Inside the United Nations, where world leaders strive for peace through speeches and negotiations, there is a serene oasis amidst the chaos. Located on the easternmost end of Manhattan, the U.N. compound houses a peaceful wooded area that offers an escape from the intense diplomatic activities.
Amidst the lush garden paths and towering trees, one can momentarily forget the bustling city that lies just beyond the fence. Various hidden treasures are scattered throughout the area – a grove of trees with the Olympic rings, a tranquil reflecting pool honoring those who sacrificed their lives for peace.
Adjacent to the East River, Adirondack chairs face the shores of Queens, providing a serene spot for contemplation. A nearby sign reminds visitors not to feed the geese, although the geese themselves are seldom seen.
Surprisingly, there is also a small and discreet basketball court where impromptu games can be played. Amidst the busy week, a man in a suit quietly shoots hoops, while a lone pigeon stands guard on a Friday morning.
World leaders attending the U.N. sessions this week have all emphasized the importance of peace, which is the core mission of the United Nations. However, finding peace on a smaller scale can also be challenging for diplomats and U.N. employees who work in a city that never sleeps.
Fortunately, there are several peaceful spots within reach of the U.N.’s main chambers and work rooms. There is a tranquil library filled with historical books, a meditation area, and outdoor seating where one can find solace amidst the bustling environment.
Throughout this week, delegates have taken advantage of these serene spaces, strolling through the park, appreciating the view of the river, and pausing at the reflecting pool. While the U.N. grounds are not open to the public due to security reasons, high-profile visitors have occasionally utilized the peaceful setting. For instance, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi practiced yoga on the North Lawn during his visit.
Even without organized events, the U.N. compound offers ample space for private reflection, blending the vastness of global diplomacy with the intimate atmosphere of a park. This fusion provides a unique experience, akin to the peaceful green spaces that New Yorkers cherish throughout the city.
It is important to remember that just a few yards away, conflicts and tense negotiations are unfolding between nations. From India and Pakistan to Armenia and Azerbaijan, diplomats are striving to replace violence with diplomacy and ultimately achieve lasting peace.
As you walk along the park’s paths, you catch glimpses of the towering U.N. buildings through the trees. But then, you turn a corner and stumble upon the basketball court, a reminder of overlooked elements amid the high-stakes discussions. This tranquil moment offers respite from the world’s intense conversations and serves as a reminder that, ultimately, the diplomats and leaders are simply human beings.
The bird perched on the edge of the court may not represent the traditional symbol of peace, but for that one moment, it embodies tranquility. In the midst of the U.N.’s most significant conversations, this small oasis provides a calm sanctuary.