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UN Week – 1/17/2011

January 20, 2011

by John and Douglas Carey, editors,

Contents of this issue: Palestinians seek UN statehood recognition; UN close to armed conflict in Côte d’Ivoire; mixed results in Nepal.

Palestinians seek UN statehood recognition.

The AP reported on January 10th that the Palestinian foreign minister had said he would seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state in September and was lobbying for votes worldwide. Chile had just recognized Palestine, the fifth South American country to do so recently. The Palestinians want their state to include what Israel captured in the 1967 war — the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

“Such recognition would create political and legal pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces from the land of another state that is recognized within the ’67 borders by the international organization,” said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki.

He said the Palestinian Authority in will initially seek Security Council recognition but, failing that, will turn to the General Assembly, where the decisions are not binding but there is no veto. The US has vetoed Security Council measures that Israel considers hostile. The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed a resolution “condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state.”

Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador recognized Palestinian statehood last month, and Uruguay, Paraguay and Peru are expected to join Chile on that list in the coming weeks. Malki said Asia, Africa and the Caribbean were next in line. “In the Caribbean there are 12 small states … but these countries have the same vote that China has in the U.N. General Assembly,” he said.

About 100 other countries recognized statehood — most of them developing nations — after the Palestinians declared “independence” in 1988, and a few others, mostly former Soviet republics, did so after the 1993 Oslo peace accords. Venezuela and Costa Rica followed.

Malki said the Palestinians have been talking to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and that Spain has promised to recognize Palestine in September. Spain would be the first western European country to do so. Former Communist countries in eastern Europe, including Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, were among those who recognized Palestine in 1988.

US policy on recognition was described as follows in Department of State Press Release 269 (June 10, 1977): “We maintain diplomatic relations with many governments of which we do not necessarily approve. The reality is that, in this day and age, coups and other unscheduled changes of government are not exceptional developments. Withholding diplomatic relations from these regimes after they have gained effective control penalizes us. It means we forsake much of the chance to influence the attitudes and conduct of a new regime. Without relations we forfeit opportunities to transmit our values and communicate our policies. Isolation may well bring out the worst in the new government.” Digest of United States Practice in International Law 1977 at 18.

UN close to armed conflict in Côte d’Ivoire.

          On January 13th the Secretary-General’s Spokesperson stated that: “The Secretary-General is deeply concerned that regular and irregular forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo have begun to attack and burn United Nations vehicles. Beginning this morning, there have been a total of six incidents involving such attacks in Abidjan, where a United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) military vehicle was burned. A doctor and the driver of an ambulance targeted in one of the attacks were injured.

          “The Secretary-General strongly condemns these attacks, as well as the armed attack by regular FDS [Forces de défense et de sécurité] forces on a UNOCI convoy in Abobo yesterday. He condemns the continuing use of the State broadcasting corporation RTI to instigate violence against the United Nations peacekeeping mission, including false information alleging that United Nations peacekeepers are extending active support to Forces Nouvelles soldiers.

“The Secretary-General once again warns those responsible for organizing and carrying out such attacks that they will be held accountable.  He stresses that both attacks on peacekeepers and destruction of assets deployed for purposes of protecting civilians constitute crimes under international law.” SG/SM/13348-AFR/2096

Mixed results in Nepal.

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message, as delivered by UN Department of Political Affairs Director of the Asia-Pacific Division, Tamrat Samuel, to the closing ceremony for the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), in Kathmandu on January 14th:

“As the United Nations Mission in Nepal prepares to close at midnight tomorrow, I thank my representative Karin Landgren, her predecessor, Ian Martin, and all UNMIN staff of the past four years for their contribution to the Nepali-led peace process.  I also want to acknowledge the memory of those colleagues who lost their lives in the service of this mission in March 2008.

“The Security Council’s decision to end UNMIN’s mandate was in line with a September 2010 agreement between the Government of Nepal and the Maoists in which they pledged to basically complete the remaining tasks of the peace process by 15 January. Regrettably, insufficient progress was made. I encourage the parties to redouble their efforts to build the confidence that can bring progress on all fronts of Nepal’s peace process.

“The United Nations Mission in Nepal deployed in record time and helped the parties to negotiate the agreement that has served as the basis for the monitoring of arms and armies. The Mission provided support to the historic elections for a Constituent Assembly in 2008, which was one of its key tasks, along with monitoring the implementation of the arms monitoring agreement and the ceasefire code of conductThe Mission also chaired regular meetings of the Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee, the confidence-building mechanism which helped to resolve disputes related to the monitoring. The parties have shown a high degree of respect for the monitoring regime.

“Throughout its existence, UNMIN sought to instill confidence in the peace process and encourage attention to its most critical tasks. I would like to assure the people of Nepal that the United Nations will remain engaged in Nepal’s peace process through the United Nations Country Team, and through the continued engagement of the Department of Political Affairs. I hope and trust that the parties are committed to finding the way forward to complete the process and realize the aspirations of the Nepali people.” SG/SM/13349-PKO/262

That’s all for this January 17th issue of United Nations Week: News and Views. We’ll be back with the next issue. Meantime do send your own views on these or other UN-related issues to

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