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As UN Peacekeeping Budget Adopted, $180M Returned, 3 Vote No on UNIFIL

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 1 -- The deal on the UN peacekeeping budget was reached at 3:55 am on July 1, nearly four hours after the previous budget expired. Beyond a seven percent one time increase in pay to peacekeeping troops, it emerged that $180 million of the $230 million left for closed peacekeeping operations will be returned.

  When the voting began in the Fifth (Budget) Committee after 5 a.m., Germany asked for the floor and said that accepting these $180 million does not waive the right to ask for all of the money back.

  EU Representative Serrano told Inner City Press that Germany was on its own with that statement.

  When the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo came up, one diplomat at the neighboring table of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea joked to his countryman in the DRC seat: hey that's you!

  Then Tanzania spoke up against the oral amendment that posts for child protection should be taken from posts empty more than a year, which would be eliminated. Tanzania pointed out that only the full General Assembly can eliminate posts, and asked for a change.

  After a huddle involving the US, a further amendment was made, that the change was only financial.

  A vote was called for on the UNIFIL Lebanon peacekeeping mission, on the “incident at Qana on 18 April 1996” and calling for Israel to pay $1,117,005 for it. On that provision, the EU members abstained, while the US, Canada and Israel voted on.

  Then the voting machine broke down. “It is voting itself,” the chairman said and got laughs, perhaps from the lack of sleep. Finally it was fixed, past 6 in the morning. The same three voted no, while Tuvalu abstained. Canada indicated it was too late for it to speak. Hungary explained its earlier abstention.

And that by 6:15 am it was over, the Budget Committee. The Guatemalan chair claimed that it was still June 30 -- again to laugher -- and wished Tomo Monthe, his successor from Cameroon, well. Argentina for G77, and the European Union, thanked the chair.

  The last long peech, against "politics," was by Eritrea; the final rubber stamp was slated in the General Assembly hall half an hour later: that is, at 7 am. Only at the UN.

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UN Peacekeeping Deal Has 7% Raise of $85 M, Press is Told, After Midnight

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 1, 2:20 am -- Two hours after UN Peacekeeping budgets expired, diplomats waiting to vote described to Inner City Press that outlines of the deal: a seven percent one time raise for troops, worth $85 million.

  The last issue was the money to be returned from closed peacekeeping missions, well placed Budget Commitee sources told Inner City Press.

  Earlier, France had complained that the Group of 77 and China was asking for a “fifty seven percent raise.” Inner City Press was told the G-77 leaders that this was their figure for how much the $1000 monthly pay to peacekeepers had depreciated.

  Anger at the arguments against the raise abounded in the hours around midnight. “If a Frenchman goes to Geneva he gets $400 dollars per diem, DSA,” one delegate complained. “Meanwhile the peacekeepers are suffering without raises for years.”

  Other turned their fire on Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, noting that on his frequently travels, his entourage racks up huge DSA payments. Where does the money go?

It was predicted that a vote would be called on UNFIL, the mission along the Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel. There was talk of a major troop contributing country like India accepting less than the $12 million owed to it, incongruously to benefit Uruguay. It was a bazaar, past 2 am, with the peacekeepers in limbo without funding. Watch this site.

* * *

UN Peacekeeping Budget Fight Presages Scales of Assessment, France is Cheap, US "Still Prima Donna"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 30 -- Less than an hour before UN Peacekeeping budgets would expire, diplomats lounged in the Cafe Austria of the North Lawn building surrounded by liquor bottles and pizza boxes. A well placed negotiator bleary eyed explained to Inner City Press, “this is all a precursor to the upcoming scales of assessment fight.”

  France for example has complained it is paying 7.6% of the peacekeeping budget, while it says the 130 countries in the Group of 77 and China pay only 7.4%. Others retort that France got good use out of UN Peacekeeping in Cote d'Ivoire, physically ousting Laurent Gbagbo: “they got their money worth.”

  EU Representative Serrano lounged around the cafe. “Now it's at the Ambassadorial level,” a Budget Committee diplomat told Inner City Press. Maged Abdelaziz, Egyptian Ambassador under Mubarak and now, was strutting around at 11 pm. France's Gerard Araud was said to be around.

  With the budget expiration only a half hour away, ideas were floated of stopping the clock, or just pretending that June 30 goes on longer that it does, at least in Alaska. It is already July 1 where most of the UN Peacekeeping missions are, in Africa.

  In the lull it was confirmed to Inner City Press that its earlier story about the idea of withholding funds from peacekeepers accused of sexual abuse or exploitation hit a nerve. “The Americans introduced it,” a source confirmed.

  Under the Republicans, the US Mission to the UN was a “prima donna” on the budget, the source said, on issues like the Durban review. Now, the US is still a prima donna. The difference is that Zalmay Khalilzad actually stayed for the budget fight, the source contrasted.

  Sometimes the prima donna is right. But why not have raised it earlier? Watch this site.

* * *

At UN on Abyei Resolution, Western Delay on Budget & Bombing

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 24 -- With much talk of the urgency of authorizing and sending Ethiopian troops to Abyei in Sudan, a split has developed in the Security Council about the timing and contents of the necessary Council resolution.

  Within the Council's Permanent Five members, there's both support for adopting the Abyei resolution on Friday June 24, to get the clock running. Other P-5 members want a briefing from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and have an additional round of amendments.

  Blame for delay is usually cast on Russia and China, as on the moribund Syria resolution. But in this case, the United Kingdom acknowledges having more amendments, and not seeing a difference on the ground for waiting until next week. Sources on June 24 told Inner City Press that France too is for delay. French Ambassador Gerard Araud was observed on June 22 outside the closed meeting on Darfur complaining about the budget.

  The issues on content involve not only whether and how much -- if any -- of the criticism of Khartoum's bombing in Abyei and South Kordofan to migrate from the draft Presidential Statement introduced earlier in the week by the United States, but also what relation the Ethiopian force will have with the post July 9 UN mission in South Sudan.

  Some feel that doesn't need to be decided at this time, in a way that results in any delay of adopting the Abyei resolution authorizing the Ethiopian troops to deploy to Abyei.

  Following the UN's confirmation this week of Inner City Press' scoop that Norway's Hilde Johnson has been tapped by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to succeed Haile Menkerios for the UN in South Sudan, seemingly at the request of the US Mission and Ambassador Susan Rice, some pushback has developed in the Security Council, where praise of Menkerios is contrasted to Hilde Johnson's history as an advocate.

  Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said that the Council has been consulted or coordinated with before Ban tapped Hilde Johnson. Comments on June 24 did not seem to bear that out. Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually 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

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