UN: showing up & showing off
Every September, the United Nations line-up is the gaze of the world’s media. But the institution created to prevent provocation often ends up causing it. Streets full of angered people, but their anger echoes far beyond the barricades and police officers surrounding hundreds of protesters.
Is the fuss worth it?
Vitriol against Iran’s controversial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad increased this year, following the fall out from his re-election in June.
But that wasn’t the only frustration for NY residents.
Having the world leaders on your doorsteps brings days of inconvenience – that’s what the New Yorkers have experienced firsthand.
If someone’s not telling you where to go, someone else is watching you get there.
But do those in the Big Apple find it worth tolerating the shortcomings?
“I tend to wonder what really gets done in these,” said one of them.
“It seems like they are constantly talking about the same thing year after year and nothing gets done, so I think it’s a huge expense and a big inconvenience to the city and I’m not sure it accomplishes much”.
Chance to steal the show
This year’s General Assembly kicked off with two leaders making their debuts back to back: a new US president and Libya’s leader of forty years. But their appearances couldn’t have been more different.
“To break the old patterns, to break the cycle of insecurity and despair all of us must say publicly what we would acknowledge in private,” US President Barack Obama stated.
And this was followed by a 96-minute performance by the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi. He railed against the UN, tearing into its charter. He pounded, threw paper and improvised. He referred to Obama as his son before exhausting two translators.
Gaddafi’s rant stole Obama’s headlines, but it was the French First Lady who stole the lenses.
A media frenzy surrounded Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who used the attention to raise awareness of preventing HIV between mothers and children.
And someone else used to hitting headlines: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the leader who branded George W. Bush as “the Devil” has a bone to pick with the new US Administration.
Similar to the Oscars, the face time for politics and the reaction it stirs is limited.
The party’s over – but what has been really done?
The masses of screaming protestors have abandoned their posts now that most of the star power has flown out of New York City. But the real pioneers are still down on the ground. Several guys sitting in the street for seven days and fasting have tried to raise awareness about Burma.
“It’s not easy, but we have to dedicate to who’s ever [sic] suffering in our country,” said one of the participants.
Their hunger strike followed a nine hundred mile walk from Indiana to New York to highlight the conflict in Burma.
The UN has spent two decades issuing resolution after resolution, and it’s still discussing Burma. But for the participants of the march, talking sharp is no substitute for real action.