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UN chief, in an unprecedented war of words, it fights a member state – Global Issue


Humanitarian aid is being delivered to the Tigris region of Ethiopia by a convoy of 50 trucks last month. The United Nations has called for the speedy dispatch of aid convoys to Ethiopia’s Tigris. Credit: WFP
  • By Thalif Deen (United Nations)
  • Inter Press Service

But the war of words-in an organization where the tradition of the Secretary-General is traditionally held by all 193 member states-forced Guterres to exercise his “right of answer” in the Security Council by UN standards, the most powerful body being the United Nations.

When the Secretary-General was confronted with a question at a news briefing last week, specifically about his right to answer “which we have never seen in the Security Council”, the question began: “Is this an expression? The level of your dissatisfaction, at the moment, with the Ethiopian ambassador?”

“It is my duty to protect the honor of the United Nations,” Guterres fired back.

Bruha followed the Ethiopian government’s decision last week to declare seven UN officials, mostly cutting off humanitarian aid, to “impersonal grata” (PNG).

In international diplomacy, PNG is based on the principle of reciprocity: “You expel our diplomats and we expel you” as was proved during the Cold War between the United Nations and the then Soviet Union.

A former diplomatic editor in May 2018 The Times Michael Binoyon noted that the expulsion of diplomats together became a feature of the Cold War, when diplomats from the Soviet Union and its allies were often suspected of being intelligence agents and ordered to leave – usually after a spy scandal.

Inevitably, the Russians and their allies expelled Western diplomats. The largest single expulsion was in 1971, when Britain’s Conservative government expelled 90 of the 550 Stong embassies of the Soviet Union in London and stopped the return of 15 more diplomats.

But Guterres has no diplomatic reciprocity at the UN, nor the power or authority to expel Ethiopian diplomats from the UN or New York City.

Ethiopians say seven UN officials have been expelled from the country for “interfering in Ethiopia’s internal affairs”.

But as of Friday, there had been no response to Ethiopia’s request for specific evidence for the secretary-general’s expulsion.

Guterres further argues that the concept of the impersonal Greater applies to relations between sovereign nations, not to relations between the United Nations and its member states.

Ethiopian Ambassador Taei Atske-Celesi Amde said his country had no legal obligation to justify or explain his decision and had listed allegations of “misconduct” by UN officials.

The controversy stems from the fact that the United Nations is providing humanitarian assistance to rebel forces in a country where nearly seven million people are in need of such assistance.

While it provides much-needed food and supplies, the United Nations says its distribution is not driven by politics, but by human causes.

Cool Gautam, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, told IPS, a UN humanitarian agency that provides humanitarian assistance to millions of people worldwide: Didn’t take. “

In the past, he has said, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and heads of state have protested and condemned such expulsions, “but I never think the UN has ever questioned the right of UN international staff to declare impersonal.”

Thus, it came as a (pleasant) surprise that the Ethiopian government involved UN staff by PNG, the Secretary-General made a bold public statement that questioned the Ethiopian government’s actions and statements to the media and the UN Security Council. “I hope and believe that the newly found position of the SG has been carefully reviewed and confirmed by the UN legal office and will be upheld if the case is challenged in the International Court of Justice.” In the past, Gautam noted, UN workers are being PNGed by authoritarian governments to take a policy stance in the best interests of the UN or the reasons they are serving (such as the best interests of children in the case of UNICEF), often seen as a badge of honor. After all, UN staff pledges their allegiance to the UN Charter which speaks of “we are the people of the UN”, “we are not the UN government”.

And UN staff are specifically barred from taking instructions from their national government or the host country’s government, he argued.

“Some governments would prefer that the UN and its agencies simply send them a check as part of their cooperation. But the board of directors of UN agencies, funds and programs, as well as the UN General Assembly, hopes that UN staff will carefully monitor the use and effectiveness of their assistance. “Let us hope that the UN SG’s deliberate response to the Ethiopian government’s unilateral action will lead to the empowerment of UN international civil servants to conduct their humanitarian and development activities without fear or favor in the best interests of the people.” Those who are given such assistance. ”

Thomas G., President Professor of Presidential Science and Director of Emeritus at the Ralph Bunch Institute for International Studies at The City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. It was posted that the SG sometimes complains and sometimes remains silent. ” Stephen Jones, a Focus columnist on foreign policy and senior analyst who has written extensively on Security Council politics, told IPS: “I don’t think any previous secretary general has exercised his right to answer.”

But this is not the first time that UN officials have been expelled or declared impersonal, he noted.

Most recently, Moroccan-occupied Minurso expelled peacekeepers from occupied Western Sahara and granted PNG status to Christopher Ross, the secretary general’s personal envoy.

The difference is that with Morocco and other previous cases, the government had at least one permanent member of the UN Security Council on the question, limiting the secretary-general’s ability to deal with so much, Jones said.

“This unprecedented move on Ethiopia may be a reflection of Ethiopia’s relative diplomatic isolation because it is the seriousness of their anti-UN move,” said Jones, a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and chairman of Middle Eastern Studies.

Gautam said Ethiopian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Abi Ahmed, like Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, had deeply disappointed the international community by committing serious human rights violations or expressing sympathy against people belonging to an ethnic minority in her own country. He argued that some militants within ethnic communities could also commit atrocities, not justifying harsh and disrespectful actions against innocent civilians by the ruling government of a democratic state, which must be upheld by higher standards. “The expulsion of UN officials from various countries by the dictatorial government has been unprecedented, although Ethiopia is providing humanitarian assistance to seven UN officials in the form of Persona Non Grata (PNG) on seemingly Trump-up charges.” There is also the unprecedented position taken by the UN Secretary-General, whose spokesman said that “… the long-standing legal position of the organization not to apply the doctrine of impersonal Grat in the case of UN officials”.

He added that “this is a doctrine that applies to diplomatic agents authorized by one state in another state. Applying this doctrine to UN officials is contrary to the obligations under the UN Charter and the privileges and immunity granted to the UN and its officials.”


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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal Source: Inter Press Service





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