Saturday, September 1, 2007

United Nations Head Quarters, New York

The United Nations Head Quarters in New York is located from 1st Avenue to FDR Drive, 405 East 42nd to East 48th. Construction of the 39 floor 544 ft tall building took place between 1949 and 1951 and it was officially opened on January 9, 1951.The design for the United Nations complex was drawn by an international committee of architects, the United Nations Board of Design. The international style was chosen by the board members as it symbolized a new start after the second World War. The UN site is an international territory that has it's own fire dept, security force and postal service. Along 1st Avenue in front of the United Nations Headquarters is a display of flags from each member of the UN. It starts with Afghanistan at 48th street and ends with Zimbabwe at 42nd street. Flags are only flown whenever there are any council meetings for the day and unfortunately, that Saturday the flags were not flying...I guess it was a disappointment too for the other multinationals who patiently waited/queued with us at the front gate of the UN visitors' entrance. My son was wondering kenapa semua nya bercakap dalam bahasa sendiri bila nak masuk UN, termasuk lah kami anak beranak....terdengar French, Spanish, Japanese, Indian, Mandarin & bahasa lain yang tak faham...hmm, we were entering international territory, right? Lagi pun kita tak nak orang lain tahu apa yang kita cakap, biasa la kan kutuk mengutuk di negeri 'mat salleh' ni - oops...teringat pulak a passing remark made by someone upon seeing us hurriedly crossing the street down the stairs from E43rd ... " lari Malaysia lari..." I couldn't make out who he was - thought he might be from China or yang sewaktu dengan nya. While we were so conspicuous and easily recognised, others could just pass as another nationality. I have always said, out of frustration " Apa la UN ni buat? " or " Kofi Annan ni tak buat kerja kut...", oh yes, his tenure dah over people.. and the seat is taken by a Korean whose name slipped my mind. But still curiosity is there in us all. Tours inside the UN are all guided - kena bayar pula tu. 13 dollars for adult, 11.50(? not sure) for students and 7.50 for 14 and below. Buat duit juga UN ni! At last, the gates opened at 10am. As you enter the Plaza grounds you will see one of the UN's signature pieces of art, a gun with a knot in the barrel. The knotted gun, donated by Luxembourg ten years ago, this piece is called 'Non-Violence'.There are many more art pieces of international exhibits in the park beside UN Plaza which were worth looking at but we didn't want to miss the queue so we headed on to the security area. Security check was rigorous macam kat airport but I didn't mind as we don't have anything to hide. Our Tour Guide was a UN staff from Japan, we had to strain our ears hard because of her Japanese accent. She was a no nonsense lady but very informative in a wide range of information on both the history and day to day running of the UN. There were chuckles and laughter coming from other groups, but ours however, was more disciplined! She kept the 20-something of us together and quizzed us along the way. She even made me explain on the purpose of 'tepak sirih' and 'keris', the present from Malaysia to the UN. Very beautifully crafted gold pewter! United Nations is central to global efforts to solve problems that challenge humanity. Cooperating in this effort are more than 30 affiliated organizations, known together as the UN system. Day in and day out, the UN and its family of organizations work to promote respect for human rights, protect the environment, fight disease and reduce poverty. But all we hear are ONly UN's peace keeping efforts! Image of the infamous UN Security Council on the right. There is also the Trusteeship Council, the Economic & Social Council and the General Assembly where all the Heads of countries gathered. I hear there is going to be some UN activity soon in September.
One of the most popular tourist activities here in UN Plaza is sending mail and postcards with UN stamps, which can only be mailed from the United Nations.

If ever, or whenever one is in New York, don't miss out on United Nations. It's a must go see!

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