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Saturday, January 10, 2015

United Nations Tour

One thing we did in New York was take a tour of the United Nations.  This had been on my mental list of things to do for years, so it was great to actually have a chance to do it.  We were staying in a hotel that was a fairly comfortable walking distance from the UN, and had a free morning, so decided to go for it.

We had to show up 30 minutes prior to the start of the tour to go through security.  After that, we were given stickers that seemed to be color coded by scheduled tour time, and we waited in an enclosed space for our guide.  Our tour group was quite international.  There were other Americans from different states, people from Germany, and people from Nepal.  Our guide was from Japan.

We had to walk a little outside first, which gave us a chance to admire a couple of statues.

When we went inside, one of the first things we saw was a series of Persian carpet portraits of all the secretaries general!  The most recent three are pictured below.  I was amazed by the detail.

We were unable to see the General Assembly, as it was under renovation when we took the tour.  However, we did get to see the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, and the Security Council.  The Economic and Social Council was first.  The guide told us that the partially finished ceiling symbolizes the ongoing nature of development.

Economic and Social Council

I was fascinated to see where people could plug in earphones to hear a simultaneous translation in one of the official languages (Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese).

The next stop was the Trusteeship Council.  Its original purpose was to help states that were under colonial rule transition into independence.  Our guide told us that while the hall was not being used for those purposes today, it was being used for General Assembly meetings while the General Assembly Hall was being renovated.

Trusteeship Council

The Security Council was my favorite part, probably because I always hear about it.  The tour got me thinking about how things might (or, in some cases, might not) be different if the Security Council had no permanent members.

Close-up of Security Council tapestry

My favorite language!

We also saw exhibits including artwork, pictures from the UN peacekeeping missions, and artifacts from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The last picture shows the UN from the outside.  Flags for all the member states span for several blocks, but none were flying on the day we visited because it was snowing.  Got to love that winter weather!

Cans fused together during bombing of Hiroshima.

Portion of the UN declaration on human rights

Model of the UN

Outside, where the flags fly in better weather

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