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Jordan's Zeid Cites Peacekeeping As Mali Rapes Are Raised, Syria as Footnote

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 6 -- As he takes over the presidency of the UN Security Council for January, Jordan's Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein brings much longer history at the UN than other Ambassadors on the Council.

  In his January 6 press conference, Zeid cited a Security Council debate a full decade ago about national reconciliation, to be belatedly followed up by his on January 29, on "War, its lessons, and the search for a permanent peace."

  (Zeid said another country's Ambassador told him this is "much too theoretical" for the Security Council.)

  Inner City Press asked Zeid about news of the day -- Presidents Bashir and Kiir of Sudan and South Sudan discussion a joint oil protection force -- and about one of his longer term interests, UN Peacekeeping and sexual abuse or exploitation.

  On the latter, Zeid said he left that position, or finished that report, on 2007. But in 2013 he was on the UN's Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, bristling correctly at the inclusion of Sri Lanka military figure Shavendra Silva. What does he think of the UN's opacity on gang rapes by UN peacekeepers in Mali? We'll ask again.

  January's Program of Work lists seven closed-door consultations; Inner City Press on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access asked Zeid to hold stakeouts after each of them. Zeid was asked why Syria is only a footnote on the program of work -- technically true, since OPCW joint chemical weapons mission leader Sigrid Kaag will brief the Council on January 8.

  Zeid said that the UN's humanitarian chief Valerie Amos would be traveling to the area and would hold a briefing there. But, Inner City Press has noted, Amos has twice refused to answer questions about the groups Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS.

  At the January 6 UN noon briefing that preceded Prince Zeid, Inner City Press asked for any UN reaction to the new constitution promulgated in Rojava, predominantly Kurdish northern Syria, and whether the UN and Lakhdar Brahimi had any contacts up there.

  Spokesperson Farhan Haq answered about inclusiveness, presumably of the Coalition that just re-coronated Ahmad al Jarba. Then Haq's office, just as Zeid began to speak, e-mailed out Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's statement about invitations to the Geneva II (or Montreux I) talks started January 22. It did not include Iran. Watch this site.


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