Thursday, April 24, 2014

Obama in Japan Promotes TPP, Would Globalize DMCA Abuse Like Reuters Complaint to Censor Google's Search

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 24 -- In a Tokyo press conference with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, US President Barack Obama beat the trip for the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership, with no acknowledgement of flaws such as the globalization of censorship under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, example here.

  That example, ironically, is by Reuters - a news wire one might think would oppose censorship. Obama on April 24 said that when new sanctions on Russia are announced, "AP will be the first to know."

 Back on January 15 on Capitol Hill, Fast Track for the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership was promoted in the guise of a twenty-year review of NAFTA. 

  The US Chamber of Commerce, Carla Hills and former Congressman David Dreier were among the pro Fast Track for TPP witnesses before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. 
  As Chairman Salman's introduction put it, "NAFTA has been the impetus for the regional bilateral trade agreements reached since then, and has provided important lessons as the U.S. seeks to build closer ties to trade and investment partners through the much anticipated Trans Pacific Partnership."
  After some perfunctory praise of NAFTA, and some unanswered questions about free trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea, things quickly turned to promotion of the TPP. The bill was introduced in Congress on January 9; it has been protested including in Harlem on January 4, here
  The Senate Finance Committee press release is here, the bill is here, their summary here. It would globalize schemes like the pro-corporate Digital Millennium Copyright Act, misused by Reuters UN bureau chief to get a leaked document banned from Google's search.
 Google's "Global Head of Free Expression" Ross LaJeunesse met at the UN on January 7 with Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson. See UN notice, saved here.
  It was ironic: most recently regarding the UN, Google allowed a censorship-related leaked document to be blocked from its Search, based on a bad faith complaint by Reuters bureau chief under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
  So what was LaJeunesse at the UN to discuss: more censorship? 
 (Inner City Press asked for a read-out but so far none has been given.)
  There are further ironies. Prior to lobbying for Google, LaJeunesse worked for California's then-Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, who 13 months ago was given an award by the United Nations Correspondents Association. This is the group which tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN for its reporting on Sri Lanka -- a topic on which Eliasson now leads up the UN's post-failure "Rights Upfront" initiative. 
   While free press protections are in some ways advanced in the United States, as the Free UN Coalition for Access has begun highlighting, the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act can be and has been used as an end-run attack on freedom of the press.
(Another irony: from UN transcripts of Eliasson's press conference, the "Free UN Coalition for Access" introductionwas omitted, while the UN's Censorship Alliance was left in, click here for that.)
    Bigger picture, as exemplified by an August 14, 2013 bad faith complaint to Google by Reuters' UN bureau chief Louis Charbonneau, DMCA's provisions for "take-down" or blocking of information with no prior judicial review allow for abuse.
   Leaked documents used in an investigative story can be blocked, as the Reuters' complaint to Google blocked from Google's search its bureau chief's e-mail to the UN seeking to get Inner City Press thrown out. This is a perversion of the concept of copyright (as well as a contradictory argument for Reuters or anyone in journalism to be making, that such documents should be taken down or blocked.)
   In Chile, for example, any such take-down requires the requester to get a court order. But DMCA provides, and Google allowed, blocking based on a non-reviewed, bad faith complaint.
  As the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry told Inner City Press about the case:
"Unfortunately, it is all too easy for a copyright holder (assuming that the person that sent this notice actually held copyright in the email) to abuse the DMCA to take down content and stifle legitimate speech. As countries outside the US consider adopting DMCA-like procedures, they must make sure they include strong protections for free speech, such as significant penalties for takedown abuse."
  Along with other pro-corporate provisions, TPP would internationalize this abuse of copyright to undermine freedom of the press.  
 If this remains precedent, what else could come down?
  Why not an email from Iran, for example, to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency? Why not a sanctions filing by a country? Here is Reuters logic, accepted if only automatically by Google:
The copyrighted material is a private email I wrote in April 2012 and for which I never gave permission to be published. It has been published on a blog and appears in on the first page of search results for my name and the firm I work for, Reuters. It can be seen here:
  But this is true of ANY leaked document: it can be said that the entity or person exposed "never gave permission [for it] to be published." Does that mean Google can or should block search access to it?
  Can a complaint to a Media Accreditation official against a competitor legitimately be considered "private"? In any event, the DMCA is not about protecting privacy.
  Iran or North Korea could say a filing or status report they make with the IAEA is "private" and was not intended to be published. Would Google, receiving a DMCA filing, block access to the information on, say,
  Charbonneau's bad-faith argument says his complaint to the UN was "published on a blog." Is THAT what Reuters claims makes it different that publication in some other media?
  The logic of Reuters' and Charbonneau's August 14, 2013 filing with Google, put online via the project, is profoundly anti free press.
  The fact that Google accepts or didn't check, to remain in the DMCA Safe Harbor, the filing makes it even worse. The request to take-down wasn't made to or its server -- it would have been rejected. But banning a page from Search has the same censoring effect.
  The US has a regime to protect freedom of the press, and against prior restraint. But this is a loophole, exploited cynically by Reuters. What if a media conducted a long investigation of a mayor, fueled by a leaked email. When the story was published, could the Mayor make a Reuters-like filing with Google and get it blocked?
  Here is the text of Charbonneau's communication to the UN's top Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit official Stephane Dujarric and MALU's manager, to which he claimed "copyright" and for now has banned from Google's Search:
Hi Isabelle and Stephane,
I just wanted to pass on for the record that I was just confronted by Matt Lee in the DHL auditorium in very hostile fashion a short while ago (there were several witnesses, including Giampaolo). He's obviously gotten wind that there's a movement afoot to expel him from the UNCA executive committee, though he doesn't know the details yet. But he was going out of his way to be as intimidating and aggressive as possible towards me, told me I "disgust" him, etc.
In all my 20+ years of reporting I've never been approached like that by a follow journalist in any press corps, no matter how stressful things got. He's become someone who's making it very hard for me and others in the UN press to do our jobs. His harassment of fellow reporters is reaching a new fever pitch.
I just thought you should know this.
Louis Charbonneau
Bureau Chief. United Nations
Reuters News Thomson Reuters reuters. com
This email was sent to you by Thomson Reuters, the global news and information company.
"UNCA" in the for-now banned e-mail is the United Nations Correspondents Association. The story developed here, as to Sri Lankahere is a sample pick-up this past weekend in Italian, to which we link and give full credit, translated into English (NOT for now by Google) --

The fool of Reuters to the UN

by Mahesh - 12/27/2013 -calls for the removal of a letter from the head of his bureau at the United Nations, pursuing a copyright infringement on the part of the competition
Try to make out a small competitor from the UN press room and then, when these publish proof of intrigue, invokes the copyright to release a letter from compromising the network.
MOLESTA-AGENCY  Inner City Press is a small non-profit agency covering the work of the United Nations for years, with an original cut, which become distasteful to many. Unlike other matching its founder master sent never tires of asking account of inconsistencies and contradictions and often refers to unpleasant situations involving colleagues and their reportage, too often twisted to obvious political contingencies.
THE LAST CAVITY – In this case the clutch is born when Matthew Lee, Inner City Press ever since he founded and made famous in the 90 's, challenged the screening of "Lies Agreed Upon" in the auditorium of the United Nations, a filmaccio of propaganda in which the Sri Lankan regime tries to deny the now tested massacres (and destroyed by International Crisis Group)In the piece, in which denounced the incident, Lee also announced that the screening was organized by the President of the United Nations Correspondents (UNCA), Italian Giampaolo Pioli, skipping the normal consultation procedure for this kind of events. Pioli then, was also accused of being in a conflict of interest, given that he rented an apartment in New York an apartment to the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Sri Lanka, named Palitha Kohona and is suspected of war crimes.
TRY WITH THE COPYRIGHT- So he comes to the letter with which Louis Charbonneau, Reuters bureau chief at the United Nations, wrote to the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (MALU) calling for the ouster of Lee, which the UN being there for years as his colleagues, but we see that this was not done. Lee, however, comes into possession of the letter and publish it, and then writes to Google millantando Charbonneau the copyright on the letter and asking for removal pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright ActThat is a bit like if a company request the removal of a compromising document from a journalistic investigation, in the name of copyright, a claim clearly absurd and disingenuous.
HARASSMENT AND THREATS- In the letter published, Charbonneau complained about the aggressive behavior of Lee and cited among the witnesses to cases where Lee had been "aggressive" towards him even Pioli.Lee with that piece has gained throughout a hail of protests from Sri Lanka and an investigation by the UNCA, along with death threats and other well-known amenities the refugees away from the clutches of the regime, but it is still there. Behold then the brilliant idea of Charbonneau, improperly used copyright law to censor the objectionable publications to a colleague and competitor. Pity that Lee has already resisted successfully in similar cases, in 2008 was the same Google to remove your site from being indexed in the news in its search engines, it is unclear what impetus behind, only to regret it soon after that even Fox News had cried scandal.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Syria Humanitarian Access Report UNtransparently Released by UN, Spin & Scanning Ensues, Scribes: FUNCA Objects, Describes

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 23 -- The processing of the slaughter in Syria has become routinized and ideological. Take for example the UN's release on the evening of April 23 of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's second report under UNSC Resolution 2139.

   Along with criticism of the government, this report for example cites armed groups injuring and displacing civilians in Al-Zahraa (Paragraph 5), displacing 7500 in Kassab (by al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and Ansar al-Sham paragraph 6), blowing off car bombs in Alawite neighborhoods in Homs (Paragraph 9), and so forth.  But what part gets reported?

   Ban's Spokesperson's Office at the end of the Security Council's meeting on South Sudan (video here) announced over the UN intercom that the report had been transmitted to the Security Council. This was code to say, correspondents can come pick up a copy of the "advance version." 

   The Free UN Coalition for Access has repeatedly asked, including at UN noon briefings, why these reports don't just go online for all to see. The response, off-camera, has been to allow translation into the UN's official six languages. Really?
  The result is that stories are written, for example here by Reuters, that focus on the Syrian government while the report has whole sections about Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, ISIS, et al. Is this retyping really "reporting" by the Reuters bureau chief, who himself is engaged in censorship, here?
   Voice of America breathlessly tweeted -- apparently their story if there is one will be re-typed in Washington -- from the report. All of this is only allowed to masquerade as journalist because of the UN's archaic withholding from the public of information.
 Despite the lack of any stated rule in this regard,  FUNCA and Inner City Press have been criticized for even questioning or reporting on this anti-public process. A previous UN spokesperson told Inner City Press the reason for stealth is that "the member states" would like pre-release before translation. But doesn't the Secretariat WORK for member states? Or is this how they buy the fealty of the scribes?
   But if an affiliate of US Voice of America immediatelyscans and puts the advance copy online, where is the mystery? Where is the double standard? Wouldn't it be better for the UN itself to put the report online when available?
 And then not, as it did on Western Sahara this month, change the report after getting pushed around? FUNCA is and will remain for UN transparency and fair treatment. And FUNCA maintains there should be answers -- including fromUN Under Secretaries General -- and written rules. For days, the UN has refused to explain why for example the Turkish Cypriot leader Eroglu was allowed to speak on UNTV but Polisario is not. The lack of rules only benefits the powerful: media, countries, corporations.
   After the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons told the UN Security Council on April 23 that Syria has removed or destroyed 88% of supplies, the questions were mostly about new reports of chlorine gas use.
  Inner City Press asked April's Security Council president Joy Ogwu of Nigeria about any investigation by the OPCW. She said, they could play a role. Inner City Press asked, But will they? 
   Next, Syria's Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari came out, denied that his government used the "mundane" chemical chlorine but said the timing of the allegation was too convenient.
    Inner City Press asked him of the Syria Coalition's statement it would not resume Geneva talks in the foreseeable future given the announcement of elections in June. Ja'afari replied that his government is still waiting to hear back from mediator Brahimi, who he added has "made many mistakes."
   There was more interest than usual in asking Ja'afari questions. Some grabbed the boom microphone; Reuters bureau chief barged into the roped off area of the UN Television cameraman, according to the cameraman himself. Instead of apologizing, the Reuters bureau chief demanded, What are you looking at.
  We note this because we are against a two or three tier UN and it's the same character who who filed "for the record" but "private" anti-Press complaints with the UN he-- one of them saying he couldn't do his job with the Press around -- then got one of them censored from Google's Search claiming it was copyrighted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Click here for that. This is how the UN works, or doesn't.
  Back on April 17, Homs in Syria was the topic when the UN Security Council met at 5:30 pm. France called the meeting but most who left called it a failure. 
 What was agreed to were vague "elements to the press" about supporting Brahimi's call for local ceasefire talks in Homs.  
  Inner City Press asked April's Council president Joy Ogwu of Nigeria why no reference to wider "Geneva 3" talks was included. It is not in there, she indicated. Video here.
  Then Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'fari came to speak. Inner City Press asked him about US-made BGM-71 TOW missiles now in Syria, of the group Harakat Hazm. They are with Al Nusra, Ja'afari said.
  Inner City Press asked on what basis Ja'afari said the US approved their transfer to Syria, if they could have come through Turkey. Ja'afari said there is no way they could come in without approval from Washington. Video here -- this is Inner City Press YouTube video.
  Unlike other stakeouts, the UN did not put on its UN Webcast archive Ja'afari's long April 17 stakeout including on TOW missiles. Inner City Press asked about it on April 22 at the noon briefing, and later another UN individual acknowledged it had not gone up. But why?  Now, only after asking, it is up. Click here (TOW question and answer from Minute 15:17.) This is how the UN works, or doesn't.
  Ja'afari was asked by Voice of America, on whose Broadcast Board of Governor's US Secretary of State John Kerry serves, why Syria doesn't use Russia or China to get a meeting about Kassab. Ja'afari responded to the question; he did not say as France Ambassador Gerard Araud did on April 15 to Al Mayadeen, "You are not a journalist, you are an agent."
  By Araud's logic, is not Voice of America an agent? Is not France 24, also called on by Ja'afari? Ah, freedom of the press. Here is what the Free UN Coalition for Access has done so far.
   When outgoing French Ambassador Araud scheduled a press conference on human rights for April 15, he began to receive many questions, here, about blocking human rights monitoring in Western Sahara. 
  It is a policy Araud is particularly associated with, since Javier Barden quoted him calling Morocco France's "mistress." Araud spoke of suing, but hasn't.
   But when during the April 15 press conference, in which Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access were not called on, Araud was asked about France having killed people in Algeria, Araud told the questioner, You are not a journalist, you are an agent. Video here.
  The French run press conference gave the first question to Al Arabiya, for UNCA (now known as the UN's Censorship Alliance), then France 24.  By Araud's spokesperson Frederic Jung, a  Voice of America affiliate was given a question. 
  Syria "Caesar" report panelist David Crane was asked who funded it and answered on camera merely that he was paid. (The photographs, Inner City Press noted and notes, are extremely troubling - all the more reason that taking Qatar's funding and denouncing the only critical question were unwise.)
  Afterward, Inner City Press asked Crane to confirm the payment was from Qatar. He confirmed it. Inner City Press asked, did you seek any other, less compromised funding? The answer was no. In fact, Crane said he gave his recommendations to the Syrian National Council. Afterward Inner City Press asked him if he meant the Turkey based group headed by Ahmed Al Jarba, and Crane said yes, than added, "The resistance" writ large.
     When Qatar sponsored an event at the UN in New York on March 21 featuring the Syrian Coalition headed by Ahmad al Jarba, a group calling its the Syrian Grassroots Movement held protests seeking to oust Jarba.
   By March 22, the group stated that some 40,000 people in 58 cities inside Syria had participated in demonstrations to get Jarba out of his post, saying "it is time to put an end to political corruption."
  Back in September 2013, France sponsored an event in the UN and called Jarba the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. French Ambassador Gerard Araud was the first questioning at Qatar's March 21 Syrian Coalition event. What is France's position now? Who chooses the leaders?
  Likewise, back in July 2013 and earlier this month, the Jarba-led Syrian Coalition held faux "UN" events in the clubhouse Ban Ki-moon's Secretariat gives to the largely Gulf and Western UN Correspondents Association. How does that now appear, in light of the anti-Jarba protests?
   Qatar's March 21 event was not listed in the UN Journal nor in the UN Media Alert. It was not on the UN's publicly available webcast.
  Select media outlets were there, when Inner City Press came in at the end to ask a question: Al Jazeera on the podium in Qatar's event, Al Arabiya like a Saudi diplomat -- not the Permanent Representative -- in the audience along with Al Hayat, even Al Hurra, on whose Broadcasting Board of Governors US Secretary of State John Kerry serves.
   The new Free UN Coalition for Access is against faux UN events, in the clubhouse the Secretariat gives to what's become its UN Censorship Alliance or elsewhere.
   On March 21 Inner City Press put these questions, also on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, to the UN's top two spokespeople:
"there is an event in Conference Room 4 right now, sponsored by Qatar, which is no listed in today's UN Journal, nor is it on UN Webcast but it appears to be being filmed. Please explain the legal status of this meeting, if there are any sponsored beyond Qatar, how it was publicized and if any request to have it webcast was made. Thanks, on deadline."
  But no answer was provided. Inner City Press ran to the event and from the back of a three quarters empty Conference Room 4 asked why the event was so stealth: not in the UN Journal, not webcast.
  The Permanent Representative of Qatar answered, saying it was a "special event" to which Qatar had invited (some) member states and groups, and (some) media. There is a UN Media Alert, but this event was not put in it.
  Perhaps it was publicized by the Gulf & Western United Nations Correspondents Association, which has twice hosted faux "UN" events by the Syrian National Coalition or Syrian Coalition. (In both cases, the Free UN Coalition for Access suggested that the SNC hold its events in the UN briefing room, accessible to all journalists.)
  Since French Ambassador Gerard Araud, the first questioner flanked by representatives of Saudi Arabia and of Turkey which earlier in the day banned Twitter, has spoken about "fakes" and others about accountability, Inner City Press asked if the groups Al Nusra and ISIS, and those who fund them such as private individuals in Qatar alluded to at the US State Department briefing earlier in the day, could or would be held accountable.
  The SNC representative emphasized what he called links between the Assad regime and ISIS, saying it was too easy to blame the Gulf countries.
Question: you have concerns about the withdrawal of the ambassadors. Do you also have concerns about the reasons that these countries said that they withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar? In other words, do you – if you have concerns about the withdrawal of the ambassadors, do you also have concerns about Qatar’s behavior, which – alleged behavior, let’s say – which led to these countries withdrawing their ambassadors?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I know one of the issues that has been mentioned is the issue of private donations to extremists – and that’s something that some have mentioned – operating in Syria and elsewhere. It remains an important priority in our high-level discussions, and one that we also certainly raise with all states in the region, including Qatar, including the Government of Kuwait, wherever we have concerns.
After Inner City Press asked about the sponsorship of the event, a one-page "Joint Statement by the Co-Organizers" was passed out, listing among the co-organizers France, the UK, US, Belgium, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Inner City Press tweeted it. 
   Even 24 hours later, the UN's top two spokespeople had not answered the simple questions put to them, above. Watch this site.


On South Sudan, UN Peacekeeping's Ladsous Won't Answer UN Charge Ghana Troops Not in Bentiu, Pick Scribes, Flees

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 23 -- Days after mass killings at Bentiu and Bor in South Sudan, the UN Security Council belatedly met on Wednesday evening. Afterward UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations chief Herve Ladsous came out and took three questions, curtly.

  The UN itself says that the Ghanaian battalion -- the shipment of whose weapons by land to Bentiu triggered an objection by South Sudan's government and a report by Ladsous' DPKO that has yet to be publicly released -- was not in Bentiu to even try to stop the April 15-16 killings.

   Inner City Press put this question to Ladsous both on and off UNTV's camera, but he refused to answer it. Video here and embedded below. Criticisms of his DPKO are spreading, but Ladsous refuses to answer them.

  Back on April 22 Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the Ghanaian contingent:

Inner City Press: on South Sudan, I saw that Mary Cummins, who is the acting Coordinator for Unity State, really sounded the alarm that they need more forces there. And she said, “we need the Ghanaian battalion to arrive soon”. I thought that was the battalion whose weapons that were found in the boxes--
Spokesman Dujarric: Let me find out.

  But more than 24 hours later Dujarric, or ultimately Ladsous' DPKO, had not provided any answer. So Inner City Press put the question to Ladsous at the stakeout. Ladsous refused to answer it, pointedly calling first on Reuters, then Voice of America, then on state-owned France 24. 

  Then Ladsous lumbered from the stakeout microphone and up the stairs, with a retinue of DPKO staff, many of whom worked under Alain Le Roy and even Jean-Marie Guehenno but now enable this decay within UN Peacekeeping.

  From inside the closed consultation, the French mission's spokesperson tweeted that a film was being screened of Bentiu. This was confirmed to Inner City Press by an actual ambassador in the meeting; at the stakeout afterward Inner City Press asked Security Council president Joy Ogwu of Nigeria if the film was only about Bentiu and not Bor and she said Yes, only about Bentiu.

  The April 15-16 killings in Bentiu have been attributed to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Opposition led by former vice president Riek Machar, who has denied that his forces killed civilians. Likewise, the April 18 murders inside the UN peacekeeping camp in Bor have been attributed to supporters from the Dinka tribe of president Salva Kiir, and statements by his information minister bear this out.

  The UN has alleged that in Bentiu the victims were targeted based not only on tribe but nationality. One response was that Darfur rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement who were fighting along with Kiir's government forces were killed, but not civilians.

  In this environment, for UN Peacekeeping to be run by an official who can't even answer basic questions is a major problem. Watch this site.


On Western Sahara, UN Security Council's Slated April 23 Vote Doesn't Happen, Council President for April Nigeria "Hopes" By 30th, Spin

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 23, more here -- In the untransparent annual UN cat and mouse process around Western Sahara, French Ambassador Gerard Araud has repeatedly been asked by usual-friend Human Rights Watch but continues denying any French role, this year or before, in blocking a human rights monitoring mechanism in the MINURSO mission. 

  Voting had been scheduled for April 23 in the UN Security Council on the renewal of the MINURSO mandate, but it did not happen. Inner City Press asked Security Council president for April Joy Ogwu of Nigeria about the delay. Video here.

   She replied that it "hasn't come up" she hopes it can "take place during our presidency" - that is, this month of April, when the mandate expires. Down to the wire?

  At the April 21 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric three questions about Western Sahara: any comment on Morocco's King's visit to Dakhla, any confirmation of Polisario's letter of last Tuesday to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about crackdown in El Aaiun, and why Polisario can't, but the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus can, speak on UN Television.

  On the last Dujarric, who at least until March 10 as in charge of UNTV, said he had no comment. But it was a request for an explanation of a double standard. Video here.

  When Inner City Press asked the question again on April 22, Dujarric said it was a good question but that he couldn't answer it at that time. But more than a day later, no answer was provided.

  At the April 23 noon briefing Dujarric was asked, in French, about Morocco and human rights. He said he might have some details in the afternoon. Inner City Press asked, Details for all? None were provided by the evening of April 23. But the April 24 meeting in at the US State Department with Western Sahara-connected Kosmos Energy no longer appears on the schedule there.

   Regarding this month's Security Council process, French Ambassador Gerard Araud has tweeted, "I'll wait to see a real proposal before saying what we think of it." But in April 2013 he answered Inner City Press: "how to improve human rights in Western Sahara? We have always said the best way is through bilateral dialogue with Morocco." Video here and embedded below. 
  France's and for his nearly five years at the UN Araud's opposition to a human rights monitoring mechanism in Western Sahara has not been limited to closed door Security Council meetings. Covering the UN's Fourth (Decolonization) Committee in October 2011, for example, a well placed diplomat interviewed by Inner City Press cited Morocco's "arrogance" in the face of criticism by the African Union, Caricom, UNASUR and others of its actions in Western Sahara, adding "they count on France to carry their water in the Security Council."
  In that Decolonization Committee meeting there was testimony that "the Moroccan state oil company ONHYM and US-based Kosmos Energy... purchased a 30% interest in the Boujdour sub-basis within Western Sahara."
 And US-based Kosmos Energy's CEO Andy Inglis and Al Larson, Senior International Policy Advisor at the Covington and Burling LLP law firm are set to meet on April 24, 2014 with US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Catherine Novelli. Watch this site.
  At the UN and online, Araud's spin now is to say he doesn't know what France's position on a human rights mechanism would be until, after a non-transparent process, a draft emerges from the Group of Friends on Western Sahara, which has no African members. 
  Araud has said, "I'll wait to see a real proposal before saying what we think of it. That's what is commonly called 'foreign policy'.... No country in the world takes a stance before knowing the specifics of a proposal. Is it common sense and not dodging. Real world!"
  But get real: on Apri 25, 2013 when Inner City Press asked, Araud on camera said, "how to improve human rights in Western Sahara? We have always said the best way is through bilateral dialogue with Morocco."Video here.
   Note the word "always" -- this is France's position, no human rights monitoring mechanism, just "bilateral dialogue with Morocco." So why does Araud pretend now he doesn't know what France's position is, months before he leaves the UN in July?

 Araud has claimed, "there is not, there has not been, this year or last year or previous years, any French veto threat! It is a fact."  He added, "my 'word' is simply that, contrary to your assertions, France never threatened to veto any proposal. Nothing more, nothing less."
  This stands in contrast below to 2010, when Uganda, Mexico and as now Nigeria were serving on the Council along with Araud, who is now slated to leave in July -- and to April 2011, also touched on below.
 On April 17, 2012, Inner City Press directly asked Gerard Araud about human rights and MINURSO and the then still withheld (Africa-less) "Group of Friends of Western Sahara" draft resolution.
   Araud replied, "There is still I guess one of the Friends that has problems. But I think we are close to an agreement."

  Multiple sources told Inner City Press that France, represented at that stage on the Group of Friends by its expert Mariam Diallo, had been opposing the resolution trying to ensure the MINURSO mission's "effectiveness" and, as before, human rights monitoring of the type other UN peacekeeping missions have. In terms of Araud's assessment that only "one of the Friends.. has problems," Inner City Press was told that there at least two.

 A Security Council member excluded from the Group of Friends, South Africa, said that the Friends have promised to circulate a draft "later today," whether it's agreed to by all the Friends of not. South African Permanent Representative Baso Sangqu told Inner City Press, "Our issue was that the earlier we all get involved,the better for everybody."  And this year?
  An aside on Human Rights Watch: while Ken Roth has tw-asked, HRW's representative at the UN, former of state-owned France 24, has been notably silent on the issue. His last two tweets some from April 17, one passing on a story quoting his boss Ken Roth about North Korea, then other quoting Araud -- on North Korea. (On this topic, the HRW lobbyist purported to be inside or "at" in the closed-door Arria meeting, engaged in trademark selective distribution of information.) How can HRW question UN Ambassador Araud and HRW's "UN Director" stays entirely out of it. Why?
  Back on April 18, 2011, multiple sources told Inner City Press that France opposed any MINURSO human rights monitoring mechanism, counter-proposing only cooperation with the special rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council. 
  On April 27, 2011, Inner City Press aske Araud about the High Commissioner for Human Rights' recommendation that a right monitoring mechanism be included in MINURSO. Araud replies that "Ban Ki-moon's" final report, into which the French chief of UN Peacekeeping had input, hadn't adopted the OHCHR's recommend. That is where the lobbying is -- and it is attributable to France, with refusals to answer questions playing their role.
   Araud opposed a human rights monitoring mechanism in 2010 as well:
  On April 30, 2010, six hours into Western Sahara negotiations in the Security Council, the threat to call the vote was made. There would be three abstentions against the resolution drafted by the so-called Group of Friends: Uganda, Nigeria and Mexico.

A compromise that was apparently acceptable to all 15 members, but was opposed by Morocco, would refer to UN "mechanisms" as a euphemism for human rights.

  Frente Polisario says it could live with this language, and is angry that Morocco has become on this issue the one in "P-5 Plus One." Others wondered if France only agreed to put this language to Morocco because it knew Morocco would shoot it down.

Inside the consultations, Inner City Press was informed, Austria's Ambassador wondered out loud how France, so important in forming the concept of human rights, could be so vehemently opposing the inclusion of the term in the Western Sahara resolution.

French Ambassador Araud responded angrily that no one can teach human rights lessons to France.  
 Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose -- surtout avec Araud.

  Back on on April 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm, Araud noted he should have left for Greentree for the Council's annual retreat with the Secretary General 10 minutes before. This year in 2014, the retreat is earlier in April, before the MINURSO vote. So there will be no excuses. We'll have more on this.
  This year in a multiple French farce, a wire service reporter usually of use to France, Reuters' Louis Charbonneau, has now purported to cover as news his being accused of misinformation by his often-source France. Trying to serve two of the P3 Conuncil members on this issue - and some others -- doesn't work. 
  The threat of a French veto was cited by Charbonneau as the reason for the "Group of Friends on Western Sahara" draft resolution not including a human rights monitoring mechanism.
   Based on that, Human Rights Watch's Ken Roth did what he rarely does: criticize France. 
   Then French Ambassador Gerard Araud did what he rarely does: actually respond to a critique. He tweeted, "Ken Roth your message is wrong! France has not threatened to veto anything! The negotiation has not even started... How can we veto something which is not proposed by the pen holder (which in not France)? You rely on rumors and disinformation."
    The "rumors and disinformation" are those repeated by Reuters' Lou Charbonneau, on whom the French mission often relies to get out its message.  Inner City Press asked, and asks: so who is not telling the truth?
  Meanwhile from Paris the French foreign services "social media" team issues a blog by Anne Chounet-Cambas singing its own praises, citing Williamsburg, Brooklyn and hard rock. If they are the ones staffing Araud's twitter feed, is this what they had in mind?
   This French foreign ministry social media teams map of Morocco and Western Sahara, herehas been noted -- particularly in light of France's recent statements about UN maps and Crimea. We'll have more on this.
   Obscured is all this is why "Ban Ki-moon's" report's recommendation was changed to drop the word "mechanism." UN Peacekeeping is run by Herve Ladsous, a former French diplomat during the Rwanda genocide who is the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping. This has not been mentioned by Reuters. 
     Another irony is that on April 17 after a French, US and Australia sponsored Arria formula meeting with Michael Kirby, chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry on North Korea, Kirby said threats of veto should not be allowed to bury human rights proposals. He said a formal meeting (and vote) should be called on referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court.
  But this logic apparently doesn't apply to Western Sahara, or to France as the veto-wielder.  None of this is noted, of course, in pass-through account by Reuters' Charbonneau, demonstrably engaged in censorship, here. Reuters' Charbonneau, who last time quoted French Ambassador Gerard Araud denying any role, this time didn't mention him at all.
   On April 15, Araud told another reporter, "You are not a journalist, you are an agent." While UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has been asked to convey to Araud and the French Mission the UN position that accredited correspondents should be treated with respect, here, we note that this servile wire by Araud logic is just as much an agent. 
  Araud's anti-press moves on April 15 were of course not reported by this wire -- nor on Western Sahara was the African Union position with which Nigeria's Joy Ogwu answered Inner City Press --rights mechanism needed,video here and embedded below -- in the wire's story.
  Africa is not represented in the Council's "Group of Friends on Western Sahara." Changing that is not a reform you'll hear France talking about, including prospectively at the Council's retreat with Ban Ki-moon on which we'll have more.  Nor is Africa represented or even recognized, it is increasingly clear, on this servile wire. This is how the UN works, or doesn't.

  On April 17, the day of the Security Council first formal consultation on Western Sahara, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Dujarric about a reported crack down on peaceful demonstrators in El Aaiun, then asked Ambassador Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, Council president for April, about the consultations.
   Dujarric said he had no information about the demonstration or crackdown or any letter received; when Inner City Press asked if envoy Christopher Ross would hold a question and answer stakeout, he said probably not. (None happened.) Video here.
  But Inner City Press asked the Security Council's president for April, Nigeria's Joy Ogwu, if human rights monitoring came up. She said in her national capacity she raised it, saying that a human rights monitoring mechanism should be (belatedly) put in the MINURSO mission's mandate, as it is in the mandate of other UN peacekeeping missions. Video here.
  Before the consultations, French Ambassador Gerard Araud engaged in a long discussion with Morocco's new Ambassador to the UN Omar Hilale. Inner City Press, at the stakeout, took and tweeted a few photographs -- Morocco supporters replied with Araud's anti-press phrase of April 15, that anyone they disagree with is "not a journalist;" one even called photographing from the UN stakeout "spying." 
  (That Araud was quoted by Javier Bardem that Morocco is France's "mistress" was in the air. Araud talked about suing Bardem, but has not.)
   Another replied to Inner City Press that Ambassador Ogwu shouldn't have said what she said. We're left wondering if Gerard Araud, before he leaves in July, will say in a Security Council consultation, "You're not a diplomat." And what would happen next. Here is what has been requested: that Dujarric convey to the French mission that position that accredited correspondents should be respected, before the arrival of Jacques Audibert.
  The Security Council is scheduled to vote on the MINURSO mandate on April 23, but it could go until the end of the month, when the old mandate with no right monitoring mandate expires. Watch this site.
  Back on April 16 Dujarric refused to explain, when Inner City Press asked, why Ban dropped a rights "mechanism" from the advance copy of his report. Dujarric refused to say with whom, other than Morocco's King, Ban spoke about the matter between April 10 and April 15, when a new draft without "mechanism" went on the UN's website. Video here.
  Moments later, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, April's Security Council president and an African Union member, about the drop of the word "mechanism." She said it will be discussed in consultations on April 17. Video here.
  On April 10, Inner City Press published what was called the advance copy of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's report on Western Sahara, saying that the goal is a human rights monitoring MECHANISM, see here at Paragraph 100.
  Now, the revised report is on the UN's website, with the mechanism dropped. Click here, at Paragraph 100. Earlier on April 17, despite a slew of questions about Western Sahara coming in to French Ambassador Gerard Araud as he held a press conference on human rights, he did not answer those questions nor take any question from Inner City Press. The only critical question Araud took, perhaps by mistake, he replied to, You are not a journalist, you are an agent.  Video here.
  (Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access asked Dujarric on April 16 if this was appropriate. Video here. He said accredited correspondents should be treated with respect, but declined even when Inner City Press noted that French foreign minister Laurent Fabius did the same thing to say he will convey this "respect" position to the French Mission, or Araud's replacement Jacques Audibert, click here for that)
  On April 15, Araud called on France 24 and a Reuters reporter who quoted Araud without mentioning that Javier Barden reported Araud as calling Morocco France's mistress. (Araud talked of suing, but never did.) Nor did Reuters mention that the head of UN Peacekeeping, atop the Western Sahara mission MINURSO, is Herve Ladsous, a long-time French diplomat including at the UN during the Rwanda genocide of 1994.
  So a human rights monitoring mechanism is out, at least from Ban Ki-moon report.
   Morocco's King, after in essence threatening to end the UN mission if human rights monitoring mechanism is included, is now reportedly slated to visit Dakhla, as early as tomorrow. Click here
   This comes just after the King announced a new Ambassador to the UN, replacing (and some say blaming) Ambassador Loulichki.
   The new Ambassador will be Omar Hilale, most recently a hardliner on the human rights issue at the UN in Geneva. This comes as France is slated to replace its Ambassador Gerard Araud with Jacques Audibert in July. So for both Araud and Loulichki, this month is a last campaign against a rights monitoring mechanism.
  Araud was slated to give a press conference on April 15, ironically on human rights, on topic on which he convened a closed door meeting at 10 am on April 15, from which even some UN member states were banned.  Araud should have been expected to address these issues -- but he and his spokesman Frederic Jung did not take any question from Inner City Press, and Araud attacked the lone critical question he selected.
   Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access on the morning of April 11 put online the first advance copy of the "Report of the Secretary General on the situation concerning Western Sahara," to be issued as a document of the Security Council under the symbol S/2014/258, here.
  On April 12, the Moroccan government -- but not the UN -- issued a read out of a call by the King of Morocco to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier in the day on the topic of "the Moroccan Sahara," emphasis added:
Tetouan - HM King Mohammed VI held on Saturday a phone conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, says a release of the Royal office.
The talks covered latest developments and the present timetable related to the Moroccan Sahara issue, says the release. On this occasion, HM the King reiterated Morocco's constant commitment and constructive cooperation to reach a final political settlement to this regional dispute, within Moroccan sovereignty.
HM The King further drew the UN secretary General's attention to the imperative need to preserve the negotiations parameters as they were defined by the Security Council, safeguard the presence framework and modalities of the UN involvement and avoid biased approaches and risky options, the statement goes on.
Any straying from this track will be fatal for the ongoing process and holds dangers for any UN involvement in the issue. The conversation also covered HM the King's sustained actions and laudable initiatives for the stability and development of the African continent.
   Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access asked the UN:
"The Moroccan government has issued its own read-out of their King's telephone call to the Secretary General, this is a request for a UN readout of the SG's call, in light of what Inner City Press asked at the April 11 noon briefing... There are other questions outstanding, as you know, and I have others, but asking this after the Moroccan government's readout, for the UN's read-out."
    Without providing any UN read-out, Ban's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric replied, "I can confirm that the call took place."
  Inner City Press and FUNCA asked Dujarric and his deputy Farhan Haq more pointedly:
"If not the still requested UN read-out, will you comment on Morocco's statement that the "King further drew the UN secretary General's attention to the imperative [to] risky options... Any straying from this track will be fatal for the ongoing process and holds dangers for any UN involvement in the issue" -- since this seems to be a threat to try to terminate "UN involvement" in Western Sahara if an option such as a human rights monitoring mechanism were included in MINURSO, do you have any comment? And, can you state which side initiated the call, and if the advance copy of the Secretary General's report on Western Sahara which I asked about at Friday's noon briefing was discussed?"
    Ban's spokesman Dujarric an hour later replied: "No further comment."

   At noon on April 11, Inner City Press asked Dujarric who has input into Ban Ki-moon's reports, for example if not only the first but the final "Ban" report on Western Sahara will urge a human rights monitoring mechanism. Dujarric refused to explain the process, saying wait until it's over, it is not final until it is final -- not a good sign, some say. Who wrote the first report? Who is changing it? Who CAN change it? Inner City Press asked, without answer. Video here, and embedded below. UN transcript:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about the Secretary-General’s position on Western Sahara. There’s an advanced copy of the report, the Secretary-General’s report that was circulated that would be ultimately a more formal document, but it seems to say the goal is a human rights monitoring mechanism, and now there are reports that that’s going be changed. The word mechanism will drop, can you describe what the process is on reports such as this that are ascribed to the Secretary-General. Who has input into them? Once they are sent around are they final, and if they are not, who has input in this case to change them?
Spokesman Stephane Dujarric: All Secretary-General’s reports are ultimately signed off by the Secretary-General’s Office. Any relevant department or mission would have input into it but a report is a final report once it’s final. So I would ask you to wait a day or two until the report is issued, and then we can... you know nothing is final until it’s final.
Inner City Press: Because the consultations would be on the 17th, everything is moving, this is the month to do it. So I wanted to know, since there is a document that’s ascribed to the Secretary-General that says monitoring mechanisms, I just wanted to ask you, does Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon favour human rights monitoring mechanisms?
Spokesman Dujarric: Again, once the report is out, and it’s final, it would be the Secretary-General’s report. Until the report is out, we are not going to comment on it. And once it’s out, it is the Secretary-General’s word, so there’s really nothing to add
  That's called stonewalling in advance, that there will be nothing to add. On April 14, Dujarric not only refused Inner City Press' request for further information about Ban's call with the King: he would not explain why a UN read-out of Ban's call with the acting President of Ukraine was provided, but not with Morocco's King.
   In Paragraph 100 on Page 20 Ban's (first) report says, or said, that the goal is "a sustained, independent and impartial human rights monitoring mechanism." 
  Amid changes, a Western wire -- which has engaged in censorship at the UN, here -- quoted French Ambassador Gerard Araud that "France formally denies any interference with the UN Secretariat."
   This servile wire did not even mention that it can be done within the UN Secretariat, where the Department of Peacekeeping which runs MINURSO is headed by Herve Ladsous, a long time French diplomat. Nor does it mention Araud being quoted by Javier Bardem that Morocco is France's "mistress" - if only to run Araud's denial and litigation threat. 
We will be watching for that.
  As a part of this watchfulness, Inner City Press had published a letter just submitted to the President of the Security Council by "a number of Nordic organisations, from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden," urging the inclusion of human rights monitoring in MINURSO's mandate.
  Even former UN envoy on Western Sahara Peter van Walson has written to French president Francois Hollande urging France to stop opposing human rights monitoring in Western Sahara. 
  Also new this year is the discomfort caused by Spanish actor Javier Bardem asserting that French Ambassador Gerard Araud told him that Morocco is like France's mistress. 
  French foreign ministry spokesperson Romain Nadal has reportedly confirmed that Araud met with Bardem in 2011; Araud has said he would seek permission to sue Bardem. (There is a pattern here.) Now, Jacques Audibert is said slated to take over for Araud by July.
  So this will be Araud's last campaign opposing human rights monitoring in Western Sahara. Earlier on April 10 Araud spoke at the Security Council stakeout about Central African Republic but when Inner City Press asked about the Chadian troops there, charged by the High Commissioner for Human Rights with killing 30 civilians, Araud told Inner City Press to Ask Chad's Ambassador.
  US Ambassador Samantha Power moments later answered Inner City Press' question about the withdrawal of Chad's troops from CAR, video here.

  The April 10 advance copy of the "Report of the Secretary General on the situation concerning Western Sahara" consists of 104 paragraphs and a map.
  To begin with -- Inner City Press will have more than one report on this Report -- there is a recognition of "demostrations aimed at drawing attention to human rights concerns, socio-economic issues and political demands, including the right to self-determination. These were swiftly dispersed by Moroccan security forces. On most such occasions, there were credible reports of heavy-handedness on the part of security forces as well as violence, such as stone-throwing, on the part of the demonstrators."
  The Report says "of particular note was a demonstration that took place in Laayoune on 5 May 2013... Protesters expressed dissatisfaction that Security Council resolution 2099 (2013) did not include provisions to include human rights monitoring in MINURSO's mandate."
Will it be different this year? Watch this site.