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DRC Conflict Minerals Debated as French Led UNSC Trip Stops in Belgium, Power Q

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 3 -- The Democratic Republic of the Congo conflict mineral disclosure provisions of the US Dodd-Frank Act were debated Thursday night in New York. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council and scribes hand-picked by France headed to the DRC, by way of former colonial power Belgium.

  The law and 100-page SEC rule are being challenged by the US Chamber of Commerce in the DC Court of Appeal. Tom Quaadman of the Chamber, a former chief of staff for Rep Vito Fossella, mocked the law as having no "de minimus" exception; he said it would cost business from $6 to $8 billion.

  He said gold is now being sold through Uganda; he referred off-handedly to "the M23 coming out of Rwanda."

  Julie Murray, representing Amnesty International, called the SEC's rule well reasoned. She regretted that Sasha Lezhnev of the Enough Project had not been able to make it up to New York from DC.

  Inner City Press asked the panel about UN Security Council sanctions, and the impact of the UN peacekeeping mission(s) there. Julie Murray said the case is only about administrative law and the First Amendment. Quaadman said the Chamber is pointing to a lack of clarity in cost / benefit analysis (something the UN rarely engaged in.) Video here and embedded below.

  A representative of Friends of the Congo pointed out that UN Peacekeepers in the Congo had, for example, sold guns for gold; he raised questions about the roles of the UK and the US (he specifically named Susan Rice.) We'll have more on this.

  Inner City Press, which applied through UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Office of the Spokesman to go on and cover the Security Council trip, as it did in 2010 and 2008. But this time it was denied. Ban's Spokesperson Martin Nesirky told Inner City Press, on camera, that the decision was made "in consultation" with France, the lead mission on the entire trip.

  Why does the UN let a colonial powerhouse, alone, pick which media get to cover Central Africa and the DR Congo, where the UN has a billion dollar peacekeeping mission ultimately run by former French diplomat Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping?

  France, whose Permanent Representative Gerard Araud ended up not even going on the trip, chose Reuters, along with a procedural Council reporter and, ironically, Voice of America. John Kerry is on VOA's Broadcasting Board of Governors; a State Department official gushed about the VOA correspondent heading to Africa. For what?

And while waiting for answer to those, and what information goes from the trip, we ask if for example US Ambassador Samantha Power will be checking on this issue while on the trip? Will the Security Council visit Minova, site of 135 rapes by the UN's partners in the Congolese Army in November 2012? Watch this site.


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