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At UN, New Zealand Features Rugby, Seeking SC Seat, Clark in Rose Garden

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 8 -- It was a light moment at the UN, or just outside it on the North Lawn facing the East River on Monday afternoon.

  There were two players from New Zealand's national rugby team the All Blacks, Victor Vito and Ryan Crotty, and children in UNICEF blue shirts. There was a barbeque with lamb chops and sliders, sausages and bread. There was an open bar, beer and wine, and music piped in under a tent.

  This being the UN, it had to be noted and was: New Zealand is running for the Security Council, to take over the Western European and Other Group seat from Australia. Diplomats had been invited, among others the Permanent Representatives of the Netherlands and Romania, deputies of the UK and France, Central Asians and small islanders.

In a brief speech under the tent as the gray sky threatened, New Zealand's rugby diplomacy was praised, from an upcoming game in Chicago to teaching rugby in Sri Lanka, which it was said could lead to tolerance. Could it be true, given attacks on Tamils and now Muslims? Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative Palitha Kohona was there.

  Another New Zealander is running for another UN post. The UN's Media Alert for September 9 listed at the bottom, UNDP, Helen Clark, Rose Garden. She is running, even as the UNDP staff union complained September 6 of massive layoffs. We'll have more on this.

Footnote -- And this: New Zealand's Mission to the UN will launch its annual (and helpful) UN Handbook app on September 12 - but at least initially pitched it only through the UN Censorship Alliance, UNCA, whose Executive Board took it on to try to get investigative Press thrown out of the UN. This, a referee would not like in rugby. But it's early in the game. UNCA tried this with South Korea; after the Free UN Coalition for Access protest, it was reversed. Watch this site.


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