Expatica news

UN meetings postponed amid European traffic chaos

The United Nations was forced to postpone several meetings Monday as delegates were unable to travel to Geneva after a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland paralysed European air traffic.

At least nine events scheduled this week have been cancelled or postponed, including a disarmament conference and a human rights briefing.

A week-long cocoa conference organised by the UN Conference on Trade and Development scheduled to begin Monday was pushed to June, as “numerous government representatives from cocoa producing and consuming countries were unable to attend due to the cancellation of flights into Geneva.”

“Almost all of the Latin American and African delegates are not here. They are very important players in this meeting,” Muriel Scibilia, UNCTAD spokeswoman, told AFP.

Another UNCTAD meeting on corporate governance in the wake of the financial crisis which was due to be held Tuesday and Wednesday was also postponed.

The UN intellectual property agency WIPO meanwhile had to postpone at least three gatherings, including a half-yearly meeting on trademarks.

“The meetings were important enough for participants to decide that they should be postponed and not simply cancelled,” said Samar Shamoon, spokeswoman for the agency.

UN missions were also affected, with a trip to Slovenia this week by UN independent expert on human rights, water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, now postponed.