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On Syria, As Ban Proposes 300 for 3 Months, "Weakness of UN Leadership"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 18, updated -- It was late on April 18 when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon returned from a junket to Europe and turned in his Syria proposal to the Security Council, for a three month mission of 300 observers.

  Ban demands "immediate freedom of movement" for #UN - but he made no such demand in Western Sahara.
  Ban wants a "Chief Military Observer at the rank of Major-General" -  could this mean the moody Robert Mood, who fled Damascus leading to criticism by Russia?

  Ban talks about the about "principles of UN peacekeeping regarding selection of personnel" but his Secretariat limited invitations to only some potential Troop Contributing Countries.

  Questions on April 19 would not be taken by Ban's chief of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, who tellingly found himself in former French colony Cote d'Ivoire, but by Ban's predecessor (now Syria envoy) Kofi Annan's head of peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno.

  In front of a closed door meeting for Troop Contribution Countries in the UN's North Lawn building only covered by Inner City Press earlier in the week, a well placed diplomat said the make up of the Syria team shows "the weakness of current UN leadership."

The next day Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey:

Inner City Press: there was a meeting yesterday in the North Lawn of the, by DPKO, Office of Military Affairs, informal TCC meeting, advance team to Syria, and it seemed, I was told that, in fact, only some countries were invited, some weren’t invited. And I wanted to know, since this was a, you know, public meeting in a public building, what’s the criteria? Maybe you either have this now, or can get, how does DPKO decide which countries to even invite to such a briefing? It was a large… it was done in a large conference room; at least 40 countries were invited, but some were not invited. I was also told the representative of Syria, probably not invited, was inside the room. So, I wanted to know, I want to get a readout from you about how these countries were invited and whether, in fact, DPKO is giving in to the Syrian request that it get to choose the nationality of observers sent to the country.

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: We can try and find out from DPKO.

  But in 36 hours after, no answers were provided. Typical. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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