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On Sri Lanka, UN Won't Be "Used" or Speak on Broken IDP Promises or Elections

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 31 -- As the Sri Lankan government of Mahinda Rajapaksa reneges on its commitment to empty the internally displaced person camps into which it herded Tamils earlier this year, the United Nations has had nothing to say.

  Despite statements by the UN and its Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that particular attention will be paid to Sri Lanka, the UN has in the past week repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether it has been asked to provide election observers and whether it will.

  At the last in-person press briefing of 2009, on December 24, Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky about the UN's vetting of Sri Lankan soldiers as peacekeepers, and that it's "been said in Sri Lanka that the former military head, [Sarath] Fonseka,may be prosecuted for having said that those seeking to surrender were shot, and I’m wondering whether the Secretary-General, who said he is concerned about political openness, has any, is monitoring that and has any comment on the number two presidential candidate being threatened with legal prosecution."

  The UN Spokesman, rather than answering, chided the question:

Spokesperson: Well, it would really help me if you gave me short, clear questions that I can answer, because this was rather long and it’s difficult for me to unravel exactly what your point is.

Inner City Press: peacekeepers and Fonseka. The question is, is DPKO going to vet the 700 new peacekeepers who are coming for participation in war crimes? And does the SG have any comment on the number two presidential candidate being threatened with legal prosecution?

Spokesperson: Okay, so, on the first one, again I would need to find out more details from DPKO because I do not know that. And on the second one, that’s not something that we can comment on.

  This last seemed strange, since Ban Ki-moon following his visit to Sri Lanka in May, including being sung to be interned Tamil children in the Vavuniya camp, has said he will push for inclusive political dialogue in the country. If the main opposition candidate, or his supporters, are threatened with arrest, particularly for blowing the whistle on their country's alleged war crimes, how can there be inclusive political dialogue?

  At least one would assume that the UN would be able to say whether they will send observers to the election set for late January. On December 28, Inner City Press asked Ban's Spokesperson's Office, in writing

Can you confirm or deny that Sri Lanka has asked the UN for election observers? If so, what is the response or when will a response be given? It is reported that the EU will say "no," due to the short time given for the request. Does the UN think the time given is short?

  While written answers were given to other, non-Sri Lanka questions that Inner City Press posed -- for example, about the UN's use of peacekeepers from Nepal -- Inner City Press visited the Spokesperson's Office. Mr. Ban's Deputy Spokesperson said, on December 28, that she was working on getting an answer to the Sri Lankan elections question.

  But in the three days that followed, no answer was forthcoming. In the interim, Inner City Press spoke with a well placed source in Mr. Ban's office, who indicated that a request was received, but that the UN was not inclined to send observers "to be used."

  But then shouldn't the UN say that on the record? This is the worst of all possible worlds: allowing an already questionable election to take place without UN observers, without even explaining why the UN decided, if it has, not to send observers.

UN's Ban and Mahinda Rajapaksa, elections observers and full IDP release not shown

  Finally, on December 30, Inner City Press asked the Spokesperson's Office in writing, to comment on "that Sri Lanka is reneging on its commitment, which the UN publicly welcomed, to empty the IDP camps." More than 24 hours later, when the UN Spokesperson's Office closed for a three day holiday, no comment was issued. The UN praised the Rajapaksa's announcement, but had nothing to say when it was reneged on, even when asked.

  Inner City Press also on December 30 asked Mr. Ban's Spokesperson to respond to a published critique that

"Ban Ki-moon has been too eager to meet with officials without ensuring he gets something in return....There was no surprise when he was given nothing—he had given up all of his leverage. Also, he has been reluctant to speak out. And so, he is fighting many of these battles with one hand tied behind his back and it is no surprise that he is losing."

  Again, more than 24 hours later, there has been no response. While some find it a fitting on, at least on Sri Lanka and human rights, to 2009, we will continue to follow these issues. Watch this site.

* * *

As UN Weapons Expert Sues to Keep Job, UNMOVIC Cover Up Alleged, Gag Order on Inner City Press Rejected

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 29 -- A Russian expert in weapons of mass destruction, claiming retaliation for having exposed what she called a United Nations cover-up of chemical weapons left over from Iraq, is challenging the UN's termination of her employment at New Years.

  Svetlana Utkina, who served the UN in Iraq, in New York and most recently on North Korea and Iran, appeared Tuesday in a judicial proceeding in the basement of UN headquarters, saying that if the UN lets her go, she is in danger.

  She alleged retaliation, and that her supervisor Thomas Markram had forced her to remove the names of countries she worked on -- North Korea and Iran -- from her job description and evaluation.

  The chief of UN Disarmament Affairs' Weapons of Mass Destruction Branch, Gabrile Kraatz- Wadsak, acknowledged that Mr. Markham had forced these two countries names to be removed from Ms. Uktina's employment forms, but said it was so no "bias" would be perceived against the two countries.

  Ms. Uktina went to the UN Ethics Office, which is ostensiblly in charge of ensuring protection of whistleblowers. They simply referred her elsewhere in the UN system, leading to the December 29 hearing.

  Inner City Press, the only media organization covering the hearing and case, first questioned Ms. Utkina in 2007, when five vials of phosgene were found in the closed down offices of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, (UNMOVIC). Story here, video here.

  On Tuesday, before a gag order was sought, Ms. Utkina alleged that UN "management concealed six days" the vials.

  After UNMOVIC was disbanded in 2007, Ms. Utkina continued working in UN Disarmament, in posts funded by the John D. MacArthur Foundation. (Testimony says $2 million was spent on a mere four posts in 22 months). Ms. Uktina argues that it was discrimination and retaliation that she was made to work on projects outside the scope of the MacArthur grant, such that she is now being let go.

  After that, a deputy of Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin called the head of UN Disarmament, Sergio De Queiroz Duarte, asking if Ms. Utkina could be kept on. Only if money could be found, Mr. Duarte replied, according to testimony. Then a prospective donor country -- left unidentified -- was approached, but did not come through.

  UN Dispute Tribunal judge Memooda Ebrahim-Carstens asked Ms. Utkina if she currently has an UN security. No, Ms. Utkina answered, but "Hans Blix protected me." She added that she lives in an apartment building -- which Inner City Press will leave unnamed -- where "eighty percent" of the tenants work for the UN, with security video cameras.

UNDT judges, notice to Press before sealing documents not shown

  Ms Utkina said that she could not get a job in the weapons field in Russia because her husband is American, nor in the United States because she is not a citizen. Her degree is as a chemical weapons production engineer. What do you want me to do, she asked, "put that on my Facebook?"

  The OLA representative countered that the UN "can't give jobs for life." He argued that Ms. Utkina's harm would not be irreparable, that it could be compensated with money if she ultimately wins on the merit. Ms. Uktina cited a medical procedure costing "three times as much as [her] repatriation grant" and the possible need to return half of the UN's $25,000 educational grant for her daughter.

  At Tuesday's hearing, after the UN Office of Legal Affairs representative pointed Inner City Press out, a motion was made to prohibit Inner City Press from reporting on the proceedings. Inner City Press opposed the motion, noting that the hearing was listed as open and that the Ban Ki-moon administration brags about the transparency of its new internal justice system. (Click here for a previous Inner City Press report on a UNDT proceeding.)

  While granting separate orders to keep documents filed secret from the Press and public, the judge agreed, but asked OLA to in the future make earlier motions to bar the press. But the Press would need notice and an opportunity to be heard, Inner City Press pointed out. We'll see.

* * *

UN in Guinea Bissau Offers Sanctuary to Coup Leader, Setting Precedent?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 29 -- When an accused coup leader shows up unannounced at the UN asking protection, does he get it? The answer is yes. Monday in Guinea Bissau, former Rear Admiral Bubo Na Tchut showed up at the UN. The government has expressed surprise that he is there, and says it will arrest him.

  On Tuesday at noon, Inner City Press asked the UN whether the UN knew in advance he would go there, and what the UN will do in response to government's position that he should be arrested.

  The UN responded, some hours later, that "he has asked for protection. We have been in constant contact with the authorities in Guinea-Bissau in an effort to resolve this situation peacefully and in accordance with international law."

  Does this mean he will go (back) into exile? What is the UN's responsibility to turn off an indictee to a host government? Or, separately, to the International Criminal Court? This could be a test case, in a country where there UN has an extensive and not uncontroversial role. Click here for a previous Inner City Press article about Guinea Bissau.

UN's Ban and Guinea Bissau's prime minister, coup leader not shown

For now, for the record:

Subj: Question regarding Guinea-Bissau
From:unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 12/29/2009 4:52:19 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

Regarding your question as follows:

"please confirm the presence in the UN building in Guinea Bissau of accused coup plotter Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchute, and state how he got in, whether the UN knew in advance he would go there, and what the UN will do in response to government's position that he should be arrested."

Here is the response:

Former Rear Admiral Bubo Na Tchuto arrived unannounced at UN premises in Bissau early yesterday (28 Dec) and remains there at this time. He has asked for protection. We have been in constant contact with the authorities in Guinea-Bissau in an effort to resolve this situation peacefully and in accordance with international law.

* * *

Lauding Sudan, UN Nods Disapprovingly at Ban's Turkmeni-Plans, State Media Appearances

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 29 -- When state media in the hermit state of Turkmenistan published what it called the New Years greeting of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, complete with his promise to travel to the country in April 2010, the UN had no comment.

  Inner City Press on December 28 asked for confirmation of Mr. Ban's now published travel plans. For security reasons, Inner City Press was told, the UN only announces such plans a week in advance. But, Inner City Press was told, most media rely on reports like Turkmenistan's.

  So is the UN saying Turkmenistan's state media breeched protocol by publishing Ban's missive? To this, there was no answer. Therefore no reason to seek comment on the BBC's December 28 pick-up from Sudan's state media SUNA, "Sudanese leader receives congratulatory message from UN chief" --

Khartoum, December, 28 (SUNA): President of the Republic, Field Marshal Umar Al-Bashir, received Monday [28 December] a written message from the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, congratulating him on the anniversary of Sudan Independence Day.

The UN Secretary General expressed the UN adherence to its noble goals and values as a global platform in all fields, pointing out that the contribution of the member states and the commitment of the leaders to the countries to achieve goals will enable the UN to confront the current challenges and establish a peaceful world where any one will enjoy justice and well-being.

Source: Suna news agency website, Khartoum, in English 28 Dec 09

  How many other leaders -- in these cases, an ICC indicted war criminal and the former dentist of the Father of all Turkmen, Turkmenbashi -- got holiday wishes from Ban? There was also no answer to this.

UN's Ban and Turkmenistan's President, New Years greetings not shown

  And so, legitimization in Khartoum and springtime for Ban Ki-moon in Ashkabat, a capital formed by the demolition of its former residents' houses, largely by a French construction firm. On this we can rely? Watch this site.

28.12.09 12:08 TURKMENISTAN.RU

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to visit Turkmenistan in April 2010

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will visit Turkmenistan in April 2010. This was announced in the Secretary-General's New Year message of congratulations to President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

The text of the message was published in today's central press...

* * *

UN Is Silent as Egypt Bans Press From Protest of UN in Cairo, Gaza Freedom March

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 28 -- As protesters massed in front of the UN in Cairo, Egyptian authorities blocked the press from covering the protest or speaking to the protesters.

  At noon in New York, Inner City Press asked the Office of the Spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, "does the UN have any comment on Egyptian authorities barred the press from filming or speaking with people in front of the UN facilities in Cairo engaged in a protest regarding the Gaza Freedom March?"

  Four hours later, having heard nothing back, Inner City Press went to the Spokesperson's Office for an answer to this and other questions. The deputy spokesperson asked, which UN building, and indicated that there would be no UN response.

UN's Ban and Egypt's Mubarak, freedom of the press to cover protests at UN not shown

  Back on December 17, Inner City Press asked an organizer of the Gaza Freedom March about Egyptian policies, and whether the UN is going enough. Video here, from Minute 28:30.

  The response was generally that "the UN should play a stronger role" (this included in Afghanistan, another of Inner City Press' questions). Video here, from Minute 40:50.

  The December 28 request for comment, for the record, was not about the Gaza Freedom March in general -- the UN has already no commented on that -- but about a host government interfering with freedom of the press to cover a protest in front of the UN. The silence, then, is all the more striking. Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Final Night Falls on Budget, of Scales, Bahrain and Human Rights, Live Blogging Budget from UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 23-24, updated below -- As the UN budget process moved into what should be its final night, Permanent Representatives milled around basement Conference Room 8, amid cigarette smoke and furniture set to be moved out the next morning.

  Beyond the two issues on which Inner City Press has so far exclusively reported -- the requests by Bahrain and Bahamas to pay less, and India's opposition to upgrading a human rights post -- the issue was when and how to review the scales of assessment.

  The 130 developing countries in the Group of 77 demand no review for the next three years. Western countries and other some others, who feel their ox is gored, are pushing for faster review.

  Mexico's delegation, for example, point out that they pay "over fifty percent of Latin America," even after suffering swine flu and a decrease in tourism.

  The Group of 77, which fell into some disarray during the climate change talks in Copenhagen, remains united in the UN Budget committee. They have thrown their weight behind Bahrain and the Bahamas, who are predicted to prevail in being dropped in peacekeeping assessment from Category B to C, with a 7.5% discount.

  Despite India's objections that human rights are being conflated with supporting an upgrade of a post, it is suggested to Inner City Press that "India will back down."

  President of the General Assembly Ali Treki has already met with Ambassadors, then retreated to his second floor office. One of his advisors remains in the basement, glad handing the chairman and secretary of the Budget Committee. There was talk of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who stayed hidden throughout the first budget vigil of his Secretary Generalship, waiting in the wings.

UN's Ban and Treki at another meeting, this year's budget not yet shown

  For the U.S. delegation, beyond their long time bow tied representative, Alejandro Wolff is in the basement, there's no sign of Susan Rice. Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rice earlier on Wednesday for the U.S. view on the budget, if she is satisfied with her Mission's level of involvement, and whether like at least her last two predecessors she believes the UN budget is too piecemeal, not transparent enough.

  Ambassador Rice replied that of course she is satisfied with her Mission's performance, and that the U.S. is very involved in making sure Missions get enough resources. But what about the when to review the scales of assessment? More fundamentally, what about the piecemeal budget process in which "add ons" comprise more than $1 billion? More blogging to follow: watch this space.

Update of 7:27 p.m. -- the basement is still full of Ambassadors, but UN TV keeps showing live shots of the empty General Assembly chamber upstairs, in front of which four Security officers are posted. In the cafeteria, the chairs and tables are being carted away. Some the basement furniture, too, will be on the move. An African Ambassador stops to tell Inner City Press that "the PGA would be wise to re-schedule the plenary for 10 a.m. tomorrow."

Update of 7:45 p.m. -- in the Delegates Lounge, Deputy Permanent Representatives are lifting a glass on the last, or next to last, night of the UN bar. "They're at the level of Perm Reps down there," one tells Inner City Press. "Let them earn their money."

Update of 8:10 p.m. -- even countries' Budget Committee experts are no longer in the loop. "My Ambassador is in there," one tells Inner City Press, gesturing at the entrance to Conference Room 8. "But I don't know where things stand."

In the interim, Inner City Press has dug into who it would be, who would get the upgrade to ASG level from D-2. It's American Jessica Neuwirth, whom Inner City Press questions on camera in April, vidoe here from Minute 40:05. One UN human rights expert has expressed disgust at the way the Secretariat has tried to upgrade the post, a promotion through the budget process. Only at the UN.

Update of 8:26 p.m. -- an Inner City Press source emerging from Conference Room 8 says they are discussing the scale of assessments for peacekeeping, with the U.S., Japan and EU opposing the G-77's push to move Bahrain and Bahamas from Classification B to the discounted C. The news: there is a proposal to abolish Classification C....

Update of 9:21 p.m. -- the crowd outside Conference Room 8 has grown; President of the General Assembly Ali Treki has descended again, and still to no avail. Inner City Press is asked: why are you the only media here? Later a camera crew comes. But they are covering neither scale of assessments nor human rights. They are here, it seems, by mistake, asking Treki about the UN tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia. Inner City Press asks the crew: did he say anything useful or useable? No, is the answer. Will the results in Conference Room 8 be any better or more authentic? Or is this all just theater?

Update of 9:34 p.m. -- a PGA staffer tells Inner City Press that a deal is near on Bahrain and Bahamas. He calls it a "transitional arrangement" from Classification B to C. Classification C, he says, was set up as a compromise in 2000 under then U.S. Ambassador Holbrooke, as a way to "shut up" Kuwait, the Emirates and Singapore, so Holbrooke could bring about some other reduction. Another diplomat marvels at how little the U.S. Mission says now. "When Rice is not in New York, you don't hear anything," he says. "The others used to be allowed to talk. Now they are not."

  Ambassadors strain in the doorway of Conference Room 8. It is untransparent, but something is afoot.

Update of 9:42 p.m. -- in the corner by Conference Room 4, U.S. deputy Alejandro Wolff speaks with G-77 members. Afterwards, Inner City Press is told by G-77 that Bahrain and Bahamas will be put into Classification C, with its 7.5% discount, for three years. What about the human rights liaison upgrade to ASG? G-77's chair in New York scoffs. Why do we need another useless ASG? We will vote with India! We'll see.

Update of 9:47 p.m. -- a crowd comes out of Conference Room 8, with shouts of "Conference Room 4! We'll go to Conference Room 4!" It is the Group of 77, almost 77 of them now, going to plan strategy. "It's percolating," a G-77 member in Classifaction C tells Inner City Press. "Like the coffee."

Update of 9:54 p.m. -- while the G-77 and EU consult, Inner City Press has received the following predictions from perhaps the best placed source: India will NOT call for a vote on the human rights liaison upgrade to ASG, even though "Navi Pillay has not made the case for the upgrade." The argument has become that there are six or seven "development" USGs in New York, and none for human rights.

Second prediction: Israel WILL call for a vote opposing the Goldstone report follow up. But a Middle Eastern source says Israel does not have support from the usual places for this. Nonetheless, a vote is predicted.

Syria, too, is predicted to back down on calling for a vote on Roed Larsen's mandate. This is perhaps wishful thinking by the source. He is correct, however, in diagnosing that unresolved political issues rear their head in the budget's eleventh hour.

Update of 10:27 p.m. -- Finally, there are numbers. How much would the Permanent Five members of the Security Council have to pay, if Bahrain and Bahamas are allowed to shift down from Classification B to C? $300,000, is the answer from one of the P-5. 50% or so to the U.S., 15% each to France and the UK, the rest Russia and China.

"But it's the principle of the thing!" the P-5, as well as Japan and others, say. But principle left the station in 2000, which the artibrary Classification C was set up to solve some other political problem.

UN Controller Jun Yamasaki is now down in the basement. Inner City Press asks him "what for." He agrees that "the scales" are up to the member states. But so it is the ASG upgrade? The Goldstone report follow up?

Inner City Press asks Israel's representative: will you call for a vote? They say you are threatening to do so. He replied, "It is not a threat. And it is more than a follow up." And so that train, too, has left the station.

Update of 10:35 p.m. -- in this micro issue, of $150,000, stop the presses. Inner City Press asks the P in the P-5, "if Bahrain and Bahamas are reduced, does it cost you $100,000 or $150,000?" The answer is, "It's not sure that Bahrain and Bahama will be reduced." Could be a long night.

Update of 11:10 p.m. -- the word is, Bahrain and Bahamas will get moved to Classification C, but not in the resolution. Rather, they will get a letter of guarantee from the President of the General Assembly. On the overall scale of assessments, Russia has made a new proposal. But G-77 is not backing them up: every country for themselves, it's up to you. Everyone is eating pizza and waiting for another paragraph to be written.

Update of 11:17 p.m. -- Russia, it's said, has some supporters, including Mexico and Kazakhstan. But not enough supporters...

Update of 11:38 p.m. -- amid talk of an "agreed scenario," Ambassadors huddle in front of Conference Room 7: Sudan and Singapore, the U.S. and UK. This is how deals are cut at the UN.

Update  of 11:59 p.m. -- from within Conference Room 8, some clapping. A delegate emerges and tells Inner City Press, "It's done. In 45 minute, committee vote in Conference Room 3." (After that, there'll be a wait for translation before the full General Assembly.)

  But even as typing this up, Inner City Press asks Kazakhstan's Ambassador: are you happy with how the Russian proposal has been addressed? No, is the answer. We will be putting it to a vote. We are not happy.
  She is eating La Vache Qui Rie cheese on Breton crackers. The room is full of smoke.

Update of 12:10 a.m. -- Mexico clarifies that it previously supported Russia's one year proposal, but fell away when Russia changed it into a proposal about market exchange rates. Now, alongside Kazakhstan and some others, Ukraine (Mexico says) is supporting Russia's position. Hmm.

Ali Treki flashes Inner City Press a thumbs up, it's done. There will be at least two votes called for. And there is more to be said, not only about the budget. But budget first, in this space, when the Fifth Committee votes.

Update of 12:45 a.m. -- Delegates stand in line in Conference Room 3, waiting to get their copies to vote on. A European representative, saying "good night" to Inner City Press, explains that her mission works the budget in three shifts. The skeleton crew is coming in for the vote.

Inner City Press asked the Committee chairman, Peter Maurer of Switzerland, how many countries he thinks will vote along with Russia. I don't know, he says. You will see.

Update of 1:09 a.m. -- finally, the two scales of assessment resolutions are distributed. The peacekeeping scale says, in paragraph 16, that the GA "recognizes the concerns raised by Member States, including Bahrain and Bahamas, regarding the structure of the levels." Both have been assured they will get a side letter from the President of the General Assembly. Inner City Press asked at the document window, but where's the Russian amendment? The response: that's a different story. Still the curtain that covers the voting board has not been drawn back. But Maurer has gaveled the meeting to order.

Update of 1:13 a.m. -- the first items called by Maurer are the international criminal tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Jun Yamasaki speaks on changes in rates of exchange.

Update of 1:22 a.m. -- Maurer asks again and again, are there any comments? Are there any objections? I see none, it is so decided. Does any delegation wish to make a statement after the adoption of the draft resolution? Eritrea's seat is empty. We will be writing about their speech outside the Security Council (much) earlier today.  And now India is taking the floor.

Update of 1:24 a.m. -- India says it proposed to maintain the liaison at D-2 level. I would like to keep this on record. "I find it difficult to accept.. Human rights and Human Resources management tool... This needs to be understood... We are moving this amendment... this is not about nurturing human rights... this is budgetary.... without prejudice to our positions on several aspects to human rights... Human rights is one for the GA... I need to remain most delegates here... a job, an assignment, a protocol job in the real sense of the term... why is there a need to upgrade... cannot attend meetings... surely, simple expeditious answers, tell the USG to give all area access pass...

Update of 1:28 a.m. -- "India's commitment to multilateralism... we have been participating.... fully aware it's 1:30 a.m., one and a half hour beyond when we should have completed our work... without wishing to make matter divisive... I wish to inform you, we would not wish to press for the amendment we had mentioned earlier in the day today..."

  And so it is adopted, without amendment. There is applause.

Update of 1:36 a.m. -- now Israel is calling for a vote on the Goldstone report. A/64/7/L.3 of ACABQ about the Goldstone report. "As a matter of principle... we cannot support... established with predetermined conditions."

In favor 136, against 2, abstain 3. Guatemala says it made a mistake, wants to be green.

The U.S. has voted in favor of part 5... The U.S. supports creation of expert on Sudan, DPRK and Myanmar... Somalia... We will not reiterate our views, it does not change our view of the report.

Update of 1:45 a.m. - now Russia is speaking, "despite all efforts... we have not been able to achieve a consensus on scale of assessments for the regular budget... this draft does not take into account the views of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and others... fluxuations in currency rates, over-estimates... Russian federation is submitted its own amendment to paragraph 6...

Update of 1:49 a.m. -- this table is the same as Russia distributed in Room 5 on December 1.... Now Kazakhstan is taking the floor, excusing Maurer for calling her "sir," "it's 2 a.m.," she says. The mic is not working. "Sabotage," Maurer jokes. She begins in Russian.

Update of 1:52 a.m. -- she says Iraq is given special treatment, "that is understandable," why would poor Kazakhstan as a developing country have to pay this... I propose that the proposal of the Russian federation, we put it to a vote today... We support it, the amendment to item 136..."

Update of 1:55 a.m. -- Japan says the agreement is for scales to remain the same for three years, with review "urgently." Japan urges opposition to the Russian amendment.

Update of 1:59 a.m. -- Ukraine, which Maurer called "The Ukraine," says it supports Russia's amendment not because it benefits Ukraine, but because it's right. Now Sweden, on behalf of the EU: "against the proposed amendment by the Russian federation."

Update of 2:04 a.m. -- Russia loses, 22-85-27. Russia's supporters include Nicaragua and Venezuela, Laos and Mongolia , Serbia, Qatar, Myanmar and so forth. Afterwards Russia notes that this is not a consensus resolution. Belarus trashes the Committee on Contributions as biased.

Update of 2:07 a.m. -- looking back at the Goldstone vote, now that the voting sheet has been released, when you take away Guatemala's erroneous vote, Israel has only three abstainers in support, and these are surprising: Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroon and Benin. Say what?

Update of 2:09 a.m. -- on scale, Maurer reads out it is the understanding of the Committee that Bahamas and Bahrain will be treated as Category C. And there are no comments -- except Bahamas, which wants to thank its supporters.

Update of 2:13 a.m. -- Sweden says the EU accepted the Chairman's proposal on the peacekeeeping scales -- that is, the letter from the PGA to Bahrain and Bahamas.

Update of 2:15 a.m. -- Maurer says it's over, come to the GA. He thanks the bureau. "it's not the moment to get philosophic... to GA and then sleep before daylight starts."

Update of 2:17 a.m. - Mosves congratulates Paul, 17 years serving the 5th committee, there is applause. 35 minutes gap before the GA.

Update of 2:41 a.m. -- in the Delegates Lounge, there are drinks and congratulations. Mosves says he is the only Committee secretary allowed in to the most sensitive negotiations, because he has no position, only wants to help them get where they want to go. Other committees are not binding, he said. In the 5th it must be by consensus. He tells a PGA staffer, see I brought it in earlier than last year, when it was 8:01 a.m..  The staffer later scoffs. USG Angela Kane has headed off, no need to wait for the GA. Will Russia raises its issue again in the GA? Inner City Press is told no. Israel will,  yes. With only three abstainers?

Update of 3:12 a.m. -- Ali Treki gravels the meeting to order. In the TV booth, there are no headsets for translation. It sounds like he is singing.

Update of 3:17 a.m. -- underneath TV booth 14 there are many empty seats in the GA. Comoros, DRC, Lesotho, Paraguay... Not voting in the Budget committee earlier tonight (or this morning) were, among others, Belize, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Chad. The Comoros, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea and Eritrea.... and on from there.

Update of 3:34 a.m. -- after the resolution criticizing Myanmar's human rights record passes 86-23-39 (Norway asked that it's vote be changed to yes), the Solomon Islands speaks up to say that due to pressure it is changing its position from that in the 3d Committee.

  Another change: on Israel's vote, the DPRK (North Korea) abstains, in seeming support of Israel -- or simply against any human rights mandate anywhere.

Update of 4:07 a.m. -- the Kazakhstan Ambassador brings it to a close, be well, be happy, be lucky!

  The voting screen depicts a green and orange Christmas tree.

Update of 4:14 a.m. -- the Japanese delegates are still at their GA table, talking on their cell phones.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

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

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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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