Nothing here is simple
Not long after Oslo phoned with the good news about the Nobel Peace Prize awarded jointly to Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the United Nations, officials at the world body realized they would have a delicate diplomatic problem on their hands.
Who gets to decide what do to with the organization’s half of the $944,000 prize money? Who goes to Oslo Dec. 10 to collect the award? How many speeches will be made on behalf of the organization? For that matter, what is the United Nations “as such”?
Six main bodies make up the core of the United Nations the General Assembly, Security Council, the Secretariat (permanent staff), International Court of Justice, Economic and Social Council and Trusteeship Council. These are visible on tables of organization but otherwise pretty much obscured by the forest of bureaucracy.
Some thought the scores of quasi-autonomous agencies, funds and programs should be cut in. Others disagreed.
Perhaps most contentious: How does an international organization distribute among its tens of thousands of staffers, well-wishers and officials the allotted 60 seats?
After several weeks of informal soundings and suggestions, it was quietly agreed that Mr. Annan would give the sole speech at the Nobel awards ceremony Dec. 10. The president of the General Assembly, South Korean Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo, will accept the award on behalf of the United Nations. The seats will be distributed in thirds to the organization; the agencies and programs; and to staff members.
So the only thing left to do is distribute the prize money, potentially the most contentious issue of all.
Shame, shame, shame
With all this talk about how to mainstream sex issues and create some degree of representation for the women of Afghanistan, it is interesting to note how many of Mr. Annan’s 54 political envoys are women.
One: Laura Canuto of Italy, who is deputy chief of the U.N. verification mission in Guatemala.
“That makes me really angry,” said Jennifer Klot, senior governance adviser at Unifem, the U.N. women’s agency. She said a woman was nearly appointed deputy for the political mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo but was passed over “because it wasn’t safe enough.” The peacekeeping department confirms that a woman nearly got the job but said the candidate pulled out for personal reasons.
The special envoys and personal representatives and their deputies are appointed by the secretary-general as sorts of ambassadors to specific conflicts or regions. They can relay information in either direction and issue public statements on behalf of the organization.
The Security Council last week criticized the lack of women in such jobs and urged member states to redouble their efforts to nominate female candidates.
Senior advisers to Mr. Annan said one in 54 personally appointed representatives is not adequate. But they were at a loss to explain why they couldn’t find any seasoned female diplomats or politicians to fill these sometimes pivotal posts.
“It is a priority for him,” one aide said with a shrug. “He has said it is a priority.”
Brahimi to meet 6+2
Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, will return to New York this week to meet with key foreign ministers during the annual opening session of the General Assembly.
Mr. Brahimi, a former foreign minister of Algeria, has been in Central Asia for nearly two weeks, meeting with government officials, nongovernmental organizations and identity groups in Pakistan and Iran.
At the General Assembly, he will meet with the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbors Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and China as well as the United States and Russia. The so-called “6+2 group” was created four years ago to try to deal with the rise of the Taliban, and its foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the General Assembly opening session two years ago.
Mr. Brahimi, the former foreign minister of Algeria, is a seasoned diplomat who appears to have Washington’s full support. He was the U.N. representative to Afghanistan in the mid-1990s but withdrew in frustration after the Taliban refused to meet with the United Nations to discuss anything beyond emergency humanitarian assistance.
Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at UNear@aol.com.