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At UN, With Asbestos Unsealed in Library, Interpreters Fight UN Capital Master Plan

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, May 28 -- At the UN, asbestos removal has begun in Headquarters library, with doors unsealed between the asbestos and where UN staff are working. While experts tell Inner City Press these conditions would not be accepted anywhere else in New York, or the United States, since the UN is international territory, the proximity of asbestos and unprotected workers has taken place this week.

   In a closed door meeting with UN interpreters concerned about conditions, the UN's and its contractors' defense is that workers are protected by "negative pressure." Some predict a boomerang-ing of this negative pressure against the asbestos removal.

It is part of the UN's Capital Master Plan, whose director Michael Adlerstein reported met last week with UN interpreters who are worried about working in the Security Council once the rest of the building is emptied out and the asbestos work is going on. The UN's asbestos contractor, ATC Associates which, as Inner City Press exclusively reported, has been hit for Clean Air Act violations, sent a representative named Roney Rivero to the meeting, who is reported to have said there is no link between asbestos and cancer, while speaking of negative pressure.

One interpreter who works in the Security Council, speaking on condition of anonymity due to fear of UN retaliation, predicted that while for now UN staff are subjected to asbestos, when it becomes clear to the member states' Permanent Representatives who serve on the Security Council, especially the Permanent Five, how the abatement and removal are being done, "there will be big changes. Even though we're there more than the Perm Reps, they're more sensitive, you know."

Meanwhile in the UN Library, where staff continues to work, asbestos removal has been done on the first and second floors, where the UN Staff Union complains that the abatement equipment remains stored, and where, they say, there is a film of dust on many surfaces. Asbestos work is slated for the third floor of the library this coming weekend.

Entrance to UN Libary, notice says "Call 311," the City of New York's #

   At the UN's noon briefing on May 28, Inner City Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe for the UN's response to its staff's concern about safety. Ms. Okabe said that Adlerstein and the UN have "every confidence" in those doing the work, despite the asbestos litigation against both ATC and general contractor Skanska. She said Adlerstein would hold a Town Hall meeting with staff on May 29. Video here, from Minute 15:33.

At his last "Town Hall" meeting, Adlerstein's spokesman had Inner City Press removed from the meeting, saying it was closed to Press coverage. After the meeting was over, Adlerstein said that the next Town Hall, Inner City Press could attend. We'll see.

Earlier, CMP's Adlerstein had claimed that asbestos related charges against the UN's general contractor, Skanska, has all been dropped. Later he conceded that a civil case remains ongoing against Skanska, from alleged deficiencies in asbestos work on a courthouse in California. Adlerstein also acknowledged that people injured by asbestos or Skanska will not be able to sue in U.S. court, but only to arbitrate. Could that explain the lax practices exhibited in the UN library this week?

At UN, Draft Resolution on North Korea Leaked to Inner City Press, Paragraph 8 Discussed

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, May 28 -- Five days after North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test, a draft resolution emerged behind closed doors at the UN Security Council. The three-page draft, a copy of which Inner City Press has exclusively obtained and puts online here, has 14 operative paragraphs, one of which, Paragraph 8, is still subject to discussion.

   Paragraph 6, for example, calls on "all Member States immediately to enforce the measures that were put in place by resolution 1718 (2006)" and in the Presidential Statement earlier this year, after North Korea's launch of a rocket that it called a satellite. Paragraph 2 "demands that [North Korea] not conduct any further nuclear test or launch."

   While the draft resolution seems unlikely to change North Korea's course, it has been the subject of intense journalistic interest at the UN in New York, particularly by Japanese media, who have remained camped out in front of the Security Council during meetings on Abkhazia, Somalia, and on May 28, Bosnia and the Congo.

Japan's Amb. Takasu and media scrum, draft resolution not shown

  On May 27, wire service stories were published quoting an anonymous "UN" diplomat that there was an agreement in principle but that no draft would be circulated until next week.

   On the morning of May 28, Inner City Press obtained the draft resolution that, as a must-credit exclusive, it puts online here, and in text version below. Watch this site.

As obtained by May 28, 09
The Security Council,

Recalling its previous relevant resolutions, including resolution 825 (1993), resolution 1540 (2004), resolution 1695 (2006) and, in particular, resolution 1718 (2006), as well as the statement of its President of 13 April 2009 (S/PRST/2009/7),

Reaffirming that proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security, Expressing the gravest concern at the test of a nuclear weapon by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on 25 May 2006 (local time) in flagrant violation of resolution 1718 (2006), and at the challenge such a test constitutes to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to international efforts aimed at strengthening the global regime of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons towards the 2010 NPT Review conference, and the danger it poses to peace and stability in the region and beyond,

Stressing its collective support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and commitment to strengthen the Treaty in all its aspects, and recalling that the DPRK cannot have the status of a nuclear-weapon state in accordance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in any case;

Deploring the DPRK's announcement of withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and its pursuit of nuclear weapons,

Noting the effective recording of the 25 May 2009 nuclear test by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization's global network of monitoring situations,

Reaffirming its endorsement of the Joint Statement issued on 19 September 2005 by
China, the DPRK, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States,

Underlining once again the importance that the DPRK respond to other security and humanitarian concerns of the international community, including the abduction issue,

Underlining also that measures taken under this resolution should not adversely affect innocent residents of the DPRK,

Expressing its gravest concern that the nuclear test by the DPRK has further generated increased tension in the region and beyond, and determining therefore that there continues to exist a clear threat to international peace and security,

Regretting the failure of the DPRK to report on its implementation of the obligations pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004),

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

1. Condemns in the strongest terms the nuclear test conducted by the DPRK on 25 May 2009 (local time) in flagrant violation and disregard of its relevant resolutions, in particular resolution 1695(2006) and 1718 (2006) and the statement of its President of 13 April 2009 (S/PRSTI200917),

2. Demands that the DPRK, not conduct any further nuclear test or launch,

3. Demands that the DPRK immediately comply fully with its obligations under Security Council resolution 1718 (2006),

4. Demands that the DPRK immediately retract its announcement of withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons;

5. Demands further that the DPRK return at an early date to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, and underlines the need for all States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to continue to comply with their Treaty obligations,

6. Calls upon all Member States immediately to enforce the measures that were put in place by resolution 1718 (2006) and under the statement of its President of 13 April 2009 (S/PRSTI200917), including designations made by the Committee established by resolution 1718;

7. Reiterates its decision that the DPRK shall abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, shall act strictly in accordance with the obligations applicable to parties under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the terms and conditions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safeguards Agreement (IAEA INFCIRC/403) and shall provide the IAEA transparency measures extending beyond these requirements, including such access to individuals, documentation, equipment and facilities as may be required and deemed necessary by individuals.

8. Decides/calls upon:

9. Supports the Six Party Talks, calls for their early resumption, and urges all the participants to intensify their efforts on the full and expeditious implementation of the Joint Statement issued on 19 September 2005 by China, the DPRK, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States, with a view to achieving the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in north-east Asia;

10. Expresses its desire for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation and welcomes efforts by Council members as well as other Member States to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue and to refrain from any actions that might aggravate tensions;

11. Strongly urges the DPRK to return immediately to the Six-Party Talks without precondition;

12. Affirms that it shall keep the DPRK's actions under continuous review and that it shall be prepared to review the appropriateness of the measures contained in paragraph 8 above, including the strengthening, modification, suspension or lifting of the measures, as may be needed at that time in light of the DPRK's compliance with the provisions of resolution 1718 (2006) and this resolution;

13. Underlines that further decisions will be required, should additional measures be necessary;

14. Resolves to remain actively seized of the matter.

[future op8]-

After N. Korean Test, Eyes Turn to Empty UN, Ban At Interment Camp Builder

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

COPENHAGEN, May 24, updated NYC 6 pm -- As North Korea bragged about its underground nuclear test, attention shifted to the United Nations in New York, which was closed on Monday for the American Memorial Day holiday but where an emergency session of the Security Council is to expected later Monday.

   At 2 a.m. Monday in New York, the Japanese mission sent the following to the Press

"On 24 May at approximately 23:50, H.E. Mr. Yukio TAKASU, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations requested the President of the Security Council to convene an urgent meeting of the Security Council to consider the nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, under the Council’s agenda item entitled 'Non-proliferation / Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.' The time of the urgent meeting is planned tomorrow afternoon, but as soon as it is set it will be communicated."

   Just after 2 a.m., the White House issued a statement by President Obama, concluding that "We have been and will continue working with our allies and partners in the Six-Party Talks as well as other members of the U.N. Security Council in the days ahead."

Meanwhile UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, previously South Korea's foreign minister, was not in New York but rather Copenhagen, set to give a speech before a relatively obscure UN agency, the Office of Project Service, and then to fly to Finland.

   Ban had arrived in Denmark Sunday morning on a UN plane from Sri Lanka, where he toured interment camps ringed with barbed wire and soldiers, planned and built by UNOPS, and was flown over the shattered "No Fire" zone in a military helicopter. (Click here for Inner City Press' eye-witness account.) Perhaps, said one wag, Ban would soon selectively tour the UN's dubious projects in North Korea, where UN Development Program funds were diverted to dual use technology with no oversight.

When North Korea in 2006 shot off a missile, the Security Council met until it passed a sanctions resolution. Earlier this year, the launching of a rocket that North Korea called a satellite yielded a far weaker statement. Nevertheless, North Korea reacted by scrapping the Six Party Talks and vowing further tests.

   Before and after the rocket / missile test, the UN's Ban Ki-moon was strangely silent about North Korea, including its arrest of journalists as alleged spies. In the month of April, he told the Press, he was in New York only three times, for a total of five days. To be fair, perhaps no UN Secretary General, even one from the Peninsula, could have an effect on the situation in North Korea. But, some ask, should one at least pretend to try?

The Graduate: UN's Ban on May 21, before Sri Lanka and UNOPS, N. Korea not shown

From Hanoi at an ASEM meeting discussing among other topics Myanmar, the Japanese foreign ministry spokesman vowed that his country would request Security Council meeting and actions.  Ban, according to his senior official and now reportedly himself, will travel to Myanmar in early July, what ever the outcome of Aung San Suu Kyi's kangaroo trial now underway. No time for North Korea, but time for UNOPS and Finland? We will be covering the response to North Korea from the UN, Security Council and Secretary General, watch this site.

Update on May 25, 6 pm, UN in NYC: After 2p.m., 12 hours after Obama's statement in his own name on the DPRK's test, Ban Ki-moon in a statement attributable to his spokesperson said he "will remain in close consultation with all concerned." Does that include the DPRK? The Security Council met at 4, and barely an hour later broke up, issuing a short press statement that they will work toward a formal resolution. Watch this site.

* * *

As Tamil MPs Are Rebuffed in Sri Lanka, UN's Ban in Denmark, No Answers

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

COPENHAGEN, May 25 -- Even after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon left Sri Lanka after his less then 24 hour tour, controversy continued to dog the trip, seem by many as giving the UN's blessing to war crimes and domination of the Tamil minority. Sources there say that while Ban Ki-moon left the press waiting on the UN plane -- well, Inner City Press was on the tarmac -- the following occurred:

"R. Sampanthan, a parliamentary group leader of Tamil National Alliance (TNA), had made arrangements to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon prior to his departure at the VIP Lounge of the Bandaranaike International Airport. The Sri Lankan Foreign Misistry had made arrangements for this, however the Defense Ministry of Sri Lanka refused the delegation entry into the Airport, denying the Tamil representatives from meeting the UN Secretary General."

   No word of this reached those in the bubble of the UN plane ostensibly covering Ban's trip to Sri Lanka. Ban's personal spokesperson first told the Press he would brief on the plane. Then this was canceled, and he spoke with only four reporters, one on one, on topics such as climate change and the demise of former South Korean president Roh.

   When the UN plane landed in Copenhagen at 9:50 a.m. Sunday local time, Inner City Press headed for a variety of reasons to the city's Bella Center, where Ban slated to give a speech on climate change and business. From outside Bella Center, Inner City Press called Ban's personal spokesperson, who said there was no way she could allow access to the Center, even to cover and question Ban. Nor would the UN Global Compact, an ostensible co-sponsor of the business-heavy event, provide access when asked. Something is fishy in Denmark.

UN's Ban and Sri Lankan foreign minister, blocked Tamil MPs not shown

    Meanwhile a UN system staffer in the Bella Center parking lot told Inner City Press his job for the day was to escort the wife of Jan Mattsson, the head of the UN Office of Project Services, to visit with Ban's wife, and to stand off to a side in the hotel while this happened. He said that it would be difficult for Inner City Press to gain access to UNOPS' new Copenhagen headquarters, where Ban was slated to deliver another speech.

  There have been protests in Copenhagen by "those people from Sri Lanka," he said, referring to Tamils, who he said wanted to speak with Ban while he was in Copenhagen. Fat change, one wag said. The victory tour in over, and now climate change and even an early July visit to Myanmar are the future. Sri Lanka, even to some NGOs, is the past. This is called victor's justice, in this case obscenely blessed by the UN for its convenience and purported relevance.

   Why is the UN paying for militarized IDP camps ringed with barbed wire? This is a question that must and will be raised.

  But would Ban Ki-moon raise or answer it at UNOPS, which plans and builds the camps?

 Channel 4 in the UK with allegations of rape and disappearance

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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