Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

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

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

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



ICP on YouTube

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

UN Staff Protest Forced Relocation of Translator Space for Big Wigs, Bugs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 1, updated -- When UN staff members marched in protest in front of Headquarters on May Day, they carried signs like "No Albano Building," and "UNinhabitable according to Shaaban." Video here and below; photos here and here and here.

  The Albano Building is on 46th Street and was rented by the UN to relocate workers including translators while the headquarters was renovated, for some $2 billion.

  But now that the renovation of the Secretariat is finished, the workers aren't being allowed to return. Their space, they say, is being given to big wigs from ECLAC and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations' Police Adviser unit, which were never there before.

  The translators are confined to a decrepit former factory called uninhabitable by DGACM chief Shaaban Shaaban in a 2010 memo to Angela Kane, who still a UN official.

  Kane is now UN negotiator on chemical weapons in Syria. It occurred to some: how can Kane find sarin in Syria if she couldn't or wouldn't find the roaches and bed bugs in the Albano Building?

  Inner City Press at the time exclusively wrote about the bed bugs, and the leaked memo subsequently quoted by staff, and today covers not only Kane but Shaaban's replacements. Many staff interviewed by Inner City Press on May Day blamed current Assistant Secretary General Franz Baumann, and wondered what the incoming new chief of DGACM will do. [See update below.]

   "Where is Ban Ki-moon?" more than one staffer asked. Where indeed.

   It being May Day, the idea of worker action beyond marching arose. But it was explained to Inner City Press that while the interpreters could "shut the UN down," translators are in a more precarious position, with the prospect of outsourcing ever-more present. The Group of 77 and China push for multilingualism. But if they didn't?

The march was from 1:30 to 2:30 pm and garnered quite a bit of UN Security. Inner City Press is informed it was almost "outlawed." At Wednesday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked about the planned march, on which it had already published a story. Ban's spokesperson said peaceful protest would be allowed. And so it was, with UN Security even working to protect the march from limousines speeding out of the garage.

  Some UN communications "professionals" walked right on by, for example DPKO's Herve Ladsous' spokesperson Kieran Dwyer, last seen blocking questions from Inner City Press about the 126 rapes in Minova by the Congolese Army, Ladsous' partners. Click here for April 25 video.

  But several Security Council diplomats Inner City Press spoke with later on Wednesday were unaware of the protest, because of the timing. (One Permanent Representative of a Permanent Five member was a refreshing exception.)

  "They should go it during GA week," another suggested, then specified they shouldn't be quoted advising UN workers how to get management's attention.

   It is member states who "own" the UN Secretariat, and who alone could hold it accountable. Appealing for the UN Secretariat to practice what it preaches, on freedom of the press or workers' rights, does not seem to work. For now. Watch this site.

Update: Franz Baumann has written in, that "peoples' scapegoating me
defies fact and logic. Space standards, moving schedules and the like are not determined by substantive Departments.  If they were, and if I had a say in the matter, I would push for the arrangements in place at the UN Office at Vienna and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (where I served for seven years).  All staff there, regardless of category or level, have individual offices; workstations do not exist.  Alas, standards at Headquarters are different.

"I would be delighted if all DGACM staff could be accommodated in the Secretariat building, and there are DGACM staff who still remember that I was instrumental, in 1998, in creating homogeneous language floors with brand new furniture (Chinese on 23rd, Arabic on 17th, French on 14th, Spanish on 13th, English on 12th etc.), thus bringing together for the first and only time those who work together.  What was good then would be good today, in my view.  Sadly, various pressures - certainly not from substantive Departments since for these, contented and motivated staff are hugely important - have forced different standards on the Organization here in New York."


Share |

* * *

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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-253, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

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

            Copyright 2006-2012 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]