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UK's UNSC Month Begins With Censorship of Press and Deference to Biya and Let Them Eat Cake

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video I, II, CJR, PoW

UNITED NATIONS, August 1 – When the UK took over the Presidency of the UN Security Council on August 1, its UN Mission has repeatedly been informed that Inner City Press which closely covers the Council was excluded from the UN since July 3. (It was also in the UK Independent, here.) Still, when Inner City Press submitted two question about the UK Program of Work and asked that they be read and answered, the Mission did not do so. (They will, however, take Council members and it seems selected media to Shakespeare in the Park, and a garden party at which all must where hats, Pierce said.) She called on one state media after another, offered up a birthday cake and said that on Cameroon, the initiative is with (86 year old) Paul Biya, already president for 36 years. This is why it is hard to take UK claims about DRC, for example, or about closely following Cameroon seriously - minister Liam Fox bragged of UK-based New Age's gas deal with Biya. Pierce insisted that is not the Security Council that fouls things up - on Libya, no less - and that it's too easy to blame the UN. Well, this 29 days of censorship is the fault of the UN - and now of some others. We'll have more on this. While Sweden has bragged about its month as president of the UN Security Council, there has been a grotesque dark side they have not acknowledged or addressed. Inner City Press on July 2 asked Ambassador Olof B. Skoog why the Council has not met about the worsening conflict in Anglophone Cameroon. Skoog cited to a previous closed door consultation with UNOWA chief Francois Longseny Fall - little to no leverage came out of that, and on July 31 Skoog said on Cameroon "we should be frivolous" (video here) to a briefing Inner City Press was banned from, see below - and to the luncheon with Secretary General Antonio Guterres on July 20. (Of that lunch, video here). But then after Guterres' UN Security physically ousted Inner City Press from the UN on July 3 as it covered the UN Budget Committee meeting exactly as it has for years, and Guterres and his Global Communicator Alison Smale have banned Inner City Press 25 days and counting, Sweden did nothing. Fox News story here, GAP blogs I and II; UK Independent here. Not only was the Swedish Mission informed, in person at the UN Delegates Entrance and in writing -- Skoog oversaw an Orwellian stakeout by Guterres' West Africa envoy Mohammed Ibn Chambas after he had downplayed the "unrest" in the English speaking areas of Cameroon, a stakeout from which Inner City Press was banned by Guterres. Inner City Press e-mailed questions for Chambas to Skoof and his Deputy Carl Skau but none were asked. It was a fake-out at the stakeout: no other correspondent even bothered to ask a question. This was disgusting. So too the Press-less "end of presidency" press conference held on July 31. While none of those allowed in asked about Cameroon, Skoog himself brought it up, only to say "we should be frivolous" about it. Wouldn't that be, MORE frivolous? Skoog hasn't seen the UN's disgusting data dump of new rape changes from a full day ago; he called on Al Jazeera on human rights, and a Reuters retiree. When a lone correspondent not in the in-crowd tried to ask a final (seventh) question, she got shouted down by Reuters. This is the UN then run - roguelike, to the point of having the Press roughed up and banned for critiquing it. We'll have more on this. The Swedish Mission had committed as far back as June 22, when Guterres' Security ousted Inner City Press for the first time during an Eid al Fitr speech by Guterres, to raise the matter to Alison Smale.(In fairness, Sweden's spokesperson also wrote back to Inner City Press, here.) But nothing was done, even after the more violent July 3 outer and ban. Smale wrote to the Government Accountability Project that Inner City Press' reporter was "uncivil" by saying loudly "I am a journalist!" while UN Security was twisting its arm; then Smale like Guterres and now spokesman Stephane Dujarric went on vacation, leaving Inner City Press int he street. From the bus stop in front of the Delegates Entrance it covered Sweden's various Elements to the Press, from Lebanon and Syria to Myanmar. But it was a disappointing performance for Sweden, given its claims. The country's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven met and smiled with Guterres on July 6, right after Guterres had the Press roughed up and banned. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, a former UN official, has yet to do anything about this censorship. Ironically, Inner City Press early on July 3 asked Skoog about the Budget Committee and he referenced Cameroon's Tommo Monthe, with whom Inner City Press had just spoken before UN Security grabbed its laptop, tore its shirt and twisted its arm. We'll have more on this. Back on July 2 Inner City Press would have liked to ask for an update into the investigation of the murders of UN experts Zaida Catalan and Michael Sharp - watch this site. There will be three meetings on Syria, and debates on children and armed conflict, the African Union, and climate change (which, Skoog said, some opposed). Back on June 1 with that month's presidency being taken over by Russia and its Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, Inner City Press on June 1 asked him about Yemen and if the June 18 briefing will be open, and about Cyprus on which there is no movement on a new UN special envoy, even an interim one. Nebenzia replied that he hopes Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths will soon meet with the Houthis in Sana'a; he answered Inner City Press' Hodeida question by saying seizing this port would not be helpful. Tweeted video here. On Cyprus he agreed there has been very little movement. He said that even naming a new special envoy will only come after some political events. Cyprus answer video here. Inner City Press is separately informed that Turkey will not meet proposed interim envoy Jane Holl Lute after after elections. Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access asked Nebenzia to come to the UNTV stakeout after all Council consultations, and that the mission send out a daily email about who requested meetings and who will brief. Nebenzia, asked about the impending Gaza vote(s) said, "You never know. He said he is unaware of any legitimate occupations, referring the Palestine. He said Nikki Haley provided a short briefing on June 1 to Council members about the North Korea talks that may happen on June 12. That meeting was at the Russian Mission, with green artificial turf and a football / soccer ball, which was also part of the swag bags the Mission gave to other Council members. There will be four TV sets set up for the World Cup, Nebenzia said. But since the UN Secretariat of Antonio Guterres and USG Alison Smale still require Inner City Press unlike others to get a minder to go down the second floor, will Inner City Press be able to reach them? Watch this site - all month and beyond. Back on May 3 with the Council's presidency being taken over by Poland's Ambassador Joanna Wronecka, Inner City Press asked her about UN sexual abuse and exploitation, with 54 new cases in just the first quarter of 2018, and about DR Congo interference in the investigation of the murders of UN experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan. In response, she cited an Arria formula meeting on May 7 about Children and Armed Conflict, and as an issue of particular interest to her, stigmatization in Myanmar. She described the Council's recent visit to that country and to Bangladesh. Inner City Press would have liked to ask about any Burundi Arria formula meeting before the referendum on May 17, but it was not possible (yet). For the Free UN Coalition for Access, FUNCA, Inner City Press asked that the Polish Mission send out daily emails about who has requested Any Other Business meetings and who the briefers are. Back on April 2 Inner City Press asked the then incoming UNSC President Peru's Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra about Haiti and the cholera the UN brought, and the Western Sahara letter filed with the Council on April 1. Meza-Cuadra said the Peru had participated extensively in the UN's now defunct MINUSTAH mission; he acknowledged the need for the UN to raise more funds about cholera. Video here. On Western Sahara he acknowledged receipt of the letter alleging violations by the Frente Polisario which the UN says it has not observed. He said it has been circulated, and his political coordinator after the meeting denied reports of an "Any Other Business" briefing about Western Sahara before the consultations on April 17. There may be Council trips to Iraq and to Myanmar / Bangladesh. Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access asked Meza-Cuadra to revert to the practice of at least purporting to answer questions after closed consultations of the Council. We'll have more on this. Back on March 1 with the Council presidency being taken over by Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom, Inner City Press asked him about Burundi, where the Council's decision to send 228 UN Police was never implemented, and about the (lack of) transparency of the North Korea sanctions committee which he chairs. He replied that each sanctions committee has its own transparency procedures. Not explained is when the votes were taken, to make confidential requests for and rulings on exemptions such as that involving DPRK Foreign Trade Bank, see Inner City Press' credited scoop here. We'll have more on this, as well as on Burundi, where Inner City Press was told the day after the February 26 meeting that France, the penholding, is working on a press statement. Where is it? The four prior rounds of questions were mostly about Syria, n which the Council will meet March 12, 15 and 27, see Inner City Press' coverage here. Efforts to visit Myanmar continue. Western Sahara and MINURSO will be disclosed - behind closed doors - on March 21; the DR Congo on March 7 and 19 after OCHA's Lowcock and Sigrid Kaaf visit the country. Karel van Oosterom said he lived in Damascus for four years, and quoted Yogi Berra on the difficulty of making predictions, especially if they are about the future. He said the three non-European parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands will sometimes be in the chair, but not for now during the month of presidency. The flame out of the country's previous foreign minister for misstating what he overheard in Moscow did not come up; afterward Inner City Press began to make a pitch that the Netherlands, when it deploys as in Mali, should share its protective equipment to avoid a deadly two-tier situation of night vision goggles for example among different contingents. We'll have more on this. On behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, Inner City Press asked van Oosterom to come to stakeout after all closed door consultations, such as did not happen on Burundi. He said he'll try. Watch this site. Back on February 1 Inner City Press asked Kuwait's Mansour Al-Otaibi about Yemen and about Secretary General Antonio Guterres' meeting with Sudan's President Omar al Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Darfur. Photos, Periscope. On Yemen, Inner City Press asked if the name of Martin Griffiths has been circulated to Council members as replacement for Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed as UN envoy. He said it has not been circulated, adding that Kuwait will support whomever the Secretary General proposes. On Guterres' meeting, for which he'd have been required to inform the ICC Prosecutor in advance, Al-Otaibi said he had no information, that Inner City Press should ask Guterres. We'll try. Al-Otaibi said that there will be no Council trip to Myanmar this month - the government didn't say no, he said, but indicated it is not the right time. Jimmy Carter may or may not appear at an Arria formula meeting Kuwait is organizing. We'll have more on this - on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, Inner City Press asked Al-Otaibi to hold question and answer stakeouts after closed door consultation. We'll be there. Back in September to Ethiopia's Tekeda Alemu, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Alemu four questions, the answers to which sketch out the Ethopian government's worldview. Video here. In response to Inner City Press asking why Burundi, where even the UN says there is a risk of genocide, is not on his September Program of Work nor on the agenda of the Council's visit to Addis Ababa, Alemu said that you can't compare Burundi to Central African Republic, that Burundi has “strong state institutions.” But it is that very “strength,” which some say the country shares with Ethiopia, and with until recently military-ruled Myanmar about which Inner City Press also asked, that has led to the human rights violations. In this context, Inner City Press asked Alemu about the Oromo protests - and crackdown - in his country. He diplomatically chided Inner City Press for not having asked in private, saying that social media has played a dangerous role. On the other hand, when Inner City Press asked Alemu at the end about the murders of two UN experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan, he replied that while the DR Congo is due to sovereignty the one to investigate the murders, the gruesome nature of the killings put a “great responsibility” on the DR Congo. We'l have more on this. Alamy photos here. Earlier on September 1 in Alemu's briefing to countries not on the Security Council, Bangladesh specifically asked that the Council remain seized of the situation in Myanmar. When Inner City Press asked Alemu about this, he said he still had to inform himself more about that situation. The Security Council is traveling to Addis from September 5 through 9, when alongside African Union consultations the Council's member will meet for an hour with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Alemu said. The Council will receive the “maiden briefings” late in the month of the new Under Secretaries General of OCHA and on Counter-Terrorism. There will be peacekeeping on September 20, during the High Level week of the UN General Assembly, and Yemen on September 26. But tellingly, there will not be Burundi. Watch this site.


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