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UN's Lack of Risk Assessment May Delay Capital Master Plan, Force Exit of Officials

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

UNITED NATIONS, April 15, updated -- The UN's multi-billion dollar relocation and rehabilitation Capital Master Plan may be delayed by the failure of the UN's Department of Safety and Security (DSS) to conduct risk analysis of the relocation spaces.

   In the third of a series of resolutions complaining about DSS, the Staff Council has unanimously "not[ed] the multiple failures of the Chief of the Security and Safety Services at Headquarters to follow mandated procedures" and has now "request[ed] the Secretary General to suspend all scheduled staff transfers to the new office spaces until such time as the mandated Security Risk Analyses have been properly executed." [Since on-camera UN Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq said this Resolution 43/5 is not known, Inner City Press puts it online here.]

  In recent months, DSS has increasingly been surrounded by scandals, from promotion and placement irregularities exposed in memo leaked to Inner City Press to the death of staff member Jesmel Navoa due to DSS failure or delay in calling New York City's 911 emergency services providers, and to allow them access to UN Headquarters, click here for that story.

  The chief of DSS, David Veness, ostensibly resigned in the wake of the deadly December 2007 bombing of the UN in Algeria. He is still however in his office on 45th Street across First Avenue from UN Headquarters -- the only UN building in New York for which a Security Risk Analysis had been conducted.  Inner City Press is told by sources that Veness will finally be leaving at the end of April, and that the internal short list process has focused on an American from the U.S. State Department's diplomatic security service.

  The man responsible for security of the UN in New York is Bruno Henn. Many DSS officers say Henn is rarely present, and for some time used his official car to drive back and forth to him home in the suburbs. Questions about his educational background and previous employment have gone unanswered by the UN. Now he is being targeted by name by the Staff Union, and blamed for the potentially expensive delay in implementing the Capital Master Plan.

UN's Henn, at right: some say under Henn UN Security has gone to the dogs

  The argument is that a Security Risk Management System complete with SRAs was mandated by the UN Chief Executives Board in October 2004, then by the General Assembly in January 2005. It was implemented at other UN headquarters, in Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi and regional hubs in Thailand, Lebanon, Ethiopia and elsewhere. Only in New York was it not carried out -- and Bruno Henn is blamed.

   The counter-argument, as best as Inner City Press can make it out, is that the UN in New York relies on the City's government and its Police Department. But Article 100 of the UN Charter states that "In the performance of their duties the Secretary-General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority external to the Organization." [Click here for the Charter sections 99 and 100; the former Inner City Press has been citing of late in light of Ban Ki-moon's failure to raise the "bloodbath" in Sri Lanka formally to the Security Council.] More practically, NYC officials have been less than enthusiastic about the UN's security and construction plans.

  It is anticipated that the Staff Union, pursuant to its recent resolution, will further brief the Press on April 16. Even before that, Inner City Press will be seek responses from the UN Secretariat, including on specific risks in the current and prospective UN buildings. Watch this site.

  Click here for a new YouTube 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

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