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U.S. Ambassador Scolds U.N. Diplomats For Drinking
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Story By: Larry Stine

 

 

 
 
 
   
   
  Originally Published on: 3/7/2013

A fair amount of drinking goes on when world diplomats meet at the United Nations.

One U.S. ambassador would like to see that practice come to an end.

Richard Roth has the story.

Put 193 countries, who all want something from each other, in one lace and you are bound to have some drinking.

It can ease some tensions and perhaps lowers barriers to agreement.

In a rare rebuke to the world, as U.S. diplomat Monday, in public, scolded fellow diplomats for drinking on the job.

"As for the conduct of negotiations, Mr. chairman, we make the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in the future be an inebriation free zone," said Joseph Torsella, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for Management and Reform.

There are stories told of delegates even bringing in liquor to closed door negotiations on Christmas-time U.N. budget talks which usually drag on way past midnight.

The most famous U.S. drinking incident occurred more than two years ago overseas when a United Nations Chinese Undersecretary General for Economic Affairs went on a drunken rampage telling his boss, the U.S. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon: "I know you never like me Mr. Secretary-General. Well, I never liked you either."

He later apologized.

"There are just a handful of places inside U.S. headquarters where diplomats can get food and drink, especially during years of renovation here at U.N. heasdquarters. So, in those late night negotiations, diplomats have had to look elsewhere for those special beverages," says CNN Reporter Richard Roth.

"In the past, the French have brought wine, the Canadians have brought Canadian whiskey, the Russians - and this is a current practice - they kind of crack open a bottle of vodka. it's disputed whether they crack it open before the negotiations or whether they do it afterwards, but there's a tradition of drinking," says Colum Lynch, Washington Post Reporter.

Several diplomats demied seeing excessive drinking on the grounds.

"Of course in diplomacy there are a lot of receptions, there is a lot of dinners, there are a lot of lunches and people may have a drink on those occasions but in my experience drink has never come into the negotiations," says Mark Lyall Grant, British Ambassador to the United Nations.

Behind the drinking is frustration that non-western countries are not interested in reforming the organization in those late night meetings.

"Let's save the champagne for toasting the successful end of the session," offered Torsella.

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