Delegates to the United Nations may seem drunk with power, but a more accurate appraisal might be that they are simply, drunk. Despite the removal of the notorious Delegate’s Lounge in 2009, infamous for its dipsomaniacs, and a replacement built which was also later abandoned, drinking is still the breakfast of champions at the U.N.
This week, Joseph M. Torsella, an American diplomat proposed a change that would have made Frances Willard proud: he suggested expediting the budgetary proceedings with this idea: “The negotiation rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone.”
Richard Gowan, an expert on the United Nations at New York University’s Center for International Cooperation, commented, “This is roughly the equivalent of when you’re a teenager and your parents embarrass you because you got drunk the night before. I think there is a lot of snickering.”
Gowan noted the retro nature of the institution; “The U.N. has been cleaning itself up physically, but there is still a sort of residual 1950s, 1960s feel to the culture. You do sort of feel that you are sort of stuck in the past. As a breed, diplomats are heavy drinkers. It is an absolutely miserable process negotiating at the U.N. anyway.”
Foreign Policy reported the United States’ proposal for eschewing drinking, citing recent budget negotiations where one delegate got sick from drinking.
Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly I. Churkin, joked about the issue, chortling, “My national response is there should be no drinking during business sessions. After hours is a personal matter. We all have our private lives, don’t we?”