Build the Wall — Move the UN HQ?
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 30 Jan 2017
United Nations Principles Are Not Consistent with “America First”
[Revisiting the argument previously presented in Merits of Moving the UN HQ to Baghdad (April 2003).]
Much has been made by the newly elected President of the United States of America regarding the absolute necessity of construction of a wall along the border between the USA and Mexico. This is a campaign promise made to those who voted for Donald Trump. The diplomatic controversy is already resulting in protests to the United Nations.
A presidential executive order has already been signed restricting travel from certain Muslim countries to the USA. Irrespective of how such restrictions may not be held to be applicable to diplomats and UN personnel from those countries, the question is how appropriate it is for the Headquarters of the United Nations to continue to be located in New York.
In the earlier argument, made prior to the full implications of the UN-sanctioned intervention in Iraq, it was speculatively suggested that the HQ of the UN should be moved to the Green Zone in Baghdad (Merits of Moving the UN HQ to Baghdad (April 2003). The text of that argument has been included below, since some of the associated arguments remain of relevance.
With the new policy position being taken by the USA, it can now be asked whether the strongly made declaration of “America First” is consistent with the continued location of the UN HQ in New York. It is appropriate to recall that “America First”, was a slogan used by President Woodrow Wilson during the United States presidential election, 1916.
Where might the UN HQ be more appropriately located — given that the Green Zone argument is no longer relevant? Should it be reintegrated with the HQ of its predecessor in Geneva — the Palace of Nations of the League of Nations? It has served as the home of the United Nations Office at Geneva since 1946. The UN continues to hold meetings there and has a range of secretariat functions there. In 2012 alone, the Palace of Nations hosted more than 10,000 intergovernmental meetings.
Another possibility is to make use of the facilities of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, as a means of resolving the highly controversial waste of resources in holding its assemblies in Brussels and Strasbourg alternatively. Should the UN HQ be located in another region entirely?
Whilst any suggestion to move the UN HQ is in many respects “outrageous”, it should not be forgotten that the current period is one of outrage — whether as articulated by Donald Trump, by those who oppose him, or by the Occupy Movement. This is an international socio-political movement against social inequality and lack of “real democracy” around the world, with the primary goal being to advance social and economic justice and new forms of democracy. Its preoccupations were remarkably framed by Stéphane Hessel (Time for Outrage! 2010).
It could be said that Donald Trump has succeeded to date through being “outrageous”. The Occupy Movement could be accused of “not being outrageous enough” — as with the massive movement in opposition to the policies he has articulated. Moving the UN could be one example of appropriately initiatives in response to those in process of implementation by the USA. Others could be considered (Responding outrageously to the outrageous, 2017).
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