Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Move the UN to Nunavut

By Bernie Quigley

- For The Hill on 2/10/10

Last March I proposed here that the G 20 meet in Ottawa as “ . . . holding the G-20 meeting in London cripples the negotiations from the start. Such an important meeting, to be more than a geriatric ruling class façade, should recognize the rising economic powers in the world.” Ottawa, Victoria’s elegant legacy, is center of the world as the world awakens to us in our century, the rising east, the receding west, the southern Americas and the Great White North. This past week, Canada’s clever Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, went one better and gathered the G-7 at Nunavut, Canada’s northernmost frontier on the edge of the Arctic. They might think of moving the UN there as well.

It would be tough for lobbyists to set up permanent shop as they do in New York and Washington. And there would be none of those issues about a leisure class political establishment basking and bonding as they do at Davos and Nantucket, with side journeys to Paris and Switzerland on taxpayer’s cash. And unlike the tawdry scene at Copenhagen, they might get some real work done. I’ve been on the high road as far north as Hearst, a delightful French-speaking jewel in the middle of Ontario not far from the forest center of Canada, where roads stop and 13-year olds play hockey almost as well as Sid the Kid in high school auditoriums where smoke blows out of a moose head’s nose mounted on the wall whenever a player scores. An excellent place for a new UN as well.

Others have proposed that the UN move from New York, Rudy Giuliani among them one Canadian paper reports, and Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela.

“Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the United States has been accustomed to being the superior partner in Sino-US relations,” Gau Qihui, a commentator on China Daily writes. But a change in Chinese attitudes is occurring as the Sino-US relationship evolves into a more equal one, says Qihui. China's role in the world's affairs is growing politically and economically. China has grown to be a dominant element in almost all crucial international issues, including climate change, global recovery and Iranian nuclear capability.

Qihui has a point. India, South Africa, Brazil and most of the other developing countries indicated at Copenhagen that they are conforming to these new global dynamics. New York City was a terrible place for the UN to begin with. Placing a capital at the seat of power dictates down, conjuring a subtle empire. As London and Paris were in a previous century, New York City is a pocket of influence and is susceptible to looking out for its own.

Like many others, I am not sure what the UN does anymore that is worth doing. Possibly the Mormons, joining forces with Islamic Relief USA, and other groups like Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health with a lending hand from Bill Clinton are doing a better job in Haiti. Likewise the well-organized and generous Canadians. The time of change is at hand and it is apparent everywhere. Maybe it is time to start again from the beginning and to start from scratch.