01/27/2001

Advice to Burundi Women: Sex for Peace

Nelson Mandela had some advice for the women of Burundi. After relentlessly trying to shame Burundi leaders into an illusive reconciliation, one of the greatest human leaders of modern times resorted to one of the oldest approaches in history. He called on Burundi women to do what the Greek women of Lysistrata did to stop the men from going to war. No sex unless they refrain from fighting. The sex for peace formula succeeded in old Greece but apparently needed more inducements in Burundi. Thus the inducement came from the European community, which promised about $550 million on reconstruction funds in case of reconciliation. Will it be the carrot or the stick? Apparently, it's up to the women of Burundi.

Allo Allo - A Brief Conversation

*Hello, good morning. I wonder if I could have an opportunity to talk to the Ambassador.

-Who may I say is calling?

*Former UN official and writer…

-Did you say former or formal?

*Former, actually.

-Thanks. Just to be sure, you know. You never know with everyone here having access.

*Yes I understand, but I guess you can't help it at a United Nations.

-Right, right. What did you say you wanted from the Ambassador?

*Just to have a few minutes on his views.

-Sorry, I've got to pick up another line. Let me call you later.

*You don't have my number.

-We'll find it.

(After a few days)

*Hello, is the Ambassador available, please.

-Who may I say is calling?

*I will be spending a few days in Washington meeting with Senators, Congressmen and journalist friends- and wondered if he would wish to give me some input before I arrived there.

(After a short pause his excellency, "liu meme", comes on)

-Helllloooo. Sorry I couldn't get to you earlier. You know, Security Council, General Assembly, ACAPQ, ECOSOC, CPC, Security General, such is life in the building.

*Thanks, Ambassador I need not take much of your time.

-Listen, never mind a friend is always a friend- whom did you plan to see in D.C.?

*Well, heck…

-Oh, Speaker Hestert. I am a great fan; followed his career since his wrestling days.

*You are not actually referring to Governor Jessie "The body" Ventura of Minnesota?

-No, no. The speaker himself was also a great wrestler in his college days- always a man of consensus.

*Well, I am scheduled to meet Senators just…

-Senators Jesse, you mean chairman Helms. I am a great fan, great fan. His visit to the Security Council last January was historic, truly historic. Which friend will you be seeing amongst the media stars? They are all stellar stars, you know.

*Of course, but may I…

-Of course, you may at any time call me before you go. You must take with you copies of my recent statements-human rights, reform, transparency, Security Council, ECOSOC…

*Thank you, Ambassador…

-ACABQ, GA, Fifth Committee, Special Cancus, Shashi and Sashi, Icky and Ricky…

*Thank you, Excellency.

Amsterdam Yab Yum

Travel via Amsterdam airport may increase confidently in the coming months. Not only because Dutch airline KLM is considered a U.N. preferred airline, and indeed caters thoughtfully to international experts using it to reach elsewhere in this wide world. A new special boutique in Schippol airport will provide relief for "stressed passengers". That entails the professional services of Yab Yum of The Red District where prostitution is legal. According to a release, a branch at the airport would welcome early arrivals, late-comers or those keen on putting in some time between planes. No vouchers accepted.

Analyze This

An official announcement indicated that Iraq refused to cooperate with the designated Coordinator of nationals missing since Baghdad 1990 invasion of Kuwait, prominent Club 71 member Ambassador Yuli Vororntsov (former Representative of Russia at UN and Washington). The statement then proceeds to announce that despite this the distinguished Ambassador "has continued high-level contacts aimed at achieving progress". With whom? Progress where?

Annan New York Times Visit

A meeting of The Editorial Board of the New York Times mid January gave Kofi Annan an opportunity to reflect on the passing year and project his views on forthcoming issues. Inevitable questions on his interest in renewing his five-year term when it expires this year were politely averted with some subtle nuances. A positive impression in support of United Nations -and possibly- Annan's position by the Grey Lady of 43rd Street is always welcome. Annan has ventured successfully in that delicate field of handling top reporters. He was accompanied in his visit to the Times by his Communications Director Shashi Tharour. Who has long standing relations with some reporters particularly in the Editorial Section. Maybe Tharour could make more friends for the Secretary General and himself if he concentrated on cultivating his professional talent.

Bellamy Invests in Children

While introducing a report on the state of the world children for 2001, Carol Bellamy UNICEF's Executive Director called upon governments to stop wasting human potential, stop neglecting the needs of the very young and pay more attention to that potential. Investment in the first three years of life "reaps huge personal and development dividends." According to the report that "for every one dollar invested… there is a seven dollar return, mainly from cost saving in the future, citing successful preschool programs in various countries. Bellamy said that effective investment in health, nutrition, education, child care and basic protection were "both a moral imperative and sound economics".

Britney Spears seeking George P. Bush

A discreet mouth from the South mentioned at a private festive gathering of some New Yorkers and few diplomats that the most popular pop singer Britney Spears has set her eyes on fellow Southerner George P. Bush, son of Florida governor Jebb Bush and nephew to President George W. Bush. Apparently, George P. has established a following of his own, combining his mother's Latin looks with his father's heritage wealth and prestige. Those following the Republican convention were impressed by the poise with which he introduced his uncle, injecting some popular expressions in Spanish. It may be just a one sided fluke, but if it connects, the new administration may be able to claim a star achievement on the stargazing outgoing one by showing off an overwhelmingly attractive All-American teenager idol who publicly advocates "family values", including abstinence until marriage. It's now up to George P. to tango or wiggle

Combating desertification in Bonn

For two weeks over 2,000 delegates from 170 countries considered how to combat desertification. That welcome effort was done on the fertile side of the Rhine River in the lush quarters of Castel Castagna around the time of the Christmas holidays. The impact on expanding deserts seemed to be clearly limited.

Correspondents elect Svarzman

Norberto Svarzman, the long time Argentinean correspondent, has been elected president of UNCA for the year 2001. An intellectual, economist and journalist, Norberto has been around the …..tower as long as anyone can remember. His soft-spoken cordial attitude is blended with a steady determination to find the facts. This is his second term as President, reflecting not only his durability but also the renewed confidence of his colleagues.

Exhibit for a Rockefeller

David Rockefeller was there with Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller. So, of course were the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the ever-dynamic Ambassador Joseph Verner Reed who pulled the event together. Staff of the Department of Public Information were there enmasse. This occasion was an exhibit for posters produced by the United Nations. It tells the story of its activities over the last half century. Whether disarmament, human rights, the plight of refugees, peacekeeping or development posters have been at the forefront of UN anniciatives and campaigns. While credit was given to those on the receiving end around the microphone it was also an occasion for those who actually produced around the world and physically set up the anti-apartheid posters, Karina Gerlach a dynamo of the 50th anniversary celebrations, now with Interagency Affairs Paula Refola of D.P.I. together with Valerie Hampton-Mason and Jan Anderson were all there to witness the fruits of their often unsung labor. The article was entitled For A Better World.

Funding for Disarmament Exhibit

While the new comprehensive disarmament exhibit was negotiated and inspired by the Department of Disarmament Affairs and implemented by the talented staff of The Department of Public Information, it required special funding to actually launch it. Disarmament Under-Secretary General Dhanapala indicated that the needed money was obtained through the efforts of Kenseko Hogan, Under-Secretary General for Public Information.

Gugu in Geneva

At least the World Health Organization in Geneva will notice a new vibrant spirit. Mahenau Agha, universally known as Gugu left New York to become Communications Officer for Gavi, which was founded originally by the Gates Foundation, based at W.H.O. One of the young dynamic talents with a comprehensive approach to UN work, Gugu has always made her point cheerfully and effectively, without making enemies. She may initially shock the Genevois with her original approach, but eventually gain everyone's' affection and respect. Good luck, Gugu. Bon chance, Geneve. Congratulations Gavi!!

If Michael Douglas, why not Maradonna?

Some feedback on the "Perfect Murder for Peace Messenger" inquired if UN officials designated someone with the background of Michael Douglas why not designate Diajo Maradonna? Particularly after seeing Mr. Douglas' new holiday movie "Traffic", some wondered what was the difference except Mr. Douglas is Hollywood and Mr. Maradonna is suburban Bears Acres. Actually Maradonna plays clean on the soccer field and was just selected by popular vote as the "player of the century". Mr. Douglas plays dirty on the screen. His personal life is his own business, but it is his movies that people would emulate. And if Mr. Maradonna had a drug problem, which he tried to beat through rehabilitation, Mr. Douglas had an extended extra-marital sex record, which he sensibly tried to beat through a rehabilitation clinic. At least, Dioja Armando remains married to the same woman. All that may seem like an exaggeration, but it shows to what extent those in charge (who are they?) should be careful in their choice.

Ifitkhar Ali leaving Teheran

Director of the Information Centre in Teheran Iftikhar Ali will be retiring soon, having revived that Centre after years of inactivity. Iftikhar was well received by media, government and all political groupings, helped by his professional skill, Pakastani background and flexible approach. He was most valuable in reflecting the views of Iranian media while being an effective communicator of United Nations issues. His talents will still be utilized by the UN as he will have a fixed team assignment in Kosovo.

Kuchner leaves Kosovo

By all counts the performance of the UN special high commission for Kosovo, Bernard Kuchner was outstanding. The French politician, communicator and committed internationalist worked against great odds to establish an atmosphere of peace by encouraging all sides to talk and build a joint future and discouraging extremists from spoiling it. He earned the respect of everyone and the affection of the Kosovos.

Latin/Caribbean for DPI

With the departure of Japanese diplomat Kenseko Hogan in January, the competition for heading the Department of Public Information is on. Many holding D-2 level posts are aspiring to it, some openly indicating they could cut it down to an Office with an Assistant rather than Under-Secretary General past if given the chance. It seems that the Secretary General may opt for an outside candidate from Latin America and the Caribbean region who would go along with the current set up of information fiefdoms.

More traffic for Peace Messenger

Designated UN peace messenger Michael Douglas has escalated his efforts on behalf of peace, dialogue and disarmament through his newest movie released during the holiday season. "Traffic" is action packed with normal UN gear like guns and explosives, depicts the human condition in deadly terms and provides somewhat dubious role model. The motto of the movie is "no one gets away clean". Indeed.

Moroccans praise Benami

In an elaborate statement to an Arabic paper, a Moroccan official elaborated positively on an earlier visit by current Israeli Foreign Minister Sholomo Ben Ami. Initially, the visit was supposed to be discreet and thus not reported by the Israeli media. Most Israelis of Moroccan origin maintain close ties and often visit the old country, which traditionally maintained hospitable contact. Many special medication efforts were played discreetly by Morocco in the past including the preparation of the unprecedented visit by Egyptian President Sadat to Israel. Equally significant, Morocco chairs the Committee on Jerusalem formed by the summit of Islamic heads of state. After reporting on Professor Ben Ami's visit, a "Moroccan source" described him to weekly "Al-Wasat" as "one of the most intelligent Israeli officials and most moderate", adding that he was "creative in finding solutions to pending and complicated problems". The experienced Moroccans should know. Ben Ami was born in Tangier. Others- also Moroccan-born- who had received equally hospitable treatment did not rate such high marks.

New head for Egypt UN Bureau

Egypt's Deputy Permanent Representative Ahmed Darwish was appointed as Head of The United Nations Bureau in the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Attendance by almost all delegations and senior Secretariat Officials of his farewell given by Ambassador Ahmed Aboulgheit indicated the extent of the high regard he earned during his term in New York. Mr. Darwish was very effective in gaining political friends. But it was his work in the field of Communications and and administrative management where he made his imprint most. Although he will be missed in New York, Mr. Darwish will be a great asset to the UN in Cairo, whatever his official as one of two candidates who fulfilled all the requirements as Director of the UN Information Center in the Egyptian capitol. The grapevine has it that the Chef de Cabinet had issued a note limiting the instances where a national can be a center in his or her country.

Ogata always helpful

During a visit of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori to Africa, he was accompanied by former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata. Although the objectives were interpreted to be political- that is in search of support for a UN Security Council Seat- the tone of Mr. Mori's remarks and the presence of Ms. Ogata gave that new opening to Africa a helpful credibility. Two of the three countries visited, South Africa and Nigeria, are also potential contenders to a Security Council seat.

Questions on Field Volunteers

A special celebration at UN Headquarters of the International Volunteers Day, including a luncheon attended by the Secretary General raised questions on the specific role of those volunteers in the field. While receiving deserving praise for accomplishments by many, there are those in the field who feel that in specific professional cases, like public information, volunteers were unsuccessfully used to replace local professionals who have more experience and know the area far better and cost much less. It may be a question to consider on a case by case basis.

Remembering Mitch Werner

During holiday seasons one remembers family and friends, particularly those who are in close touch but somehow are not with us. Mitch Werner, a loyal friend and valuable colleague passed away this year at an early young age. He had worked in Political Affairs, Public Information and the Secretary General's Office, after a brief stint in the private life. Wherever he was, Mitch never flinched from his duties, never turned down a request and never undercut any of his colleagues. His cheerful smile and earthy sense of humor was part of his warm personality. He was popular among staff at all levels and treated everyone with courtesy and respect. He excelled in moments of crises- keeping his cool, thinking clearly and providing valuable advice. We miss you, Mitch.

Timely appointments in Lebanon

The appointment of Staffan de Mistura as Representative of the Personal Secretary General for Southern Lebanon was well-received not only by Lebanese officials, but also by various political factions. De Mistura, who recently was heading the Rome UN Information Center is an accomplished and polished troubleshooter who paid his dues through several field operations. In fact, he almost spent his UN career in the field since he joined in 1970, working with various agencies in numerous countries. His command of Swedish, English, German, Italian, Spanish and Arabic helped him understand the main issues at stake. He played a quiet, though substantive role in arranging Secretary General Kofi Annan's mission in Lebanon will be to ensure the right degree of UN support for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Southern Lebanon. He will obviously play a wider yet discreet role. He replaced Rolf Krusson, another Swede who in turn replaced Jean Claude Aime in Geneva.

Tributed to Sadako and Sadik

Two outstanding women left the Organization by the end of 2000: Sadako Ogata and Nafis Sadik. Working in different yet related offices, the High Commissioner for Refugees and Executive Director of the UN Fund for Population Activities have dominated their field during the last decade. Two women from Asia have demonstrated without a doubt that talented women in general and Asian women in particular can achieve almost impossible tasks. Towering way above some men in equal positions, Sadako and Sadik (as they were affectionately known) made their presence felt in every operation, meeting or event. In a tribute.to Ms.Sadik, Secretary General Kofi Annon applauded her achievements and her courageous advocacy. "More than anyone she worked to bring about radical changes in the way the world sees the population issues- not in isolation but as integral to all development efforts." A similar tribute was made to Ms.Ogata whose dynamic management of an increasing number of refugee issues won her admiration and respect around the world. Nafis Sadik, a born communicator, is a citizen of Pakistan. Yet she was perceived as a leading, if not the leading figure in population issues. Similarly, Sadako Ogata always close to her Japanese roots, shone high above Japanese dutiful functionaries imposed by someone in the government. Reflecting true Japanese traditions of hard work, loyalty and dedication, she was a great asset for Japan in the international community and a sincere advocate of international causes in Japan. Both leave at a time when the UN system is in serious need for their leadership.