Monday, May 15, 2017

Threatened (& Merited) Cuts to UN Abyei Mission Discussed, Pushed Back Against, Postponed

By Matthew Russell Lee, UNSC group photo here
UNITED NATIONS, May 12 -- With the mandate of the UN mission in Abyei set to expire on May 15, the US as penholder proposed cutting a part of the mission that has not been functions, the support of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM). But Ethiopia, the lone troop contributor to the mission, and others pushed back. While the Council met behind closed door, Inner City Press the lone media at the stakeout - also the only one evicted and still restricted by the UN - broadcast, here. Afterward a Sudanese diplomat emerged and told Inner City Press of a possible compromised; he waved off the UNTV boom mic, a new entrant through an opaque process. Finally Uruguay's Elbio Rosselli, president of the Council, emerged and said negotiations continued. Inner City Press asked him if instead of cuts there might be "benchmarks;" there seemed to be recognition. Video here.Will the showdown be avoid and the money continue flowing unchanged? Watch this site. After the UN Security Council had closed door consultations on Guinea Bissau and Lebanon on May 11, the office of UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric announced that Council president Elbio Rosselli would speak at the UNTV stakeout. But other than Inner City Press, which Dujarric evicted and still restricts, no other media came. Still Rosselli to his credit agreed to do Q&A. Inner City Press asked him if the withdrawal from Guinea Bissau of ECOMIS was discussed - it was - and for how long Jeffrey Feltman will fill in on Resolution 1559 on Lebanon (it's unclear). Then Inner City Press asked Rosselli of something he'd said two days before, that there might be more than a Press Statement on North Korea's most recent missile launch. Rosselli replied that work continues, then he left. Still, he took questions and responded to them - better than many in the UN Secretariat. On May 9 after members of the UN Security Council met with Kofi Annan and fellow Elders Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Mary Robinson on May 9, Inner City Press asked the Council's President for May Elbio Rosselli of Uruguay if Myanmar, on which Annan and The Elders have worked, came up. No, he said, the focus had been on impasses in the Council on Syria, South Sudan, the conflicts springing from climate change. The latter topic he said had been raised by Annan and Robinson, in the closed door meeting at the International Peace Institute across from the UN (Uruguay's mission arranged for an elevator foyer stakeout, which was appreciated.) Earlier on May 9 Inner City Press asked Gro Harlem Brundtland and Lakhdar Brahimi about the Rohingya and whether Aung San Suu Kyi was or is on the path to becoming an Elder. Gro Harlem Brundtland said Suu Kyi was a form of Elder while imprisoned, but cannot be while involved in politics. And after she retires? If the Rohingya are still treated this way? Brahimi cited Annon's report forthcoming in October.We'll see. Back on May 1 when he took on the Presidency of the UN Security Council for the month, Ambassador Rosselli on May 1 took questions from the media about the month's Program of Work. Inner City Press asked him about new envoys for Burundi (Michel Kafando) and Western Sahara (Horst Kohler, apparently Inner City Press' 227thquestion on Western Sahara according to Morocco's count), and about the May 30 meeting on Yemen. Video here. Rosselli said the envoys are up to the Secretary General and spoke about Morocco's ouster, now reversed, of the MINURSO mission. On Yemen he said the meeting is at the end of the month because it is hard to move these around, it's like Tetris. On behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access Inner City Press asked Rosselli after the month's eight closed door consultations to hold on-camera stakeouts on UNTV. We note that Frente Polisario's April 28 stakeout, unlike that of Morocco's Omar Hilale, is still as of this writing on May 1 not on the UNTV website. We'll have more on this.
  Back at the beginning of March, then-incoming UNSC President Matthew Rycroft of the UK answered Inner City Press on Burundi by referring to France as the penholder. On Yemen -- on which the UK holds the pen -- he said sometimes there is a benefit to a closed door discussion. Fine: but what's the problem with an open briefing, then closed consultations? The Free UN Coalition for Access will continue to pursue this.
  On Yemen Inner City Press also asked if the UK's findings as it looks into more than 250 incidents of the Saudi led coalition will be shared with the Security Council. It remains unclear.

 At the end, Inner City Press asked Rycroft if Nick Kay is still a candidate to be UN Envoy to Libya. Rycroft said the UK supports current envoy Martin Kobler but if he is to be changed, it should be fast, there is momentum.
  Rycroft said that civil society will be invited to participate in the month's wrap up session, a first. Boris Johnson will chair the March 23 meeting on South Sudan, and something on Somalia later that day. We'll have more on this.