I once knew an American international lawyer who had worked at the International Postal Union (a U.N. Specialized Agency), at the height of the Cold War, when the U.N. and its specialized agencies were battlefields, and where influence could be gained by controlling the machinery and key appointments of the corresponding organization.
He explained that while Soviets didn’t necessarily have controlling majorities in the voting bodies, they were very adept at gaining control of key machinery within the secretariat of the organization. At the IPO, he recounted, they did have something of immense value: control of the minutes and documentation of the meetings, and of the printing presses.
Instead of the English interpretation, the original language was playing on the “English” channel.
This was a highly significant “mistake” by U.N. Web TV, because it meant that the Russian representative’s outrageous comments were not available for review by English-speaking journalists.
It seems like the Russians still have influence over the printing presses, or their modern-day equivalents.
But it also appears that international law, and the mobilization of shame, can still be used as a powerful weapon in international relations.
Nor could the Russian’s abrupt departure just before the Ukrainian representative spoke be appreciated by listening to the English interpretation of his remarks. The Russian ambassador, suddenly and without previous warning, ended his intervention and left the meeting on the pretext that he had a meeting with the Secretary General.
It was a remarkable moment. He just got up and left, immediately before the Ukrainian representative proceeded to detail the facts of the Russian mobilization and military threat which were the reason the meeting had been called. Obviously, the Russian ambassador had no response to offer to any of the charges.