UN Sanctions Circus on Somalia, Eritrea, Cote d’Ivoire

What are UN sanction reports worth if they are meant to be used selectively by the powers?
What are UN sanction reports worth if they are meant to be used selectively by the powers?

By Matthew Russell Lee,

With moves in the US Congress to float new sanctions on Iran even as the Obama administration negotiates with it, the UN’s inconsistent and sometimes sensationalistic use of sanctions and monitoring stands in contrast.

A recent report on the UN’s Liberia sanctions included testimony from Ghanian officials that agents of Ivory Coast’s Alassane Ouattara government went into Ghana to kidnap or kill supporters of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo.

Ouattara’s UN ambassador Youssoufou Bamba asked this reporter on December 19 why this would be in a UN report about Liberia. He did not seem concerned — the Ouattara government has well placed friends, notably former colonial power France — but bristled when a comparison to Rwanda was proffered.

Akin to Ivory Coast being accused in a UN report about Liberia, Rwanda has repeatedly been accused by the UN Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in reports conveniently leaked to and spun by post-Western wire services like Reuters.

These reports are treated as gospel for example by France, while French Ambassador Gerard Araud told this reporter in early December he had not even read the UN Liberia sanctions report which accused agents of his country’s ally, Ouattara. So what are UN reports worth?

Then you have the UN’s Somali Eritrea Monitoring Group, a report of which was exclusively published on Beacon on November 27, here. Also on December 19, this reporter spoke with the Ambassadors of both Somalia and Eritrea, both of whom take issue with the SEMG.

Eritrea confirmed to this reporter that it met with the Monitoring Group in Paris earlier in December and indicated that possibly “coming out of the sanctions” would depend on how they are portrayed in the SEMG’s next report. Much hope was put on the positions of former US government official Herman Cohen. But what do those currently in the US State Department think?

Somalia, as this reporter exclusively reported on InnerCityPress.com, has asked that the coordinator of the SEMG, Jarat Chopra, be removed. The letter was signed by Fawzia Yusef J. Adam as deputy prime minister of Somalia — before the Prime Minister resigned.

On December 19, Somalia’s Ambassador said that the letter stands, and that while some charges — for example, of corruption at the Somali Central Bank — can be made by newspapers with less than 100% proof, this should not be done in a “UN” report. The SEMG previously reported that there were Al Shabaab fighters in Lebanon, which would it seemed have been noticed by others (it was not).

So what are UN sanctions reports worth? They can be explosive; they can read like spy novels. But those who commission them, the members of the UN Security Council especially the Permanent Five members, use and rely on the reports only selectively. Accusations against Rwanda are taken at face value; accusations against French-supported Ouattara are ignored. Is this any way to run a sanctions regime?
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –