|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives|
At the UN, The Swan Song of Jan Egeland and the Third Committee Loop, Somalia Echoes Congo
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, November 22, 2006 – While in Somalia, Ethiopian troops now openly patrol the roads to Baidoa, and U.S. Special Forces are reported on the Somali border with Kenya, Inner City Press on Wednesday asked American Ambassador John Bolton for the U.S. position on the unfolding war in the Horn of Africa.
"I don't have anything for you on that," Amb. Bolton said. Video here.
But it's reported that the U.S. State Department has commissioned a report which warns that up to a dozen countries could be drawn into war in Somalia, echoing the Congo. And at the U.S. State Department's Wednesday briefing, Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey deflected DC-based reporters' questions by referring to a process at the UN -- "this is something that's under discussions and in consultation at the UN" -- a process on which the U.S. Ambassador to the UN was unwilling to comment. Passing the buck?
Meanwhile at the UN, the Somalia Monitoring Group's four members, called experts, are apparently in hiding. Their recently-leaked report names violators of the sanctions, and says that 720 Somalis were in South Lebanon. Despite the spokesman saying they would briefing the press this week, they have not been seen. It is reported that the Security Council Sanctions Committee is arranging for the countries named in the report to be able to question the experts, at some unspecified time and place next week. Inner City Press asked the spokesman if Uganda has protested the report. The spokesman said this has happened in a meeting, verbally. When and where this meeting took place was not specified.
The UN Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM, on Wednesday announced 28 grants in 17 countries to counter domestic violence against women. Four are in Somalia, with one each in Somaliland and Puntland. Inner City Press asked UNIFEM director Noeleen Heyzer if her agency has had dealings with the Union of Islamic Courts. Mr. Heyzer said yes, and that details would be provided. We'll see. Inner City Press asked for UNIFEM comment on the trial in Utah for rape and polygamy. Ms. Heyzer said the case shows that there is domestic violence "without regard to income." Dog bites man -- or should.
Tuesday John Bolton has been slated to speak at Syracuse University. Inner City Press asked a staff if it was being cancelled and was told no, Amb. Bolton would do it by video-conference. Subsequently it was reported that Amb. Bolton was canceling, because he was "unable to travel to Syracuse because of pressing negotiations over Iran in the U-N Security Council." But Tuesday's meetings were entirely about Lebanon.
After Amb. Bolton bolted Wednesday morning, Jackie Sanders took over. She said that she "too want to thank Under Secretary-General Jan Egeland for his briefing on some of the continuing critical humanitarian challenges in Africa. We're grateful for his first-hand report on the initiative mediated by the Government of Southern Sudan to bring an end to the mayhem perpetrated by the Lord's Resistance Army."
Back in October, judge Richard Goldstone told Inner City Press that no one in the UN should be meeting with International Criminal Court indictees Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti of the LRA, unless and until the Security Council formally suspends the indictments.
Wednesday Inner City Press asked Jan Egeland to explain how a UN Under Secretary General meeting with LRA leaders Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti while International Criminal Court arrest warrants for Kony and Otti are outstanding doesn't create at least the appearance of impunity. Egeland responded that there is no impunity, but that justice might be done in a national or "local" way.
Bitter root ceremonies for war criminals?
Egeland & Otti, LRA LLC
Inner City Press also asked Egeland to comment on rumors that he may remain in the UN system, while living in Norway, working for a new UN micro-agency charged with mediation support. Video here. Egeland shrugged and said he plans to write a book, and to sleep in his own bed after having lived like a guerrilla fighter. A reporter laughed, then asked what the lede should be, for Egeland's briefing. If he's going to write a book, he'll make his own ledes from now on.
Wednesday morning, asked by Inner City Press about human rights resolutions pending in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, Amb. Bolton said that his colleague "Ambassador Miller" would be in the Third Committee meetings down in Conference Room 1 in the basement. That would be Richard Terrence Miller, described by the mission as an "accomplished singer himself."
Inner City Press found Amb. Miller in Conference Room 1, his entourage sprawled out on a nearby table. While in the Security Council each country-representative has four seats behind him or her, in Conference Room 1 is only one assister's seat. So while Cameroon had a lone attendee, the U.S.'s team spread out. Six countries voted to censure the U.S. on human rights: Belarus, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Myanmar, and Syria. Several more said they would have voted against the U.S., invoking Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, but they were principled in opposing all country-specific human rights resolutions. There was groaning in the audience, particularly when the chairman said that proceedings would continue on Friday. After a beat, he corrected himself and said Tuesday. The crowd broke into the cheer, and the meeting broke up. A journalist from the crux between Europe and Asia was heard to say, Turkey can't have a turkey. And again the groaning started...
Feedback: editorial [at] innercitypress.com
UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
Reporter's mobile: 718-716-3540