Good news. Your UN Budget isn’t just the result of corruption and greed, it’s also the product of huge amounts of alcohol. Word on that comes from Joseph Torsella, the U.S. ambassador for management and reform at the United Nations.
“We make the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone,” Joseph Torsella, deputy US ambassador to the United Nations for management and reform, told the General Assembly’s budget committee.
“While my government is truly grateful for the strategic opportunities presented by some recent past practices, let’s save the champagne for toasting the successful end of the session, and do some credit to the Fifth Committee’s reputation in the process,” he said.
Some envoys have turned up for talks “falling down drunk,” said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “On one occasion the note-taker who was meant to be recording the talks was so intoxicated he had to be replaced,” said another. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.
“There has always been a good and responsible tradition of a bit of alcohol improving a negotiation, but we’re not talking about a delegate having a nip at the bar,” said the diplomat who recalled one G-77 diplomat fell sick from too much alcohol.
As the United States sought to rally support for a proposal to freeze U.N. staff pay in December, it found that key negotiating partners, particularly delegates from the Group of 77 developing countries, were not showing up for meetings. When they did arrive, they had often been drinking.
“As for the conduct of negotiations, we make the modest proposal that the negotiation rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone,” Torsella said in a meeting of the U.N. membership’s budget committee, known as the Fifth Committee. “While my government is truly grateful for the strategic opportunities presented by some recent practices, lets save the champagne for toasting the successful end of the session, and do some credit to the Fifth Committee’s reputation in the process.”
The sad state of Group 77 should be no surprise. Group 77 combines the worst of the UN and the Third World. It consists of most of the world, minus America, Europe, Australia, Israel, China, Russia, South Korea, New Zealand, Japan, etc.
To keep it simple, if a country is good for something, it’s probably not in Group 77. Even Mexico isn’t in Group 77. If a country’s delegates can be expected to get drunk and steal, they probably are in Group 77.
Throughout the budget negotiations, delegates maintained a stock of booze in a negotiating room, according to the U.N.-based diplomat. The diplomat said that the heavy drinking reflected a wider ethos that was aimed at stymieing changes at the United Nations.
“I don’t believe people were saying ‘alright our negotiating strategy for next two weeks will be to drink,’ but it is rather a function of delegations seeking to avoiding any meaningful change in the negotiations and preserve the status quo.”
I think Joe is giving Group 77 and the United Nations too much credit. When they want to avoid meaningful change, they just send it to a committee, cry discrimination, change the subject, blame Israel or steal all the staplers.
Drinking is something they do when there’s free booze around and no Islamic Morality Police.
A Western diplomat singled out African delegations.
The drinking, in some cases, is an integral part of the negotiations — a social lubricant offered up to soften an adversary’s negotiating position or simply a delaying tactic to put off final decision until the final hours, when negotiators are keen to get back home for the holidays and concessions are easier to exact.
“It’s all about the last one standing is the winner,” said one Security Council diplomat who has participated in many U.N. budget negotiations. “After three weeks together and 20 hours a day, people start to get really comfortable enough. But if you are dumb enough to get so drunk you can’t negotiate, then you deserve [to get out played].”
“By the way, it’s not just Africans. The Russians do it,” the delegate continued. “There’s nothing new or surprising about this. Canada used to bring whisky. The French used to bring bottles of wine,” said the diplomat.
International law and governments seem very promising right now. I think this is exactly what 19th century utopians had in mind. The last sober country wins.