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UN Budget Chair Met With German Staff, Dubious on Ban's Mobility, Torsella; Baumann on Rights?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 8 -- The chairperson of the UN's Fifth (Budget) Committee, Miguel Berger the Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany, held a meeting with some 50 German UN staff a month ago about topics on the Fifth Committee's agenda.

   Some have raised concerns to Inner City Press about this meeting, which dealt among other things with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's “mobility” proposal.

   Inner City Press obtained a three and a half page summary of the meeting, eleven questions and ten answers, and is exclusively putting it online here. The summary has Berger dubious of mobility and the UN's Information Technology plans.

  First, however, Inner City Press sought out Ambassador Berger to get and include his perspective.

  At the end of a Friday morning session about, among other things, the report of the Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations which included controversial Sri Lankan military commander Shavendra Silva, Berger spoke exclusively with Inner City Press.

  Things began on the light side: Inner City Press has been told that even Berger was concerned by US Ambassador Joe Torsella's comments calling for an “inebriation-free zone” in the Fifth Committee.

 This comment was amplified by media which don't actually cover the budget committee (or, really, issues like rape in the Congo) but follow each other like lemmings.

  Many delegates have approached Inner City Press with criticism of both these media and Torsella, using words like scapegoating, copycatting and hypocrisy. Berger noted that only Ecuador, and even then only indirectly, publicly touched on Torsella's comments.

  Then Inner City Press asked Berger about the meeting at German House, about the summary and criticism by some staff.

  Berger said he found it interesting to hear from the staff how they see the discussion and their personal experience. “What doesn't come out of this unhelpful kind of resume is you can see that the younger staff have organized for themselves mobility,” he said. “They change between the Secretariat and funds and programs.”

  He acknowledged there are family issues, issues about hardship posts. But as reflected in the attached summary, neither Berger or his co-moderator from the ICSC answered the question about Ban Ki-moon's $100 million in cuts being 70% “posts” or salary. Watch this site.

Footnote: Sources also tell Inner City Press that despite controversy, Franz Baumann of Germany may be going to Geneva as Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. We'll have more on this. They also say Yukio Takasu of Japan has been given a one year extension atop the Department of Management. What about Herve Ladsous? Watch this site.

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