On January 5th, Peace Boat US’s intern from Hollins University, Kerrie Noble, attended an educational tour of the United Nations headquarters in New York. She had the opportunity to view the Security Council, ECOSOC chamber, the Trusteeship Council, and the General Assembly halls and to learn about their structure, history, and role in International dialogue and cooperation today.

There are four buildings that make up the New York UN headquarters on 18 acres of land in Manhattan. On the first floor just inside the visitor’s entrance, there is a museum that showcases themes of human rights, history, and nature through artistic expression. Exhibits include “Palestine: A Land with a People,” “Imagine Human Rights as Reality,” “Re-Connections: In Kinship With Nature,” and “Photography 4 Humanity.” There are other works of art and exhibits present on the upper floors, in the halls between the chambers.

The Security Council chamber, while usually in use, was available for viewing. Fifteen blue chairs lie in a circle around the center of the room, with additional chairs for interpreters in the row behind. Five member states on the Security Council are permanent, while the other ten are elected in two terms. The Presidency of the Security Council rotates in English alphabetical order every month ensuring each member state has an opportunity to lead the efforts to maintain international peace and security.

Across the hall is the Trusteeship Council chamber. The Trusteeship Council was created with the purpose to decolonize Trust Territories and aid in their advancement toward self-governization. The council suspended its operations in 1994 after Palau gained its independence. The chamber has since been refurbished to serve as an additional chamber for the proceedings of the General Assembly. In the corner, there is a sculpture of a girl releasing a bluebird, to symbolize independence.

In the Economic and Social Council chamber, the council is arranged in front of a scarf decorated in orange and white, which signifies “dialogue.” ECOSOC was formed to promote the sustainable development of member states. The chamber was created to allow dialogue between member states for the progress and betterment of all. Currently, ECOSOC is focusing its efforts on the food crisis and intends to strengthen agricultural development.

Finally, the General Assembly chamber is the largest, with rows of chairs to host all 193 member states facing the podium for the Secretary General and the golden backdrop behind it. On either side of the chamber are floor to ceiling pieces of colorful artwork. Some of the current topics being discussed within the General Assembly include sanitation and climate change.

In the halls of the upper floors, there are exhibits representing the topics of importance to the UN. Human rights across the world, peace between Israel and Palestine, and nuclear disarmament are three of the UN’s long-term goals. 

Peace Boat US partners with the UN to work for sustainability and world peace around the world. We are committed to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Ocean & Climate, Youth Engagement, and Disarmament. Partnership with the UN helps Peace Boat US to accomplish its mission of bringing people together across borders and aiding in sustainable progress.