Flat Stanley at the United Nations — December 11, 2011

Our neighborhood is home to the European headquarters of the United Nations – more commonly referred to as the UNO or United Nations Organizations in this region, recognizing that the many different programs comprise the agency as its whole. In French it is known as des Nation Unies or ONU. The Palace is the centerpiece of the neighborhood, which also houses the embassies and missions for countries all over the world, as well as the headquarters of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The day we took Flat Stanlette to the UNO was just a few days before the World Trade Organization (or WTO) had a planned meeting in Geneva. The WTO is a divisive organization, while its stated mission is to support free trade, many people believe that its methods actually expand the gap between the rich and the poor. As a consequence, its meetings are often met by strong protests. It was in anticipation of this that the UNO had it’s additional gates drawn at the main entrance.

Across the street from the main entrance to the palace is a square called Place des Nations. The square is an obvious gathering place for protestors and demonstrators on a host of global issues. The giant Broken Chair which looms over it was installed in 1997 by the Swiss artist Daniel Berset, is constructed of 5.5 tons of wood and is 12 metres (39 feet) high. The depiction is that of a giant chair with a broken leg, a graphic commemoration of the victims of land mines and cluster bombs.