March 2, 2006

Bolton’s UN punctuality drive comes to early end

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - An unpopular punctuality drive
launched in the U.N. Security Council last month by U.S.
Ambassador John Bolton came to an abrupt end on Thursday when
Argentina took over the council's rotating presidency.

Bolton had cracked the whip while presiding over the
15-nation U.N. body in February, starting meetings precisely on
time, even with empty chairs in the room, as part of a plan to
modernize council operations.

He had also called in ambassadors almost every morning of
the month for closed-door briefings by U.N. staff on overnight
global political and peacekeeping developments.

But Argentine Ambassador Cesar Mayoral made clear it would
be a different story in March.

If ambassadors wanted to come on time, it would be up to
them, he told reporters.

As for the morning briefings, "this is impossible," he
said. "We aren't having a daily briefing each day."

If an ambassador asked for a briefing on a particular
matter, he would try to accommodate the request. But absent
that, the council work program was simply too heavy, he said.

Some ambassadors had grumbled in February that they already
had too many commitments to attend the daily sessions.

Bolton has described the U.S. campaign to reform the United
Nations as an "irresistible force" pitted against an "immovable

Bypassing the U.S. Senate, President George W. Bush sent
Bolton to the United Nations last August with instructions to
shake up the world body after findings of mismanagement and
corruption in the $64 billion oil-for-food program for Iraq.