Time to Relocate the UN Out of the US
India could host the UN, in a brand-new town
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.