micro-state blocked by one of the Permanent Five on the UN Security Council, the Kazakh Ambassador assured that the fighting of terror has nothing to do with refugees. We'll see.

Slovakian limbo per UNHCR

            But back to the micro-state of Casamance, which was part of what's now Guinea-Bissau until France took it. The civil strife dates back at least to 1982, and yet the UN and Security Council do nothing about it. At a stakeout interview on Friday afternoon, Inner City Press asked the Council's president Nana Effah-Apenteng if Casamance is on his radar.  No, the Ghanaian Ambassador replied. "Maybe you are more up-to-date on this issue than I am." Video here, at Minute 8:47.  A well placed source upstairs at the UN noted that Senegal keeps it quiet. As Chechnya is to Russia, in a sense, Casamance is to Senegal. Ah, the micro-states...

At deadline in Conference Room 3 in the basement, the disability rights convention was being endlessly discussed. Ten days ago the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Convention, Don MacKay, said that if current efforts to block the creation of a treaty monitoring body are successful, the Convention may well not be enacted. "And that would be shabby treatment," Mr. MacKay said, citing a long history of societies' discrimination against the disabled.

 Click here for video and here for the text of the draft Convention.

            Inner City Press asked if the United States is among the countries opposing any monitoring of countries' performance under the Convention, similar to the approach the U.S. took in derailing the Small Arms meeting at the UN earlier this year. Mr. MacKay acknowledged that the U.S. is among six or seven countries raising such concerns, but stated that the U.S. position does not seem "doctrinal" or doctrinaire.

    The afternoon the conference would wrap up, the UN briefer Thomas Schindlmayr resisted naming the countries opposed for example to the reference to countries' occupation. One journalist loudly left the room. Later this list became clear, including the U.S., Australia, Israel. And at 7:52 p.m., amid applause, the report was adopted.

Other Inner City Press reports are archived on

Congo Shootout Triggers Kofi Annan Call, While Agent Orange Protest Yields Email from Old London

On the UN - Corporate Beat, Dow Chemical Luncheon Chickens Come Home to Roost

UN Bets the House on Lebanon, While Willfully Blind in Somalia and Pinned Down in Kinshasa

Stop Bank Branch Closings and Monopolies in the Katrina Zone, Group Says, Challenging Regions- AmSouth Merger

Ship-Breakers Missed by UN's Budget for Travel and Consultants in Bangladesh, Largest UNIFIL Troop Donor

Sudan Cites Hezbollah, While UN Dances Around Issues of Consent and Sex Abuse in the Congo, Passing the UNIFIL Hat

With Somalia on the Brink of Horn-Wide War, UN Avoids Question of Ethiopian Invasion

In UN's Lebanon Frenzy, Darfur Is Ignored As Are the Disabled, "If You Crave UNIFIL, Can't You Make Do With MONUC?"

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

At the UN, Lebanon Resolution Passes with Loophole, Amb. Gillerman Says It Has All Been Defensive

On Lebanon, Russian Gambit Focuses Franco-American Minds, Short Term Resolution Goes Blue Amid Flashes of Lightening

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

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

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

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

At the UN Some Middle Eastern Answers, Updates on Congo and Nepal While Silence on Somalia

On Lebanon, Franco-American Resolution Reviewed at UN in Weekend Security Council Meeting

UN Knew of Child Soldier Use by Two Warlords Whose Entry into Congo Army the UN Facilitated

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

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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

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

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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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