UN Budget End Game Turns on Roed Larsen's
Conflicts, Playing Poker with Arms Trade
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
December 23 -- As the clock ticked
toward Christmas Eve, the UN's basement was full of talk of Lebanon,
and jobs, Chinese food and pizza, missing flights and cigarettes. It
ritual. Even without the threat of a vote-down or a shut-down,
deadline after deadline was missed. The chatter grew louder and the
outside Conference Room 3 had said the first voting would
start at 3 pm then 4:30. It changed to 6, to 8, to 10 and then passed
Delegates approached Inner City Press offered drafts and spin.
officials were nowhere to be seen. Each change in language required new
calculation. Ban's adviser Kim Won-soo disappeared with his cell phone.
Migiro never did come down.
Ahlenius, directly under attack in a draft resolution, was nowhere
to be seen. The
outlines of agreement didn't change: 92 new posts for development, the
the permanent contract. At issue was the mandate of UN envoy to Lebanon
Roed Larsen -- not on the conflict of
interest of Roed Larsen receiving
substantial salary from funds from Gulf States to take (their)
Lebanon, but rather on how the effectiveness of his mission is to be
measured. A draft thrust on Inner
City Press said:
"OP. Requests the S-G to
revise the narrative and the logical framework of the budget of the
Envoy of the S-G for the implementation of SC resolution 1559 (2004)
into account recent developments and the concerns raised by member
to submit a report thereon to the GA before the fist [sic] part of its
certain issues and regions on which the UN will always trip up.
UN's Ban introduces last budget, conflicts of
interest and delays not shown
The Durban II conference, the basis of the US
no vote on last year's budget, threatened to arise on this one too.
the UN "Interim" Force in Lebanon is considered, votes are called for
on specific paragraphs. This time, an arms trade
treaty conference was analyzed
for cost -- $1.2 million, for the record -- but a vote was threatened,
Most delegates were past the point of caring. They
wanted a vote, and to
go home, wherever that might be, after two nights without sleep.
Update of 10:56 pm -- still not
move toward voting; there's talk of documents processing.
Update of 11:15 pm -- delegates
now milling around in Conference Room 3. Earlier, the voting panel was
open. Now it's covered by curtains. People assume this means agreement
has been reached. Despite or perhaps because of Inner City Press being
the only media present, one UN staffer gestures that the Press should
be even further from the action, in a locked-in space on the other side
of a barrier. It's too late for that. Better to assume that he is
joking, or a joker.
Update of 11:50 pm -- still the
chatting and the scrum. But the curtains have been drawn back for
voting. Consensus? Catherine Pollard of the Office of Human Resources
Management has taken a seat on the podium, glad-handing delegates.
Donna Maxfield is not visible. The Moldovan master of ceremonies of the
GA is getting ready. Soon it will begin.
Update of 12:30 a.m., Dec. 24 --
Or maybe not. Still the crowd mills around, to the smell now of
McDonald's French fries. The press secretary of Burkina Faso comes in,
bright eyed past midnight. Another UN functionary tries to move Inner
City Press out. The lobbyists for a relatively small UN office --
nameless for now -- is watching to make sure her Office doesn't get
cut, or merged with the Special Advisor on Africa. Where are the senior
UN officials? Egypt's Permanent Representative has arrived. And still
not sign of voting, or even of speech-giving. We are on UN time now.
The cigarette smoke is thick.
Update of 12:43 a.m. -- but wait,
there's more! Inner City Press is informed that not only will the U.S.
be calling for recorded votes on Durban II and the Arms Trade Treaty,
but also on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A vote on a
paragraph about Roed Larsen / Resolution 1559 is also expected. A press
officer says the GA hall has been booked for 2 am, but adds "that seems
optimistic." The President of the General Assemlby has gone home, but
will be called back for the plenary. Because at that time, there are
Third Committee resolutions to be voted on -- and debated! -- too.
Could it go until dawn? Again?
Update of 1:29 am -- and finally
the Fifth Committee session is called to order, to begin. Delegates
applaud, sarcastically perhaps, and quickly a Board of Auditors' report
is approved. There -- that wasn't hard, was it?
Update of 1:45 a.m. -- the
Russian Federation's representative, speakin on the OIOS resolution,
says his country understands that the staff of the Procurement Task
Force will not be incorporated into the staff of OIOS. But why then has
Alhenius kept seven posts empty? The chairman says, "Even Movses
doesn't object... We have thus concluded our consideration" of the
item. And genocide is next.
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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