NOVEMBER 1, 2017


Whenever U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, who is originally from Slovenia, attended a U.N. General Assembly meeting, she was officially seated next to the wife of this year's General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcák from Slovakia. Did they converse in accented official English, or mutual Slav?


Two young male Arab diplomats attending the General Assembly session at U.N. Headquarters in New York noticed, while taking an escalator within the Secretariat building, a beautiful young woman in front of them dressed in a guided tour uniform. One asked the other if it would be alright to approach her and the other wondered in which language? "She may be more impressed if addressed in French," one explained, while the other thought Spanish - which he thought would be more likely, as she was a brunette. It was then that the young lady turned her head slightly and asked, to their embarrassed astonishment, "Why don't you try Arabic?"


It was a diplomatic full house at the U.N. Delegates Dining Room on Saudi National Day, Wednesday, September 27th. Permanent Representative Ambassador Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi and Consul General Khalid M. Al-Shareef, in national dress, welcomed a long line of guests, including a number of Ambassadors who had just presented their credentials as their countries' Permanent Representatives, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, among others. This year, the U.N. venue seemed more attractive than earlier events at the Waldorf (now closed for renovation), or the Pierre, particularly as the Terrace was open on a pleasant weather day, overseeing the East River.


"Of course, when I need expert advice, I talk to myself."
-- A Known Unknown


That man turned out to be afraid of his own shadow. Lots of talk; lots of re-hashed "concepts;" lots of hints of forthcoming action -- but nothing actually productive. Obviously, no courage. Shivers from confronting big powers; not bothering about interests of small member states. Even countries speaking in his own cultural language are disappointed, wondering if they would care to talk to them. He is gradually losing the initial goodwill of his starting months. It may be about time for a wake-up call.


A young female diplomat was visiting Gabon on a research mission when a young man approached her, saying: "I am innocent." She had never accused him, nor anyone else for that matter. It turned out it was actually his name.


When "Black Lives Matter" became a popular motto among demonstrators, particularly after events in Charlottesville, an inscription on New York's 49th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues simply read: "Yellow Matters." That particular quarter has a number of Korean and Chinese Restaurants, cleaners and nail polish shops.


Our former colleague Hassen Fodha, former Director of U.N. Paris office, is active after retirement, teaching on varied U.N. issues, including peacekeeping and communications. Among other tasks, he is a Professor of the Academy of International Affairs. That role keeps him in touch, not only with colleagues who handled operations in various missions, but also in educating the younger generation in the relevant role of the U.N. when it was at the center of international relations.

$3,000, HELLO:

Presenting her new book, "What Happened?" about the U.S. Presidential election in Montreal, Canada, Hillary Clinton spoke to an audience gathered on 23 October "with humour and frankness," according to a newspaper report, which added that a "platinum pass" of $3,000 would get "an instant avec Mme Clinton," plus getting a dedicated copy of the book.


"J’ai pris l’escalator quand beaucoup préféré l’ascenseur." ("I took the escalator when many preferred the elevator.")
-- A Francophone Activist


In Estoril by the sea, a young Portuguese artist on a jazz evening was singing "Georgia," Ray Charles' hit, with charming emotional flair. Listeners, mostly Portuguese, responded in swinging rhythm with "in my peaceful dreams, my roads lead back to you." None of them have been to Georgia in the U.S. South, nor certainly to the Republic of Georgia. Soul music needs no factual information, no visas, nor custom duties. It rises from the heart and soul across borders. It just elevates us all, wherever we are.


"Qadishat Aloho...Itraham 'Alein" chants in Aramaic, the language used by Jesus Christ, filled New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral for the first time during a ceremony to install a shrine for Saint Charbel of the Eastern Christian Maronite denomination. A full capacity crowd from various U.S. regions were welcomed by Cardinal Dolan as a procession, led by Patriarch Rai, leader of the "Maronite Church of Antioch and all the Orient," made the way in full decorum -- while a special chorus with an enchanting opera singer prayed and responded. The Patriarch, who is also a Cardinal, expressed "heart to heart" gratitude "to God, to the faithful," and to Cardinal Dolan, who, like him, had led a spiritual college in the Vatican. Both highlighted "the beauty of Eastern faith" and the "pain of the Eastern faithful" during these times of conflict "in the Holy Land, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq" to an attentive presence, mostly of Eastern origin. Expenses for building and designing the shrine were covered mainly by the family of Antoun Sehnaoui, who happens to belong to the Melkite denomination. After its official inauguration, the shrine was visited by an orderly crowd, many who came from outside New York to join in paying tribute and seeking responsive blessings of the miraculous St. Charbel.


From his native city of New Orleans, Fats Domino, who passed away end-October, pioneered a blend R&B and Jazz music. "My Blue Heaven," "My Dreamboat Comes Home," like "Jambalaya," were a rhythmic reflection of Fats Domino's creative work. He was popular in Paris, France, where he performed at Palais des Sports in 1962, as in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Moscow. At an evening for U.S. and European artists, like Goldie Hawn, Sharon Stone, and Gérard Depardieu, Russian President Putin sat at the piano to sing "Blueberry Hill." Former U.S. President Obama, and his wife Michele, rocked at his tunes. His home became a landmark in his favourite city as aspiring artists, like older ones, looked for inspiration. They will all join in commemorating his legacy with weeks of his uplifting tunes. May his soul rest in peace.


On the occasion of U.N. Day, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued the following statement:

Our world faces many grave challenges.
Widening conflicts and inequality.
Extreme weather and deadly intolerance.
Security threats - including nuclear weapons.
We have the tools and wealth to overcome these challenges. All we need is the will.
The world’s problems transcend borders.
We have to transcend our differences to transform our future.
When we achieve human rights and human dignity for all people - they will build a peaceful, sustainable and just world.
On United Nations Day, let us, ‘We the Peoples’, make this vision a reality.
Thank you. Shokran. Xie Xie. Merci. Spasibo. Gracias. Obrigado.

Click here to watch Mr. Guterres' video


During a Security Council meeting 27 October on Women, Peace and Security, Chef de Cabinet Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, made an impressive presentation on behalf of the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General, who were travelling. Her professional attitude and human approach made a difference in the level and substance of the discussion.

UN Photo/Kim Haughton


Election of new judges for The International Court of Justice is shaping up among interested member states, especially as certain Permanent Representatives in New York are seeking that position in The Hague. One politically-appointed Ambassador whose time is over with a change at home is pushing for support although he has never practiced law in his entire career.