- The Washington Times - Monday, December 24, 2001

Budget chief may go
Secretary-General Kofi Annan begins his second term next week, but it looks like he'll be running the ship without Joseph Connor, the distinguished head of U.N. management and budget.
Mr. Connor's departure, after nearly eight years of sorting through the excruciatingly detailed and politically sensitive U.N. budgets, could throw both the United Nations and the United States into some real-time decision making.
An American has occupied the 27th floor office with the distracting Empire State Building views for as long as anyone here can remember. Washington shows no sign of giving up the position.
"Oh, we are interested in that post," said a U.S. Mission official who was not pleased to hear that Mr. Connor is thinking of leaving. "We are very, very, very interested in that office."
The official said that if, in fact, Mr. Connor were to step down, Washington would quickly offer potential successors for Mr. Annan to chose from. "We have several candidates for the job," he said.
It's not yet clear that Mr. Annan will keep an American for that job.
The U.N. Charter says that all posts are subject to geographic rotation, a fact that the General Assembly reaffirmed with a resolution late last session.
Indeed, Mr. Connor, 70, is at least the fourth American to run the management office, which not only drafts and explains the budget but oversees such diverse departments as the comptroller, human resources, the peacekeeping purse strings and support services. It also sounds out the annual bills to member states.
In the last eight years for what was originally to be a three-year appointment under former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali Mr. Connor has overseen or advised key players during the epic battles involving the repaying of a multibillion-dollar U.S. debt to the world body, an overhaul of the peacekeeping and regular budget assessments, and the groundwork of a proposed $1 billion remodeling job for the aging U.N. Headquarters building.
Before joining the international organization, Mr. Connor was president of the accounting and consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Although senior U.N. officials expect little turnover, at least one other pivotal post will also become vacant during Mr. Annan's second term. Hans Corell, the Swedish jurist who has headed the U.N. Office of Legal Affairs for nearly eight years, said last week that he does not expect to finish out another term because he is inching up on the retirement age set by his country and the organization's 10-year limit in one job.

Syria joining Council
When the diplomats return from the holidays spent in their own capitals or someone else's they will find a new Security Council waiting for them.
Among the new members starting two-year terms on Jan. 1 is Syria.
What is intriguing here is that Syria is a party in at least three separate Security Council matters, and its behavior as a hostile neighbor of Israel, friendly neighbor to Iraq and accused sponsor of terrorism will be closely monitored.
A number of Jewish groups in the United States pressured the Bush administration to oppose Syria's candidacy and have been vocal in their disappointment that a countereffort, similar to last year's successful campaign against Sudan, wasn't undertaken.
U.S. diplomats said they could not pull a 2000 Sudan-style coup against Syria by encouraging support for a challenger because there was none the Asian group was unanimously behind Damascus.
Diplomats say they will be watching the Syrian government's compliance with council resolutions closely, particularly where it is involved. As the de factor power in Lebanon and the political benefactor of the Hezbollah militias, Syria has a special interest in the fate of UNIFIL, the 23-year-old, 4,500-soldier peacekeeping mission on the Lebanese border with Israel. Washington has branded Hezbollah a foreign terrorist organization.

Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]


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