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UN Budget Defended by UK, While U.S. Hardball Links Justice to Procurement Task Force

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 12 -- A day after U.S. Ambassador Mark D. Wallace said that the United States "expects that the final actual total budget" of the UN for 2008-09 will "represent an increase of 25%," the UK's Permanent Representative John Sawers told Inner City Press, "I am not sure where the figure of twenty five percent comes from," and indicated the UK's hope that the budget be approved before Christmas. The lack of transparency in the UN budget process was exemplified by two closed-door meetings on Wednesday night, one about the Darfur mission and its $250 million no-bid contract to Lockheed Martin, the other about the UN's "administration of justice" proposals. The U.S., represented by Bruce K. Rashkow, is said by a participant to have called into question the proposed administration of justice budget, unless the U.S. secures funding that it wants, for example for the Procurement Task Force.

UK Ambassador John Sawers at stakeout, UN budget increase not shown

   Thursday at the Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press asked U.S. Permanent Representative Zalmay Khalilzad

Inner City Press: It was said yesterday that the U.S. position is that the current budget proposal is a 25% increase, it's way too high and the U.S. won't vote for it.  Some people have said the U.S. will only vote for it if it is a 12% increase or they'll put it into next year.  What is the U.S.'s real position on this?

Ambassador Khalilzad: It is premature to judge -- to say how we will ultimately decide.  Certainly the budget as proposed is too high.  And besides we don't have the total budget yet, we have a piece of the budget.  A major piece, the major piece but there is going to be perhaps, they say, as much as six to eight hundred million dollars of additional expenses.  We would like to see a clear prioritization.  We would like to see where savings can be made.  And we are discussing with other major donors and others with influence over the membership of the United Nations and we are talking to the Secretariat as well as to what are the options to deal with this.  We have not come to a final judgment on it because we are in the midst of the discussions.  I've had personally some discussions with some of my colleagues, permanent representative of some of the countries. 

            Apparently not with UK Ambassador Sawers. We will have more about the budget.

* * *

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

  Because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

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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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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540