1/15/2003

Who Leaked the Ambitious Item?

An item which appeared recently in the Foreign Report of the Economist Intelligence Unit raised questions at U.N. Headquarters as to who had leaked it and why. While understandably speculating on a successor for the current Secretary-General, it went into other personal areas which could have only been provided -- certainly not for attribution -- by someone close enough to be considered credible by the reputable report editors. More on that as insiders explore further leads which seem to point to an upstart in a hurry.

Deep Thoughts by Chef de Kebab

"Who agreed that one billion is equal to one thousand million without checking me? I will have to reprimand one of the girls at the front office."

The People's $30,000 Watch

The President of a Central American country is upset because his favourite $30,000 watch was not readily available in time to signal the New Year. A U.N. team headed by someone who was elevated to higher floors had certified a democratic transfer of authority and confirmed its good governance. How the President could afford that kind of money for a wristwatch may not need clarification as no one seems to be asking such awkward questions these days. The matter was discovered by accident when Latino singer Enrique Iglesias sought a similar watch and was given priority by the Swiss manufacturer. Pity the U.N. Chief of Protocol in Geneva was not alerted in time.

One More For Club 71

The collection of distinguished former diplomats with little else to do but hold a title and acquire a U.N. passport has been enriched by one more. The group, now commonly known as Club 71, despite its rising number of male ego trippers, has been joined by the amicable Diego Arias, a former permanent representative of Venezuela, who selected to stay in New York sharing his diplomatic experience with a number of Manhattan socialites.

Change in Islamabad

Former National Officer in Japan Tetsuo Otino who gained valuable experience working in Paris with former Secretary-General Javier Perez de Ceullar was appointed as interim director of UNIC Islamabad. The former director Eric Felt was appointed in Nairobi where he will cover the work of the U.N. Environment Programme headquartered in the Kenyan capital.

Assembly Directorship for Kelly

The experienced and unflappable Margaret Kelly has been appointed as Director of General Assembly Affairs replacing Vadim Perfiliev, who retired after years of distinguished work. Margaret earned her promotion to D-2 level, the highest career appointment, through hard work and alert grasp of the issues of priority to delegations. She rose through the ranks, demonstrating her skill particularly at the Secretariat of the Economic and Social Council, then as deputy to Perfiliev. It is heartwarming at these times of brazen evasion of rules in favour of favourites to see the right person appointed in the right spot.

Egypt and Iran About to Resume Relations

The political debates during the opening of this year's General Assembly provided an opportunity for a meeting between the Foreign ministers of Egypt and Iran to discuss renewing ties cut off by the Islamic Republic since the Camp David Accord between Israel and Egypt. Clearly, a decision has been taken at the highest political level, awaiting adequate groundwork and appropriate timing. The current crisis atmosphere in the region may have persuaded the leadership in both countries to move closer or at least start official normal relations sooner than later.

19 Journalists Killed in 2002

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists announced that 19 journalists have been killed around the world in 2002. More journalists have adopted new measures to protect themselves during conflicts, like wearing bullet-resistant flack jackets and helmets. There is more attention by governments to the need to protect journalists and more recognition by warring parties that a newsperson is more helpful alive than dead. Although the number is about half of those killed a year earlier and lower than any other year since 1985, it is 19 too many.

New Appointment in Asmara

Angela Kane has been appointed as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General at the U.N. Mission between Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE). Having worked at the former Secretary-General's office, and as head of Library and Publications in the Department of Public Information, Ms. Kane was most recently Director for Europe in the Department for Special Political Affairs. Her new appointment is at the level of Assistant Secretary-General. She will be based in Asmara.

New German Ambassador for Council Seat

As Germany takes over its seat in the Security Council representing Europe, it will be represented by a new ambassador. Gunther Pleuger, who is familiar with U.N. affairs, had dealt with issues in every field from his days as Head of International Affairs at the Foreign Ministry in Bonn. He was perceived as an efficient negotiator always alert while supporting the work of the organization. A main question will be whether he will be satisfied with two years for his country as a non- permanent member or will he pursue the elusive permanent membership.

The Prime Minister and I

After the "Security Council and I" and "the President and I" U.N. photo-op activist Steffan Demistura added a new reference. Before visiting New York for regular briefings he circulated a statement to the press saying: "I met the Prime Minister to exchange views on the situation in the region in general and in Lebanon in particular, before visiting New York when I will be having consultations throughout the week. It was important to now Mr. Harisi's viewpoint to consider it in my own personal analysis. The meeting was useful but there was nothing in particular." The Beirut bungler will find out that such hot air pumped by an accommodating press offer will not help in the cold wind of Manhattan.