UNITED NATIONS Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant suggested a new tactic on Tuesday to stop diplomats at the United Nations from speaking for too long - turn off their microphone.
During a recent visit with the U.N. Security Council to the African Union Peace and Security Council in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Lyall Grant was impressed by its procedures.
"I, for one, would support implementing here the African Union Peace and Security Council practice of cutting off speakers who have exceeded their allotted time by turning off their microphones," Lyall Grant told the Security Council.
Speakers at U.N. meetings can be limited by the president using a gavel, but this is rare.
Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi addressed the U.N. General Assembly in 2009 for 1 hour and 35 minutes, while in 1960, Cuba's Fidel Castro took to the U.N. podium to blast U.S. imperialism for about four hours.
The Security Council "encourages" U.N. members to deliver statements at meetings in five minutes or less. During Britain's presidency of the council in June, Lyall Grant cut off several speakers, some of whom officially complained.
"It is entirely possible to keep to short interventions without limiting the ability of member states to fully express their views," Lyall Grant said. "I am sure this would also be the case if we did adopt the African Union practice."
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)