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At UN, As Some in Budget Process Try to Exclude Press, Others Leak, Christmas Eve Prediction

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, December 22 --  The UN's budget committee took over a corner of the UN's basement on Monday night, on the day they were supposed to have finished their work. The phrase "took over" is meant literally: Inner City Press went down to cover the proceeding at 10 pm, speaking with a few delegates on the way, but was then told by Committee staff that some had ask that the Press stay away, for fear that they be overheard.  Hey, the couches outside the UN's Vienna Cafe are public domain. But the staffer's request reflects the level of paranoia, or the sense of entitlement, of some in the budget committee.

   Acquiescing in the anti-Press request, at least for now, we are forced to report based on documents. Floating around is language from the Group of 77 and the European Union, as well as Secretariat responses to Committee questions.  On the Department of Political Affairs, the EU has circulated a paragraph putting the issue off until "the biennium 2012-2013 [for] a report on the strengthening of DPA, taking into account the comprehensive evaluation of OIOS of political affairs."  These days, "comprehensive" and OIOS, at least under Inga-Britt Ahlenius, are something of an oxymoron.

   On this topic, a leaked email from Denmark* to the French and UK missions notes tersely, "it would be great if you could check with me next time before setting up a meeting with DPA with such short notice... I'm not sure I see the urge for discussing the EU language at this point. Yes at some point we need to decide if we should replace the 'XX posts' with something concrete, but frankly I think the informals will go on for a white before we get to the crunch of the matter."

   The "crunch of the matter" has presumably now been reached. Earlier on December 22, the Group of 77 had put forward a draft resolution implying that they would break from that UN holy grail, consensus. France on behalf of the European Union, and Canada on behalf of "CANZ" - that is, with Australia and New Zealand, not Japan and the US which together constitute the Vitamin C-rich JUSCANZ -- criticized G77 for making the threat. Last year, the US broken consensus, on the still-hot issue of the Durban II conference. This year may again see a vote.

UN's Ban, Pascoe behind, with Grameen Bank, DPA post war not shown

   A well-placed delegate on Monday night predicted the following to Inner City Press: something will be tentatively agreed to Tuesday morning at 6 am. It will take the Secretariat six to seven hours to "re-cost" the new draft, such that the budget committee will only vote at 3 pm on Tuesday, December 23.  Then the full General Assembly would convene the morning of Christmas Eve, at which time any delegation would be free to raise new objections, and to call for a vote.  Happy holidays!

Footnotes: before Inner City Press was encouraged to leave the UN's basement on Monday night, another delegate said that its news it more timely than his own mission informs him. Earlier on Monday night, DPA's Lynn Pascoe genially passed through the Croatian's end of Security Council Presidency reception in a side room of the Delegates' Lounge. Inner City Press asked him about Georgia, Russia's decision to expel the OSCE mission there, and why OSCE hadn't agreed to a linguistic compromise like the Security Council had, dropping any geographical reference from the previous UNOMIG. That's a temporary fix, Pascoe indicated, with nary a word about the war for posts taking place in the basement. So it goes at the UN.

* - we have decided to publish the names of missions, not individuals.

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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