Friday, June 19, 2009

The Earth is One Country: Touring the United Nations

Today we went to New York City to tour the United Nations. I have been interested in the United Nations for quite some time, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Environment Programme . I was excited to see "where it all happens" and learn more about the process of international consultation. Our United Nations tour guide explained to us the various functions of the United Nations, including of course resolution of international disputes, but also the eight Millennium Development Goals encompassing ending poverty and hunger, universal education, gender equality, child health, maternal health, combatting HIV and AIDS, environmental sustainability, and global partnership.

We also toured the Baha'i International Community (BIC) offices. The BIC is a Non Governmental Organization with consultative status with the United Nations. The BIC has been working with the United Nations since 1947, and before that was involved with the League of Nations. Carolina Vásquez was kind enough to show us the offices and also to spend time discussing the role of the BIC at the United Nations. The BIC represents the Baha'i viewpoint on such diverse topics as human rights, the status of women, social and sustainable development, and environmental issues, and offers their perspective for consideration when trying to solve the problems of our day. They have had considerable input and publish a wide variety of statements which can be found here.

In addition to having input in policy statements, they also offer the experience of the Baha'i Community in various social and economic development projects throughout the world. For example, in rural Columbia a System for Tutorial Learning was developed to educate rural students and pay particular attention to their current needs. The BIC publishes a newsletter called One Country which contains many enlightening articles about various development projects throughout the world. In addition, the Baha'i International Community attempts to protect the rights of persecuted Baha'i communities.

United Nations Secretariat Building

International flags

"Non-Violence" or "The Knotted Gun" by Fredrik Reuterswärd. This was a gift from Luxembourg to the United Nations.

The Secretariat building has 39 floors.

Member countries' flags

The "Uniting Painting"

The United Nations Environment Programme sponsored a lovely photographic exhibit entitled "Shared Destiny: Wildlife from Africa to the Arctic, a Photographic Exhibition by Luo Hong and Nigel Barker". This is Luo Hong's beautiful photograph of Kilimanjaro.

Wildlife photograph by Luo Hong

Also by Luo Hong

Nigel Barker's photo of a seal

Stained glass by Marc Chagall outside the United Nations meditation room

The United Nations is the recipient of many gifts from around the world. Here is the Vesak World Peace Buddhist Stupa containing sacred relics of Lord Buddha, a gift from Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar.

Mosaic based on Normal Rockwell's painting "Golden Rule" gift of Nancy Reagan on behalf of the United States. It contains the inscription "Do unto Others as You Would Have Them Do unto You".

Remembering Chernobyl

Our guide, who was from Eritrea, explains Peacekeeping. Tour guides can wear a classic navy uniform, or their national dress. She also explained to us that by entering the United Nations, we were on international soil, since the UN does not belong to United States territory.

The United Nations General Assembly Hall.

A display of land mines was particularly heartbreaking. Our tour guide explained to us that sometimes land mines are made to look like toys to attract children. I cannot think of a better reason to work for world peace and international understanding than the protection of the most innocent.

Since we were in New York of course we did a little sight seeing! This is beautiful Saint Patrick's Cathedral. We also did some people watching on Fifth Avenue and Broadway and Times Square. We visited the Empire State Building. Lunch was one of the best Indian buffets I ever had, and dinner was in a charming little Thai restaurant. We had a wonderful day in New York City, learned a lot about the work of the United Nations and the Baha'i International Community, enjoyed the amazing sights and sounds of the city, and of course sampled the fabulous diversity of ethnic food available!

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At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are great pictures! God Bless


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