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Russia blocking work of UN sanctions committees – diplomats

/ 08:04 AM September 30, 2021

Russia blocking work of UN sanctions committees – diplomats

United Nations, United States — The investigative work of several panels of experts tasked with monitoring compliance with UN arms embargoes and economic sanctions in conflict zones including Mali is being blocked, sometimes for months, by Russia, diplomats said Wednesday.

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“The Russians argue there is a lack of geographic diversity” at the heart of the committees, and that they have a Western bias, one diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

All of the committees blocked are in the process of renewing their members.

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The apparent obstacle comes as Moscow seeks to bolster its influence in Africa, notably in French-speaking countries which until now were seen as squarely in Paris’s zone of influence.

The assignment of experts to the committee dealing with the Central African Republic has been stalled since August 31. The mandate for the committee on the Democratic Republic of Congo expired on August 1.

On Mali, the panel of experts will have to suspend its investigative work on Thursday. For South Sudan, no work has taken place since July 1.

The committee tasked with monitoring the Central African Republic this year condemned “grave human rights abuses” attributed to paramilitaries from the controversial Wagner group, a Russian private security firm.

The group is reportedly close to the Kremlin and in talks with Mali’s army-dominated government to send personnel there.

Diplomats said Russia has blocked certain experts from taking up posts on the committees, which are made up of less than 10 experts who provide regular reports on sanctions violations that sometimes read more like spy novels.

“There are several African experts among those blocked,” a diplomat from a nation on the UN Security Council told AFP, thereby rejecting Moscow’s argument that the committees are too pro-Western.

The Russian mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment.

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TAGS: Central Africa, Conflict, Democratic Republic of Congo, Diplomacy, Mali, Russia, Sanctions, South Sudan, UN
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