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As Seas Rise, Island States Look for Concrete Partners, Doubts on UN's Overhead

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

UNITED NATIONS, February 12 -- As the UN speaks more and more of climate change, and of small island states as the front line, Solomon Islands Ambassador Colin Beck on Tuesday told Inner City Press of his skepticism. "With the UN," he said, "they have so many consultants, no one wants to get their hands dirty" with projects on the ground. He said "the UN takes ten percent in administrative costs... undermining its credibility." He has looked outside the UN to, for example, an upcoming conference in, and funding from, the Italian government. Likewise the Maldives Islands have partnered with the Netherlands and others to build themselves a new island. When your back's against the wall, you look for concrete partners.

            The Alliance of Small Island States on Tuesday announced a million Euro grant from Greece. Inner City Press asked AOSIS chairman Angus Friday of Grenada is this counts or should count as development aid. Amb. Friday said climate change is a separate issue, that this is similar to reparation, on the theory that "the polluter pays." The Ambassador of Cape Verde, on the other hand, said that development and climate change are inseparable.

Solomon Islands, 1 million euros on the way, UN's 10% overhead not shown

            Two islands that proved to be separable, at least from AOSIS, are Malta and Cyprus. When the joined the European Union, Amb. Friday recounted, to had to drop out of AOSIS. Inner City Press asked why, under what rule. Amb. Friday said that the EU has a policy against members being in other groups. By contrast, he said, most AOSIS members are also part of the Group of 77.

            Inner City Press asked Amb. Beck if he thought that Antigua and Barbuda holding the chair of the G-77 this year gives small island states more prominence. "We still have to vote," he answered. Ah, democracy...

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These reports are 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

  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