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The US Waits and Waits for Final Voting Results; Election Mayhem in Côte d’Ivoire; a Tiny State Runs the Security Council

UN Police Luis Carrilho at desk and Mary Gahonzire on video
For UN Police Week, Police Adviser and Director Luís Carrilho spoke to the media along with Mary Gahonzire (on screen), a senior police adviser from Rwanda who works for the UN mission in Abyei, a “special administrative status” region between Sudan and South Sudan, Nov. 6, 2020. JOHN PENNEY

Are we there yet? The United States still awaits final presidential election results; one of the United Nations’ smallest countries leads the Security Council; and presidential election violence in Côte d’Ivoire.

You are reading This Week @UN, highlighting the most important news on the world body. The information is drawn from the UN spokesperson’s briefings, our original reporting and other sources.

You’re only two clicks away to listening to UN-Scripted’s newest podcast episode, focusing on Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ presidency of the Security Council in November. What can a Caribbean island nation of only 110,000 people contribute to the work of the most powerful body in the UN? You’d be surprised.

Please give generously: For the next two months, PassBlue is participating in its most important fund-raising campaign of the year, a national effort led by NewsMatch to benefit nonprofit media. Any amount you give, up to $5,000 will be doubled, and the money will go to help pay our journalists for their investigations, scoops, breaking news stories and analyses for the next year.

And don’t miss a Career Conversation event on “The Intersection of Journalism and Diplomacy,” with Dulcie Leimbach, editor of PassBlue, and Elizabeth Colton, an Emmy Award-winning journalist and the Diplomat and Journalist-in-Residence at Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, N.C., Nov. 12 at 5:30 P.M. EST. To attend, please register for the Zoom event.

Monday, Nov. 2

• Saint Vincent and the Grenadines may be the smallest country to ever sit on the Security Council, according to the UN, but the island nation is amplifying the voices of not only the Caribbean but also of Africa in the UN body. Stéphanie Fillion’s interview with Ambassador Inga Rhonda King, the rotating Council president in November, reveals King’s gravitas.

• Spokesperson’s briefing: On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, Secretary-General António Guterres said the pandemic has “highlighted new perils for journalists and media workers, even as the number of attacks on their physical safety has grown.” The UN counted at least 21 attacks on journalists covering protests in the first half of 2020, equal to the number of such attacks in all of 2017. Additional constraints have also been placed on journalists, including threats of prosecution, arrest, imprisonment, denial of journalistic access and failures to investigate and prosecute crimes against them.

Separately, a reporter asked: “Is there any statement on the US election, given high levels of anxiety and growing fears of post‑election violence?” The deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq, replied: “I don’t have anything to say right now. Of course, we expect the election will go ahead tomorrow.  If we have something to say on that day, we’ll let you know then.”

Tuesday, Nov. 3

• Spokesperson’s briefing: Ghada Waly, the director-general of the UN Office in Vienna, said that the UN there joins the host city and country in mourning the four people who died and those injured in the Nov. 2 terrorist attack.

Boarded Soho NYC Storefront Nov 2020
A boarded-up store in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City, prepared for potential violence over the US presidential election, Nov. 3, 2020. The UN warned its personnel about “civil unrest” that could ensue in the city and elsewhere, but calm pretty much prevailed. JOHN PENNEY

Wednesday, Nov. 4

• Secretary-General Guterres has remained silent on the Nov. 3 US presidential election so far, despite concerns about potential violence in the country and President Trump prematurely proclaiming victory in the early hours of Nov 4. The previous week, the UN warned its personnel at New York City headquarters to be prepared for “civil unrest” that may spring up over the election and its results. PassBlue’s story, by Stéphanie Fillion, includes interviews with former UN spokespeople on how a US presidential election must be handled delicately by a secretary-general as well as the findings of election monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who tracked the process in the US leading up to and day of the Nov. 3 vote.

• Spokesperson’s briefing: 1) Guterres expresses “alarm” over the reported armed clashes in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and calls for immediate measures to de-escalate tensions and ensure a “peaceful resolution to the dispute”; 2) Guterres notes the announcement made by the Independent Electoral Commission in Côte d’Ivoire about the provisional results of the presidential election there (declaring Alassane Ouattara the winner for a third, highly contested term) and “strongly condemns the violence that occurred prior to and during and after the election”; 3) a reporter asked again about the US: “Do you have a comment on the US election? President Trump, in the early hours, said, ‘Frankly, we did win this election.’ Does the UN agree? Does it think such comments are helpful or dangerous?” Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson, replied: “No, not at this point. I mean, we’re all watching, obviously, closely. The process is still . . . playing itself out.”

Thursday, Nov. 5

• Spokesperson’s briefing: Yvonne Helle, the acting UN humanitarian coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian territories, said that in the West Bank 73 people — more than half of them children — were displaced when Israeli authorities demolished their homes earlier this week in Humsa Al Baqi’a. Helle reminded all parties that “the extensive destruction of property and the forcible transfer of protected people in an occupied territory are grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” A reporter asked Dujarric: “Does the Secretary‑General condemn the demolition of Palestinian houses?” His response: “We stand against, we condemn . . . we stand against these acts, and we’ve denounced them.”

Friday, Nov. 6

• Spokesperson’s briefing: In a statement on Myanmar, Guterres said that he would follow the general elections on Nov. 8 and that the “holding of peaceful, orderly and credible elections is an important opportunity to help advance inclusive sustainable development, humanitarian action, human rights and democratic reforms, including civilian control over the military.” (See Barbara Crossette’s Oct. 20 story for PassBlue on the elections.)

Dulcie Leimbach is the founder of PassBlue. For PassBlue and other publications, she has reported from New York and overseas from West Africa (Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal) as well as from Europe (Scotland, Sicily, Vienna, Budapest, Kyiv, Armenia and The Hague). She has provided commentary on the UN for BBC World Radio, NHK’s English channel and Background Briefing with Ian Masters/KPFK Radio in Los Angeles.

Previously, she was an editor for the Coalition for the UN Convention Against Corruption; from 2008 to 2011, she was the publications director of the United Nations Association of the USA. She has also worked as an editorial consultant to various UN agencies. Before UNA, Leimbach was an editor at The New York Times for more than 20 years, editing and writing for most sections of the paper, including the Magazine, Book Review and Op-Ed. She began her reporting career in small-town papers in San Diego, Calif., and Boulder, Colo., graduating to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver before she worked in New York at Esquire magazine and Adweek. In between, she was a Wall Street foreign-exchange dealer. Leimbach has been a fellow at Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; taught news reporting at Hofstra University; and was a guest lecturer at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has an M.F.A. in writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.

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