Shortly after his election as United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon was visited by Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who upbraided the U.N. chief about the “860 fire code violations” at the world body’s Midtown East headquarters, telling him “that any other building in New York would have been shut down long ago.”
Ban assured the mayor, who was accompanied by then fire commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, that the upcoming $1.9 billion renovation of the sixty year old building would bring it up to code, an April 2007 diplomatic cable recently released by WikiLeaks reveals.
But it was New York’s City’s police department rather than its fire department that was on Ban’s mind.
Secretary-General Ban complimented Mayor Bloomberg on the scope and size of the NYPD, making particular note that many of the officers speak languages other than English. Ban raised the idea of soliciting the NYPD to participate in UN peacekeeping mission.
It made sense from the U.N.’s point of view. There’s probably no other police force in the world as diverse as the NYPD. Twenty percent of the force are foreign born and 64 different languages are spoken among its officers, from Amharic to Yorub, according to the department’s website.
The proposal received a lukewarm response from the mayor though.
Bloomberg replied that the idea was unique and that he would need to discuss the matter with his police commissioner and other experts in his administration.
The idea doesn’t appear to have gained any traction. There were about 200 U.S. police serving with U.N peacekeeping operations in 2007, mostly in Kosovo, and there are currently some 75 U.S. police deployed with U.N. missions, the majority in Haiti.
Meanwhile, work on renovating the U.N.’s headquarters, and fixing those 860 fire code violations, is ongoing.
When he was president of the UN Security Council in February 2009 Japan’s then ambassador to the United Nations, Yukio Takasu, told reporters that he’d bought a Seiko clock for each of his 14 fellow envoys on the council so they’d arrive on time for meetings. A few weeks later, Iran’s mission would charge him with tardiness and refuse to accept a letter from a sanctions committee. Takasu, who was chair of the Security Council’s Iran Sanctions Committee, told his U.S. counterpart, Susan Rice, that he decided on hand delivery of the letter “as he believed that a face-to-face meeting would send a positive signal of engagement,” a recently released cable from WikiLeaks reveals.
But the delivery didn’t go as planned:
The Japanese had successfully scheduled a meeting at Deputy Perm Rep level to hand over the letter, but when the Japanese Perm Rep arrived the Iranians complained that he was “three minutes late” and said that the Iranian Deputy Perm Rep had suddenly been called away to other business. A lower-level Iranian official said that because he had no instructions to accept the letter by hand, he could not receive it. The Japanese subsequently faxed the letter to the Iranian mission.
Takasu also tried to arrange a meeting with Syria’s envoy, Bashar Ja’afari, who “responded angrily” when told of the letter requesting information on an alleged arms shipment from Tehran to Damascus. The cable, dated March 10, 2009, goes on to say that
he would only receive the letter if sent by “official route,” as opposed to being hand delivered. The Japanese mission later faxed the letter to the Syrian mission and sent via courier a signed copy of the original.
Ja’afari can expect more heated encounters with the council in the weeks ahead.
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South Sudan’s Flag is Raised Outside UN Headquarters in NYC after Becoming 193rd Member State
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
7 June 2011
The High Commissioner would like to make clear that a meeting she had last Friday with Bahrain’s Minister of Social Development and acting health minister, Dr Fatima bint Mohammed Al Balooshi and three other Bahrain government officials, has been grossly misrepresented in a report by the Bahrain News Agency. The BNA article was subsequently picked up by a number of newspapers in the region, including the Khaleej Times and the Gulf Daily News, and even by some Sri Lankan government officials and media for their own purposes.
The Bahrain News Agency, which was not present at the meeting, stated that the High Commissioner had “recognized misinformation” about the Kingdom of Bahrain, and quoted her as saying “Certain information which we received about the developments in Bahrain are untrue.”
The High Commissioner would like to stress that she made no such statement, and is disturbed by this blatant distortion of her words. She will formally request the Government officials who attended the meeting to issue a correction.
The discussions at the meeting with the Bahraini Government delegation focused mainly on the proposed OHCHR mission to Bahrain, as well as a number of other issues relating to the recent protests, including the need for transparent independent investigations into the human rights violations that have taken place there. The mission has been accepted in principle by the Bahraini government but no dates have yet been set.
For more information or interviews, please contact spokesperson Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 or email@example.com ) or press officers: Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 or firstname.lastname@example.org ) or Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 or email@example.com )
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Egyptian Christians protest near Egypt’s UN embassy on Wednesday May 18
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The Arab Spring at the UN: Protesters have been gathering daily outside the world body’s HQ in NYC in solidarity with demonstrators back home