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Too much drinking in U.N. negotiations?

UPI News Service, 03/05/2013 

Joseph Torsella, the U.S. ambassador for management and reform at the United Nations, said his colleagues are drinking too much during budget negotiations.

The scolding was prompted by U.S. frustration at the way budget negotiations were handled in December, Foreign Policy magazine reported Monday.

"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," said one U.N. diplomat, whose name was withheld.

Negotiating partners -- particularly those from the Group of 77 developing countries -- were not showing up for meetings during negotiations for a proposal to freeze U.N. staff pay in December, the magazine reported. When they did show up, they had often been drinking.

"As for the conduct of negotiations, we make the modest proposal that the negotiation rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone," Torsella said at a meeting of the U.N. membership's budget committee. "While my government is truly grateful for the strategic opportunities presented by some recent practices, let's save the champagne for toasting the successful end of the session, and do some credit to the Fifth Committee's reputation in the process."

Torsella said he believes delegates are not showing up to meetings with the intention of drinking "but it is rather a function of delegations seeking to avoid any meaningful change in the negotiations and preserve the status quo."

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