By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, March 3 -- How scared does the UN of Ban Ki-moon and his senior officials run of the United States? Inner City Press on March 4 asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric of a detailed article reporting that Ban's
“chief counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares. Syria was still a sovereign country and U.N. member state, the legal team reminded their colleagues. Bombing its territory required authorization from the Syrian government or the U.N. Security Council. But as the last-minute backchannel notice made clear, the White House was not seeking either. Thus, the lawyers said, there needed to be a public statement that the United States was violating the U.N. Charter.”
That day, Dujarric told Inner City Press that the airing of “internal discussions leading to statements by the Secretary-General, I think, is not particularly helpful.”
Two days later, Dujarric ended his noon briefing by saying: “Matthew you had asked about the article in The New Republic the other day. The UN Legal Counsel never qualified the American air strikes in Syria as illegal or against the Charter. Accordingly he has never suggested that a statement should be made to that effect.”
It remains unclear if the denial is only for Miguel de Serpa Soares, who never does press conference, and not for his Office of Legal Counsel staff.
It is noteworthy that Dujarric did not return to deny thereported position of Political Affairs Under Secretary General (and former US State Department official) Jeffrey Feltman that “if Ban condemned the U.S. attack, he could undermine a crucial military effort and give political cover to Obama’s domestic opponents.”
Feltman had been promised to hold a question and answer stakeout on March 6 -- twice Dujarric told Inner City Press its questions for Feltman could be asked when he “did” the stakeout outside the UN Security Council -- but on March 6, soon after Dujarric's above-quoted denial, Feltman's stakeout was canceled, to be replaced by a session “sometime next week.”
And do it goes at the UN. Here is what Inner City Press asked Dujarric on March 4, including if Ban is speaking to member states about one of his proposal now under fire:
Inner City Press: There are some other things but I wanted to ask, I'm sure you've seen the New Republic long-formarticle about the Secretary-General by Jonathan Katz, and I wanted to ask, one if you have any overall response to it but specifically to the report on the US bombing that began of Islamic State of the… of Iraq, in the Levant that the Council and Mr. Serpa Soares said this would violate the charter and that DPA [Department of Political Affairs] under Jeffrey Feltman said go for it.
Spokesman Dujarric: I think the… we're very much aware of the article. I think the… you know, the airing in public of healthy internal discussions leading to statements by the Secretary-General, I think, is not particularly helpful. And they don't always particularly reflect the reality of those discussions. I think what is important is to refer back to what the Secretary-General actually said on the… on that day in September.
Inner City Press: Okay. One follow-up and an example. I mean, beyond that specific, it seems to represent… to portray the Secretary-General as not really getting involved in these debates and staying “above the fray”. So, I wanted to know, one, if you have a response to that, and two, for example, right now, there's a big renewed debate in the Fifth Committee about the Secretary-General's proposal on same-sex marriage benefits for UN staff. Is the Secretary-General himself taking an active part in speaking to Member States about that?
Spokesman Dujarric: The Secretary-General receives advice from his senior advisers. That's why God created senior advisers, it is to provide advice to the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General and staff are very much aware of what is going on in the Fifth Committee. It is a debate that we are closely watching. And we will leave it at that for the time being.
Then two days later, this:
“Matthew you had asked about the article in The New Republic the other day. The UN Legal Counsel never qualified the American air strikes in Syria as illegal or against the Charter. Accordingly he has never suggested that a statement should be made to that effect. And that's it. Thank you.”
But that's NOT it. Watch this site.