Someone overseeing U.N. Publications may be lacking institutional memory, professional competence, or both. Otherwise, they would know that traditionally the publication listing the names and addresses of Missions to the U.N. has been regularly described as the "Blue Book" -- not only because of the color of its cover, but also because it suits the iconic universally-recognized U.N. color. A new directory, however, was issued in white, like "whitewash," although mercifully it still lists details of Missions, Delegations and Observers, including of course U.N. Agencies. Anyone looking for key members of related Delegations would easily find their needed person of interest.

But on the lighter side, a social gathering may be somewhat amused or refreshed by names from various delegations. For example, it's interesting to find a Ms. Billionniere in the German delegation, Mrs. Tsetse from Ghana, Brigadier General Lion from France and Ms. Garlick from the U.K. The husband of the Counsellor of Gabon is a certain Mr. Parfait Anyanga-Onaga. In the delegation of Egypt, there are different spellings of the same name. For instance, the Minister Plenipotentiary's name is spelled Moustafa, while the Counsellor's name is spelled Mostafa. Perhaps they should make up their minds which Moustafa, bearing in mind a very famous Egyption folk song, "Ya Moustapha." There are also some names on the long side like Tajikistan, H.E. Mr. Mahmadamin Mahmadaminov.

It is obviously a pleasure to see that Turkmenistan Ambassador Mrs. Aksoltan Ataeva has remained in her post since 1995. She has done an outstanding job for her country. Incidentally, members of the Mission of the Dominican Republic occupy three pages, more than Denmark, Finland, Argentina and Canada. What precisely they do for Santo Domingo is perhaps best known to Casa de Campo.

Interestingly, some Observers have familiar names from previous U.N. Secretariat capacities. Also, there are new additions of Organizations like the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, the International Institute for Democracy and National Assistance and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, to be found among the other usual observers.

So, "Whitewash" or Blue, the book remains a refreshingly interesting and sometimes amusing part of this uniquely all-inclusive international organisation.