Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 20:49 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 20:49 | SYDNEY

Lights out at UN headquarters


Sam Roggeveen


15 April 2009 07:10

I caught my first ever glimpse of the UN's headquarters here in New York today, and was immediately struck by how shabby the place looked. Since I only had enough time to wander along 1st Avenue outside the building, this was literally a superficial observation. But I had no idea how true it was until an occupant of the building later told me of the two-and-a-half hour power outage the building suffered later in the morning.

Apparently the last time this happened was in 2005, during a General Assembly sitting when the building was full of the world's foreign ministers. I was told that the recovery and evacuation process that day was a shambles, but that procedures for dealing with these emergencies had improved somewhat. Still, I was told there are no back-up generators in the building, and that it took 30 minutes for a message to go out on the PA system.

The UN is in the early stages of a massive refurbishment of its New York offices. Not before time, it seems.