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UN Budget Compromise Closes in on 92 Jobs, Arms Trade and Durban II May Trigger Vote

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 23, 7:59 am -- The last-minute fight over the UN budget largely concerns development, the number of new posts to be funded, with side-votes possible on the Durban II conference and even the arms trade treaty.

  The initial proposal to strengthen the UN's so-called development pillar involved 150 new jobs.  Following the spread of the global financial crisis, richer countries have tried to say that this should all be put off. The developing countries of the Group of 77, on the other hand, compare the $700 bailout in the U.S. alone with the $25 million requested for the UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs.

  Yesterday we reported that rather than 150, the real end-game negotiation contrasts 80 or 90 new posts. Tuesday morning, in the run-up to a plenary meeting slated for later in the afternoon, the compromise appears to be 92 posts.  The philosophical differences between developed and developing countries have not been addressed, participants say. But Christmas and the holidays are coming.

  In one view, the developing countries operate at cross-purposes. They defend the UN Development Program when this break-away entity, with its own supposed ethics office and whistleblower policies, actually undermines the UN Secretariat's Department of Social and Economic Affairs. Development has been outsourced, in a way, to UNDP which is not accountable to the UN General Assembly.

General Assembly's d'Escoto ignored by UNDP's Dervis, short end of the development pillar

  No one apparently can even tell UNDP and its Administrator Kemal Dervis not to reproduce and try to take over DESA's remaining functions. UNDP is less and less responsive, going weeks for example before answering basic questions from the press.

  But as to this year's budget resolutions, sources tell Inner City Press that recorded votes are still possible. Last year it was Durban II; this year, add arms control. An advance copy of a report of the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the "program budget implications" of the arms trade treaty conference proposed for 2009 puts the cost at $1,225,000. A vote is possible not due to the amount but due to the principle. Compare the amount to the over $3 million wasted on 30,000 licenses of Oracle that have gone unused, as uncovered yesterday by Inner City Press, click here for that.

  As usual at the UN, a political dispute has its budget echo. Small things are debated in great detail while, for example, an unaccountable UNDP runs wild, and the cause of development suffers. So it goes at the UN.

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.

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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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