15 APRIL 2010
|INVICTUS. U.N. WAS A PARTICIPANT NOT JUST A SPECTATOR IN ANTI-APARTHEID STRUGGLE
There was a special showing at the U.N. of Invictus, a film displaying the human genius of the great leader Nelson Mandela. The Secretary
General made a point of sponsoring it, speaking at length and staying for an initial viewing time. Under Secretary-General Akasaka, of DPI, and his
competent team arranged for an impressive attendance to the point of having to find an additional room for overflowing staff. Security offices
displayed their usual competence in ensuring an appropriate event.
The main shortcoming was lack of institutional memory. With all the worthy praise for the leadership of "Madeba" Nelson Mandela and his historic
role in bridging the gap within South Africa, the U.N. leadership could have paid more attention to the crucial role of the Organization in the
struggle against Apartheid.
There were thousands of U.N. staff, diplomats and communications officials who devoted their career to that fight. There were special
committees (the most famous was the Group of 24), dedicated delegates and colleagues who continued an unflinching struggle throughout 50 years to
ensure the "granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples," and equal civil rights in every member state. The Trusteeship Council, whose
name remains attached to a main Conference Room, devoted all its meetings for that cause. A Department within the Secretariat was fully seized with
the media contacts, seminars, exhibits and every action on a daily basis. Pillars of that effort were known throughout the Secretariat. Though
retired, the names of most of them are still recalled by grassroots groups.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declares repeatedly that he would like to re-gain and re-assert the U.N. Role. Here he had a welcome opportunity to
take pride in a positive accomplishment before a young enthusiastic audience. He could have been better served by some of his self-important
advisers who should have done their homework -- rather than spending much of their time at the show trying to get a more visible central seat!