If only UN walls could talk, center stage drama would be their story. Once a year, for about ten days, the United Nations becomes mecca for world leaders.
From the confrontational, to the surprising, to the outright wacky – the UN GA pilgrimage never fails to impress. What happens in the Big Apple becomes a mirror image of the engaging game politics can be. Over 190 members make up the General Assembly. To get attention, leaders have to get creative.
“Nobody has come in butt naked with a goat on their back, but I wouldn’t rule it out in the future,” said media critic and blogger Danny Schechter.
That’s one of few tricks that have not been performed during UN General Assembly sessions yet.
“I think the one that I remember the most, Ghadaffi, who I guess will now never be back here again, is a collector’s item now – his long speech, and tearing up the UN Charter and falling asleep,” said Inner City Press journalist Matt Lee.
“It shouldn’t be call the Security Council, it should be called the Terror Council,” the former Libyan ruler once said.
The record-holder for speech length – an Indian envoy in the 1950s.
“Nobody remembers what he said, but they remember that it went on for 8 and a half hours,” said Schechter.
Exhausted, the diplomat collapsed at the podium, only to return and carry on.
“The UN is owned by its member-states, so it’s not really anyone’s role to be Kanye West. When they’re up there, they can go on as long as they want,” said Inner City Press journalist Matt Lee.
They can also say whatever the US.
“Yesterday the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it’s smells like sulfur still today,” announced Hugo Chavez from the UN GA podium in 2006.
The media has always been obsessed with creating legends out of leaders’ performances. From chicly clad Carla Bruni becoming a headliner for the simple act of showing up, to Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev allegedly banging his shoe against the podium.
Half a century later, the story is rumored to be a favorite among tourists visiting the UN. The Soviet leader’s son says the episode is a legend as the shoe-banging was never captured on video.
“It showed the power of the media, of you, of the TV. This means, how powerful now the propaganda. That you can believe in many things that didn’t happened,” Sergey Khruschev said to RT.
To showcase word as deed, officials pull out so-called facts – such as spying accusations backed up by a wooden seal, the need to invade Iraq – by non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
“What we’re giving you is facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence,” announced Colin Powell to other members of the international community.
The key players come and go.
“It was like a football game. You have the fans from one side, another side, and they just support your team, and booing the opposite team,” said Khruschev.
With a fierceness clearly not foreign to this international political stage, drama – year after year – is the number one guest to RSVP.