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UN Budget Fight Past Overtime, Ban's Same Sex Marriage Under Fire, OIC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 24 -- In the run up to this afternoon's budget showdown at the UN, diplomats worked until six in the morning, on issues ranging from the 2016 budget to the first performance report.

  At 3 pm on December 24, however, the outgoing head of the Group of 77, Bolivia's Sacha Llorenti, told G77 representatives that the other side said no more talks today.

  In the halllway outside Conference Room 1 where G77 was meeting, Inner City Press interview a range of diplomats and UN Secretariat officials about another issue -- rebellion by some member states at Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's policy position -- or "executive order," as one delegate called it -- on same sex marriage.

  "Between the OIC and African countries, it's going down," one Permanent Representative told Inner City Press. The other side says that Ban has the power to "just do it." But, even the person making this argument conceded,  Ban is no Obama.

  And, another asked, where IS Ban Ki-moon, as his policy is "going down" in the Fifth Committee?

  A delegate from Uruguay last week urged the rest of the Fifth Committee of the UN General Assembly to do everything possible to come to a conclusion before midday on December 24. So much for that.

On December 23 when Inner City Press checked in again with the sprawled out Fifth Committee in the UN's first sub-basement, along with pizza boxes and coffee containers with spouts were an array of still-open items.

In this session the Fifth Committee is considering, for example, the proposed program budget outline for the biennium 2016-17. On this, amid threats of cut-backs, the Group of 77 and China put a resolution into an “L document” on December 23, leading to protests from diplomats from Italy, Japan and the US.

Diplomats stayed until 6 am on December 24, and returned for a G77 meeting at 11 am, moved due to its size from Conference Room 9 to CR 1. Bolivia's Permanent Representative Sacha Llorenti, soon to turn over the G77 gavel to South Africa, reported back to G77 Ambassador where things stood.

For now, the Fifth Committee “plenary” is not set until 3 pm, with the full General Assembly with no time set at all.

Other items include the Capital Master Plan, the Extraordinary Chambers court in Cambodia, revised estimates for the Ebola mission UNMEER and for the Human Rights Council (regarding cut-backs at which, see this Inner City Press story) and UNHQ long term accommodation needs, otherwise known as building on a current New York City playground.

Another item concerns the UN's UMOJA system, with cost overruns and corruption scandals. One former UMOJA official, Paul van Essche who was caught up in a scandal -- "PHP irregularities," Inner City Press exclusive coverage here -- now announces he'll resurface as UNICEF's chief of information technology in January 2015. We'll have more on this.


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