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Tuesday, 6 August, 2002, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
UN ban on feasts during famine
Power station
The summit will assess progress on climate change
Senior United Nations managers have been warned not to engage in lavish entertaining during the forthcoming environment summit in Johannesburg.


Any event sponsored by the United Nations should be of modest, even frugal, dimensions

Iqbal Riza
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's chief of staff S Iqbal Riza urged his senior staff to remember that the conference was being held as famine threatened southern Africa.

Some 65,000 people have registered to attend the conference in South Africa and about 100 heads of state are due to attend at the end of this month.

UN memo
The UN appear determined to ensure the summit does not appear too lavish

It is being held 10 years after the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, but is already being dismissed as the biggest talking shop in history, with doom-mongers predicting the summit has little success in achieving the sustainable development goals it will set.

Some 20 UN bodies will be attending, each with their own delegation, and the UN is clearly keen to pre-empt any criticism that might come their way from any of the 6,000 journalists expected to cover the event.

In the memo, a copy of which was secured by BBC News Online, there was also a warning to managers not to allow an unnecessarily large number of UN staff to attend the summit "which could be perceived as an obvious waste of personnel and financial resources".

Excessive

"We must keep in mind that this conference is taking place in the midst of a major food crisis in southern Africa, affecting 13 million people," Mr Iqbal Riza said further down the memo.

Launch new window : Southern Africa famine
In pictures: Southern Africa famine

"It would be wise to refrain from excessive levels of hospitality, and any event sponsored by the United Nations should be of modest, even frugal, dimensions," he said.

The recent UN World Food Summit held in Rome was criticised for the lavish food and hospitality available at the event.

About 13 million people are at risk of starvation in seven countries across southern Africa.


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13 Jun 02 | In Depth
30 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
15 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
04 Jan 02 | Americas
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