- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

Deciphering the buzz
The Vatican last week announced plans to publish a dictionary of buzzwords to help Roman Catholics parry challenges to the church's positions masked by code and euphemisms.
The 1,000-page compilation includes definitions for ambiguous terms such as "family," "reproductive rights," "conjugal relations" and "gender" words that crop up frequently at U.N. conferences and are, in the U.N. tradition, open to interpretation.
Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told the Italian monthly 30 Days that the phrase "reproductive rights" is misleading because it "is used for propaganda not for the right to reproduction but … to abortion."
And the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, adopted in 1979 by the U.N. General Assembly but not ratified by the United States, is actually "to protect women from marriage and from giving birth to children, which according to the feminist ideology would absolutely be two forms of slavery," he said.
The Colombian cardinal represented the ailing Pope John Paul II over the weekend at the triennial World Meeting of Families in the Philippines.
The Vatican has diplomatic status with the United States and "permanent observer of a non-member state" status at the United Nations, giving it the right to speak but not to vote in the General Assembly. But it has an uneasy relationship with the United Nations, which has convened a number of global conferences in recent years on population, children, women's health and other issues where science, culture and religious values can clash.
Extreme 'reality TV'
Forget about tasteless stunts and "American Idol." The ultimate reality television will be broadcast live this morning from the second floor of the United Nations.
More than 700 reporters are expected to swarm over the U.N. headquarters today for the presentation by U.N. weapons inspectors on Iraq's cooperation. With the specter of war hanging on their words, the carefully crafted phrases of inspection chiefs Mohamed ElBaradei and Hans Blix are sure drama and high stakes.
Never mind that both inspectors have indicated they plan to give Iraq's cooperation faint praise and some well-documented criticism. Never mind that Washington has backed away from notions that this report could be the trigger for a second Gulf war.
U.N. officials are bracing for a media scrum unlike any in the organization's history. The press liaison office here has received requests for temporary passes from hundreds of news organizations, including television, newspapers, Internet tip sheets and specialized publications devoted subjects as diverse as Middle Eastern politics, nuclear nonproliferation and the price of oil.
The swamped press accreditation office has decided to allow roughly 200 reporters, technicians and producers to the area outside the Security Council chambers. Others can watch the proceedings on television monitors scattered throughout the building.
Promises, promises
Two years ago, the leaders of 189 countries endorsed U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Millennium Declaration an ambitious pledge to halve poverty and hunger, halt the spread of AIDS, rescue the environment, spread human rights and literacy, and speed disarmament.
It's not happening.
But the big brains and big wallets at the World Economic Forum (WEF), traditionally a bulwark of support for the United Nations, have agreed to create a new watchdog body to egg the parties into getting serious about mopping up the interlocking problems.
The Global Governance Initiative, announced during the WEF's annual meeting last week in Davos, Switzerland, will "publicize ideas about what governments, intergovernmental organizations, business and civil society organizations can do" to meet the specific goals of the Millennium Declaration. It will also issue "numerical scores" so that everyone can keep track.
The group, composed of seven panels of experts, will issue its initial findings in a report next January, according to a WEF release. Among those committed to participate are U.N. veterans and retirees such as refugee agency chief Sadako Ogata, human rights commissioner Mary Robinson, Annan advisor John Ruggie and environmental advocate Maurice Strong.
Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at UNear@aol.com.

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