|Holbrooke leaves; UN DPI
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.