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As UN Spin in DRC Resumes, UNSC in Addis Downplays ICC At End of Trip

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 8 -- Now the UN Security Council's trip through Africa is over, with the Ambassadors and the French-picked scribes flying back to New York from their last stop, Addis Ababa.

As at each previous stop on the tour, the UN itself provided little to no information, and from diplomats there were two or more versions.

In Addis, some played up how much more businesslike the meet was than two years ago, when the African Union was "fiery because of Libya." (This quote is from a tweet by UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who at least sent some replies during the trip. Some other Permanent Representative either only tweeted one-way, like Australia, or didn't tweet at all, like US Ambassador Samantha Power -- despite the NYT doing a profile of her based largely on tweets.)

  But if Libya and regime change were the fire last time, this time the elephant in the room was the International Criminal Court. And although even Lyall Grant did not (yet?) acknowledge it, it was raised by AU Commission chair Dlamini Zuma. Expect more on October 18.

  Back in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the Council longest stayed, MONUSCO chief Martin Kobler had gone or reverted into full propaganda mode, gushing from Bukavu while saying nothing about the two DRC Army officials implicated in human abuse who escaped, clearly with assistance, from the jail there.

  We're open to this turning around, but for now it seems that while Kobler was under the Department of Political Affairs he showed some accountability, now under French UN Peacekeeping boss Herve Ladsous, he has taken on the bad habit of refusing to answer questions, and taking sides.

  Ladsous, it is noted, argued for the escape of genocidaires into Eastern Congo. France was allowed to alone pick the media that could go on this trip in a UN, not French-paid, plane. It is an outrage - and a farce.

(On that, click here for a New Statesman (UK) story today by Martin Plaut which calls Ladsous' refusing to answer Inner City Press questions "farcical" and links to this video compilation.)

At the UN's noon briefing in New York on Monday, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about the trip, there seems to have been a briefing by a MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) staffer, Dee Brillenburg Wurth, in which she is quoted as saying that the [Democratic Republic of the Congo], doesn’t recruit children, child soldiers any more. This is contrary to the Group of Experts report, which says in at least two paragraphs that they do. It was "said to reporters," is it possible to get a transcript or some audio file of what was said? And what would you say to a seeming total disparity between what MONUSCO told reporters, if not the Council, and what UN reports actually say about the recruitment of child soldiers by [the Democratic Republic of the Congo]?

Spokesperson: Well, I mean, I wouldn’t say anything at this point until I check into it myself, Matthew.

Question: Okay, if you don’t mind, one more on the trip. I wanted to get an answer from you from the Secretariat side. It seems, on one hand in Syria you are calling that [Bashar al-]Assad should meet with any and all opposition, that this is the way to have a meeting. And, meanwhile the Council, with the Secretariat and MONUSCO accompaniment, attend a national dialogue in Kinshasa which the legally-elected opposition chose to boycott, and therefore legitimated or gave its blessing to an extremely limited dialogue. And so, how would you square these two? How can the UN, on the one hand, be calling for a broad dialogue in Syria, and in the Congobe giving its blessing to an extremely narrow one boycotted by the opposition?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, as you will be aware, there is a framework for peace and reconciliation in the Great Lakes region, and specifically in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that is a broad-based framework that includes the need for national reconciliation. And the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on this, Mary Robinson, has been working very closely to ensure that that framework in its entirety is properly implemented. And, I think it is in that context that the Security Council members were there. So, I think you’d have to ask the Council members themselves why they went to certain events. That is not for me to speak on their behalf, but simply to put the bigger picture there, that there is an overall framework, and that it was in that context that they were visiting the region. This will be last question, okay?

   And past 11 am the next day, still no answer on the first (transcript) question, including from Kobler who's been asked. Yes, we'll have more on all this. Watch this site.


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