Security tight ahead of UN General Assembly

UN General Assembly

Security tight ahead of UN General Assembly

Security will be especially tight at this year’s United Nation’s General Assembly, but at least one agency is providing protection with an already stretched budget. CGTN’s John Terrett reports from New York.

The United Nations is home to the U.N. Security Council, the body responsible for world security and peace. But when it comes to security at the annual General Assembly, the Council has no say.

Professor Robert McCrie says that’s down to the New York Police Department, the New York National Guard, Federal Protection Services and the Secret Service.

“The Secret Service, in particular, has an augmented responsibility for the protection of international visitors at this time,” according to the professor.

The same organization responsible for looking after the U.S. president works with security details from across the world, helping to protect the heads of state for almost 200 countries and territories. Their key aim is no deaths, and no injuries.

“The city has no desire whatsoever for something like that to happen,” Professor McCrie said. “It never has happened … because the planning is so intense and careful.”

This year, however, the Secret Service’s budget is wearing a little thin.

“The Secret Service never expected Donald Trump to win [the presidency], and they never expected further that he would be traveling so much. As a result of this, the budget for about 1,100 agents in the Presidential Protection Unit has been exhausted at $160,0000 per person.”

UN Headquarters’ iconic Secretariat building reflects the autumn sky in November of 2012. (UN/Rick Bajornas)

Secret Service leaders have asked for increased pay and more agents, but it will be a while before extra cash comes in. So, will the agents, with their dark sunglasses and earpieces, be less likely to step up to the plate in the event of an incident?

“Absolutely not,” McCrie said. “The agents who are in the Presidential Protection detail, which includes visiting heads of state, are dedicated to their responsibilities… They’re not going to abandon their responsibilities even if they’re not being paid for it.”

The public is kept well back from the U.N. headquarters during the General Assembly. The closest protesters will get is nearby Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, where spirited chanting is allowed.

Though no one tells them that visiting dignitaries can barely hear it inside the main U.N. complex.

The heads of states from almost 200 countries will be at the 2017 UN General Assembly. Accompanying them to work on issues ranging from the DPRK to violence in Myanmar will be hundreds of diplomats. Fred Burton, chief security officer at geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor, tells CGTN’s Wang Guan how they will interact behind the scenes.