Visiting United Nations Headquarters in New York City
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Looking for a unique place to visit to enrich your knowledge of humanity and peacekeeping? Then you must visit the United Nations headquarters.
Situated in Turtle Bay on the east side of Manhattan, surrounded by lakes, foreign consulates, and business buildings, the United Nations Headquarters is placed in an important and busy district of New York City demonstrating the United States’ leading role in the charter. Find out how to visit and what to expect in this post.
Tickets and the tour
To visit the significant parts of the United Nations, every visitor has to go with a tour guide from the headquarters.
You can purchase your tickets on a walk-in basis, but because of the popularity of the tour and limited availability, I recommend that you book your tickets online here in advance.
How to get to the United Nations Headquarters for the tour
There are buses taking you within walking distance of the United Nations. Once you arrive, you need to get your security sticker at the Visitor Entrance at 801 1st Avenue. Pay or show your entrance ticket there and go through security across the street. Once you pass through, you will see the headquarters building to enter.
Once you are in the building, head to the opposite end of the first floor to meet your guide, who will walk you through the important parts of the United Nations. The tour lasts for 60 minutes.
The official tour consists of visiting principal organs of the United Nations, including the UN Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trustee Council, and the exhibitions and gifts section.
During the tour, the guide explains the purpose of each chamber and the exhibition, and highlights the important parts of certain features.
The Security Council chamber is always responsible for maintaining the world’s security and peace, as well as accepting new members. There, I have learned that it has 15 member states with five permanent members, and 10 rotated members every two years based on geographic representation. A bill is passed when 9/15 members vote yes.
Additionally, the windows on both sides are used for simultaneous interpretations, meaning that the meeting is translated into six languages at the same time.
The UN Economic and Social Council was the most interesting part of the tour as I have a background in both economics and social science. Unfortunately, the council chamber was not open to us during my visit because an important meeting was taking place there. Our tour guide talked to another worker for a few minutes and they eventually decided to let us walk through the chamber without noise and pictures. Imagine how exciting it would be if we could sit there and listen to the meetings that address economic and social issues.
In between the tour of the council chambers, our guide took us to the various exhibitions of human rights that reveal the horrors of landmine-inflicted areas and weapons of mass destruction. The amount of daily worldwide spending on weapons is shocking. It also reveals how destructive war and weapons can be.
The last part of the tour was visiting parts of the building containing artwork and gifts from around the world. Among them, the replica of the Buddhist bell was especially appealing, and it reminded me of my time in Thailand seeing many similar pieces from a distance.
Upon finishing the tour, you are welcome to have coffee and refreshments on the ground floor in case you are hungry.
The building was completed in 1952 on 17 acres of land that was financed by John D. Rockefeller. While walking around the headquarters building, you can see the non-violent sculptures and Sphere by Spheres designed by Italian artists. The building also faces the East River waterfront, makes it a great walk after the tour.
I really enjoyed my tour and getting to know more about the work the United Nations does. The guided tour was not long but it offered me a glimpse of behind the scenes of the United Nations and seeing rare parts of the building that is only opened to visitors and people that work there. I always wondered what it is like to be there and even dreamed of working there, and I am glad that I got the chance to visit there once.
Have you visited United Nations Headquarters? Share your experience below.
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