UN Loses Its Mister Blue, Severed Fingers, Bush's Bathroom Run and
Lavrov's Bar Recalled
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 31 -- As the UN
Headquarters building empties out to
rehabilitated, its Security Council set to move from its
longtime second floor chamber down to the UN basement, an era is
ending. On Monday the UN's genial "Mister Blue," Troy
Setiawan the Focal Person for Security Council documentation in
Security Council Affairs Division retired after more than 30 years at
Inner City Press dubbed Troy "Mister Blue"
because he has been in charge of distributing version of Security
Council Resolutions and Presidential Statements when they become
final, or "go into blue" in the arcane parlance of the UN.
His name has appeared in the top fax line of such final drafts for
years. On Tuesday or soon thereafter the name at the top will change.
his work at the UN, which had him stay overnight in the building the
night that NATO began bombing the Serbian forces in Kosovo,
to distribute the expected letter to the Council (it didn't arrive
until 10 a.m., after Troy had caught an hour's sleep on one of the
long couches in the UN basement), Troy is an accomplished
photographer. He and his wife live on Roosevelt Island, which which
he has taken the tram each morning to arrive at the UN at 8 a.m..
Once when the tram was broken, he shared a cab ride home with Kofi
Annan and "Johnny Pico," author of Man
Without a Gun. Troy
recounts that right after Annan was elected Secretary General, the
hallway of his Roosevelt Island building filled up with UN Security
officers. Then Kofi moved to the Waldorff, then to the S-G's
residence on Beekman Place. Troy won a UN cooking contest.
an impromptu retirement party late Monday afternoon, Troy recounted
his most memorable moments in the Security Council, as well as
offering tip for cooking Swiss cheese and eggs on baguette and other
His bloodiest memory, Troy said, involved the severing a
doorway inside the Council's chambers of a staff member's finger. The
UN security officer who had closed the door was reported
disinterested. Inner City Press asked, could he sue? The head of the
Security Council Affairs Division, who organized and spoke at the
goodbye party, said that the staff member wasn't the kind to sue, but
that it was a legitimate journalistic question. Then Inner City Press
took leave, so allow the real
stories to be told.
George W. Bush, Condi Rice and Khalilzad,
bathroom note and wrote PRST not shown
and his colleagues reminiscenced about the
time that then - U.S. Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad was given
the wrong version of a Presidential Statement to read out. After this
erroneous reading, the Security Council Affairs Division ran to
reconvene the Council for a second reading. There was difficulty in
finding any representative of Belgium. UN TV, which also had to be
recalled to film the recreated Council meeting, was asked not to film
Belgium's empty seat but did, perhaps in retaliation for having been
called back, a SCAD staffer recollected.
recounted when George W. Bush passed Condi Rice a note in the
Security Council, that he had to go to the bathroom. Bush was taken
to the Secretary-General's small office to the side of the Council
chamber. On Bush's way back, he came through the office Troy was
using. "Hello Mister President," Troy said. Then Ambassador
Bolton came in, and Troy was asked to keep checking to see when the
speaker in the Council, the President of Congo -- "another
general" clinging on to power, a staff opined -- would finish,
to go back into the Chamber only at that time.
Mister Blue, in red tie, in the middle of the action
used to be a bar to the side of the Council, which a past director of
SCAD would repair to after staff meeting that ran to eight or nine
o'clock. Diplomats shared drinks, and then passed resolutions much
faster than today, staff members laughed. When the UN's contractor
closed the bar, complaining that since it was only open during
Security Council business it was not economical, Russia's
then Ambassador to the UN (and now Foreign Minister) Lavrov complained.
"That's why they put the vending machines out there," a
staffer said, adding that it didn't satisfy Lavrov.
City Press' contribution to the proceedings was the story of Greece's
past Ambassador, coming to the vending machine during a Council
meeting and losing five dollars by, after paying, sliding open the
door to an already empty container next to the sandwich he wanted.
While the Council continued to meet, the Ambassador asked Inner City
Press to help recoup his five dollars. "That's the non-Permanent
Five," the story ended, in what passes for Security Council
opened the office each day at 8 a.m., because he has woken up at 5
a.m. since high school. Tomorrow, he said, he may sleep in until 7
a.m.. At the UN, much is being lost.
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