My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Monday, December 24, 2007

More on Durban II

It looks like the Mother of all conferences...
To raise the Durban II monster from its vat, all that’s needed now is a mega-dose of money. Durban I was funded largely by the host country, South Africa. But this time, the planners have set their sights on dollars from the U.N.’s core budget, to which the U.S. contributes 22 percent of the loot. In requesting core U.N. funds for Durban II, Pakistan took the initiative, supported by yet more regimes not exactly known for their tolerance, such as the governments of Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and Sudan.

Many of the specifics involved in plans for Durban II remain vague, not least the actual venue, which has yet to be chosen. But with unquestioning bureaucratic diligence, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s budget division, in response to the Durban II planners, has drawn up a neat list of estimated costs for the next 18 months, covering elaborate preparations plus the conference itself. The total comes to a whopping $6.8 million. That’s double the $3.4 million which the U.N.’s own website lists as the upper bound of what the U.N. spends on most mega-conferences.

Extravagance at the U.N. is no surprise. According to the U.S. Mission, Ban has just proposed the biggest-ever U.N. budget, up 15 percent over the last round. But even by those standards, the Durban II budget estimate spills right over the top. At the U.N.’s human-rights offices in Geneva, there are already more than half a dozen staffers whose duties include running the secretariat set up there for Durban II. Apparently that’s not enough; the budget estimate includes $267,300 over the next 18 months for a full-time professional U.N. staffer (which works out to roughly $180,000 per year, or more than the salary of a U.S. senator). There is also a provision for two full-time secretarial assistants, at a cost of $302,400 over the same planning period (which works out to about $100,000 per secretary, per year).

There is also a hefty $825,100 penciled in for the travel costs and per diems of “16 experts” (that works out to $51,568 in expenses per expert), who will fly around to preparatory conferences in places penciled in as Geneva, Pretoria, Bangkok, Moscow, Brasilia, and Vienna. Who these experts might be is not yet clear. But it’s a good bet that with Libya and Iran in the saddle, this Durban II crew of specialists will not include, say, former Ambassador John Bolton, or former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky.

The budget estimate also includes $3.27 million for “meeting services” and “documentation.” Apparently, the normal U.N. assemblies will not suffice to plan a U.N. conference. The meetings now on the drawing board include a ten-day session next April in Geneva for the “first substantive session of the Preparatory Committee,” plus regional preparatory get-togethers of three days each, in five other locations (“to be determined”) scattered around the globe. The paperwork will include 800 pages of “pre-session documents” and 20 pages “post-session,” to be issued in all official languages of the U.N. that are “appropriate to the respective regional constituents” (which apart from the question of who plans to read 800 pages of pre-session documents anyway, sounds like a great way to hide select portions of preparations).

And then there are assorted additional doo-dads, including $236,600 for U.N. staff travel to regional preparatory conferences. Somewhere in there, the planners have also been angling to use U.N. regular budget money to subsidize the travel costs for non-governmental organizations from poor countries to attend the conference. Which NGOs might get these handouts is unclear. That’s alarming, because at Durban I, the most venomous participants were the NGOs.


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