MARCH 7, 2020


Ironically, a book devoted totally to the United Nations by someone who worked 33 years with five Secretaries-General, is still blocked from the UN Bookshop for non-convincing reason. A pretext given over a year ago claimed that a book publishing house was required. In fact, Amazon, which produced the book, has more worldwide circulation than any publisher in New York or elsewhere. Some publishers are actually closing, one of them actually declared bankruptcy, while Amazon is the most profitable company. Another irony is that the author, Samir Sanbar, headed the Department that manages the UN Bookshop.

A review by Google gave the book 5 stars.

The opening chapter, "Crossing First Avenue," recounts what happened at Headquarters on the East River, particularly when New Yorkers mainly experience traffic jams. Another chapter, "Absolute Power," displays how usually sensible individuals turn insensitive. "Misunderstanding the World" chapter recounts examples of conflicts caused by unintended consequences. Lighthearted chapters "A Name is Just a Name," "A Song on the Side," and "Watch Your Language," are followed by an insider perspective of electing a Secretary-General.

Examples of performance by peacekeeping missions are recounted during a changing pattern of war and a changing nature of peace, pointing out a new tendency to inflate the number of Special Envoys: "never so many had accomplished so little." The impact of digital communications in international relations is evaluated in "E-Diplomacy; Where's That Bridge?" pointing to a claimed accomplishment of preparing effectively for the 21st Century. "Where are the Leaders" notes, while viewing "high-level" gatherings, the erosion of national leaders with international appeal. "Are Haloes Out and Selfies In" is one of many questions raised, reviewing lack of effective handling of current extended expanded conflicts.

While ending with a description of the visitor's area at the U.N. compound, the unique role of credible international civil service is highlighted with a need to invigorate it with young women and men with equitable representation. The author adds that a revived, dynamic UN is worth a special effort. In a conflicted, leaderless, fragmented world with pressing issues requiring concerted action across national borders, a credible UN would offer a hopeful role."