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U.S. to U.N. Ambassadors: Please Stop Getting So Drunk During Budget Meetings


"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..."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the opening of the high-level segment of the annual U.N. climate talks involving environment ministers and climate officials from nearly 200 countries, in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012. (Photo: AP)

President Barack Obama addresses the U.S. General Assembly. (AP File Photo)

The U.S. ambassador for management and reform at the United Nations on Monday kindly requested that his esteemed colleagues stop conducting world affairs completely inebriated.

Speaking during a General Assembly budget committee meeting, Joseph Torsella said: "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...We make the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone."

Budget committee meetings, in particular, seem to be tackled with a fair amount of booze.

Joseph Torsella (Photo: U.S. Mission to the U.N.) 

The Atlantic relates:

Some diplomats spoke up after Torsella's very public shaming and said it's not uncommon for delegates to show up visibly drunk to negotiations. "On one occasion the note-taker who was meant to be recording the talks was so intoxicated he had to be replaced," one unnamed diplomat told the press. We're not talking about cheerful, oops-I-had-a-glass-of-chardonnay-at-dinner drunk either. Another unnamed diplomat said that delegates were showing up "falling down drunk." Torsella himself mentioned one incident where a delegate got so hammered that he barfed, though it's unclear where.  [Emphasis added]

One Security Council diplomat seemed fine with the policy as is, though: "It's all about the last one standing is the winner...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]."

According to Foreign Policy, one diplomat said the representatives of developing countries have a habit of showing up late and intoxicated.  Developed countries, who foot the majority of the bill being discussed, tend to be more level-headed.

But the aforementioned Security Council diplomat countered: "'s not just Africans. The Russians do it...There's nothing new or surprising about this. Canada used to bring whiskey. The French used to bring bottles of wine..."

Reports note that, like nearly everything else done by the costly international body, Torsella's request is non-binding and there is little he can do to enforce it

Regardless, Torsella seems to be tackling waste and inefficiency within the U.N. at every turn.  A quick search of what appears to be his Twitter feed shows the diplomat to be targeting the bloated travel budget, in particular.

If negotiators can't fulfill their assigned duties, Torsella concluded: "we must conclude that they do not share a commitment to negotiating in good faith, and we will respond accordingly.”

Who knew?



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