2/24/2003

The Cloning of DAG Hammarskjold

Poor Dag Hammarskjold must be turning in his grave. Every aspiring internationalist, qualified or otherwise, is trying to clone him. Whenever anyone gets his fifteen minutes of fame, he suddenly drops in the name of the former Swedish Secretary-General. Even some of his successors hinted to potential biographers or reporters that they have his foresight, vim, and vigour. Dear Mr. Hammarskjold: It must be a sign of immortality if everyone thinks they are you.

One Billion Dollar Question

During a recent visit by the Secretary-General to Washington, D.C., a financial question was raised about the time that the Security Council resolution 1441 was taken. Naturally there were intensive discussions on Iraq. However, one report indicated that Mr. Annan asked whether the United States government, as the host country, could provide a $1 billion loan to facilitate implementing the new plan of building a new tower while renewing the 50 year old one. There was no indication about the answer. It may be blowing in the wind of Iraq.

Neighbourhood Raises Questions on U.N. Building Plans

The Association of Turtle Bay -- the neighbourhood of the U.N. -- and other groups including an East Midtown Coalition for Sensible Development, have raised questions about U.N. building plans -- including taking over space between 42nd and 41st Street occupied by a park -- an active playground for youngsters and grown-ups alike. The park is worth between 50 - 70 million dollars, according to civil groups concerned; they are unhappy that some U.N. officials would only compensate by building a narrow bikeway/walkway between 42nd and 48th Street along the edge of the FDR Drive by the East River. A Town Hall meeting called for Thursday 6 February was meant to be the beginning of a prolonged action. There are already many queries about who is the real decision-maker on behalf of the U.N. and who is behind the scenes. New York is a real estate town and such "deals" are often the nourishment of gossip. It is a crucial time for U.N. administration to be as transparent and open as possible to avert unfair stories by competing parties, curious or otherwise cynical groups.

A Cyprus Minute

Those handling negotiations on the divided island of Cyprus are so optimistic that they announced a competition for drawing a new flag for a united country and a new national anthem. In line with guidelines on a time limit for national interventions on the international stage, the Cypriot national anthem was granted no more than one minute. There was no indication whether it should be in Greek or Turkish; an equal 30 seconds for each or a demographic 20 to 40 according to population spread. Surely that will be the last problem on the mind of our outstanding negotiator Alvaro de Soto.

Later or Much Later

Newly appointed High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello made a three-day visit to Ango which was supposed to be "dominated by questions over alleged human rights violations in the separatists Cabinda enclave" according to a press statement issued in New York. The Portuguese speaking Brazilian met the Portuguese speaking Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos but said that he did not raise with him the Cabinde question, adding that he will discuss it with ministers later.

Director TV/Radio Post Advertised: Externally

The job has been pending for over two years. A top official of Italian Radio/TV RAI, Professor Carlo Sartori, was very interested but turned it down when it was eventually offered. There is no point of speculating whether changing conditions in New York or Rome dissuaded him from taking up an offer he so keenly sought. Now the post, at D-1 level, is announced again. The Economist, for example, published a paid advertisement which is sure to bring forth hundreds of applications from an increasingly downsized industry in crisis; AOL Time Warner is just the publicized part. How that will impact on our internal candidates is an important question. For example, there are at least three experienced internal professionals. They are, in alphabetical order: Randy Cline- Thomas, who is currently officer in charge of that section; Richard Sydinham, who is serving as Spokesman to the General Assembly President, and Stephen Whitehouse, who volunteered for a field assignment when a "political" decision was about to be made in response to a demanche by the Italian government. At a time when jobs are cut and morale is very low, an internal selection will, in addition to fairness, provide a cycle of promotions; not only for one of the contenders, but also for those who would replace him/her into a vacated P-5 post. However, competition from outside is expected to increase. Additionally, there will always be the temptation by avid networkers to use the opportunity in order to gain favour with some helpful media or public relations group which might reciprocate. Sorry again, Randy, Steve and Richard.

No Tamil Tiger

After an announcement in January that the Secretary-General will be visiting Sri Lanka in February, the trip was quietly shelved, or "postponed" in diplomatic parlance. Pity for the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister who was gearing himself up for some photo opportunities after announcing with as much limited fanfare as he could muster, that he will personally escort the distinguished visitor to the heart of Tamil Tigers region to show that the internal war was over. The Foreign Minister had already indicated he was a candidate from Asia for the post of U.N. Secretary-General. A New York version is that there was no official indication of a visit and that the Chef de Cabinet was merely exploring options.

In Simple Latin

Salutamus primo conceierge del maximum conciergi cantata veritas non verbatum in paperus Sulzbergere elevatus multos alteros cum laudi ponitifcatus tutti altera factati shashi bacci factatum el rizzo riza perque non lisso Liza?

Patron Saint for Internet

Going along with the times, the Vatican is reportedly researching for a patron saint for Internet. The Catholic Community Forum "Reports that there are 4280 patron saints protecting 1567 different areas of human endeavours," according to press report which indicated increased pressure to name a saint for surfers "as they made their way through the dark pathways of cyberspace." About 5000 Web surfers submitted recommendations to www.santiebeati.it after which six candidates will be submitted for final selections. The paper seems inclined towards archangel Gabriel who delivered to the Virgin Mary the message that she was going to give birth to Jesus. Yes, if that is archangel Gabriel's experience, the paper argues, it may be appropriate for him to be patron saint of e-mail.

Angola Mission Accomplished

The Security Council confirmed that the Angolan government has taken adequate steps to start implementing the Lusaka Protocol on rehabilitation of that war-torn country. Successful U.N. efforts here were led by Dr. Ibrahim Gambari, the experienced former Permanent Representative of Nigeria who, as co-ordinator of the African group in 1991, managed to push for the election of the first Secretary-General. It is hoped that Mr. Annan will now utilize Dr. Gambari's sterling advice on other African issues.