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Robert Moller dies at 85; Mediation between UN envoys and the city

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Robert C. Moller, a former New York City police detective who, as a State Department diplomat, spent two decades protecting visiting UN delegates from New York’s idiosyncrasies and vice versa, is died December 6 at his home in Freehold Township, NJ He was 85 years old.

The cause was a degenerative brain disease called progressive supranuclear palsy, his son Thomas Moller said.

As if Mr. Moller’s job in the Police Intelligence Division weren’t perilous enough, his subsequent portfolio as host nation liaison for some 50,000 United Nations envoys and personnel would have put the tests the patience of any arbiter or peacemaker.

Mr. Moller (pronounced MOE-ler) gently pressured deadbeat countries to reduce what they owed in rent, parking fines and overdue utility bills (including $86,000 that Uganda and Cameroon owed Consolidated Edison). He helped expand the jurisdiction of U.S. courts to seize the wages of UN workers who lack alimony and child support.

He dealt with challenges to travel restrictions imposed by the United States on diplomats from certain countries and the immunity claimed by local criminal and civil laws.

In 1983, his office intervened with officials in Englewood, NJ, who objected that the Libyan ambassador to the United Nations had turned a million-dollar single-family home into a retreat for more than a dozen employees. of the United Nations mission in that country.

That same year, Mr. Moller’s office negotiated the surrender of a North Korean diplomat who had hidden in his country’s mission in Manhattan for 10 months to avoid arrest for sexual assault. The diplomat left the mission, pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and vowed to leave the United States and never return.

His surrender confirmed the legal doctrine that diplomats on observer missions are only entitled to immunity from arrest for acts related to their official duties.

The position of Minister-Counsellor for Host Country Affairs of the United States Mission to the United Nations has sometimes required creative diplomacy. Mr Moller once sought to force the recall of a Mexican ambassador who pointed his gun at a New York driver over a parking dispute, The Washington Post reported. When a low-flying helicopter nearly hit the weekend residence of the Soviet delegate to the United Nations, it was Mr. Moller who tried to explain it to the Soviets.

Moller’s office has often sparked more mundane concerns, including pleas for help from poor countries facing the city’s high cost of living, complaints about broken water pipes and blackouts of current, and episodic crackdowns by politically sensitive officials against diplomats and diplomats in double station. further abuse by drivers with diplomatic license plates.

In 1984, the State Department assumed responsibility for state motor vehicle departments for issuing diplomatic plates, requiring that unpaid parking tickets be paid before plates could be renewed.

The perception that foreign diplomats get away with murder is misplaced, Moller told the Washington Post in 2003. where they commit the crime,” he said.

Robert Charles Moller was born on March 30, 1937 in Brooklyn. His father, Viggo, was a policeman. His mother, Helen (Bodenstedt) Moller, was a housewife.

He graduated from James Madison High School and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1958. He served in the Army Reserves and earned a master’s degree in public administration from Baruch College in the City University of New York. in 1971.

Besides his son Thomas, he is survived by his wife, Margaret (Carrigy) Moller; their other sons, Robert and Kenneth Moller; their daughter Christine Mitchinson; his sisters, Marilyn Slaker and Joan Taks; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Mr. Moller’s first job after college was with the New York Police Department. He retired as a freshman detective in the Intelligence Division in 1976.

Mr. Moller then joined the United States Foreign Service, a job in which he wrote an assessment of New York’s vulnerability to terrorist attacks.

His research, coupled with five years of experience in the diplomatic service, led to his appointment in 1981 to the newly created United Nations Liaison position at the Department of State.

While New York City had its own commissioner at the United Nations, more or less as a courtesy and to promote tourism and economic development, since 1962 Mr. Moller’s office was established to liaise at the diplomatic level with delegates, missions and residences of members. and observer states and their staffs.

He held this position until his retirement in 2004.

When he retired, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called him “one of America’s finest diplomats.”

“I have often said that if the UN did not exist, it would have to be invented,” she wrote to him. “The same goes for you. If Bob Moller didn’t exist, he would have to be invented.

nytimes Gt

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