Monday, June 2, 2008

Day 113 – Time to pack

I will be leaving tomorrow, so today was spent washing clothes and packing. I definitely brought much more than I really needed, and I have agonized over every article that goes into the backpack, the medium suitcase, and the little suitcase. How did I manage to accumulate so much stuff? I have stopped buying souvenirs, and am leaving behind all the French books I bought, and I am still ending with a pile of stuff!

I also made my last tourisitic visit: The United Nations. Here are a couple of pictures, first of the old palace, built in the 1930’s as seat of the League of Nations, and the new wing, built in the 1980’s to house new branches of the United Nations.

As far as visits go there is not really a lot to see, but made me think a lot about the role of the League of Nations after World War 1, and the United Nations after World War 2. In both cases the idea was to establish a world forum, with the express intent of avoiding another world war. Clearly the League of Nations did not achieve its goal (significantly, neither the US nor Russia were members), and that is why it was replaced by the United Nations. Has the UN achieved its goal? Well, we have not had World War 3, so in that sense it has, but the current state of affairs in the world is nothing to be proud about. The invasion of Irak by the US, the recent events in Birmania, or the repression of Tibet by the Chinese, are discouraging proves that diplomacy is subordinate to the wishes of the powerful.
On a more positive note, the members of the UN have recognized the importance of fighting against extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; fighting AIDS, malaria, and other epidemic deceases; improving access to safe drinking water; and promoting development. There is a lot of demagogy about “sustainable development” and “environmental sustainability”, with a lot of money being wasted on what to me is a veiled agenda for hindering development among the very poor in the name of “conservationism” or “global warming” (as demonstrated by the fact that half of the aid money has gone into producing endless “studies” about the catastrophic effects of agriculture and industrialization). After traveling through Africa and India I am firmly on the camp that believes that promoting development, sustainable or not, is the utmost priority. The biggest environmental threat facing the world today is abject poverty, and any delays in solving it, for whatever reason, are a crime against humanity.
This statue commemorates the control of blindness due to onchosercosis in Africa, but there is still a long ways to go to assure a good life for half of the inhabitants of the world :(

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