I got a ton of e-mail from the UN news service this morning. Either a lot of stuff is going on, or their email blaster has been backed up from the holidays. (Oh, and a note to the UN editors: ALL CAPS means SHOUTING on the internets.)
First up is the new and controversial Ethics Office that has begun operations at the United Nations. Apparently held up until the 11th hour in budget negotiations last year, the office has already started to field questions from staff as it begins its work. The office is charged with administering the UN’s financial disclosure programme and new whistleblower policy, both of which are designed to help root out corruption from its ranks. Apparently they are the ones to call if you think your boss is skimming from the budget or some sweet diplomat gives you a Cartier Ladies Tank Francaise Watch (on sale now on Amazon for only $225,000, down from $279K).
Meanwhile, the “Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action” has been meeting from the 16th until 27th of January on racism and the internet. I wonder if they will examine Walmart for suggesting on their website that customers interested in the movie “Planet of the Apes” also consider buying movies about Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Finally, negotiations on a new human rights treaty for people with disabilities resumed yesterday with many of the diplomats and lobbyists themselves requiring special arrangements to participate. Notably, for the first time a direct-to-Braille printer was used to distribute Braille texts to blind participants. Already, at the opening session, Braille copies of the proposed text were available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. (No word on Chinese Braille texts.)