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Helen Clark in Line for New Zealand Award, Contrary to UN Rules, Hiding from Press and Africa, Scandals

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 30 -- Helen Clark, who has yet to hold a UN press conference since taking over at the UN Development Program, is reportedly set to receive New Zealand's "highest accolade, becoming a member of the Order of New Zealand."

  There is only one problem: this would appear to violate UN system rules.

   UN Staff Rule 1.2 provides that "No staff member shall accept any honour, decoration, favour, gift, or remuneration from any Government....If refusal of an unanticipated honour, decoration, favour or gift from a Government would cause embarrassment to the Organization, the staff member may receive it on behalf of the Organization and then report and entrust it to the Secretary-General, who will either retain it for the Organization or arrange for its disposal for the benefit of the Organization or for a charitable purpose."

  So does Ms. Clark intend to pass the honor along to Ban Ki-moon? Inner City Press has asked Ban's Spokesperson's Office about the case, on deadline. Is it Ms. Clark's claim that to refuse the honor would somehow "embarrass" the UN?

  Inner City Press has previously reported how Ms. Clark used UNDP resources to promote herself back in New Zealand, and how while dodging the press corps at the UN in New York, she has even come into her office early on a Sunday to appear in New Zealand media.

  The cited UN rule is meant to prohibit exactly this type of abuse:

ST/IC/2006/31 Honours, gifts or renumeration from outside sources

Para 2. Given the importance attributed by the Organization to the requirement that staff are, and are perceived to be, independent and impartial, staff members are reminded that they may not accept any honour, decoration, favour, gift or remuneration from any Government. This rule applies whatever the reason for the award, even if the award is unrelated to the staff member’s service with the Organization.

  By its terms, this is open and shut. But Ms. Clark, for example, refused for months to meet with Cameroon's Permanent Representative to the UN, who wanted to argue for his country's candidate for the number two UNDP post, which he and other African Ambassadors said was promised to Africa.

  Ms. Clark preferred a woman from Costa Rica, Rebecca Grynspan, and so refused to meet with Cameroon's Ambassador.

Helen Clark and NZ PM John Key, award in violation of rules not yet shown

  More recently, the Deputy Permanent Representative of a major South Asian country ridiculed Ms. Clark as a do-nothing official, only interested in promoting herself.

  There are UNDP corruption scandals in China, Uganda and elsewhere. Under Ms. Clark's "leadership," UNDP has dallied five months already in investigating a nepotism scandal in which the UN's top envoy to the Congo Alan Doss asked UNDP to break the rules and give a job to his daughter, which was done.
   Now Helen Clark prepares to accept an award from New Zealand, in violation of UN rules. But will anyone stop her? See update here and below.

Helen Clark Claims Waiver of UN Rules By Ethics Office, Won't Say When

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 31 -- "I've spent a lot of years at the top," Helen Clark was quoted about accepting the Order of New Zealand honor. At the UN in New York, Inner City Press asked how her receipt of this honor doesn't violated applicable UN rules, which contain no provision for waiver.

  After deadline Wednesday evening, the UN Spokesperson sent a reply that "you asked about an accolade being received by Helen Clark of UNDP. UNDP has informed us that, in accordance with the relevant rules, Helen Clark informed the Chef de Cabinet of the honour she is to receive and was informed that she could accept it."

  Inner City Press immediately wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's "chef de cabinet" -- French for chief of staff -- asking among other things

I have just been informed that you somehow waived the Staff Rules with regard to USG Helen Clark receiving an honour from New Zealand.

ST/IC/2006/31 "Honours, gifts or renumeration from outside sources," provides

Para 2. Given the importance attributed by the Organization to the requirement that staff are, and are perceived to be, independent and impartial, staff members are reminded that they may not accept any honour, decoration, favour, gift or remuneration from any Government. This rule applies whatever the reason for the award, even if the award is unrelated to the staff member’s service with the Organization.

Given that this honor not only falls under Rule 1.2, but also the purpose of the Rule, this is a request

a) that you explain your rationale (and precedent and authority) for ostensible waiving the rule

b) that you provide a list of instances in the past three years you have waived this rule, and requests for waiver that you have denied.

  The following morning, having no response, Inner City Press sent the above again to the chief of staff, explicitly to "do everything possible to make sure you get this before asking the Office of the Spokesperson at noon."

Helen Clark accepts shake from UN's Ban- New Zealand honor and Rules not shown

  Nearly immediately, a second response issued from the Office of the Spokesperson issued a second response:

Subj: Further to your questions on Helen Clark
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 12/31/2009 12:20:53 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

As you are aware, we had previously informed you that the Chef de Cabinet was informed by Helen Clark of an accolade that she is to receive and had told her that she could accept it. Further to that information, we can add that these honours are routinely reviewed by the Ethics Office , which sets specific conditions under which honours can be accepted in particular cases. In addition, any such honours conferred to individuals are held by the individuals' respective offices while they work for the UN.

We will also share with you any relevant information from the Ethics Office about the rules for accepting honours once we receive it.

  It is entirely unclear how membership in the Order of New Zealand could be "held" by UNDP. In this second answer, the Chief of Staff's approval is grounded, after the fact, in some review by the UN Ethics Office.
  But when did the UN Ethics Office review Ms. Clark accepting an honor from New Zealand, and why was this raised only in a second response? In fact, when was it, that Ms. Clark asked the chief of staff for a waiver? We have asked the Spokesperson's Office, which closed at 3:30 on December 31. Watch this space.

* * *

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.

* * *

Unauthorized Entry into Ban's Home and Party Dodged by UN, Disputing Obama Analogy

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 24 -- At UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's official residence on December 22, an individual with no invitation and no UN pass crashed Mr. Ban's holiday party, multiple sources tell Inner City Press.

  They describe Mr. Ban's personal secretary Ms. Kim stopping the individual and being told -- falsely as it turns out -- that the individual works for the UN Department of Political Affairs but for some reason had no pass or identification, and being let in.

  Ms. Kim asked, "What section?" and was told, "Elections" -- the unit embroiled in controversy following its role in the flawed Afghan election. 

  But despite reason to believe the person was not even from the UN, he passed security into Mr. Ban's residence. The individual even received a gift from Mr. Ban, before proceeding to enter without authorization other UN premises.

  On December 23, Inner City Press approached Mr. Ban's new spokesman Martin Nesirky on his way to the day's noon briefing, and asked about the incident, even suggesting he ask Ban's secretary Ms. Kim. Nesirky returned to his office and put in an inquiry. Inner City Press put the question on the record during the noon briefing and was promised an answer.

  Later on December 23, Nesirky tersely e-mailed Inner City Press that "there was no security breach."

  On December 24, Inner City Press sought and receive additional information, including the identity of the person -- also not invited, but having a UN pass -- who brought the party crasher, and other identifying details.

  After that day's noon briefing, Inner City Press went to Nesirky's river view office and asked what he had meant, that there had been no security breach. Nesirky said that the UN doesn't discuss security arrangements.

  When Inner City Press noted that in Washington in the wake of gate crashing at President Obama's state dinner with India a whole Congressional hearing on the topic of security was held, Nesirky said the situations were not at all analogous.

  Why, Inner City Press asked, because Obama is so much higher profile than Ban? Nesirky said that wasn't it -- without specifying what he meant -- and insisted "there is no story."

UN's Ban, center, and Nicolas Cage, security and candor not shown

  Nesirky chided Inner City Press for pursuing the issue, and even said he would only ask Ban's office a second time if Inner City Press returned with not only the first but also the last name of the gate crasher. This is pointless, since by two witnesses' account, Ban's secretary did not even write down the person's name.

  While Mr. Nesirky's deputy reportedly made belated telephone calls Thursday afternoon, seemingly to quiet possible witnesses, Inner City Press called Mr. Ban's office and asked to speak with Ms. Kim, on deadline.

  After the first transfer, a female voice began and then hung up. When Inner City Press called back, the response was that Ms. Kim was no longer available. Inner City Press left a cell phone number stating it was for a story being written that day, on deadline. The deadline has passed.

  What Inner City Press finds troubling is that the UN would reflexively claim that "there was no security breach," then would refuse to confirm or deny specific facts about unauthorized entry into the Secretary General's official residence.

  Relatedly, if these are the UN's answers on an incident at the Secretary General's residence, how are the answers on human rights, peace and security and even environmental issues more credible?

  Whereas governments and legislatures make for at least some accountability, often in the UN there is no accountability, and it starts at the top. Watch this site.

From the December 23, 2009 transcript

Spokesperson Nesirky: I think you have another question, I’m pretty sure you do.

Inner City Press: Okay, I do. No, actually, then I will if I get your drift. It’s… I wanted to… I guess, and it’s something that maybe you’ll have an answer on later today, but some are saying that in yesterday’s reception at the Secretary-General’s residence that there was an unauthorized attendee, and that the personal secretary to the Secretary-General, you know, was aware of this and for some reason it was waived. I wanted to know both what the procedures are, given, in light of the event at the White House at the State dinner for India, what are the relevant procedures at the UN for such things, and is it in fact the case that an unauthorized attendee attended, and what will be done about it?

Spokesperson: Yes, you mentioned this as we were passing in the corridor just now. I don’t have an immediate answer for you on this specific incident. And also, in more general terms, I would not wish to go into details about security arrangements. That’s clearly not appropriate, but I can just assure you that the security detail for the Secretary-General is extremely rigorous and they work extremely hard for the Secretary-General’s safety. That’s put in a general context, and the more specific question you’ve raised, I’ll see what I can find out. It’s not something that I was aware of.

[The Spokesperson later confirmed that there was no security breach at the Secretary-General’s residence.]

Subsequent e-mail:

Subj: your question about SG residence last night
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: matthew.lee [at]
Sent: 12/23/2009 12:33:05 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

Further to the Spokesman's response at the briefing to the above, there was no security breach at the SG residence last night.

   A question is, what does the UN mean by "security breach"? Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Dawn Budget Deal Benefits Bahrain, Has Russia Bitter, Politics of Human Rights

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 24 -- A UN budget deal was sealed at 4 a.m. on Christmas Eve, just as the building itself began to be gutted. While two countries, Bahrain and Bahamas, managed to get their assessment decreased by a side letter from General Assembly President Ali Treki, Russia and its allies lost a vote about rates of exchange, and only begrudgingly supported the overall deal.

  Israel called for a vote on support of the Goldstone report on Gaza, and found only a couple of African countries and North Korea to support it.

  The campaign by Syria and others against Terje Roed Larsen's role in Lebanon never came to fruition. India on the other hand gave a long speech denouncing the upgrade of a human rights liaison post in New York to Assistant Secretary General, but did not call for a vote.

  Throughout the night, when Ambassador and Treki met and milled around in the UN's basement, Inner City Press quizzed Permanent Representatives and staffers and got increasingly candid answers as the night went on. "This place is a joke," said one South Asian envoy. "We pay too much," said a Latin American. "Bahrain's play was shameful." The live blog is online here.

  In between the Budget Committee vote at 2 a.m. and the large session upstairs to confirm it from 3 to 4, dozens of Ambassadors toasted with Scotch whiskey and the remains of take-out pizza, wishing each other happy holidays. The Delegates Lounge, a fixture, will close on Christmas Eve for up to two years. During the first part there will be no construction in the space: it will simply lie empty, which the General Assembly next door remains open. "They're just closing it to close it," several delegates complained.

  Unlike in his first year when despite pleading from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon the U.S. broke consensus on the budget, Wednesday night Mr. Ban was nowhere to be seen.

UN's Ali Treki in a theater like setting, story still developing

  Ban's Controller stood BlackBerrying in the basement. Later his Under Secretary General for Management sat on the Budget Committee podium without saying a word. She left before the GA vote.

  Inner City Press asked about India's argument that using the budget process to upgrade particular posts will create a precedent for more sleaze. I don't opine on that, she said. A staffer from the PGA's office said that current holder of the post, American Jessica Neuwirth, will not benefit from the upgrade. "She was only brought in for eleven months," he said. So who will get the post, after all this hoopla?

  The evening -- or early morning -- ended with Myanmar denouncing criticism of its human rights record, but vowing as part of its foreign policy to continue to cooperate with the Secretary General's "Good Offices." The occupant of that post, Ibrahim Gambari, has been re-assigned to Darfur, for reasons as much budgetary as political. At the UN it is hard to disconnect the two. Happy holidays.

* * *

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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