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Amid Mali Spat of France & Russia, Rwanda Gives a Book, Commemoration Qs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 1 -- The monthly UN Security Council program of work is usually decided on before or during the bilateral meetings that take place on the month's first day between the new president and each of the 14 other members.

  But not today. Inner City Press staked-out the bilateral meetings -- click here for example for an interchange with South Korea's Ambassasador Kim Sook -- and monitored one lack of decision.

  When should the briefing on Mali be held? At the day's UN noon briefing, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey said the Mali briefing by UN official Jeffrey Feltman would be on Tuesday, April 2.

  In fact he dodged a question about Mali on that basis: wait until tomorrow.

   But it's not that simple. There are supposed to be four days between Council members having the documents, in all languages, and such a meeting.

  And as even after the last two bilateral meetings, between the Rwandan delegation led by Permanent Representative Eugene-Richard Gasana and the US' Deputy Permanent Representative Rosemary DiCarlo and then Chinese Permanent Representative Li Baodong were done, April 2 was not agreed to.

  Inner City Press learned from sources that while France wanted it on April 2, as announced by Ban's deputy spokesman, Russia for example wanted it April 4, citing the rule.

  It was France which rushed a final Mali meeting in March, without the report translated. Afterward, French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud -- not seen on Monday at the Council -- told Inner City Press that whether a French “parallel force” in Mali would be under UN control was a good question, it hadn't come up in that day's meeting.

  Well, that day's meeting was rushed.

  Now in the dispute between French April 2 and Russian April 4 there's talk of a compromise: Wednesday, April 3. How very UN.

  Another UN Security Council trend, and not a bad one, is for elected members to push at least one issue during their two year term, sometimes resulting in an ongoing thematic resolution.

  So it was for protection of journalists in armed conflict. Why not protection of medical personnel? Inner City Press asked the Australian Permanent Representative Gary Quinlan and his political coordinator; they said the issue has been raised, and that now in Syria more people are dying of secondary consequences of trauma than immediately when hit.

  Is there a resolution coming on? Watch this site.

Footnote: when political coordinators met later Monday afternoon, each was given by Rwanda some coffee to brew, and a book about the country. This month there are a number of commemorations of the 1994 genocide, including a documentary on April 9.

  Some have wondered whether UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous will be there, given his role as France's Deputy Permanent Representative in 1994 arguing for saving the genocidaires through Operation Turquoise. Inner City Press has tried to ask Ladsous about it; the response was to simply stop answering any of Inner City Press' question. Video here.

 We'll be here all month. Watch this site.

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