The Rosett Report

Bolton, Chafee and the UN Hat

The UN is not supposed to meddle in the domestic politics of member states. So what are we to make of the profile posted on the web site of Ted Turner’s UN Foundation, in which a senior policy staffer of the UN Development Program, Neal Walker, last year described his approach to Rhode Island Senators Jack Reed and Lincoln Chafee, when John Bolton was first up for confirmation as U.S. ambassador to the UN:


“I have written to Jack Reed at one point on this, and have spoken with the office of Lincoln Chaffee more recently regarding concerns over the nominee to head the US delegation to the UN.” (The nominee was Bolton).

Sen. Chafee just lost his seat, but as the clock runs out on this congress, he remains the pivotal Republican opposed to Bolton’s confirmation. To be fair, it’s quite likely that any chat the UNDP’s Neal Walker had with Chafee last year has played no significant part in Chafee’s opposition to Bolton. It’s also reasonable to assume that Walker, whose web page says he hails from Rhode Island, was entirely within his rights in his private capacity as a U.S. citizen to express to his senators what was apparently his objection to Bolton becoming ambassador to the UN.

But when Walker’s views “as an American” are posted by the UN Foundation under a description of Walker as a UNDP staffer who has spent years at the UN, what’s going on?

It’s the job of those wearing the hats of UN staffers to serve the member states, not advise them on choosing their ambassadors. Would Kofi Annan and his deputy, Mark Malloch Brown (who as the UN’s #2 has done plenty of his own opining about U.S. domestic politics), care to tell us whether anyone else carrying a UN calling card has been making the rounds of U.S. senators to offer opinions on Bolton’s confirmation?