UN Memo Shows Shaaban Protest of Bedbugs and No Right to Return by
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 17 -- A rift has emerged among senior UN officials about
the bedbug infestation and the "right to return"
to UN Headquarters once it is renovated. In a memo leaked
City Press by a whistleblower, Under Secretary General Shaaban
Shaaban on May 11 told USG Angela Kane that his staff won't long stay
in the "uninhabitable" Albano Building.
that Shaaban has been told that his staff, of the Department of
General Assembly and Conference Management, may not as promised be
allowed to return to their offices in UN headquarters.
UN press corps
has been told this as well. Their spots on the third and fourth
floor, it now appears, may be given for another use. This would leave
the press corp in the "whistleblower free zone" above the Library,
where all conversations can be heard. Complaints have been made, but
thus far with as little effect of the UN's fumigation on the bed bugs.
The press has
been given until the end of May to argue against losing the spots
they had for fifty years, and against the imposition of rent, which
is again being threatened.
would be to drive smaller and
more independent press out of the UN, even as the UN gets less and
less press coverage, and fewer and fewer reporters attend the UN noon
At the noon
briefing of May 12, Inner City Press asked
City Press Press: It’s come to my attention, Inner City Press has
received a copy of an intra-UN e-mail indicating that in the Albano
Building swing space, that up to 90 per cent of the building is
infected by bed bugs; that this problem that began earlier during the
move there has not been fixed and has in fact gotten worse. I’m
wondering: what steps is the UN taking? Why is it that, months after
they were first discovered, the bed bugs remain in the UN swing space
and what steps are being taken to protect the people that work there?
Martin Nesirky: Let me find out about that. Clearly, if there are
any concerns about staff health or safety they need to be taken very
seriously and looked into. So, let me find out.
The next day,
Nesirky's office replied
your question on bedbugs in the Albano building
Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
Date: Thu, May 13, 2010 at 12:02
To: matthew.lee [at] innercitypress.com
months after the fumigation of the whole Albano building, as is
standard practice, the bug sniffing dog returned to examine the
building on 6 May. The dog found evidence of bugs on a number of
floors. However, the dog is not able to distinguish between alive and
dead bugs that may remain from the previous infestation. As a
precautionary measure the whole building was fumigated again on the
weekend of 8-9 May.
Monday 10 May a staff member reported a bug found in their office.
This was examined in the lab and found not to be a bedbug, further
analysis to determine what the bug is continues. Preliminary advice
indicates that the insect found is a clover mite which does not bite
note that since the fumigation in November last year one staff member
reported a suspicious bite but this turned out not to be from a
continue to monitor the situation very closely and urge any staff
member who experience suspicious insect bites to seek medical
confirmation whether a bedbug was the cause and to advise us, and to
advise us if any bugs are found in the building and we will
investigate. For the moment though there have been no more confirmed
cases of active bedbugs in the Albano building since the fumigation
in November 2009.
copy of which Inner City Press is putting
online here, complains of
the failure to deal with the bedbugs on which Inner City Press first
reported, on problems with the elevators and heating and air
conditioning in the Albano Building.
these issues represents a serious lapse on the part of the
organization's responsibility," Shaaban wrote, "but all
three together border on a situation making the building
UN's Ban and Shaaban, Nambiar, bed bugs and
right to return not shown
my meeting with Mr. Adlerstein five weeks ago, I never agreed that
the Albano staff will be stacked there... So, in the stacking
proposal you sent to Mr. Nambiar on 4 May 2010... I read in the
appendix twice that 'based on initial consultations with DGACM,
agreement has been made to retain the use of the Albano Building,'
which does not reflect my discussion with Mr. Adlerstein."
organizing a congratulatory cocktail reception for Capital Master
Plan chief Michael Adlerstein. One images that the bedbugs and
disputed right to return will be raised there, and at a press
conference with Adlerstein scheduled for May 20. Watch this site.
Shaaban himself is the subject a damning UN Dispute Tribunal ruling,
that his behavior in denying promotion to an underlying was so
outrageous as to militatate for him personally paying damages of
$20,000. Ban Ki-moon has filed what some call a knee-jerk appeal. Now
* * *
UN, of Beepers and Bed Bugs in the Albano Building, Electronic Sign
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 12 -- Months after Inner City Press exclusively
that bed bugs had been found in portions of the UN's office space
the Albano Building on 46th Street, and the UN
belated confirmed it, the UN has found that there are
bugs on almost all floors of the building. A notice was sent out on
May 7, provided to Inner City Press by a whistleblower, that
Focal points, Please be advised that the report came back from the
exterminator on the bed bug follow up inspection. The exterminator
reported that the dog found problems on almost all floors. The
reports says 90% of the building had problems. The exterminator will
be fumigating the building on Saturday 08 May 2010 from 9:00am
-9:00pm. No staff are allowed in the building while it is being
fumigated. All staff are safe to return to the building on Sunday
morning. Sorry for the short notice. If you have any questions please
feel free to call me. Thanks, Brian Hogan."
houses, among other things, the UN's Text Processing Units. These are
about to be subject to an electronic sign in system promoted by
Assistant Secretary General Franz Baumann, who tells Inner City Press
that when he was at the UN in Vienna, staff had no problem with this
system. Here the Staff Union -- both factions -- have opposed by
swipe in. But Baumann is pushing forward, as explained in this recent
Q & A:
City Press: Can you confirm or deny you have ordered the text
processing unit to implement electronic sign-in, despite opposition
Baumann: Nothing has been ordered. But DGACM will introduce the kind
of state-of-the art electronic time and attendance keeping system
which has been successfully implemented at UNOV/UNODC since 2003 to
much acclaim from staff, including the Staff Union there. So, stay
tuned. In the meantime, we are discussing details with the staff and
the staff representatives of DGACM.
UN's Ban swears in Baumann, staff shown, bugs not
also asked Baumann about another controversy within the Text
City Press: Can you confirm and explain that you now expect all of
this in Text Processing Unit to have (and pay for) their own cell
phones, to replace the beeper system you have discontinued?
Baumann: There is not one Text Processing Unit, but six. Staff in
these, as in other parts of DGACM, are expected on occasion to be on
stand-by - and are compensated for this. During such stand-by
periods, staff have to be reachable, whether on their home-phone or,
if they choose to be away from home, by other means. It is not a
contractual requirement - or a sensible assumption in this day and
age - for the Organization to pay for this reachability. Pagers are
a - like Morse Code or Telex - a very outdated technology, yet
expensive to administer, and their use has indeed been decided to be
discontinued by the DGACM Departmental Management Group on the advice
of its ICTC Committed.
complain that they do not have a cell phone, and should not be
required by the UN to get one at their own expense, while others even
having one do not view this as a legitimate demand by the UN as
employer. There are other views. But so it goes.
The most independent judge in the UN's internal justice system has
been pressured not to seek re-appointment, Inner City Press is told.
Judge Adams, who has issued findings of contempt against the
administration of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, his USG
Shaaban and others, will some staff are saying hear his last case
for the UN on May 12. We
hope to be there -- and that it's not true. Watch this site.
* * *
UN, Lebanon Dodges on Iran and Congo Trip, Says Ban's Staff Is
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 4 -- This month's Security Council president, Nawaf
Salam of Lebanon, is in a tough position. While the Western permanent
powers on the Council have been beating the drums for sanctions on
Iran to pass this month, Lebanon's coalition government contains the
pro- Iranian Hezbollah. Salam was asked if he would prefer Iran not
come up this month. No one has ask that it come up, he replied.
asked about the Congo, the Council's whirlwind trip only to Kinshasa.
from Minute 21:33. In previous years, when the Council has gone to
Africa it has
included four or more countries. This time it was going to be three,
with Uganda and Rwanda, but is not whittled down to one.
Ambassadors-- and one African American Ambassador -- have complained
to Inner City Press for different reasons about the limitations on
the trip. Sudan's Ambassador said, on the record, that it should be
called the Council's DRC trip, not an Africa trip. Another, off the
record, questioned not at least going to the East.
the Council has gone to the East in the past, that this is to
negotiate with Joseph Kabila the terms of renewal of mandate of the
MONUC mission. He said, "I haven't heard from any African state
on the Council that it is a disrespect." But African states are
not limited to those on the Council.
Lebanon's Salam on May 4, apples and oranges not shown
also asked about the Council's decision last month to bar the UN
Office of the Spokesperson from its consultations. Salam said yes,
this has been an issue, but said that now the Executive Office of the
Secretary General can come inside.
some, this means
only the identifiable denizens of the third floor of the UN's North
Lawn building. Spokesman Martin Nesirky has declined to answer this
question, saying to ask the Council. Now, as Ban Ki-moon himself said
this week, the ball is back on the other side of the court. Watch
* * *
At UN, Ahmadinejad
Defends Iran's Treatment of Women, Mocks Obama & Ban Ki-moon
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 4 -- When Iran dropped its candidacy for a seat on the
UN Human Rights Council last month, some described it as restoring at
least some credibility to the UN, as when Bosnia stepped in and beat
out Belarus for a seat two years ago.
City Press asked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Iran's
successful replacement candidacy, for a seat on the UN Commission on
the Status of Women, despite gender discrimination and repression,
Ahmadinejad had a different and lengthy answer.
said the switch
was procedural, that Iran had always wanted the CSW seat more than
the Human Rights Council, which within the Asia Group Pakistan was
supposed to run for. Due to a misunderstanding, Ahmadinejad said,
Iran temporarily made a grab for the HRC, before returning to the
seat promised to it, on the Commission on the Status of Women.
how does Iran
intend to use the seat, Inner City Press asked, since it has refused
to sign the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against
Women? We will never sign that, Ahmadinejad vowed. He went to on
paint of picture of "love and complementariness" in Iran.
menial jobs in Iran, he said, nothing "like you and me, cleaning
the street or driving a truck." He said he had read that 70% of
married women in Europe suffer physical abuse, but refuse to complain
for fear of losing their families. Women are better off, he
concluded, in Iran than in Europe.
UN's Ban and Ahmadinejad, human rights not shown
answers came during a more than one hour long press conference held
Tuesday across the street from the UN. The room in the Millennium
Hotel was full, with journalists from the Daily News, Washington Post
and wires, and even Christiane Amanpour (who was not called on).
taken a list of reporters who wanted to ask question, which Inner
City Press arrive too late to sign. But having covered Iran's Nowruz
receptions -- "be more positive next time," the Iranian
mission admonished, leading Inner City Press to ask "or what?"
-- the moderator nodded and allowed the question.
journalists remarked that Ahmadinejad's press conference was more
open and democratic than those of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,
or the pre-screened
stakeout by Hillary Clinton the previous day.
There, the US State Department decided in advance which questions to
take. At Iran's event, alongside some very pro Tehran question,
questions were taken about for example the reports of North Korean
weapons intercepted on their way to Iran.
weapons from them, Ahmadinejad answered. If America finds and seizes
such weapons they can keep them. Regarding Ban Ki-moon, Ahmadinejad
said that if the UN were in Tehran and Iran had a Security Council
veto, Ban would never have spoken as he did on Monday. Asked
repeatedly about sanctions, he said that if they go through, it will
mean that US President Obama has "submitted" and been taken
control of by a gang. This order, he said, will soon collapse.
what of those
arrested and disappeared after the contested elections? Ahmadinejad
did not answer that question, fastening instead on the women's rights
part of the question. Whether the Iranian mission will in the future
allow such questions to be asked, and even answered, remains to be