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UN Amid Backsliding Heads to Poznan, WMO in Chaos, UN Safety Saga Goes Without Update

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 4 -- The coming year "will be the year of climate change," the UN's self-described "resident America" Robert Orr told the Press on Wednesday. While he seemed to mean the year of combating global warming, other heard it as a prediction that the climate would more dramatically change in the next twelve months. Given the diminished expectations for the upcoming Poznan conference, in light of the financial crisis and various European Union nations' backsliding on their previous positions, the environment seems to be taking a backseat, at least for now.

  The UN and its Secretary General Ban Ki-moon however, Orr and his colleague Janos Pasztor insisted, are taking a leading role in rallying the world to get serious. They passed out a pamphlet on recycled paper entitled "Acting on Climate Change: The UN System Delivering as One." Throughout the pamphlet, the word of the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is extolled in terms of climate prediction and capacity building. But when Inner City Press asked them to comment on the Joint Inspection Unit's damning audit of the WMO, which criticizes the Organization for its lack of coordination, Pasztor said that's not the Secretariat's or even the the Chief Executive Board's problem. Coordination between UN agencies does not involve improving  the agencies' internal coordination. Video here, from Minute 17:29.

  So despite the buzzword about "delivering as one" and "systemwide coherence," the UN system is still a patchwork of fiefdoms with no one, least of all Ban, actually in charge. Ban and his malaria envoy Ray Chambers have still declined to comment on the leakage into for profit sales of UN system medicine distributed by UNICEF in Sierra Leone, for example, perhaps on the theory that UNICEF is its own fiefdom with its own "resident American," Ann Veneman.

Some are predicting that with the new Administration taking power in Washington, both of these these two Americans may be impacted: one to be replaced, the other to be recruited. Based on party affiliation, which is which should be quite clear.

UN's Ban and Orr in St. Louis, next stop Poznan, WMO audit and Algiers follow-though not shown

  Inner City Press asked Orr one question as a representative of the Executive Office of the Secretary General. Next week will be the one-year anniversary of the deadly attack on the UN in Algiers.  Six months ago, David Veness said he was resigning but he still remains in his post.  There was this panel for accountability. Has anyone been held accountable? Where does it stand on Mr. Veness' resignation, announce six month ago? Is there any update?" Video here from Minute 27.

  "I was smiling when you mentioned the EOSG," Orr said, "guessing what it was going to be. I guessed wrong. I won't tell you what I guessed, but I guessed wrong. Honestly, I am not part of that discussion. I can pass your interested along and maybe you'll get an answer."

  Maybe. What could Orr have been thinking of -- the scandal at the Office of Internal Oversight Services? Ban's delay in Administration of Justice?

On that, Wednesday afternoon saw another resignation from the UN's Joint Appeals Board -- click here for the four paragraph letter, which was sent to Ban Ki-moon and then the other JAB members. The chickens are coming home to roost. And the German Mission, apparently at the behest of the head of the Department of Management, is asking for a ceasefire. To come full circule, how about emissions reductions, cutting down on hot air?

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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