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In UN Doldrums, Wind-Down of Iraq Weapons Search, Asbestos in the Swing Space, MDG Embargo

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

UNITED NATIONS, July 2 -- As July has arrived, things at UN headquarters go by in slow motion. Monday morning the Conference Building was nearly empty, only six meetings listed, five of them "closed." (The sixth was apparently also meant to be closed, click here for Inner City Press' coverage nonetheless.) In the Security Council on Friday, the plug was finally pulled on UNMOVIC, which still had not found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    One correspondent asked insistently at the stakeout about Iraq's use of money to rehab its New York property, and to rent a Trump apartment for its Ambassador, reportedly for $22,000 a month. The question was dodged by the Ambassadors of Iraq and of the U.S., Zalmay Khalilzad. Monday another correspondent asked what will happen with UNMOVIC's assets, not only expertise but also equipment. "E-bay," one wag answered.

            Also going out of service, at least at the UN, is French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere. Reportedly he is heading to Rome, while UK Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry is moving toward "hanging up his jersey," as he puts it. Two of the Permanent Five's ambassadors leaving this summer.

            Going meta about the Council on Thursday was outgoing UN official Anwarul Chowdhury, heretofore the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (that'd be UN-OHRLLS, in acronym land).

   After asking about catastrophe insurance, Inner City Press asked Amb. Chowdhury what his next move is. He responded that he'd like to educate the public about the UN, in particularly about the Security Council. He said that recently at the Woodrow Wilson school at Princeton University he became aware that the students weren't being taught anything about how the Council actually works.

     Inner City Press asked, "What did you think of Gharekhan's book 'The Horseshoe Table'?"

     Amb. Chowdhury's review was positive, but "too anecdotal," he said.

  "Will you be putting pen to paper?" Inner City Press followed-up.

            Amb. Chowdhury alluded to an offer from a publisher. And then he was gone.

Iraq viewed from UN helicopter: UNMOVIC is no more

               A strange embargoed briefing was given about the Millennium Development Goals. The briefing couldn't be reported on the day that it was given, and even if used later, the speakers couldn't be named. Frankly, we'll pass, leaving readers to look elsewhere for this time for MDG coverage. The UN sure knows how to tell its story...

  Closer to home, over 300 UN-ites descended on June 30 on Westport, Connecticut. Among them was Ibrahim Gambari, who said, "We have detractors, so we need the support we've enjoyed in Westport for such a long time." South of Westport, from The Bronx, former architect of the Bronx-based New York Botanical Garden Michael Adlerstein was appointed Monday to head the UN's Capital Master Plan renovation.  The new windowless buildings at the northern end of the Botanical Garden are hardly inspiring. But the CPM is just rehab, right? 

   A visit Monday to the so-called swing space at 305 East 46th Street found the front door of the Albano Building padlocked, with a building permit taped to the glass: asbestos removal until 2008. Re-set the clocks!

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

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