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As Secrecy of UN Security Council Debated in Secret,View from Media Table Gone For Now

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 15 -- Not only is the UN Security Council secretive: even academic discussions about it are cloaked in secrecy.

  For two days there has been such a confab on Long Island in New York. In full disclosure, Inner City Press petitioned the sponsor, to attend and report from it. It was explained that it is an invitation-only scholarly retreat. So, no.

  But that's not to say that it can't and shouldn't be covered. Alternatively described as off the record or "Chatham House," we will summarize some issues without attributing them.

  As an initial thought, in an age of social media, Chatham House ain't what it used to be. But we're going beyond the call of duty, and no even naming the sponsor. It's the thoughts that count.

  An easy consensus was reached that Security Council reform will not happen any time soon. It was diagnosed that France and UK favor some reform, not because they are reformers, but because they gain more from Permanent membership on the Council they others: the "illusion" of world power status.

 If the Council continues to lose legitimacy, so do they.

  For that reason, they do most of the work, drafting up to 80% of Security Council "products" like resolutions and press statements. It is not clear if the correlation between such "pen-holding" and former colonial status was raised. If not, it should have been.

  Likewise the failure of UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous to follow through on the UN's announced Human Rights Due Diligence and conditionality policies.

 When the 391st and 41st Battalions of the Congolese Army committed at least 135 rapes in Minova in late November 2012, first Ladsous refused Press questions, then threatened to withdraw support. But this never happened, and there have been very few prosecutions. Still Ladsous refuses the question, May 29 video here. So where is the Security Council on this?

  It was noted that the Security Council is more likely to get involved in civil wars in Africa, and for a time in Europe, than anywhere else: read, Asia.

 Consider this: while 40,000 civilians were killed in Sri Lanka in May 2009, the Security Council did not have a single official meeting on the topic, just a few "informal informals" with John Holmes and Vijay Nambiar down in the now-closed basement of the General Assembly.

  And on June 14 after the acclamation of John Ashe as new President of the GA, one of the generals most responsible, Shavendra Silva, toasted Ashe on behalf of the Asia Pacific Group. So it goes at the UN.

  Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, DRC and Libya were lumped together it seems as example of robut peacekeeping. But Libya was simply the authorization of a no-fly zone which turned into much more -- sure to come up if one is requested over Syria.

 Cote d'Ivoire was, well, a French thing, and DRC to some degree the same. And Mali? Should UN Peacekeeping be given over as it has been to four French heads of DPKO in a row?

  Some outside of the box topics arose, such as the place going forward of cyber security -- Chapter Seven travel or surfing bans against hackers, anyone? The monthly rotation of the Council presidency was praised but admitted to lead to a lack of continuity.

  Inner City Press would add, also a lack of transparency and accountability. Take for example the opaque decision that starting with the June 1 move-back there would no longer by a media worktable in front of the Council.

  Who decided? Inner City Press through the new Free UN Coalition for Access has asked and will continue to ask Permanent members of the Council. The blame is shifted to the UN Secretariat, or to certain Big Media members of the UN Correspondents Association board.

 Who will own up to, or reverse, this reduction in media access? Watch this site.

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