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Budget Endgame Has Russia on ICTY, Cuba on R2P, Swiss Ox Gored, Silva Eminent?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 24 -- Past 3 pm on Christmas Eve, the UN's Fifth (Budget) Committee called votes, deferred some items including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's "mobility" proposal, and ended.

  In the waning minutes, Ban's senior adviser Kim Won-soo lobbied hard with Algeria's Permanent Representative, the chair of the Group of 77, and even with the chair of the Budget Committee, which was called a "circus."

But mobility, along with Human Resources Management, got deferred. The first intervention in this final Fifth Committee session was by Switzerland, criticizing a paragraph inserted, again after lobbying by Mr. Kim, to merge seven entities. The rationale is not clear, Switzerland complained.

  Inner City Press notes that several of the entities to be merged are in Geneva. But it's true that some of the entities have different governing structures, so there are legal questions.

  The next open conflict involved the budget of the International Criminal Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia. Earlier in the month, as first reported by Inner City Press, Russia proposed amendments to and then abstained on the ICTY resolution. This was seen as related to the release of two Croatian military figures who ethnically cleansed Serbs.

  In the Fifth Committee, Russia proposed a series of amendments for example to reduce the Tribunal's budget cycle from biennial to annual. The vote on the amendments of Russia and Serbia was 17 for, 59 against, 58 abstaining.

  On the resolution as a whole, Russia abstained -- Belarus and Laos initially voted no, then switched back to abstain.

  As Inner City Press predicted, including to Under Secretary General Adama Dieng, Cuba on behalf of others proposed amendments on or against the Responsibility to Protect office, which it says was launched without following the rules.

  The vote on Cuba's amendments was 14 for, 73 against, 56 abstaining. Those in favor included Sudan, St. Vincent, Nigeria and Myanmar, bringing to mind the Rohingya, and President Obama's moves. Cuba said it would call the question again in the General Assembly.

  Then, in a letdown for Ban and Mr. Kim, and South Korea and some others, mobility was deferred. The final item in committee was mention of Ban's Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations; chairman Miguel Berger of Germany said it included "eminent persons."

  As Inner City Press exposed, the SAG included General Shavendra Silva of the Sri Lankan Army, depicted in the UN's own report as engaged in war crimes. Ban told Inner City Press this was a decision of member states. So is the budget. Watch this site.

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