I left the United States today, to tour the United Nations. 193 nations share ownership of the land, bordering New York City. They have their own flag (blue), fire unit, and post office.
The U.N. General Assembly and Security Council were both in session, so I don’t have any action shots. We did walk through the General Assembly, which seemed empty, but the guide assured me they had a quorum to discuss issues concerning Mal and Somaliai. A full 60% of 160 issues the U.N. is addressing are focused on Africa.
They communicate in six official languages: English, Russian, Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, and French. They vote by pressing a green button for yes, red for no, and yellow to abstain. The votes show up on a huge overhead board, although today the board was blank.
The tour was full of facts and details. Here are a few that touched me most.
After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the Belarus people were most affected. They hand wove this enormous tapestry (you are only seeing one portion of it) in 1991 as an eternal reminder of that danger.
For 25 cents, a child can be fed a meal. The children can get the red cup with a meal inside when they go to school. Two goals from the Milllenium Development Project – eradicate hunger and foster education.
Your UNICEF dollar also goes to distribute 400 million mosquito nets. I visited on International Malaria Eradication day. Even though deaths are down by 25% from last year, still 657,000 people will die from malaria this year.
And then there’s environmental sustainability. For my friend Karen: the amount of garbage that ends up in global landfills annually equates in weight to 250,000,000 African elephants. I can hear her now, “We’d rather have the elephants!”
Check out the slide show for more images, including the sculpture at the entrance of a mangled handgun, rendering it unusable. Like everything at the U.N., how timely.