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As India Debates Moving Hindi As A UN Language, ICP Asks & Gets Buck-Passing

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 3 – India is a major countries with major language(s), but for now it cannot get at the UN the same treatment of Portuguese or Kiswahili. On January 3, Inner City Press asked Lusophone Antonio Guterres' deputy spokesman why, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: there's a debate in India about trying to make Hindi, they say, an official language of the United Nations, but I think maybe they… in a… I guess I wanted to ask you, what… what are the steps?  There's a… there's a statement in question hour by the Foreign Minister of India that it requires a two-thirds vote and that… and that all Member States would bear the costs.  But I definitely saw in the budget that there's Portuguese and Kiswahili, for example, are… they're a part of the budget, but I'm just wondering, are any of the expenses of the… where the UN does things in eight languages, like in social media accounts, are any of these borne by the countries themselves who put the language forward or they're all… is all language, even beyond the six, done by the entire membership and… and what is the status of Hindi as a possible language in the UN? Deputy Spokesman:  The cost of language services are part of the operating costs of the UN, and so they're borne by the Member States as it becomes part of the regular budget.  But that budget needs to be approved, as you know, by the Member States.  So whenever they approve posts for multilingualism, the Member States are approving the budget for those posts. Inner City Press: So, how would a country like India go about proposing to have their language made, similar to Portuguese or Swahili…Deputy Spokesman:  That's really something they need to take up with the Member States.  Have a good afternoon." We'll see. Unreported during the recent International Court of Justice battle in which India's Dalveer Bhandari bested the UK's Christopher Greenwood, in the General Assembly and then overall when Greenwood withdrew, is the scandal of moonlighting ICJ judges. While the Statute of the ICJ bans judges from engaging “in any other occupation of a professional nature," seven sitting judges have been paid for private investor - state dispute settlement cases. IISD reports that "Greenwood worked as an arbitrator in at least nine investment arbitration cases during his tenure at the ICJ. He was paid more than USD 400,000 in fees in two of those nine cases. It did not identify any cases in which Bhandari worked as an arbitrator during his tenure." Inner City Press is informed that Bhandari, in fact, doesn't do this type of investor - state dispute settlement arbitration work, as a conscious choice. But others do - we've reported on this in the past, here and here, and will stay on the beat.  In other news, on November 3 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who had just cut short Inner City Press' questions about Guterres' inaction on the killings by the Cameroon government, these questions: "is the Secretary General having a one-on-one lunch on 38th floor today? is it with a journalist / editor? is it on or off the record? why isn't this lunch on the SG's public schedule? is it with Gillian Tett?" Dujarric's and the UN's answer on this: "I have nothing to say to the SG’s schedule that’s not public." Now Tett's FT interview belatedly came out, with no mention of Guterres and his Deputy's involvement in corruption scandals, it led with Guterres complaining about the quality of his private chef and wine cellar. Even UN supporters told Inner City Press it was distasteful. The interview, tellingly, had little Africa where Guterres took 42-year ruler Paul Biya's golden statue; he said he is not a professional tweeter. So who is sending that pablum out? And why did the FT go so soft? We'll have more on this.


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