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12 April 2003

Merits of Moving the UN HQ to Baghdad

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A very strong case has been made by Simon Jenkins to Keep the UN well away from Iraq - for now (The Times, 9 April 2003). That argument focuses on immediate humanitarian intervention and nation-building programmes. There is however a medium-term argument with respect to the relocation of the UN Secretariat itself -- an operation that extends far beyond the time horizon addressed by Simon Jenkins and is relevant to current issues of renovating the existing UN Secretariat building already constrained for space.

The following points would appear to strongly justify active planning for such a move to Baghdad at this time:

Any more arguments....?


Earlier proposals

Earlier proposals have been most recently brought to a focus by the state of the UN Secretariat building and the traffic issues that the presence of that building creates in Manhattan. Other proposals have been put forward as a result of the negligence of the USA with respect to its membership arrears. Clearly there are wider concerns with respect to the questionable degree of association with the USA as it takes on its role of sole superpower and sets aside major international treaty provisions that the UN has struggled so hard to articulate.

Recent items relating to such proposals include:

2002: Under the co-chairmanship of Lawrence C. Moss, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York produced an excellent, multi-facetted and wellm-documented report discussing the challenges of the UN Secretariat building in relation to the UN's Capital Master Plan (New York City and the United Nations: Towards a Renewed Relationship: A Report by the Special Committee on the United Nations of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York). The report notes:

2001: St Petersburg: Dmitrii Rogozin, the chairman of the Duma International Relations Committee, told Interfax on 14 May that Moscow may propose moving the headquarters of the United Nations from New York to St. Petersburg because of America's failure to pay its dues. "If the position of the Americans does not change and if as a result the international civil servants working in New York feel ever more uncomfortable, I think we will raise the question of moving the central UN headquarters to the 'Venice of the North,' St. Petersburg," Rogozin said. [more]

2001: A US telephone poll concluded that 67% of callers were in favour of moving the UN out of the USA.

1997: Continuing friction between the United Nations and New York City has focused on the issue of parking. Tough enforcement programmes in relation to the many abuses of diplomatic privilege over parking resulted in one French legal expert recommending that the Secretariat be moved out of New York.

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