links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 4th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

On Mali at Columbia, Nameless Discussion of Colonialism & Other Big Issues

 

By Matthew Russell Lee 

UNITED NATIONS, April 2 — On Mali there was an event at Columbia University Tuesday night, advertised as “free and open to the public, but please register by writing.” So Inner City Press did, identifying itself as the Press, listing its office at the UN.

  Columbia’s Stephen Wertheim, the last name you’ll see in this piece, wrote back, “You are now registered for the talk, which starts at 7:30 pm. We look forward to seeing you there.”

  After that, notice of the event was further publicized on the website of the Free UN Coalition for Access, as still is another event at the UN this Thursday.

  After a final story about the day’s Arms Trade Treaty vote in the UN General Assembly, Inner City Press arrived at the event. There were twenty to twenty five people, of all ages — and all nameless here.

  After a lengthy speech and two social media missives, as the question and answer began, the moderator suddenly said — and we’ll paraphrase and not quote here — that he should have said so from the beginning, this would be under Chatham House rules, you can use the idea but no quote.

  And so what were the ideas?

That the media focuses too much on the military offensive, which one participant called the kinetic aspect.

That there is a lot of corruption even in the south of Mali.

That the Malian military commits human rights violations, and that the UN does not have the resources to have a crew of human rights observers ready to go there.

That the UN will soon name a Special Representative of the Secretary General.

That the Malian press is reporting rumors of relations of Nicolas Sarkozy and the MNLA. (Inner City Press has been more focused on Sarkozy’s hardly concealed try out to help invest Qatar’s money, with his contacts in the center-right government in Spain.)

That the Security Council implicitly endorsed the French approach.

Inner City Press, which is surely free to report its own questions but apparently not the answers, asked if the envisioned “parallel force” would be under UN control; if coup leader Amadou Sanogo will continue to play a role in the Malian military, and how the fast action to defend Bamako differed from the decision to let Bagui in the Central African Republic fall.

  There was a response to each question, but how to report the answers under the spirit of the Chatham House rules is not clear.

 As Inner City Press left it was told, despite the language of the invitation and its RSVP as the Press, that it is somehow understood that events in the university are under Chatham House rules.

  No, that is not automatically understood. People give on the record speeches at universities. In fact, since students have Facebook pages and blogs and, yes, Twitter accounts, it is entirely unclear what restriction on a class or seminar would look like, or how they could work.

  Nevertheless, Inner City Press has complied with the belatedly announced Chatham House rules. Who is served? The Security Council hears Wednesday on Mali. Watch this site.

Footnote: the UN office that Inner City Press listed on its RSVP has, as we’ve noted, been raided by the UN and others on March 18.

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment for this article

###