Holbrooke leaves; UN DPI ACABQ remain

01/27/2001
Outgoing Ambassador Richard Holbrooke seemed to be doing an outstanding job in his short tenure as UN Representative. Despite a wide spread reputation for arrogance and self-promotion, his enthusiasm for wider media participation in covering events, a substantive engagement of other delegates in the area of interest and- of course- his pivotal role in working out a budgetary deal to facilitate payment approved by U.S. Congressmen greatly consolidated his stature.

Yet whoever advised him on his farewell press conference did not help him at all. Suddenly the statesmanship gave way to irritated impatience. A potential winner sounded like a frustrated politician, lashing out even on some of his friends.

His exaggerated attacks on delegates whose positions he claimed were dictated by a desire to employ their friends or relatives behind a discriminatory insulting spirit. An overblown criticism of ACABQ, the watchdog administrative committee, reflected disinterest in even considering other views except his own. And his prolonged assault on the Department of Public Information (DPI) seemed more of a political ploy than a fair assessment. In that, he sounded like a cross between Sashi and JoCo. Either Ambassador Holbrooke was misinformed or he was misinforming.

Some of the points include:

1.) One of his main points against DPI was that it produced documents in six official languages, which nobody (including himself) read. In fact, issuing such documents is NOT part of DPI work but another Department, that of General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services- through its Interpretation Meetings and Publishing Division. Incidentally, that Department is headed by Ambassador Jin Yongjian, an outstanding Chinese internationalist who will not put up with bullying nonsense. Regrettably, DPI had no hand to consider before an unfair assault.

2.) ACABQ, the Advising Committee on Administration Questions, is composed of experienced individuals elected by the universal membership of the UN to evaluate cost effectiveness of proposals, their reference to current requirements and their impact on the delivery of international civil service (remember that?). Its Chairman has received unanimous consensus support through re-election first by the Assembly then by the Committees (including the United States member) for over three decades. For a 17- month representative, especially of the host country, to cast doubt on its integrity is unfair wrong policy and even bad politics.

3.) The Library and Information Centres are very old hat gripes and every U.S. delegate to the Committee on Information had studied them carefully and agreed with the consensus of that Committee that every effort was being made to cut cost and strengthen program delivery.

There are a couple of individuals who are behind such misinformation or dissinformation against the Organization they are expected to serve. They were already identified within the Secretariat as having their own agenda, which they have been trying to push in vain for years- always claiming credit for other people's efforts. But they too will leave. The United Nations will remain.