Time to Re­lo­cate the UN Out of the US

In­dia could host the UN, in a brand-new town

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

The US has turned down a visa ap­pli­ca­tion from a se­nior leg­is­la­tor from Pak­istan, se­nate deputy chair­man Maulana Ab­dul Ghafoor Haideri, who was plan­ning to travel to New York to at­tend a meet­ing of the In­ter-Par­lia­men­tary Union at the United Na­tions. While the pre­cise rea­son for visa re­fusal has not been dis­closed, it is per­ceived to be linked to re­stric­tions on re­li­gious groups. Com­bine this with the con­tro­ver­sial travel bans on seven Mus­lim­ma­jor­ity states and President Don­ald Trump’s stated de­sire to keep Mus­lims out, and it be­comes crys­tal clear that an Amer­ica-First Amer­ica would no longer be suited for host­ing a global fo­rum such as the UN. Peo­ple from all coun­tries need to travel to the UN, re­gard­less of their de­nom­i­na­tional or ide­o­log­i­cal com­pat­i­bil­ity with the in­cum­bent US ad­min­is­tra­tion. It is time to re­lo­cate the UN.

Of course, the US would slash its sig­nif­i­cant UN con­tri­bu­tions: 22% of the reg­u­lar bud­get and 28% of the peace­keep­ing bud­get. There is no rea­son why the rest of the world should not pull its pro­por­tion­ate weight when it comes to shar­ing the UN’s fi­nan­cial bur­den. US politi­cians and its con­ser­va­tive me­dia have been hol­ler­ing for long to slash US pay­ments to the UN. Where can the UN re­lo­cate? Switzer­land would be a nat­u­ral choice for lots of peo­ple, with its long pol­icy of neu­tral­ity, po­lit­i­cal and fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity and ca­pac­ity to pro­vide se­cu­rity. China could also make a strong pitch and back it up with a large prom­ise of fund­ing. Yet, In­dia would be the ideal place to house a re­lo­cated UN. In­dia is cul­tur­ally di­verse, can avoid ex­treme weather, is rea­son­ably well-con­nected to the rest of the world, be­sides be­ing a democ­racy that of­fers great food, fine beaches, warm hos­pi­tal­ity and an an­cient cul­ture of in­tri­cate bu­reau­cracy.

Can In­dia af­ford it? In­dia des­per­ately needs to ur­banise for rea­sons to do with its in­ter­nal growth dy­nam­ics. A brand-new town can be built to house the UN, com­plete with a new air­port and fast rail and air con­nec­tiv­ity to the larger towns. The project can at­tract global funds and would give a fil­lip to the sag­ging econ­omy.

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