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Final UN Budget Drafts Hit Nairobi Corruption, Reinstates Africa Advisor

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 24 -- It was Christmas Eve when the UN's budget resolutions for the year were finally distributed. They ranged from 92 new jobs in the field of development to corruption in construction of offices in Kenya. One resolution specifically criticized the UN's investigator Inga-Britt Ahlenius, for leaving posts vacant to be filled by her own cronies. Another savaged Ban Ki-moon's information technology units, which Inner City Press this week exposed as wasting $3 million on 30,000 computer licenses from Oracle that have yet to be used. Click here for that.

   The recorded votes, however, were requested on culture war issues like the Durban II conference, anti-racist or anti-Israel depending on who you talk with, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. There were political objections, such as to the continuance unreformed of Terje Roed Larsen's mission to Lebanon. Ibrahim Gambari's "good offices" mission to Myanmar was costed out, as was a conference for the arms trade treaty, on which the U.S. wanted to call a vote. It was past one in the morning, and still no vote was called. But at least the documents were out.

  The Russian Federation's representative, speaking 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?

UN's Ban and Diarra, multiple hats and G77 push back not shown

  As the Budget Committee's proceedings got going, the U.S. called for a vote on the arms trade treaty. 123 for, 1 against with 21 abstaining. The one was the U.S. -- but afterwards, Costa Rica said that technical difficulties had led to their yes vote not being counted. The UK was said to abstain, when they support it. The US spoke against Durban II. The vote was 112 for, eight against, and twenty-some abstentions.

  On the development resolution, beyond the new posts, as Sudan emphasized after the adoption, Ban Ki-moon is directly to re-fill the position.

Update of 2:39 a.m. -- Lebanon's paragraph questioning Roed Larsen's mandate passed, 86 to 20-some. and soon thereafter, the meeting was suspended for yet more 30 minutes, because the next resolution was not ready. Now, some groaning was heard.

Update of 3:16 a.m. -- like zombies 5th Committee delegates stumble around the halls of the UN. The basement soda machine is empty; a crowd gathers by the machine on the second floor beside the Security Council.  The Controller stands chatting with the Secretary of the Third Committee, who is waiting for some of "his" resolution to be taken up by the full General Assembly plenary. Will that be before dawn? Where is the missing 5th committee resolution? Who is running this process? As one delegate grumbled, why didn't they just get their act together and have people come back Wednesday at 10 a.m. for orderly debates and votes? Why indeed.

Update of 3:27 a.m. -- as otherwise prissy delegates doze off on couches among the UN basement corridors, it is suggested to Inner City Press that as the only media present, it is literally embedded in the UN.

  A Fifth Committee veteran comes by to opine to Inner City Press:  "this is not the worst.  Take the 55th General Assembly, when Movses was the chair  and coordinator on the scale of assessments. We were like this for days, with Richard Holbrooke involved, until the Republic of Korea stepped up and paid someone else's assessment to get things moving."

  Inner City Press introjects, is that at least as a matter of karma why Ban Ki-moon became S-G years later?  But the story continues --

  "Back then it was only one issue. Tonight there are multiple issues, and it is impossible for the Secretariat to accomplish what is expected of them. Also the 60th, under John Bolton."  And how will things be under Susan Rice? We'll see.

And at 3:35 a.m., Angela Kane of the Department of Management strode in, in Elvis Costello-like glasses, chipper. "We are resuming," a conference officer said....

Update of 3:39 am -- news flash! G77 will pay $6 per square foot, with all past due rents written off. The resolution passed says that in the future, "the S-G, as CAO, should handle rental issues with individual tenants according to existing procedures without recourse to the GA." Does this mean that journalists will be charged? No, we opine, there is no "existing procedure" for that. Welcome to fUNca.

Update of 3:48 a.m. -- with a gavel and applause, this session of the Fifth Committee has ended. And we head upstairs to the General Assembly chamber to repeat the ritual -- but what surprises might await?

Update of 4 a.m. -- as we wait for the General Assembly plenary to convene, Angela Kane's take on the G77 rent is that it had to be clarified, the resolution was fuzzy and she had no discretion to just write it off. Now by resolution the past is erased. But what does the future hold?

 Inner City Press told her that word in the basement was that Catherine Pollard was the highest Secretariat official still awake. Ms. Kane bristled, I told them to give me five minutes, that's how long it takes to get downstairs. And then she went back up.

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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