Who is Ahmed Abu Adass?

From the SG’s 12 December 2006 report on the progress being made into investigating the killing of Rafik Hariri (S/2006/962):

“The Commission’s strategic objective remains to collect evidence against those responsible for the assassination of Rafik Hariri and the other victims of attacks being investigated that will be admissible before a future tribunal. It continues to balance the need for speed in the investigations with the exigencies of applying appropriate legal standards … The investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri is approaching a sensitive and complicated phase, and the Commission’s work can only be undertaken with confidentiality in order to create a secure environment for its witnesses and staff … The Commission recognizes its additional obligations and role, given that a special tribunal is likely to be established in the forthcoming although undetermined period. The dynamic of the Commission will alter as necessary to accommodate the establishment of the tribunal and, to that end, the Commission will realign its objectives in part to hand over its fact-finding work to date to the prosecutor’s office …

“The investigations into Ahmed Abu Adass have continued in this reporting period, focusing on a number of areas, including on the selection of Abu Adass for the role he played, as understood by the Commission at present. The mission is working to establish how Abu Adass was identified, where and when this occurred, who involved him in the operation and what happened to him afterwards. To further its investigation in this regard, the Commission has deconstructed the known time period from the time of Ahmed Abu Adass’ alleged involvement with certain individuals in late 2004 through the period of his disappearance in January 2005 to the time of the video being recovered on 14 February 2005.  There are significant information gaps between known events on this timeline and the Commission is working to fill those gaps in order to establish the facts of Ahmed Abu Adass’ involvement in the crime” … http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/654/33/PDF/N0665433.pdf?OpenElement

UNIFIL nears full "reinforced" strength

The UN Spokesman has just reported that the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has surpassed the 11,000 mark with the full deployment of an infantry battalion from Indonesia and an engineering unit from Portugal.

UN SG Kofi Annan reported recently to the UN Security Council that, once UNIFIL reaches a force strength of 11,500, UNIFIL will be in a position to fulfil its “reinforced” mandate, post-Israel-attack-on-Lebanon in July-August 2006.  The current total, more than 11,000 from 23 countries, is made up of more than 9,000 ground troops and more than 1,700 naval personnel, the UN Spokesman told journalists at UNHQ/NY on Friday.

And, the UN Spokesman said on Friday, UNIFIL peacekeepers continued to provide humanitarian assistance to the local population, with 552 instances where UNIFIL peacekeepers provided medical assistance over the past week. Meanwhile, in the last week, UNIFIL de-miners from various national contingents destroyed a total of 1,305 separate explosive devices, including rockets, grenades and cluster bombs.

Asked by journalists about the reimbursement of costs for the maritime deployment, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was still trying to work out financial arrangements with the Member States.

The interesting if not-always-accurate Israeli online beyond-the-news site, Debka File, reported with some displeasure on the day the Israeli Defense Force mostly-withdrew from Lebanon on 1 October, that “Only one third of the 15,000 international peacekeepers the UN Security Council pledged for an expanded UNIFIL has in fact been deployed in South Lebanon…While withdrawing the bulk of its force gradually, Israel kept the last units behind in a futile effort to persuade UNIFIL commanders to uphold key provisions of the resolution. They refused even the minimal demand to restrict Hizballah’s military movements along the Israeli border.  They claimed they could only act with the permission of the Lebanese government.  By finally giving way on this point, the Israeli government accepted the determination that UNIFIL is the instrument of the Lebanese government – not the enforcer of UN resolutions or Israeli security. This concession makes nonsense of the claim that the most important gain of the Lebanon operation was the removal of Hizballah’s fighting forces from access to the Israeli border.”

Since, then, according to the UNSG’s report (see previous posts) has gone some way to alleviating Israel’s concerns — and has even opened UNIFIL offices in the Tel Aviv Kirya, near the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and at the IDF northern command HQ.

The Debkafile story continued: “Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah used the war to forge alliances with the Lebanese parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri, head of the rival Shiite movement Amal, and the Christian Maronite strongman Michel Aoun. This bloc intends to make a bid to install a pro-Syrian government after Ramadan is over next month.  Our sources in Beirut report a last-minute US-French initiative to frustrate this development.  Siniora had his interior minister Ahmed Fatfat posted decree No. 2403 for Lebanon’s five intelligence and security agencies to pool their intelligence data and so provide his government and national army with the means of asserting control over national security.  Two pro-Syrian officers, General Security chief Wafic Jezzini, and Director-General of Internal Security forces, Maj.-Gen Ashraf Rifi, stamped hard on this decree. The Siniora government was thus denied a key resource for dominating the country at large, not just the South, and is more vulnerable than ever to a hostile push.  As for Israel’s policy-makers, their handling of the bargaining with UNIFIL was as muddled, vacillating and feeble as their conduct of the Lebanon war itself.  By accepting the Aug. 14 truce, they agreed to handing over the Lebanese-Israeli border to an international peacekeeping force without teeth; its rules of engagement are so constrictive that without Lebanese government authorization its members may not fire a single shot – even when necessary to prevent Hizballah moving back to its former aggressive positions or smuggling in fresh supplies of weapons”. http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1215

An earlier Debka File story described UNIFIL’s rules of engagement: “The force’s commanders have sufficient authority to act forcefully when confronted with hostile activity of any kind. UNIFIL personnel may exercise the inherent right of self-defense, as well as ‘the use of force beyond self-defense to ensure that UNIFIL’s area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities.’  The peacekeepers also may use force ‘to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent UNIFIL from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council, to protect U.N. personnel, facilities, installations and equipment and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of U.N. personnel and humanitarian workers.’Â Also the use of force may be applied ‘to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence in its areas of deployment, within its capabilities’.”  DEBKAfile notes that all these locutions are open to broad interpretation. For instance, ‘hostile activity’ could apply to an attack from outer space … The ‘arms embargo’ ordered by Resolution 1701 is another unmentionable.  The ‘civilians’ to be protected are likewise undefined. UNIFIL’s commander has full discretion to decide whether or not it is applicable to a Hizballlah rocket attack on Nahariya … By their silence and passivity, Israeli leaders hope to hide the true outcome of that bungled campaign from Israeli and world opinion.  Foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who proudly held up the UN force’s deployment as the war’s only success and the formula for Israel’s successful exit strategy, has been strangely struck dumb”. http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1217

There’s an interesting OpEd piece in today’s NY Times (seen in link from Angry Arab), and here are some excerpts of the better parts: “ONCE more, Lebanon is in political crisis. This time, we are told, it pits ‘Syrian- and Iranian-backed’ Shiite parties (Hezbollah and Amal) and the Christian faction led by Michel Aoun against the ‘Western-backed’ Christian, Sunni and Druze groups that support the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.  These very descriptions — citing one external backer or another as a mark of political identification —  illustrate the fundamental problem Lebanon must overcome.  Call it the Lebanese Disease: rather than sorting out their differences internally and addressing the fundamental injustices at the heart of their disputes, the Lebanese constantly look to outsiders to gain an advantage over their rivals.  Naturally, any advantages thus gained are short-lived, for both the Lebanese and their foreign backers.  In the end, the only result is greater popular suffering and instability in Lebanon and the entire Middle East.
… Only the Lebanese can cure themselves of this disease, but a bit of enlightened self-interest on the part of the ‘Western backers’ — primarily the United States and France — would greatly help.

“Let’s dial back half a year, to the start of this latest crisis.  The immediate reaction of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel to the cross-border attack by Hezbollah on Israeli troops was his most honest. This was not, he said, an act of terrorism — it was an act of war.  And, issues of proportionality aside, it was quite justifiable to hold the Lebanese government to account.   The honesty of that initial reaction, however, was quickly replaced by the old formula to which Israel has resorted since 1978.  Israel did not intend to attack Lebanon, its spokesmen insisted, but was just trying to help the Lebanese by attacking Iran-controlled Hezbollah.  This was a polite way of saying to Mr. Siniora: We’re going to rid ourselves — and you — of Hezbollah, for which you should be grateful, and you’d better make sure they don’t rise again.

“Now let’s try to view this from the perspective of a Lebanese nationalist. To acquiesce to the American-Israeli formula for Lebanon would be to accept that one’s nation should be entirely supine before a neighbor; that any time the Israelis decided to react to a limited provocation or threat, the only defense one could mount would be the tearful pleas of a powerless prime minister.  Thus it should not be surprising that many Lebanese, including Mr. Siniora, at least temporarily put aside their factional mistrust and embraced Hezbollah as the sole available means of national resistance. This, along with Hezbollah’s surprisingly successful resistance, has permanently changed the political calculus of the nation … its involvement in Lebanese politics since the summer has already brought discernible changes in Hezbollah’s attitudes and behavior. Its leaders understand that if they want to influence the policies of the state, they will have to accommodate the interests of other religious groups and political factions.

“…Tacitly encouraging civil war is seldom wise, and particularly when the side with which one is affiliated cannot win.  It should be obvious that American — and Israeli — interests are best served by a unified Lebanese state that has clear control over its people and its territory.  We now know that Hezbollah is not going to be eradicated, nor its influence reduced.  So the only way of making the Lebanese government accountable is to encourage the progressive, moderating integration of Hezbollah into the political, social and military fabric of the state.

“…we should give up talk of greatly enlarging the multinational force in southern Lebanon, and convince the Europeans to do likewise. Fortunately, the plan to insert such a force this fall foundered when the French (wisely) decided they were not up to the task of disarming Hezbollah, although smaller numbers of European troops are apparently headed there soon. It is folly, particularly with lightly armed foreign forces, to try to get regional actors to do things that they see as fundamentally against their interests.

“Second is to end the proxy battles between foreign powers. I don’t know what the Americans are telling the Lebanese government privately, but the public statements are disappointing. Last month the White House issued an official statement citing ‘attempts by Syria, Iran, and their allies within Lebanon to foment instability and violence’ and insisting the United States would ‘continue its efforts with allied nations and democratic forces in Lebanon to resist these efforts.’ In other words, we’re still trying to rile Lebanese sentiment as a wedge against our enemies in the region … Washington will never achieve its objectives in the Middle East — including its obligation to ensure Israel’s long-term security — unless it puts emotions aside and deals realistically with facts on the ground.  Like it or not, Hezbollah is one of those facts. A less-than-pliable but strong government in Lebanon would be far preferable to no real government at all, which is what we have now.”

Robert Grenier, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency’s counterintelligence center, is a security consultant.

Checking the pulse, and Lebanon’s vital signs

According to the UN Spokesman on 13 December, “The Secretary-General has been in touch over the last few days a number of times with Prime Minister Siniora, as he has with Amre Moussa, who, as you know, is on behalf of the Arab League trying to resolve the situation.  The Secretary-General has been kept updated on the situation, and has encouraged everyone to try to find a negotiated and political solution to the current crisis”.

SG's letter to the Security Council on Lebanon

Here are some excerpts from the SG’s Report S/2006/933, Letter dated 1 December 2006 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council:

“I have the honour to submit a factual update to my report of 12 September 2006 on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006)(S/2006/780), in particular on the operations of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and other relevant United Nations activities.

Israel continued to withdraw its forces from southern Lebanon, in coordination with UNIFIL. The IDF retain a presence only in the northern part of the village of Ghajar. Given the specific status of the village of Ghajar, which is divided by the Blue Line, UNIFIL is working with the LAF and the IDF to finalize the withdrawal of the IDF from the remaining area inside Lebanon and set up temporary security arrangements for the part of the village of Ghajar inside Lebanese territory.

In parallel with the withdrawal of Israeli forces, Lebanon deployed, in coordination with UNIFIL, four brigades of its armed forces throughout the south in the areas vacated by the IDF, including along the Blue Line. The deployment of the LAF [Lebanese Armed Forces] throughout the south for the first time in decades down to the Blue Line is a most notable achievement and a key stabilizing factor. The LAF, assisted by UNIFIL, have taken some specific steps to ensure that the area between the Litani River and the Blue Line is free of armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and those of UNIFIL. Specifically, the LAF have established a considerable number of permanent positions and checkpoints and commenced patrols.

UNIFIL and the LAF have seen sporadic evidence of the presence of unauthorized armed personnel, assets and/or weapons. On one occasion, a UNIFIL demining team was challenged by two Hizbollah personnel in combat uniform carrying AK47 rifles. UNIFIL notified the LAF, who arrested three suspects the following day. Since early September, there have been 13 instances where UNIFIL came across unauthorized arms or related materiel in its area of operation. The two most noteworthy were the discovery of 17 Katyushas and several improvised explosive devices in Rachaya El-Foukhar and, in the general area of Bourhoz, of a weapons cache consisting of seven missiles, three rocket launchers and substantial amounts of ammunition. On all of these occasions, UNIFIL informed the LAF, who took prompt action either to confiscate or destroy the materials.

In the area between the Litani River and the Blue Line, there are, in addition, Palestinian armed elements largely confined to the refugee camps.

The Interim Maritime Task Force, under the lead of the Italian Navy, operated in support of the Lebanese Navy to secure Lebanese territorial waters until 15 October, when the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force became operational. The latter has questioned and confirmed the identity of some 950 ships, detecting one suspicious boat, which, when searched, was found to be smuggling cigarettes, and rendering assistance to one vessel in distress.

The Lebanese authorities reported that they had undertaken a variety of measures to secure their borders and entry points in order to prevent the illegal entry into Lebanon of arms and related materiel. However, the United Nations continues to receive reports of illegal arms smuggling across the Lebanese-Syrian border, but has not been able to verify such reports.

The second phase of the augmentation of UNIFIL is now under way, and involves the further deployment of four mechanized infantry battalions from France, Indonesia, Italy and Nepal and one infantry unit each from Malaysia and Qatar. The French composite battalion is assuming the role of quick reaction force. Finland, Ireland and Turkey have deployed engineer units and another is expected from Portugal. China will deploy one level-2 hospital, in addition to its existing engineering company. The Dominican Republic and the United Republic of Tanzania are expected to deploy military police companies.

As at 28 November, UNIFIL troop strength was 10,480 all ranks. The completion of the augmentation is expected in December, when UNIFIL force strength will reach approximately 11,500 ground troops, 1,750 naval personnel and 51 military observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization. With the deployment by the LAF of four brigades to south Lebanon, these numbers are deemed to be sufficient to execute the mandate.

The regular UNIFIL supply chain was recently re-established, thus enabling the Force to discontinue the air/sea bridge between Cyprus and Lebanon, which had been in place to maintain UNIFIL operability during the IDF naval and air blockade.

Two sector headquarters, West and East, have been established in Tibnin and Marjayoun, respectively… In addition, a quick reaction force will be based in Frun. UNIFIL air assets, provided and operated by Italy, are based at the Force headquarters. The UNIFIL Maritime Task Force is operating in Lebanese territorial waters.

A UNIFIL office for coordination and joint planning with the LAF, the Ministry of Defence and other relevant Lebanese authorities is being set up in Beirut.

Another UNIFIL office will be established in Tel Aviv for liaison and coordination with IDF headquarters, the Ministry of Defence and other relevant Israeli authorities. A UNIFIL liaison office, based in the IDF Northern Command, is fully operational. The Office of Political Affairs, comprising also civil affairs and public information, is being augmented within the Force headquarters and will staff the liaison offices and also deploy at the sector level.

The Strategic Military Cell for UNIFIL has been established at United Nations Headquarters and is operational.

I continue to make the unconditional release of the captured Israeli soldiers and the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel a top priority. The facilitator appointed by me specifically to address these vital issues is currently engaged in an intensive effort with all parties to reach a resolution.

Since my last report, the full scope of contamination from unexploded cluster munitions has come to light…

Israel has yet to provide UNIFIL with the detailed firing data on its use of cluster munitions that I referred to in my previous report. The provision of this data, which would be in keeping with the spirit of Protocol V of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, which came into force recently, would significantly assist operators on the ground to mitigate the threat to innocent civilians. I reiterate my expectation for the provision of these data.

I would note that Israel confirmed in a letter dated 14 November 2006 from its Charge d’Affaires that it had handed over to the United Nations all pre-2000 minefield records available for southern Lebanon and the area north of the Litani River.

However, I regret to inform you that four deminers working for the United Nations mine clearance programme in south Lebanon have been injured over the past few days, after they stepped on Israeli-manufactured anti-personnel mines near the village of Deir Mimas. As this area was considered safe prior to the conflict, there is the possibility that new anti-personnel landmines were laid during the recent conflict. While investigations on those incidents are still ongoing, I want to reiterate that the United Nations condemns the use of all anti-personnel mines and calls upon any party that laid such mines during the recent conflict to provide information as to where they have been laid to prevent similar tragic incidents occurring in the future.

Further to the Council’s request to me in paragraph 10 of its resolution 1701 (2006) to develop proposals for delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border was disputed or uncertain,including by dealing with the Shabaa Farms area, I have appointed a senior cartographer to assume the lead on reviewing relevant material and developing an accurate territorial definition of the Shabaa Farms area. The cartographer is in the process of conducting such an exercise for the purpose of any further diplomatic activity that could be carried out by the United Nations as regards this issue.

I am heartened to note that both Lebanon and Israel have indicated their readiness to cooperate in this exercise.

A permanent solution of this issue remains contingent upon the delineation of the border between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, in fulfilment of resolutions 1559 (2004), 1680 (2006) and 1701 (2006). At the same time, and in view of the repeated Syrian statements indicating that the Shabaa Farms area is Lebanese, I continue to take careful note of the alternative path suggested by the Government of Lebanon in its seven-point plan, namely, placing the Shabaa Farms under United Nations jurisdiction until permanent border delineation and Lebanese sovereignty over them is settled. The United Nations looks forward to reporting further on this matter in early 2007. http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/638/98/PDF/N0663898.pdf?OpenElement

UN Security Council welcomes appointment of cartographer to define Shebaa Farms area

In a presidential statement — which has less weight than a resolution — the members of the UN Security Council welcomed the SG’s appointment of a cartographer (map maker) to “to review relevant material and develop an accurate territorial definition of the Shabaa Farms area”

This area, on the border between Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, has been the cause of tensions and more since Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000.

Following Israel’s withdrawal, the UN SG determined that the Shebaa Farms belongs to Syria (which no longer controls the area), despite the fact that both Syria and Lebanon said that Shebaa Farms was Lebanese.  Unwilling if not unable to backtrack, the SG’s appointment of a cartographer to study the issue means that no decision will be forthcoming soon.

Israel’s attack on Lebanon this past summer was provoked by Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers in this area.

Kofi Annan warns the UN Security Council that the Middle East is in “profound crisis”

SG Annan told the UN Security Council in New York today that “mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians is reaching new heights, that tensions in the region are near the breaking point… Extremism and populism are leaving less political space for moderates, including those States that have reached peace agreements with Israel… ”

Sounding for all the world like George W. Bush — can you find any difference? — the UNSG told the Security Council that “I believe in the right of Israel to exist, and to exist in full and permanent security – free from terrorism, free from attack, free even from the threat of attack… I believe in the right of the Palestinians to exercise their self-determination. They have been miserably abused and exploited… They deserve to see fulfilled their simple ambition to live in freedom and dignity.”

Skating on pretty thin ice, the SG told the Security Council that the Road Map (which was endorsed by the Council in resolution 1515) should still be the “reference point” for a new and urgent push for peace.  

But, the SG said, the Quartet (the U.S., European Union, Russia, and the UN – which sponsored the plan) should also be “open to new ideas and initiatives.”

The Quartet need “to find a way to institutionalize its consultations with the relevant regional partners.  It needs to engage the parties directly in its deliberations. The time has come for the Quartet to be clearer at the outset on the parameters of an end-game deal,” the UNSG told the UN Security Council.

Dueling draft resolutions on Darfur

Urged on by the SG (who thought, as the U.S. and Israel do, that Israel was getting too much attention and criticism from the new UN Human Rights Council in Geneva because of its mistreatment of Palestinians), the Council obediently convened a fourth Special Session, on the human rights situation in Darfur.

Kofi Annan sent a video-taped message to today’s meeting (there are six hours’ time difference, after all, and he can’t be expected to wake up in the middle of the night in New York to address a meeting in Geneva), in which he observed that for more than three years now, the people of Darfur had “endured a nightmare”, and that it was nearly two years since an International Commission of Inquiry had submitted its report with shocking findings.

So, apparently it seems a good idea to send another Commission of Inquiry.  Annan wrote: “I urge you to lose no time in sending a team of independent and universally respected experts to investigate the latest escalation of abuses … It is urgent that we take action to prevent further violations, including by bringing to account those responsible for the numerous crimes that have already been committed. That is the very least you can do to show the people of Darfur that their cries for help are being heard”.

At a regular bi-weekly briefing for journalists at the UN Office in Geneva (UNOG), Jose Luis Diaz of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) drew attention to the High Commissioner’s statement to the Special Session this morning in which she had said that “victims and other vulnerable civilians are entitled to expect from you [the Human Rights Council] a credible response”.

Mr. Diaz told journalists that two [competing] draft resolutions had been submitted to the Council — the first, submitted by Finland, who had convened the Special Session, called for sending an urgent assessment mission to Darfur headed by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan. The mission would be requested to report to the Council at its next session early next year.  Mr. Diaz explained that the second draft resolution, submitted by the African Group, also called for the Council to dispatch a mission to assess the human rights situation in Darfur, but this mission would be headed by the President of the Council and would include the members of the Bureau and the regional group coordinators members of the Council. That mission would also report back to the Council at its next session.

The Special Session was to continue into Wednesday.

Meanwhile, at UNHQ/NY, the UN Spokesman told journalists that “In the context of the follow up of the implementation of the UN light support package to the African Union mission in Darfur (AMIS), the Tripartite Mechanism composed of representatives of the United Nations, the African Union and the Government of Sudan will hold its first meeting tomorrow.  The Tripartite Mechanism aims at ensuring a more transparent, systematic, and efficient provision of UN support to AMIS. During tomorrow’s meeting, UNMIS will present a list of equipment and personnel ready to be deployed in support of AMIS.  Insecurity continues to prevail in many parts in Darfur.  For instance in West Darfur, a vehicle donated by a UN agency to the local ministry of health to assist in mobile vaccination and immunization of infants and children was hijacked alongside with the driver outside of a camp housing displaced persons. Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency reports that the voluntary return of Sudanese refugees to south Sudan is set to gather new momentum this week with the scheduled re-launch of return convoys from Ethiopia starting tomorrow (Wednesday), and from Central African Republic (CAR) on Saturday.

That’s the way the UN talks.

Kofi Annan says states needs to play by the rules with each other and with their own citizens

In a well-publicized address — a live event on CNN! — at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri, UN SG Kofi Annan “challenged American leaders of today and tomorrow to live up to President Harry Truman’s example of enlightened leadership in a multilateral system”, according to a UN news summary.  

It was actually a rather uninteresting speech, and Kofi Annan looked tired.  In a brief question-and-answer exchange after his prepared speech with an extremely sympathetic and pro-UN audience, the SG lost the thread of his thoughts, and failed to answer the points raised by the questioners.

The UN Spokesman’s office reported that “Prior to delivering his speech, the Secretary-General laid a wreath at the Peace Plaza Monument in Independence, which is the only memorial in the United States dedicated to UN peacekeepers.”

Jan Pronk expected to make symbolic return to Sudan this weekend

The UN Spokesman told journalists at UNHQ/NY on Friday that the SG’s Special Envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk [Dutch politician, former Foreign Minister] was expected to make a symbolic return to the country to hand over to his second-in-command, before leaving office.  Pronk was declared persona non grata by the Sudanese government for writing on his website that Goverment forces were doing badly. 

Meanwhile, in New York, outgoing SG Kofi Annan “emphasized that the responsibility to protect its citizens is the responsibility of the government in Khartoum.”   The UN Spokesman told journalists that the SG had observed that the Sudanese Government may, eventually, “have to answer collectively and individually for what is happening in Darfur”.  The Spokesman added that “the United Nations has also called for renewed dialogue among all parties and for a Darfur-Darfur dialogue, as well as for the laying down of arms by all factions”.

Former U.S. Ambassador to UN Jeane Kirkpatrick dies at home, age 80

Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick — the first American woman Ambassador in the UN post, and the last to hold ministerial rank in the U.S. Presidential Cabinet — has died at home of congestive heart failure, The New York Times reported.

The paper reported that she said she “Hated U.N. Job:  She professed to detest the United Nations. She compared it to ‘death and taxes.’  But she endured it for four years. At the United Nations, she defended Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the American invasion of Grenada in 1983…” 

The NY Times story made this fascinating revelation: “At the United Nations, Ms. Kirkpatrick was the target of barbs and backstabbing. Sometimes she was aware of the source, sometimes not.  She knew she was ‘a kind of special target for the Soviets — disinformation target,’ she said at a 2003 foreign policy roundtable convened by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.  In 1982, the K.G.B. forged a letter to discredit her and fobbed it off on the Washington correspondent for The New Statesman, a leftist British weekly, which reprinted it. The phony letter was a note of ‘best regards and gratitude’ from the intelligence chief of the apartheid South African government.  ‘But I felt there was as much disinformation aimed at me from inside our own government, frankly, as from the Soviet Union,” Ms. Kirkpatrick said. “That’s a shocking thing to say, but it is no exaggeration.’

Here I can reveal that Mrs. Kirkpatrick confused me with the person who wrote the article that was published in the New Statesman.  I had nothing to do with it.  I had published another article at the same time, but in the Nation, which was kind of a review of everything that had been published about Mrs. Kirkpatrick’s role at the UN.  The worst thing I said about her in my article was that if she enjoyed the parliamentary process more, and were better at it, she would do a better job at the UN.  For this, I was made persona non grata, and Mrs. Kirkpatrick refused to speak to me at all, or even to take questions from me at UN press conferences.  She instructed her bodyguards to keep me at a distance, so that I could not even join a press scrum.

On the subject of her bodyguards, she was the first American Ambassador to the UN to have a paranoid security detail.  There was supposedly some Libyan plot to assassinate her, according to the U.S. press.  She would walk across the street from the U.S. Mission surrounded by bodyguards, and proceed to the Security Council chambers — with only a brief stop in the Ladies Room on the way, to primp before going before the cameras.  It was scary to be in that Ladies Room when suddenly the door would burst open and several security agents came in to clear the way.

Despite everything, I did think it was unfair when, during the Falklands/Malvinas War (Between Britain and Argentina — both U.S. allies, but Britain counted for slightly more), the then-Panamanian Ambassador (later Foreign Minister and even President) Jorge Illueca, worked himself up to a froth defending the Latin American position, and accused Margaret Thatcher (and, by implication, also Mrs. Kirkpatrick) of suffering from raging hormones.

I also do remember, however, Mrs. Kirkpatrick running in and out of the Security Council Chamber during negotiations after Israel bombed Saddam Hussein’s OSIRAK nuclear reactor in June 1981.  She wanted to abstain, but the final instruction she received from the U.S. State Department was to join in what became a unanimous vote condemning the Israeli attack.  Afterwards, she was heard to say, “I feel sick”.

The NY Times wrote that “in 1983, Ms. Kirkpatrick was a strong candidate to become President Reagan’s third national security adviser. She had support from the director of central intelligence, William J. Casey, and Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger. But her new boss, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, opposed her. ‘I respected her intelligence, but she was not well suited to the job,’ Mr. Shultz wrote. ‘Her strength was in her capacity for passionate advocacy,’ and the post, he added, demanded a ‘dispassionate broker.’… [So] Ms. Kirkpatrick spent the rest of her career commenting on policy instead of making it.”

The NY Times also wrote that “Power, Ms. Kirkpatrick said in a 1996 interview, is based not merely on guns or money but on the strength of personal conviction.” 

Professor As’ad Abu Khalil added this on his blogspot on Friday evening (California time): “When I was teaching at Georgetown in 1993, I had my office on the same row with her. She would come punctually at the same time around 5:00PM, pass by office, and pear [sic- it should read peer] in, and give me dirty looks before walking away. We also noticed that she would use The Arab Mind in her classes on national security. I was also amused once in the library to find a copy of Ghassan Tueni’s book, Une guerre pour les autres, with a heart-felt personal dedication by the pen of Tueni. She must have treasured the book before donating it to the campus library. It looked unopened before my inspection.  http://angryarab.blogspot.com/ 

The Washington Post writes that “An influential voice in the development of administration policies toward Central America, Kirkpatrick supported the military junta in El Salvador and was an ardent supporter of anti-Sandinista rebels fighting the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. She helped develop the covert plan to provide $19 million in aid to the contras. She also defended Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the American invasion of Grenada in 1983.

“Kirkpatrick, the only woman in President Reagan’s National Security Council, told Time magazine in 1982 that her gender could have been the cause of her difficulties with Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig and other administration officials. The author of Political Women (1974), a major study of the role of women in modern politics, she acknowledged that a woman in high office is ‘intrinsically controversial.’

‘Many people think a woman shouldn’t be in high office,’ she told Time. ‘Kissinger is described as “professorial.” I am described as “schoolmarmish.” Brzezinski is called “Doctor.”‘ I am called “Mrs.” I am depicted as a witch or a scold in editorial cartoons — and the speed with which these stereotypes have been used shows how close these feelings are to the surface. It is much worse than I ever dreamed it would be. My feelings are hurt.”  [In my experience, Mrs.Kirkpatrick was definitely a scold — but a witch?  Modern-day witches are generally gentle earth-mother types, but Mrs. Kirkpatrick was more in the mold of the old fashioned witches who stirred the boiling cauldron, and tried to poison Snow White]

The Washington Post goes on: “With her closely cropped gray hair, utilitarian clothes and blunt speaking style, the public Jeane Kirkpatrick seemed humorless and austere. ‘Raised eyebrows give her an expression of sustained skepticism, as if she lives on the verge of some crucial debate the rest of us do not hear,’ James Conaway observed in a 1981 Washington Post Magazine article.  Friends of Kirkpatrick’s told Conaway that she was much more charming in private…Her great passion, she once said, was listening to the pianist Glenn Gould play Bach…She remained active in public life after leaving the United Nations, although she was reportedly disappointed that Reagan did not offer her another Cabinet-level position in his second term…Survivors include two sons, Stuart Kirkpatrick, known as Traktung Rinpoche, a Buddhist minister in Ann Arbor, Mich., and John Kirkpatrick, a lawyer in Miami.”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/08/AR2006120800492.html

The Washington Post also published excerpts from what amounts to a relatively fawning statement issued in the name of the UN SG: “Praising Kirkpatrick’s “commitment to an effective United Nations,” U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said she was “always ardent and often provocative”. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/08/AR2006120800492.html

This, coming from a man who clearly detests the present (but also outgong) U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, seems more than a little hypocritical and shows how sycophancy is simply second nature, in the SG’s inner circle of advisers…

Was Mrs. Kirkpatrick more committed to an effective UN than John Bolton? 

While surfing and reflecting on Mrs. Kirkpatrick, I came across her 2004 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, on the Military Implications of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.  It is posted on the site of the American Enterprise Institute.

Here are some interesting excepts — interesting both because they reveal a bit about the inside negotiations, and also because they are very telling about the politics of the woman:

“I had prolonged and serious dealings with the Law of the Sea Treaty during my years as Ronald Reagan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a member of his Cabinet and National Security Council. I might add that I was also a member of his Commission on Space…

Those of us concerned with foreign affairs in the Reagan Administration became deeply involved in the Law of the Sea Treaty, which had been under discussion since 1958 and had nearly been completed by the time Ronald Reagan was inaugurated in January 1981.

It is accurate to say that the Reagan Administration believed that the issues raised by the Treaty were basic and important and that both the political and economic stakes were high. I will share some of our experiences and perspectives because I believe they are also relevant today…

Negotiations continued for more than a decade–during which the Treaty came to be viewed as the cornerstone of the New International Economic Order (N.I.E.O.) and of the associated efforts to use U.N. regulatory power as an instrument for restructuring international economic relations and redistributing wealth and power. The General Assembly is the institution through which the N.I.E.O. operates. It operates on the principle of one country, one vote.

During the decade that the Law of the Sea Treaty took shape, the basic assumptions of the N.I.E.O. concerning the obligations of the “North” to the “South” gained wider acceptance and expanded their influence and scope. The regulatory functions of the U.N. grew and the resistance of the industrialized countries was eroded. Then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had laid out conditions for U.S. participation in the proposed technology transfer–guaranteeing U.S. representation on its governing body and limiting production controls–but these conditions were ignored and eventually dropped by the American government itself.

By the time Ronald Reagan took office, the Law of the Sea Treaty was very nearly completed and a final session was scheduled to begin on March 9, 1981, to be completed by the end of the summer. These plans were interrupted when the Reagan Administration announced before the session opened that it intended to conduct a full-fledged review of U.S. policy with regard to the LOS Treaty and would not be ready to reach its final conclusions by the scheduled time.

The announcement produced both relief and consternation. It should have come as no surprise. The Law of the Sea Treaty was, and I believe, is disadvantageous to American industry–especially in their participation in seabed mining–and to American interests generally.  It should have been no surprise that a pro-business government interested in restoring American power would oppose the Treaty.

Viewed from the perspective of U.S. interests and Reagan Administration principles, it was a bad bargain. However, the Law of the Sea Treaty promised some things that Americans wanted very much: a commitment to freedom of navigation, territorial limits set at 12 miles, establishment of economic zones of 200 miles, and protection of navigation rights of all through international straits. The U.S. also regarded as positive the certain international agreements protecting marine mammals and migratory species. These protections were especially welcome at a time when a good many countries were arbitrarily extending their territorial claims over straits and vital sea lanes.

But the Reagan Administration believed that the cost was too high, especially since most of these benefits had been or could be achieved through bilateral agreements or through existing organizations such as the Intergovernmental Marine Consultative Organization of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP)…

The LOS Treaty establishes a sweeping claim of jurisdiction over the seabed and all its mineral wealth. It creates an International Seabed Authority in which it vests control of two thirds of the Earth’s surface.

Under the LOS Treaty the power of the Seabed Authority would be vested in an Assembly made up of all participating states and an Executive Council of 36 members elected by the Assembly to represent investors, consumers, exporters of affected minerals, developing states, and all the geographical areas of the world.

The formula for representation guaranteed that the industrialized “producer” countries would be a permanent minority. And they would have a majority of obligations.

Most importantly, votes of the Assembly would be on the basis of one vote/one country, with a two-thirds majority binding on all parties.

A company desiring to get a contract for seabed exploration would be required to identify two promising sites, one of which would be claimed by the Authority to mine itself or to otherwise dispose of, the other of which may be given to the company.

The company would be required to provide its technology to the Authority, which would also be provided to members with the capital necessary for mining. Special taxes would be imposed and special care would be taken to protect existing producers of minerals against competition from minerals available in sea.

Worst of all, there was no guarantee that qualified applicants ready to meet these requirements would be granted permission for mining.

Certain consequences of the LOS Treaty seemed wholly predictable: • It vested control over seabed mining in countries that do not possess the necessary technology. • Its governing structure guaranteed a permanent majority to the less developed countries of the G-77. • It burdened companies who would be interested in mining with unusual costs and obligations and provided various permanent advantages to their competition.  Private companies would bear the expense of developing technology, of prospecting, of paying taxes. The Authority would bear none of these.  Moreover, the private company would be required to sell its technology to buyers and at prices determined by the Authority. The duration and extent of the mining rights would be determined by the Authority. • These regulatory powers would protect markets and prices from the competition of seabed mining.

From the Reagan Administration’s point of view, the most disturbing aspect of the LOS Treaty was the structure of decision making.

We felt the U.S. role in decisions should reflect our political and economic interests in the Treaty and our contributions to UN operations.

The G-77 was determined to treat all nations alike, and the U.S. as one nation among 180. We were not guaranteed a seat on the 36 member executive council. All questions could be decided by a two-thirds majority vote in the Assembly. Any aspect of the Treaty adopted by consensus could be amended by a simple two-thirds vote.

Thus, the G-77, which constitutes two-thirds of the members, could change any aspect of a meticulously negotiated convention.

President Reagan outlined six concerns which needed to be addressed to make the Treaty acceptable to the U.S.: the most important of these were that the Treaty should not deter development of seabed mining; that its decision making structure should reflect and protect economic interests and contributions of participating states; and that it should be susceptible to ratification by the U.S. Senate.

OPEC had stimulated a broad desire for cartelizing other needed mineral products. [What does OPEC have to do with the Law of the Sea?  This is just an occasion to fire a shot]] The LOS Treaty would become an instrument for assisting in the development of such cartels to insure high prices by controlling supplies….

The G-77 was unwilling to accommodate basic American concerns. Bangladesh’s representative Imam UL-Hak spoke for the Group of 77 of which he was chairman. He reproached the Reagan Administration for delaying proceedings asserting that “the U.S. is overly preoccupied with the extension of the Assembly’s power.” The G-77, he underscored, “has consistently rejected the concept of veto, weighted voting, or voting by chambers.”  He chided the U.S. for seeking unequal power. He utterly ignored the unequal contribution the U.S. would make because of its advanced technology. In short, Ul-Hak explicitly rejected each of the Reagan Administration’s concerns. No concessions would be made.

Basically, the G-77’s position was that the U.S. could take it or leave it.

There were a good many influential Americans who thought we should take it.

But not at top levels of the Reagan Administration. An Interagency Senior Advisory Group on the Law of the Sea was convened in which most departments were represented, including State, Defense, Commerce, Transportation, CIA, NSC, Treasury, Energy, OMB, Interior, and White House staff.  Their conclusions were reported in a memorandum of March 4, 1981: 1. The LOS was unacceptable; 2. Both the Treaty and the U.S. delegation must be closely examined; 3. An immediate review must be undertaken; 4. The existing delegation must not preempt the Administration’s options. To this end the decision was made to issue written instructions to the delegation, other nations were to be informed of the review, a new Ambassador to LOS should be appointed, and to insure fidelity to the Administration’s orientations, it was recommended that consideration be given to replacing several high ranking members of the U.S. delegation.

The Administration did not really want to “dash the hopes of mankind,” which they were often accused of. But on the other hand, it did not want to make it impossible for humans to utilize the minerals of the ocean floor. It didn’t want to discourage the development of technology for seabed mining. It didn’t want to encourage the development of new cartels. And it didn’t want to agree to revolutionary doctrines of property.

The notion that the oceans or space are the “common heritage of mankind” was–and is–a dramatic departure from traditional Western conceptions of private property.

Most members at upper levels of the Reagan Administration were reluctant to put our foot on that slippery slope. But there were a good many Republicans as well as Democrats who thought it important for the U.S. to continue to participate in negotiations.

An influential bipartisan group urged full support and constructive participation in the Law of the Sea Conference. They argued that the Treaty would serve U.S. foreign policy interests, promote the rule of law, friendly relations among states, and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Today, their heirs still believe the treaty will guarantee these benefits.

No American commentator denied that the provisions concerning seabed mining were prejudicial to industrial nations, but they believed we should go along anyway.

Many of the strongest proponents of the LOS believed that new global institutions were needed to deal with the global interdependence, which they thought characterized the contemporary world. They would have preferred guaranteed U.S. representation on LOS governing bodies and some sort of veto, such as that possessed by the five permanent members of the Security Council or a rule of consensus which gave all an effective veto power. But they thought we should settle for the treaty as it was.

The Reagan Administration also saw serious constitutional questions. How could the constitutional requirement that treaties be ratified by the Senate be met if the contents of the agreement could be altered by a two-thirds vote of the members? This provision for easy amendment by an Assembly majority made the Treaty an open ended commitment.

Henceforth, the United States would be [would have been, if the US had ratified it, but it did not] bound by what two-thirds of the Assembly said we should be bound by. That is, we would be bound by decisions of the G-77, a prospect that could not but appall anyone who had taken a good look at decisions and policies endorsed by the G-77 in those years.   

Decisions were made by consensus inside the G-77, but the G-77 rejected application of the same principle for decision making in the LOS Assembly. The operation of the rule of consensus inside the G-77 guaranteed that the interests and needs of individual G-77 members would be taken into account, but there would be no parallel institutional arrangement to take account of the interests of developed nations.

In the view of the Reagan Administration, U.S. concerns rested on experience and taxable interests. The Treaty proponents’ case rested on hopes–that the Law of the Sea Treaty would enhance international peace by advancing international cooperation and a sense of obligation that we should do what a majority of nations asked of us.

Among Democrats, liberal Republicans, and within the Department of State, these feelings were strong enough to delay a U.S. decision on the Law of the Sea Treaty for nearly two years.

Then the U.S. decided not to participate in the Prep Com conference. That decision not to participate in the Prep Com conference confronted us with another decision of importance for U.S. policy vis-à-vis the U.N. system.

The General Assembly voted 132 to 4 on a resolution that judged the costs of the LOS Prep Com as falling under the general U.N. budget.

This confronted the U.S. with another, immediate decision. To pay or not to pay the assessed share of the expenses of the Prep Com conference in which the U.S. would not be participating?

As usual, the issue was more complex than it seemed. At the heart was the question of U.S. financial obligations under the U.N. Charter and international law. Is the U.S. required to pay all charges assessed by the U.N.? Is failure to do so a violation of international law?

Some opinions outside and inside the State Department held that failure to pay the assessed portion of the budget constituted a violation of our obligations under the U.N. charter and therefore would be illegal. A bipartisan majority of Congress, however, had passed a law which the President had signed on authorizing withholding a U.S. contribution to any expenditure whose principle purpose was to aid and abet the PLO and SWAPO, which regularly claimed the right to pursue their political goals by force. Some believed we were legally bound to do whatever a U.N. body decided. However that interpretation was not the only one.

The International Court of Justice in the Certain Expenses Case, however, had held that an assessed expense was not automatically valid. To create collective obligation to pay, the expense must be legitimate. Legitimate expenses were those necessary to the implementation of the fundamental principles of the U.N. Charter. Only essential activities tied to the U.N. Charter’s fundamental purposes created an obligation.

The grounds cited by the State Department’s legal advisor in 1982 for withholding U.S. contributions to the Prep Com was the relation of the LOS Prep Com to the U.N. Charter.  The Prep Com was not created by the General Assembly or the Security Council and was not answerable to the U.N. It was “established by a treaty regime separate from the U.N. Charter.” Therefore, he concluded, “a good case can be made that the LOS Prep Com expenses are expenses of a different entity, not lawful expenses of the U.N. within the meaning of the Charter and thus not properly assessable against non-consenting members. That was a relief.

The fact that the expenses of the LOS Prep Com were so readily increased under the U.N. program budget–and by that vote of 132 to 4–illustrated the realism of the U.S. concern about our relative isolation in the U.N., and also about a new trend in the U.N. policy toward defining extraordinary expenses into the U.N.’s core budget. This redefinition is an easy solution to the problem of financing activities for which it is difficult to secure voluntary contributions, and as usually, entails little or no cost to the majority voting to add on expenses.

The decision of the U.S. not to participate in the LOS Treaty seems to me even better today than when it was made. There has been time to observe the decline of OPEC and the benefits of that decline, time to experience the cavalier fashion in which the G-77 is ready to impose obligatory burdens on developed countries, and there has been an opportunity to see that when the U.S. declines to go along with a scheme that is incompatible with American interests but beloved by the global establishment, the sky does not fall.

The Law of the Sea Treaty was the first of a number of issues in which the Reagan Administration’s convictions and electoral commitments contradicted the orientations of the liberal establishment that is dominant in much of our society. It has proved more difficult to affect the objectives of American policy than reported in standard descriptions of policy making in a democracy. Of course, important events affecting the Treaty have occurred in the years following the Reagan Administration and modifications of the Treaty have taken place. But the modifications have not been major. The Treaty is fundamentally the same…

The most important modifications of the Treaty dealt with seabed mining. They specifically assert that the provisions dealing with mandatory technology transfer “shall not apply.” These mandatory provisions are replaced by a set of general principles on technology transfer. Modifications also eliminate some of the competitive advantages of the Enterprise, and the terms on which it becomes operative. These amendments are obviously desirable, but they do not address the basic structure or consequences of the Treaty.

I have read much of the discussion of the Treaty and I regret to say that I remain concerned that its ratification will diminish our capacity for self government, including, ultimately, our capacity for self defense…

The United Nations is a political body whose many members have strongly held views that are often different than those of the United States. The United States often finds it difficult to persuade other nations to see the world as we do. Simply making the case does not necessarily solve the problem.  

A distinguished Senator suggested today that we should join the Treaty so that we  can be inside it and “lead.”

I suggest that Senators who vote on these issues should spend at least a year in a U.N. body, with the responsibility for passing or preventing the passage of a resolution. It’s enlightening.“  http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.20262/pub_detail.asp

The last thing I hope to have to say about Mrs. Kirkpatrick concerns her jewelry.  Despite what the Washington Post calls her “utiliarian clothes”, she did have somewhere deep inside a need to look good (her stops in the UN Ladies’ Room on her way to the UN Security Council meetings was strong proof).  The one way she did break out was to start wearing a very nice piece of jewelry (a gold and pearl brooch, as I recall, an anniversary gift from her husband, and it came from Tiffany’s.  Conservative, but not too small — largish, in fact.)  Pinned just beside her lapel, it showed up in photo “head shots”, and added a significant touch of glamour.  She then acquired one or two other pieces, gifts from supporters and admirers, I think.

The next woman Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, was much more exuberant.  Not only did she go for an Estee Lauder makeup lesson, but her jewelry was more plentiful (matching earrings and brooches, that she changed regularly — and selected not only for beauty and quality, but also to make political points at specific events).

The present U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has a few good pieces (she went from Brooks Brothers to designer suits, though always discreet, and from conventional gold to some very good pearl necklaces and ear studs), but generally avoids brooches, probably as a bit too decorative.

Just on jewelry, Mrs. Bush’s madeira citrine necklace worn with a rust colored silk taffeta long-sleeved gown at a state dinner last fall, and Hillary Clinton’s green necklace and earrings (including peridots?), worn with a green suit, were  stunning…a real evolution of the public presence of American women.