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Old April 8th, 2006, 12:00 AM   #1
hkskyline
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Renovating the UN

U.S. quietly blocking UN headquarters renovation
By Irwin Arieff



UNITED NATIONS, April 6 (Reuters) - The United States is quietly blocking the start of a long-awaited renovation of United Nations headquarters in hopes of keeping down costs, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton acknowledged on Thursday.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked for an authorization of $100 million in new spending to get the work under way later this year, but Washington wants to commit to just $23 million at present, Bolton said.

The plan has been languishing in the U.N. General Assembly's budget committee for the past three weeks, and diplomats said Washington was at this point the lone obstacle.

"For three weeks now, the committee has been hung up on the issue, with no real word from the U.S. as to where things stand and when they might get resolved," said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Bolton said: "This is not a matter of saying we are for or against the plan. What we are saying is, 'Let's do this in a responsible, prudent, graduated fashion.'"

A U.N. official, asked about the bottleneck, said only: "We hope for an early resolution so as not to delay the project."

The landmark 38-story U.N. skyscraper is one of New York's most popular tourist attractions. But after 54 years, it is riddled with asbestos and lacks fire detectors, a sprinkler system and other emergency safety devices.

The United Nations has been working for six years on a renovation plan for the tower.

The latest proposal, estimated at $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion or more has been scaled back and stretched out to avoid moving the whole organization into temporary headquarters while the work was carried out.

The renovations would be carried out in four phases, 10 stories at a time, over nine years.

The United States had offered a $1.2 billion loan at 5.54 percent to pay for the project. But Annan decided it would cost less if U.N. members kicked in the needed cash in the form of additional dues over a four- or five-year period.

Because Washington pays about a quarter of the regular U.N. budget, that would make the U.S. share about $400 million. But the delays are also driving up costs, U.N. officials say.
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Old April 18th, 2006, 02:29 AM   #2
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Delays in U.N. renovation cost $225,000 a day, official says
By NICK WADHAMS
17 April 2006

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Delays in the renovation of the United Nations headquarters, caused chiefly by the United States, are adding US$225,000 to the project every day, a U.N. official said Monday.

The United States is now the lone holdout on the U.N. General Assembly's budget committee to approve the next US$100 million needed to proceed with the estimated US$1.6 billion renovation, said Fritz Reuter, the U.N. official overseeing the program.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the United States only wants to grant approval for some US$23.5 million in spending now because the General Assembly needs to agree to a larger strategy on how to proceed with the renovation project.

"We, the United States, think $23.5 million is a lot of money and we think it should carry a pretty good distance until we can have decisions by the General Assembly on other critical questions like what strategy the organization wants to follow," Bolton said.

But Reuter, the top U.N. official in charge of the renovation, known as the Capital Master Plan, said there was widespread agreement in the General Assembly to proceed with a plan that would empty out and renovate sections of the U.N. in a series of phases.

The cost of the project -- estimated at US$1.6 billion as of late last year -- would be paid for in five assessments to the member states. The United States would shoulder about 22 percent of the cost.

Reuter said that the projected cost of the project was good up to April 1. Delays after that are adding an estimated US$225,000 each day -- US$3.8 million so far.

Reuter told reporters that the entire project, scheduled to be finished in 2014, could be delayed by years and cost far more unless it is approved immediately.

"It may be irreparably harmed if they don't have approval in the next week or so," Reuter said.

The United Nations has described the need for the renovation as extremely urgent. The glass-and-steel headquarters building on New York's East Side has not seen a major overhaul in its 60-year existence and now violates New York safety and fire codes. The building is packed with toxic asbestos, has no sprinkler system, and leaks about a quarter of the heating used to keep it warm in winter.

"We have reached a point in time where the building continues to deteriorate and we have a great deal of member consensus with the exception of the United States," Reuter said.

U.N. officials have looked at ways to renovate the Secretariat Building for several years, but the project has become embroiled in political squabbling. First, the New York State Legislature withheld approval for a plan to build a skyscraper nearby as part of the renovation.

Then Cuba and a handful of other nations battled the United States over the details of a U.S.-backed loan offer to cover the cost of the renovation.

Now the United States is resisting U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's latest plan, which would not need either New York state approval or the U.S. loan.

The administration of President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress, which must approve any federal spending, are wary of the political risks of touching the issue. Members of Congress especially have subjected the U.N. to strong criticism after the emergence of allegations of sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers and claims of corruption in the Iraq oil-for-food program.

Several members of the U.S. Congress have questioned whether the Capital Master Plan is sound and cost-efficient.

Reuter, an American who has extensive experience building in New York, said the renovation plan was solid and checked several times. He described Congress as the chief holdout, and said the clock was ticking.

"I don't have any indications that the numbers are off, or the plans are off, that the dollars are out of whack," Reuter said, adding later: "The State Department has done a thorough analysis and tells us that they support it and they just don't have the congressional support."
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Old April 18th, 2006, 10:38 AM   #3
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I realy dont see why the United Nations is staying in America, they should realy move to another country. America doesnt deserve their presens.
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Old April 18th, 2006, 10:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alesmarv
I realy dont see why the United Nations is staying in America, they should realy move to another country. America doesnt deserve their presens.
Where do you think it should be removed to?
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Old April 18th, 2006, 12:33 PM   #5
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London!
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Old April 18th, 2006, 12:41 PM   #6
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The building really looks quite bad... and urgently in need of a renovation
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Old April 18th, 2006, 10:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alesmarv
I realy dont see why the United Nations is staying in America, they should realy move to another country. America doesnt deserve their presens.
The reason why it was picked to be the US in the first place was b/c they wanted it to be in a country that had the power to veto, which they had themselves.
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Old April 18th, 2006, 10:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosaic
Where do you think it should be removed to?
Toronto. Seems like the perfect place to me.
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Old April 18th, 2006, 11:43 PM   #9
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There were discussions about moving it here
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Old April 19th, 2006, 02:41 AM   #10
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Those discussions were never serious, and were more a ploy used by Toronto officials to boost civic pride. If the UN really had to move, their next biggest operations base is Geneva, Switzerland.
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Old April 19th, 2006, 08:35 AM   #11
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London or Geneva would be a nice place.
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Old April 19th, 2006, 08:35 AM   #12
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I was in the UN building last week attending a conference i have to say it was a blast from the past. the building is in real need of renovation. As things stand right now i was shocked and saddened by the state of the building. The GA Hall has outdated seating and audio listening devices. The Secretariat building is no better shape there was a strange old smell to it and i don’t know it was really upsetting to see such building fall under repairs for so long.

As for moving the HQ do a different city, I’m against the idea. The UN belongs in NY, over 50 years of history is associated with the buildings where they are now. I’m not willing to let that history go to waist just because the host country at present has problems with the UN. The Americans at the start were really proud of hosting the organization this pride needs to be rebuilt with the building.
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Old April 19th, 2006, 04:52 PM   #13
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1.2 - 1.6 billion dollars to renovate!!!!!

with what? gold leaf

they could build a whole new building 3 times as big for that much
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Old April 19th, 2006, 07:46 PM   #14
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1.2/1.6 $
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Old April 19th, 2006, 10:34 PM   #15
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I thought that The Donald was going to rennovate it when I last heard about it on CNN.
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Old April 19th, 2006, 11:05 PM   #16
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Oh god. He would make it all tacky. Like that one building in LV. The gold one he's building...
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Old April 19th, 2006, 11:17 PM   #17
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The whole building looks bland and out dated. Would probley be cheaper and quicker to demolish it and build something new.
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Old April 20th, 2006, 04:08 AM   #18
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I always thought the building was quite ¨70´s¨
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Old April 23rd, 2006, 04:03 PM   #19
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They should just built another one.
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Old April 23rd, 2006, 04:41 PM   #20
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London? what difference would it make? I think it should move to Porto
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