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From A to Z, Araud & Prince Zeid Leaving UNSC, A Tale of Two Ambassadors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 30 -- Two Permanent Representatives are set to leave the UN Security Council and UN at the end of June or July: France's Gerard Araud and Jordan Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid. They are a study in contrasts.

  Zeid at this week's Sexual Violence in Conflict debate asked an honest, self-deprecatory question: are UN ambassadors hypocrites to call for accountability for rape in some places while failing to hold to account the "peacekeepers" they send out into the world?

  Meanwhile Araud insists that everything that he and France do is beyond reproach, even opposing a human rights monitoring mechanism for Western Sahara, or hypocritically going forward with Mistral warship sales to Russia even as Araud speechifies against Russia's action in Crimea and Ukraine.

  Another difference: Zeid has always answered questions, on camera and on the steps as he leaves the Security Council. Araud, meanwhile, refused to answer the Press question on Mistrals, and in mid April while allowing a single critical question during his press conference told the critical questioner, "You are not a journalist, you are an agent." Video here.

  (The Free UN Coalition for Access has asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric to convey to the French Mission the stated UN position that correspondent should be treated with respect; he has yet to do so. Even as Araud leaves, the issue as precedent must and will be pursued.)

  Zeid has specialized in the issue of sexual abuse by peacekeepers and has persistently pushed forward on the issue. Likewise, when a controversial Sri Lankan military figure Shavendra Silva was put onto the UN's Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, Zaid spoke out. What did France or Araud do or even say?

  Perhaps because Araud is leaving, to be replaced by Jacques Audibert, he is now letting it all hang out. He recently said, "The UN has never been a place for 'real' negotiation. It legitimizes or implements agreements reached elsewhere." Where does this leave the countries who run to serve on the Security Council?

  Jordan filled in for Saudi Arabia when they refused the 2014-15 Security Council seat they ran for without opposition, and Zeid boned up and filled in admirably. (His replacement is rumored to be Bishr al-Khasawneh.)

  While some scribes, ignoring Araud's open attack on their ostensible colleague, fawn around Araud, ultimately which of these two served the UN, human rights and accountability better, even without a Mistral behind him? Watch this site.


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