National Geographic : 1961 Sep
agencies of the U.N. bring reports of progress; from it, they take direction. When a veto prevents the Security Council from taking action on a war or peace issue, the General Assembly can step in and may order armed forces to the troubled area, as was done during the Suez crisis in 1956. As in the Congress of the United States, com mittees do most of the Assembly's work. Every U.N. member can send a representative to each committee: Political, Special Political, Economic, Social, Trusteeship, Administrative, and Legal. Committee resolutions go to the Assembly for debate, followed by votes that result in recom mendations whose moral force often compen sates for their lack of teeth. No nation, of course, is willing to surrender its sovereignty completely to the U.N. "This palm of hand moves all fingers," Valen tina concluded. "But fingers often move world." Our tour ended in the concourse of the Gen eral Assembly Building, where the Postal Ad ministration sells U.N. stamps and shops offer handicraft wares from every corner of the earth (page 320). It was in the bookshop, however, that I glimpsed how U.N. fingers move the world. Sampling only the newest titles, all products of the U.N.'s work, I found Study of Discrimina tion in the Matter of Religious Rights and Prac tices, African Labour Survey, World Bank Loans at Work, Housing in Ghana, Radioactive Mate rials in Food and Agriculture, Trainingfor Town and Country Planning. Mr. Robert Godsoe, the bookstore's manager, told me that in a single year a thousand new titles go on the shelves. Ideas Tested in Delegates' Lounge What Valentina had simplified for me, the range of titles now complicated. It was time to go behind the scenes to find a fuller explanation of the meaning of the United Nations. "This is the heart of the house," said a Dele gates' Aide, Contessa Manuela Serra, her green eyes sweeping the North Delegates' Lounge. The Countess has seen the leaders of the world come and go since the U.N. started work at Hunter College in 1946. "This is where the ambassadors to the U.N. test ideas and enlist support for them," she told me. "Speeches and votes in the councils, the committees, and the General Assembly often reflect spadework done here." We sat in a room that resembled the grand saloon of an ocean liner, and I was reminded of the early proposal that U.N. headquarters be a ship and sail from country to country. The 316 Eleanor Roosevelt, a U. S . delegate to the 15th General Assembly, describes the U.N. as "the only place in history where the whole world has hung its hat and gone to work on the common problems of mankind."