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On UN Budget, US Is Said to Flipflop on Development & Transparency, Hobnobbing with Malcorra?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 23/4, updated -- As the UN budget fight stretched into Christmas Eve, US Ambassador for Management Joe Torsella was seen huddled with the current head of the UN Department of Field Support Susana Malcorra, who's pegged as promoted by "Westerners" to replace Asha Rose Migiro of Tanzania as Deputy Secretary General.

  Among the diplomats waiting around, complaints emerged not only about flights they might miss but about US positions allegedly shifting at the last minute, on "development." Torsella, who has spoken and tweeted for months about transparency, is seen by some as shifting now to backroom or at least hallway politics, with the West's handpicked promoter for Ban Ki-moon's second term.

  The rationale for the affable Malcorra's entrance at 11:40 pm may have been discussion of the UN Mission in Ivory Coast or Cote d'Ivoire, UNOCI (or ONUCI to the French).

  The Ivorian budget expert is among the most able, though he spend much of 2011 in the transition from Gbagbo to Ouattara. Earlier in the month he conferred with Inner City Press about how Prime Minister Soro could speak to the media. Now he is back on the budget, and omnipresent.

   Many boxes of pizza were served, where the night before -- erroneously called by some the last night -- the Qatari President of the General Assembly had provided fried rice and spicy Asian chicken. Friday afternoon the PGA "suspended" what was supposed to be the last General Assembly meeting of the year, predicting that the budget would be done soon. That did not pan out.

Inner City Press went out and scanned what had earlier in the night been presented as the "Final Deal" of $5.152 billion -- in the spirit of transparency it is being put online here, complete with handwritten notation "to be deferred to November 2012" for "post recosting."

   But as the night wore on, some said the number had risen to $5.163 billion.

Vienna Cafe earlier Dec 23, pizza not yet shown (c) MRLee
 Torsella had live tweeted lesser meetings, on UMOJA and a postponed gabfest with the Council on Foreign Relations. Why go silent now? Here's hoping this turns around, in the spirit of the means are the ends. Can the UN handle transparency? This is a test. Watch this site.

Update of 12:45 am:  The aforementioned and still affable Susana Malcorra told Inner City Press, "they just approved the SPM budget, that's why I'm here." There's a start.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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