By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, August 1 -- When the UN Security Council's President for September Gerard Jacobus van Bohemen of New Zealand presented his plans for the month on September 1, Inner City Press asked him about the deployment of UN Police to Burundi and why he was ceding "Next Secretary General" powers to Russia. Beyond The Vine video here.
Ambassador van Bohemen said Burundi may come up this month -- Inner City Press has reported and gotten confirmed "notes verbale" from the Nkurunziza government -- and said he didn't think there is any real conflict of interest, with Helen Clark in the running, but that it was easier to cede the power and taken any issue off the table.
He said there will be fourth and fifth straw poll exercises on September 9 and 26, and then finally one with colored ballot indicating the view for the veto-wielding Permanent Five members in the first week of August.
Inner City Press asked if "Peacekeeping Operations" in the footnotes of the Program of Work means Western Sahara and MINURSO, now in a standoff with both sides armed; he said "among other things."
Finally, Inner City Press asked if the Security Council will take up Ban Ki-moon's assigned "independent" report on UN inaction in Juba and the Terrain apartments during rapes and the killing of a journalist, John Gatluak. He said he expects it will come up, but wasn't sure when. Ban said a month.
There will be high level meetings on September 21 and 22 (aviation security featuring, it seems, Boris Johnson) and maybe a meeting on a nuclear test ban, if a resolution can be agreed. Watch this site.
On August 1, Ambassador Dato’ Ramlan Ibrahim of Malaysia presented his plans for the month on August 1, Inner City Press asked him about the Council's role, if any, in trying to get consent from the Nkurunziza government in Burundi for the up-to 228 UN Police voted for on July 29, and about the unresolved “full functionality” of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara. Periscope video here. Tweeted Photo here.
Dato’ Ramlan Ibrahim replied that now that the Burundi resolution has been passed, gain consent is to the the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. That is run by Frenchman Herve Ladsous, who has previously shown solicitude for dubious Burundian “peacekeepers” in the Central African Republic.
On Western Sahara, Dato’ Ramlan Ibrahim said the issue had come up in the Council's consultations or breakfast meeting about the Program of Work, and that some members stressed the need to monitor. We'll have more on this.
The Council's mulled visit to South Sudan, which Inner City Press reported earlier in the day, might or might not happen; Dato’ Ramlan Ibrahim said there is no back-up venue for a trip. Why not go to Burundi to “engage” Pierre Nkurunziza about these 228 Police?
On Yemen, Dato’ Ramlan Ibrahim said a Council statement is under consideration. One can only hope it is not is one-sided as Resolution 2216, which embolded exiled Hadi to be intransigent, and the Saudi-led coalition to bomb. That will come up on August 2 in the Children and Armed Conflict debate - but Ban Ki-moon has already, many say, sold out.
Dato’ Ramlan Ibrahim also said, “on DPRK's ballistic missile launch, there has not been any discussions on that.” While he added, “I would not preclude discussions taking place,” it seems noteworthy that Japan or the US, given what they've said, didn't bring it up in consultations on the month's program of work, to at least get it into the footnotes of the program.
Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked Dato’ Ramlan Ibrahim to hold question and answer stakeouts after Security Council closed-door consultation, for example the August 5 Next SG “straw poll” session. We'll see.
Back on July 1when Japan's new Ambassador to the UN Koro Bessho held a press conference about the July program of work, Inner City Press asked him about the Council's working methods. Video here, Tweeted photo here.
Specifically, should non-Council members such as the chairs of Peacebuilding configurations be allowed into consultations? Can the press and public have more access?
Bessho said the purpose of the debate on working methods on July 19 will be to hear the views of non-Council members. No outcome document is planned.
Inner City Press also asked Bessho about Western Sahara, on the schedule for July 26, and about Burundi, not on the schedule at all. Bessho called Western Sahara, from which Morocco expelled more than 80 UN staff, sensitive and said he did not want to prejudge what will happen.
On Burundi, he said he'd like to see progress, for example on the proposal of a UN deployment there, but acknowledged it is not on the schedule. Neither, we note, is Yemen.
Eritrea is on the schedule, on July 20, but only as a matter of sanctions. Apparently the letters of June 14 and June 23 sent to French Ambassador Delattre when he was president were not acted on.
On the selection process for the Next SG, Bessho said there will be a first “straw poll” on July 21; he said the results will be confidential. We'll see. For the Free UN Coalition for Access, Inner City Press asked for stakeouts after consultations, and more access and transparency. We'll be reviewing this closely. Watch this site.