Diplomats Gone Wild!

Kevin Rudd, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: United Nations Diplomats Gone Wild (Photos)

From a Chinese official’s drunken diss of Ban Ki-Moon to Kevin Rudd’s strip-club bacchanal, see photos of U.N. hijinks.

The current 66th Session of the U.N. Generally Assembly may be consumed with talk of the Palestinian bid for full membership and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s historic speech kicking off the annual proceeding, but the many diplomats who descend on New York still find time to kick up their heels. From a Chinese official’s drunken diss of Ban Ki-Moon to Aussie Kevin Rudd’s strip-club bacchanal, see photos of diplomatic hijinks over the years.

Greg Barker / AP Photo

It’s the Wine Talking

“Wine affected me a little...I want to say something that’s on my mind,” top Chinese U.N. diplomat Sha Zukang warned during a September 2010 U.N. dinner in the Swiss Alps. After taking the stage with microphone in hand, he began a drunken 15-minute rant, sharing his dislike of Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and American U.N. official Bob Orr, saying, “He’s an American, and I really don’t like Americans.” The next morning consisted of an apologetic meeting with Ban and a presumably rough hangover.


Have Guns, Will Travel

Walkouts during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speeches are common, but on September 25, 2007, during the United Nations General Assembly, three diplomats from the Democratic Republic of the Congo skipped the talk entirely. Instead, they hopped in a Lincoln Town Car and drove downtown to the Jon Jovino Gun Shop in Chinatown where they purchased more than 30 handguns, ammunition, and accessories. A letter they prepared for the store owner described it as a request for “military equipment” for a country still recovering from the bloodiest war since World War II.

Richard Drew / AP Photo

Pols and Poll Dancers

In September 2003, during the U.N. General Assembly, Australia’s then-opposition foreign affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, took a break from meetings to spend a night out at Scores, a Chelsea strip club. When the news got out four years later, Rudd said he was too drunk to remember what happened at the club. Defending Rudd, various Australian officials were inspired to publicly share their strip club experiences. The incident clearly didn’t shake the Aussies’ faith in Rudd—he was elected prime minister that same year.

U.N. Radio (Inset); Don Emmert, AFP / Getty Images

Leg Men

The French figure is not to be ignored. In the middle of a 30-person lunch of U.N. diplomats in November, 1986, French chief delegate Claude de Kemoularia called for the restaurant lights to be turned on. Then, to audience applause, he rolled up his pants to show off his calves and declared his legs to be the United Nation’s “most beautiful.”

Jeremy Bales, Bloomberg News / Getty Images

Young at Heart

For diplomats who don’t visit strip clubs or stock up on handguns, Manhattan still offers opportunities for extravagance. An October 24, 1985 L.A. Times article described a Middle Eastern official stocking up on $4,000 in “games, toys, dolls and other childhood delights” at New York’s famous toy store, FAO Schwarz. In the same piece, a chauffeur reported constantly shuttling his two delegations between U.N. meetings and McDonald’s for a taste of gourmet American fare.

Frank Franklin II / AP Photo

Stripped of His Pride

In a June 8, 2004 story, the BBC reported that a Bangladeshi diplomat’s husband spent $130,000 at the same New York strip club as Kevin Rudd. Tauhidul Chaudhury reportedly shouted, “I’m king of the world!” before racking up the largest tab in Scores’ history over seven hours. After he unsuccessfully claimed the bill’s sum was impossible, the Bangladeshi papers picked up the news and the man’s wife, Muna Tasneem, was recalled from her United Nations post and had to return to Bangladesh.

Sweet Digs

Far from the comforts of their presidential digs, foreign leaders tend to set up camp in some of New York's finest hotels while in town for diplomatic duty. This year, Rwandan President Paul Kagame has made himself at home in the Mandarin Oriental's $16,000-a-night presidential suite, while Saudi representatives are currently shacking up at The Plaza. Palestinian and Egyptian leaders, on the other hand, are playing it safe at the heavily-guarded UN Millennium hotel.

Marc Stamas / Getty Images


Fashion week may be over but there's always time to shop in New York, even when you're just in town on business. The New York Post reports that a group of Qatari royals, including U.N. General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser made a special trip to designer Domenico Vacca where at least one of them reportedly racked up a hefty, six-figure bill.

Zak Brian, Sipa / Newscom

Happy Hour

What would a trip to New York be without sampling some of the city's legendary cuisine? U.N. diplomats enjoy food just as much as anyone else, and they wasted no time hightailing it to some of Manhattan's finest restaurants. Nello, the Upper East Side's pricey Italian bistro, has served representatives from Israel, Saudi Arabia and Greece already this week, while Morocco's foreign minister and Nigerian diplo were both spotted at Harry Cipriani.

Craig Ruttle / AP Photo

Have it Your Way

While some diplomats eagerly scooped up seats at NYC's hottest restaurants, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stuck with what he knows. The Iranian president brought his personal chef along for the trip to New York this week. But apparently, whatever Ahmadinejad's chef is cooking up doesn't smell very good because, according to the New York Post, "he's practically cleared out the Hilton Manhattan East." It might not be too late for the Iranian ruler to get in on Saudi Arabia's table at Nello.