U.S. Ambassador Asks U.N. Colleagues to Stop Showing Up Drunk to Meetings
The United Nations is a pretty fun place. The headquarters hosts all kinds of cultural events. Everyone's open-minded about the dress code. Delegates can even show up hammered to budget negotiations. Or at least they used to be able to.
At a General Assembly budget committee meeting on Monday, the United States ambassador for management and reform at the UN stood up to scold his colleagues for always showing up drunk to negotiations. "We make the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone," said Joseph Torsella. "While my government is truly grateful for the strategic opportunities presented by some recent past 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."
This is apparently not a new problem. The budget committee meetings tend to run late into the night at this time of year, as delegates struggle to meet deadlines. Some diplomats spoke up after Torsella's very public shaming and said it's not uncommon for delegates to show up visibly drunk to negotiations.
We're not talking about cheerful, oops-I-had-a-glass-of-chardonnay-at-dinner drunk either. "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," one unnamed diplomat told the press, mentioning one incident where a delegate got so hammered that he barfed, though it's unclear where. Another explained, "On one occasion the note-taker who was meant to be recording the talks was so intoxicated he had to be replaced." One more unnamed diplomat said that delegates were showing up "falling down drunk."