Day 6: Bryant Park and the United Nations.
Trip Start Jul 04, 2007
23Trip End Sep 04, 2007
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I'm still in NYC, sitting in Bryant Park in
front of my laptop, surfing the net for free. I can't deny it is
becoming very addictive and I'm already feeling the sorrow of when I'll
have to rely on Internet cafes to check my mail - and update facebook. In
all truth, I have done something else today, something very different,
for me at least (considering that this activity is the non-plus-ultra
of the turn of century tourist): I have been on a guided tour of the
Let's take a step back though, and explain where
the idea comes from. Yesterday night, a friend of mine that works for
the UN and I were sitting in this very same spot (or very near),
drinking beer from paper coffee cups, when we started a conversation
that verged mainly on the many obstacles the UN have to endure in order
to carry on their task, which is to promote global peace and alleviate
the suffering of nations and people in need.
especially came to mind. First of all the gargantuan bureaucracy that
is at the core of such a mammoth organisation %u2014 fundamental yet
alarmingly painful to see in action my friend assures me %u2014, and
the condition of often powerless captive of prominent member states and
Now, this is no news, but I take this occasion to comment on it anyway. A couple of examples will clarify my point.
UN receive huge amounts of money, both from private donors and members,
to fund projects in areas affected by war or natural disasters. In
order to channel this money where is more needed, studies assessing a
specific situation are commissioned, and then presented as the key that
will unlock and solve the issue. But sadly, more often than not these
pseudo-reports don't even go near the core of the issue, as in the case
of the assessment highlighting the role of small firearms in the
Rwandan genocide %u2014 small firearms? Didn't we see a hell of a lot
of machetes being swung nonchalantly here and there...?
the study has been filed and the money unblocked, all the parts (donor
and recipient) have to sign miles and miles of paperwork, and the
latter will have to show the right papers to access promised funds when
On the other hand, you have organisations like Hezbollah
that, after the war kindly brought to Lebanon by Israel, were giving
away wads of cash to whoever had their house or business destroyed or
damaged in the conflict. Who wants to sign endless papers when you can
get help around the corner...in CASH!
This is obviously not bail
Hezbollah, which have caused mayhem in their own way, but as a result
of their %u2014 populist if you will, but effective I say %u2014
policy, the UN ended up channelling those funds to the less developed
North of the country instead, generating an outcry for the lack of help
to the South.
second aspect will be dealt with more quickly, but examples of it are
several and can be seen daily and along the UN's entire history.
main organ of the organisation is the General Assembly, where almost
every country in the world, have a seat and the right of vote %u2014
192 states and territories, excluding some tiny island nations in the
Pacific, the Holy See (that's the Vatican for you and me), and Taiwan,
which, I've found out today, is recognised by the UN as being an
integral part of China.
The BIG decisions though, the ones
regarding wars and sanctions, are taken in the more restricted Security
Council, where its five permanent members %u2014 US, UK, France, China
and Russia %u2014 hold unchallenged sway over the remaining 10.
Whenever a proposed resolution is disliked by one of the biggies, it is
far to easy for them to botch it imposing their 'rightful' veto.
the fact the all of them have skeletons hidden in their closet, make it
almost impossible for stand against each other. Some sample crisis and
ongoing issues for everybody to meditate on are the following (in no
particular order): Iraq, Ivory Coast, Tibet, Chechnya....
you enjoyed my quasi rant and you didn't find it too lengthy. If you
got tingled and wanna know more, endless other sources can be found
easily, but this is it from me.
Oh, I was almost forgetting the
guided tour...It turned out to be too short, badly presented, and the
certain parts of the UN buildings smelled of cheap food. Definitely
worth the $8,50 (student rate) I forked out.
thanks for listening. Stay Tuned.