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On W. Sahara, Not Answering on Morocco Lobbying, UN Decries Leaks to Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- A day after the UN refused to take questions about its draft Western Sahara report, on April 7 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky had a written statement ready.

Inner City Press asked about Morocco lobbying the UN Secretariat to ensure no human rights monitoring mechanism for the MINURSO peacekeeping mission, and what Ban's position was:

Inner City Press: There is a report that’s due of the Secretary-General on the situation on Western Sahara. Various leaked copies of it have circulated. And I have heard that there was some extensive lobbying of the Secretariat by Morocco to have paragraph 119 not ask for human rights monitoring mechanism but rather for, welcome Morocco inviting in special rapporteurs. So, I wonder if you could describe, some of these accounts come from within the Secretariat; could you describe what the communications, what the process is for creating such a paragraph? Who the Secretary-General has spoken to and what his thinking is on having a human rights mechanism in the MINURSO [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara] mission.

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, what I can tell you is that we are aware that an internal working document pertaining to the situation in Western Sahara was leaked and published electronically. This document is not a final report. It has not been endorsed by the Secretary-General and, therefore, it has no status. The United Nations finds it regrettable that internal working documents of the Organization have been leaked and published. Thank you very much.

Inner City Press: Are you being lobbied by Morocco, as someone inside the Secretariat has told me? I mean, just yes or no?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Matthew, I said one last question and you’ve asked another question. I have answered your question.

  But the initial question, which Nesirky refused to take on April 6, was about the lobbying of the Secretariat and its Department of Peacekeeping Operations that Morocco is allowed to do -- and Nesirky still hasn't answered it.

Ban and Nesirky in North Lawn, Morocco lobbying & answers not shown

  Rather, Inner City Press has now learned from multiple sources, after Inner City Press left the briefing room Nesirky stayed loudly complaining about Inner City Press somehow “speaking over” him. But Inner City Press had said it had a question to ask about Western Sahara - and the lobbying Ban allows, at least from one side - and will continue to ask the question until it is answered.

Footnote: while the UN's Western Sahara report was slated to be released on April 6, by 6 pm on April 7 it had still not been released. Watch this site.

* * *

On Western Sahara, Draft Reports Published as UN Refuses to Take Morocco Q

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 6 -- For days, senior UN officials have been telling Inner City Press about aggressive lobbying by Morocco about the specifics of the forthcoming UN report on Western Sahara, a leaked copy of which Morocco was given from within the UN Secretariat.

  Inner City Press on April 4 wrote about the topic -- having also obtained a copy from diplomatic sources -- and on April 6 repeatedly told Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky that it wanted to ask a Western Sahara question at that day's noon briefing.

  “I have a question on Western Sahara,” Inner City Press said, ceding first to another journalist on Haiti. But Nesirky then declared without explanation he would take only one more question, on another topic. Inner City Press repeated, “I have a question on Western Sahara.” But Nesikry stood up, declaring his briefing over. Nor does he respond to or even acknowledge the majority of e-mailed Press questions.

  Diplomatic sources tell Inner City Press that Ban's final, post-lobbying report is due out. And so, Inner City Press now published a scanned version of the draft to obtained, both with Paragraph 119 as urged by Morocco and a proposal by the Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights, which proposes a human rights mechanism for the UN's MINURSO mission.

  Click here and here.

  Even those close to Ban say that the level of pressure -- which Ban has apparently given into -- was extreme. At the same time, Ban is closely linked with France in military action in Cote d'Ivoire.

  A day after French foreign minister Alain Juppe said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon agrees that Laurent Gbagbo must sign a letter ceding power to Alassane Ouattara, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if that is, in fact, Ban's position.

I don't speak for the French Foreign Minister,” Nesirky said.

But you do speak for the Secretary General,” Inner City Press asked. Is it Ban's position or not?

Nesirky would not answer, saying he would not characterize the Secretary General's communications with Juppe. Then he refused repeated requests that he answer a question about Western Sahara.

Thus does the UN thumbs its nose at transparency and lose credibility, by being used by France and Morocco, not only in Cote d'Ivoire but Western Sahara too. Watch this site.

* * *

At UN on Western Sahara, Morocco Pushes To Drop Human Rights Mechanism from Draft, Q of French Standards

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 4 -- In the run up to the UN Security Council's regular fight on Western Sahara this month, Morocco has been lobbying to change Paragraph 119 of the UN's report, about establishing a human right mechanism within the UN Mission MINURSO, Inner City Press has learned.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has suggested “the establishment of an effective international mechanism for regular independent, impartial and sustained human rights monitoring and reporting... through a component within MINURSO,” according to a draft obtained by Inner City Press.

But Morocco, according to sources, obtained a leak of the draft from the UN and is pressuring to change the paragraph to delete any reference to a new mechanism, and to instead “welcome the commitment of Morocco to allow unimpeded access to Special Rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council.”

Morocco continues to have the unquestioning support of France. Some Polisario supporters call it a contradiction, that France would be bombing Libya in the name of human rights while blocking the establishment of a mere human rights reporting mechanism for Western Sahara. But, these people say, many of France's policies are more explicable in terms of colonial relations than principle.

Meanwhile, when new Security Council member South Africa invited all 15 Council members to a session on Western Sahara at its mission last month, Morocco lobbied many countries not to attend. Attendees included Nigeria, the US, Russia and the UK. France was notably not present. Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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