|WHAT DOES THE TOP ENVOY FOR "INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS"
DO? HE "REITERATES THE SECRETARY GENERAL'S CALL ON PARTIES CONCERNED."
1 September 2003
Who is Francis M. Deng? Is the middle initial significant? Where would the internally displaced
find him in case of need? What can he do for them? What would a day in his life look like? Would
an enterprising reporter care to find out? He is not yet a "diplomatic rock star," but who
knows? He may turn out to have a "regal demeanour" if appropriately discovered. Is "Internally
Displaced Persons" -- as obligingly capitalized -- an organization? A conglomerate? A party? Is
it a particular group, distinct from those millions dispersed in Bosnia, Rowanda, Somalia,
Liberia, and Congo, under the watchful gaze of similarly mysterious special representatives.
Forget, of course, about the Middle East where the Secretary General himself has been internally
misplaced between shifting roadmaps and overlooked U.N. resolutions.
Those looking for anything the U.N. was doing to deal with the tragedy in Liberia found, along
with several "discreet" yet "undecided" initiatives, may have found a bold statement by Mr.
Deng, noting what the world had been saying for weeks about looting, rape and harassment of
civilians by ? of all sides. What was he doing about it? "Of course," the statement said, "the
responsibility rests first and foremost with their government." Hello Deng. If their government
was in shape, there will be no problem. "However," Deng adds wistfully, "when a government
is unable to do so the international community often acting in partnership with regional actors
can and should be called upon to play a role." Well then, was he an actor? What role would he
play? There is where the buck doesn't stop. He "reiterates the Secretary General's call on
parties concerned..." As is protecting internally placed persons, he dodges on "is a responsibility
that ECOWAS forces importantly have assumed in the region in the past" -- meaning don't look
at me! -- adding carefully that "was" not always done with full respect for human rights or
humane standards" -- why, then, didn't he say something about it -- at the time.
Typically, this pontification was not made from the agonised African region, but from the safety
of the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
This surrealistic case is highlighted because it is typical of over eighty honorific envoys
(eighteen in Africa alone) designated by Kofi Annan for various considerations since he took over as
If Francis M. Deng or anyone else at the U.N. for that matter is not in a position to provide
real help for that destitute African people, the least they could do is respectful silence.