UN negotiations menaced by topless women. Or not

Belarus expresses sauciness concerns

Sensitive international negotiations on arms control taking place in Geneva could be menaced by mobs of screaming, topless women throwing mayonnaise, according to one of the delegates.

Mr Ivan Grinevich, representing the nation of Belarus, made the remarks on Tuesday during a meeting of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament. The conference was considering its policy on "civil society participation" - that is participation in its discussions by people other than official government-appointed delegates.

According to the official record of the discussion:

Belarus asked the President to clarify whether he was opening up participation in the Conference on Disarmament to the general public, or just to members of civil society who could provide expertise and constructive contributions. If it was the former, Belarus said it could create difficulties not only for the conference services but also the security services. What if there were topless ladies screaming from the public gallery throwing bottles of mayonnaise, asked Belarus.

The president of the conference, Mr Jorge Lomonaco of Mexico, apparently handled this concern smoothly, pointing out that the menace of sauces or spreads hurled by screaming ladies (topless or fully dressed) was simply a risk that every international diplomat must be prepared to run. We are told:

[Mr Lomonaco] replied that he heard Belarus’s concerns but did not understand because members of the public were already entitled to attend plenary meetings of the Conference and sit in the public gallery, and so in theory could already drop mayonnaise onto delegates.

But Mr Grinevich was unmollified by this. He said that Belarus of course "welcomed contributions from civil society" but nonetheless wanted the rules on outsider participation to be "practical". Mr Grinevich appeared to be worried, not about just a few topless saucy ladies but a huge crowd of them, pointing out that "it would be difficult to accommodate even 3,000 people in the Council Chamber".

Mr Lomonaco remained unimpressed, pointing out that he could see only two people in the public gallery as the discussion took place.

The top-level international negotiations then moved on to other matters.

We're indebted to the vigilant newshawks of Reuters for flagging up this important diplomatic episode. ®

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