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Obama Taps "Not On Our Watch" Co-Founder for UNSC Post, Open DPKO?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 13 -- Darfur and South Sudan are major but not overly successful items on the agenda of the UN Security Council - and now the US has nominated as Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs David Pressman, who has worked, not for the government, on both.

  Will he help hold UN Peacekeeping accountable?

  Pressman co-founded "Not On Our Watch." Since 2013 he's been at the US Mission to the UN, and is now slated to replace Jeffrey DeLaurentis. The post involves frequent Council consultations on the UNAMID and UNMISS peacekeeping missions, among others.

  Just this year, mis-reporting of government abuse in Darfur by UNAMID and UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous has been exposed. On South Sudan, Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ladsous open refuses to answer Press questions. Might Pressman help bring accountability, or at least increased transparency?

   Ladsous also refused to answer on the FDLR, understandably of much concern to Rwanda. As new US Ambassador to Rwanda, President Barack Obama on June 13 nominated Erica J. Barks Ruggles, a career member of the Foreign Service, currently  Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Cape Town, South Africa.

On Sudan and South Sudan: After a June 4 briefing by UN Humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, Inner City Press asked her if any aid is getting into Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

  She told Inner City Press yes, in areas controlled by the Sudan government. She said, not for the first time, that the SPLM-North insists that aid come in from the South: that is, cross-border.

  Inner City Press asked Amos about reports of bombing of Kauda, including of a hospital. She said she has heard the reports, and that she met on June 3 with Sudan's new Permanent Representative to the UN, with whom she has previously worked.

  Amos is slated to brief the UN Security Council about Somalia later on June 4. We'll be there.

  At the June 4 briefing, it was not possible for Inner City Press to ask Amos about South Sudan, or about "access fees."

   Four weeks after the United States announced South Sudan sanctions on Marial Chanuong and Peter Gadet on May 6, on June 2 it clarified that paying "taxes" to Gadet's militia wouldn't necessarily violate the sanctions:

Q: Are humanitarian aid groups prohibited from making payments to or otherwise transacting with non-designated individuals or entities in South Sudan, including militias and armed groups under the command or control of a designated individual?

A: An entity in South Sudan that is commanded or controlled by an individual designated under Executive Order 13664 is not considered blocked by operation of law. Payments, including “taxes” or “access payments,” made to non-designated individuals or entities under the command or control of an individual designated under E.O. 13664 do not, in and of themselves, constitute prohibited activity. U.S. persons should employ due diligence, however, to ensure that an SDN is not, for example, profiting from such transactions

   One wonders about the timing of the Q&A - was this really a "frequently" asked question?

  (Inner City Press also wonders whether US State Department envoy Russ Feingold has inquired with Burundi into the jailing of human rights defender Mbonimpa. Sanctions on that, or on arming the CNDD youth wing, in camps in Eastern Congo which the UN mission MONUSCO won't even go and check?)

  On May 6 a US Senior Administration Official, when asked by Inner City Press if thought had been or will be given to sanctioning the Kiir government officials who took to the radio waves prior to the deadly attack on the UN compound of UNMISS in Bor, resisted discussing anyone not yet on the list.

   But it would seem clear that there could be at least one further intermediary step of sanctions before reaching Kiir and his former Vice President.

  Gadet was previously used by the government for disarmament. Inner City Press asked UN envoy Hilde Johnson about it on March 15, 2012 and Johnson replied that to "us in the UN" who did the disarmament, including Gadet, was "less than relevant. Now Gadet is under US sanctions.

  Beyond the sanctions, Inner City Press asked the US Senior Administration Officials about Secretary of State John Kerry's emphasis in Addis Ababa on the need for a legitimate force to help make peace: in the US' thinking, would this force be part of UNMISS?

  A second Senior Administration Official replied that conversations are ongoing, that the regional force would be related but, it seems, might be separate.

  Now it seems the force, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda, will be related and technically a part of UNMISS - but Hilde Johnson is leaving as envoy in July. Watch this site.

Footnote: When the US Treasury Department put online the specifics, it appeared that Peter Gadet, now subject to a travel ban, has no passport.

US Transcript:

MODERATOR: Our next question is from.. Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Great. Thanks a lot, [Moderator]. I wanted to ask, there was a – it was said that in Security Council consultations at the UN that senior government officials were named in a radio broadcast prior to the attacks in Bor on the UN compound in killing the civilians. I just wonder if you can say are these people – is that the case? Do you know the names of people that sort of called for that attack, and in which case, why aren’t they on this list?

And I also – this might for Senior Administration Official Number Two. Secretary Kerry was talking about a legitimate force to help make peace. And I just wanted to know, is the UN – is the U.S. thinking of that as part of UNMISS mission or as the IGAD force? And if so, would it require a Security Council approval? Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: On the first, I mean, we typically do not comment on actors against whom we are – we have not yet – we have not yet acted, a clunky way of saying we don’t comment on those who are not part of our designation. But anyone who is contributing to the violence, whether that’s by directing violence, whether that’s by funding it, fueling it, contributing arms, can be a subject of designation in the future. And I’ll leave it to my State Department colleague to answer the second question.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. On the question about the regional force and on UNMISS, we – it is something that conversations and discussions are ongoing between countries of IGAD, with New York, with ourselves and others on how best to create this additional force presence that we are working very much with UNMISS and see this as part of the same effort. But we do think it’s very important that the regional forces are able to join this effort in larger numbers and appreciate the efforts of, particularly, the governments of Ethiopia and Kenya, who are leading the mediation and who are seeking to work with UNMISS in this regard.


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