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Build the Wall -- Move the UN HQ?

United Nations principles are not consistent with "America First"

Arguments for movement to other locations
Moving the UN HQ to Baghdad
Earlier proposals for relocation
Moving the United Nations to cyberspace and into virtual reality

NB: Recent document. Introduction only. Read remainder separately on Laetus site

Revisiting the argument previously presented in Merits of Moving the UN HQ to Baghdad (April 2003)


Much has been made by the newly elected President of the United States of America regarding the absolute necessity of construction of a wall along the border between the USA and Mexico. This is a campaign promise made to those who voted for Donald Trump. The diplomatic controversy is already resulting in protests to the United Nations.

A presidential executive order has already been signed restriciting travel from certain Muslim countries to the USA. Irrespective of how such restrictions may not be held to be applicable to diplomats and UN personnel from those countries, the question is how appropriate it is for the Headquarters of the United Nations to continute to be located in New York.

In the earlier argument, made prior to the full implications of the UN-sanctioned intervention in Iraq, it was speculatively suggested that the HQ of the UN should be moved to the Green Zone in Baghdad (Merits of Moving the UN HQ to Baghdad (April 2003). The text of that argument has been included below, since some of the associated arguments remain of relevance.

With the new policy position being taken by the USA, it can now be asked whether the strongly made declaration of "America First" is consistent with the continued location of the UN HQ in New York. It is appropriate to recall that "America First", was a slogan used by President Woodrow Wilson during the United States presidential election, 1916. The possibility of reorienting the UN to better reflect thr interests of the USA has been raised (Time to Get the U.N. Back in Line With U.S. Interests, Restore American Glory, 5 January 2017)

The possibility of cutting back funding of the UN and other multilateral agencies is currently under consideration (New whistleblower policy could give move to defund the UN a boost, Fox News, 6 January 2017; Republicans make a move on U.N. funding, SperoNews, 6 January 2017; Concerned About Anti-Israel Bias, Republicans Introduce Another Bill Targeting U.N. Funding, CNSNews, 19 January 2017; Donald Trump’s new Congress looks to STOP funding UN in ‘herculean’ leap, eHeadlines, 6 January 2017). This extends to proposals to withdraw from membership of the UN (Trump’s Plan to Kill UN Begins with Withdrawal Bill, Veterans Today, 23 January 2017).

Where might the UN HQ be more appropriately located -- given that the Green Zone argument is no longer relevant? Should it be reintegrated with the HQ of its predecessor in Geneva -- the Palace of Nations of the League of Nations? It has served as the home of the United Nations Office at Geneva since 1946. The UN continues to hold meetings there and has a range of secretariat functions there. In 2012 alone, the Palace of Nations hosted more than 10,000 intergovernmental meetings .

Another possibility is to make use of the facilities of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, as a means of resolving the highly controversial waste of resources in holding its assemblies in Brussels and Strasbourg alternatively. Should the UN HQ be located in another region entirely? Or should consideration be given to the more outrageous possibility of using a cruise ship or an aircraft carrier -- with the flexibility which either would imply?

Whilst any suggestion to move the UN HQ is in many respects "outrageous", it should not be forgotten that the current period is one of outrage -- whether as articulated by Donald Trump, by those who oppose him. Thus for Time Magazine: The Old Washington adage of "Watch what we do, not what we say" is hard to apply to someone as serially outrageous as Donald Trump (6 February 2017).

Similar concerns have been articulated by the Occupy Movement -- as an international socio-political movement against social inequality and lack of "real democracy" around the world, with the primary goal being to advance social and economic justice and new forms of democracy. Its preoccupations were remarkably framed by Stéphane Hessel (Time for Outrage! 2010).

It could be said that Donald Trump has succeeded to date through being "outrageous". The Occupy Movement could be accused of "not being outrageous enough" -- as with the massive "movement of resistance" in opposition to the policies he has articulated. Moving the UN could be one example of appropriate initiatives in response to those in process of implementation by the USA. Others could be considered, as discussed separately (Responding outrageously to the outrageous, 2017).

Arguments for movement to other locations

Wikipedia offers an extensively referenced summary of UN relocalization proposals. This notes that due to the significance of the organization, proposals have occasionally been discussed to relocate its headquarters. Complaints about its current location include diplomats who find it difficult to obtain visas from the United States and local residents complaining of inconveniences whenever the surrounding roads are closed due to visiting dignitaries as well as the high costs to the city. A telephone survey in 2001 found that 67% of respondents favor moving the United Nations headquarters out of the country. Countries critical to the USA, such as Iran and Russia, are especially important in questioning the current location of the United Nations. Arguing that the United States government could manipulate the work of the General Assembly through selective access to politicians from other countries, with the aim of having an advantage over rival countries.

Among the cities that have been proposed to house the headquarters of the United Nations are:

Due to accusations of espionage by the United States, the subject of the relocation of the UN headquarters has also been discussed in the light of security considerations (Alleged Breach of UN Treaty Obligations by US: press coverage and commentary following WikiLeaks cable dissemination, 2010). Critics of the relocation say that the idea, while not unfeasible, would be expensive and useless and would also involve the withdrawal of the United States from the organization, and with it much of the agency's funding. Likewise, they affirm that the proposals have never gone from being mere declarations.

Arguments have been advanced that a move is required to a more neutral country:

Clearly discussion of any move to a Middle Eastern location has become increasingly credible in the light of the new executive order of Donald Trump banning the travel of people to the USA from a select list of Muslim countries.

An argument which could appeal to Trump has been provocatively made (Krauthammer Says Trump Should Turn UN Into Condos With His Name On It, The Political Insider, 27 December 2016). This follows an earlier argument in that regard (Developer Wants U.N. for His Proposed Tower, The New York Times, 6 March 2008). There is even the strange prospect of the site being purchased from the current owner by Trump business interests.

NB: Recent document. Introduction only. Read remainder separately on Laetus site