Wednesday, June 1, 2016

With France Atop UNSC, No Qs on Yemen, Western Sahara or Sangaris, Yet

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, June 1 -- With France taking over the monthly presidency of the UN Security Council, on June 1 its Ambassador Francois Delattre took questions on the Program of Work, from six media outlets. 
Obvious topics like Yemen and the alleged sexual abuse in the Central African Republic including by French troops did not come up among the selected questions. When the press conference was abruptly curtailed, Inner City Press asked, “Western Sahara?” Delattre smiled and said, “On travaille” - we are working. But on what? 
The major theme of France's month atop the Council is peacekeeping. But Morocco's ouster of more than 80 members of the MINURSO peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara is a direct challenge to peacekeeping. Many thought that France, which has controlled UN Peacekeeping four times in a row now, would be more active in response to this ordering-out of a peacekeeping mission. 
  The sexual abuse in CAR, too, puts UN peacekeeping, and the parallel French forces, in a negative light. These are topics Inner City Press will be pursuing, particularly during this month. They are fair questions and should be answered.
It must be noted that Herve Ladsous, France's fourth head of UN Peacekeeping in a row, refuses to answer Inner City Press' questions; this type of response to critical questions led, for merely seeking to cover an event in this same UN Press Briefing Room, to Inner City Press being ousted (audio here) and evicted from its long time UN office,video hereNew York Times here. 
There was a Burundi (un) free press questions Inner City Press wanted to ask, but it was not possible. Yet.
   On Yemen, an NGO filing in Geneva accuses France of violating international law and its obligations, as the number one supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia which is bombing Yemen. We'll have more on this - and the role of the other P3 members - during this month.

  During the press conference, Delattre announced that the Council had agreed to a Press Statement on North Korea.