You know how you never feel or are particularly aware of your body until it hurts? It's the same with the UN. As with an aching bone, it only becomes noticeable when there is something wrong. News reports on what the UN is doing on a daily basis mainly focus on the broken parts, crises, wars, natural disasters, etc. We seldom hear about the work the UN does for people like you and me, who are not in crisis situations.
Although the UN is assisting refugees, feeding the hungry, vaccinating children and deploying peacekeepers in conflict zones every single day, it seems we hear the stories on what the UN is failing to do more often than the positive ones.
The reality is that the bulk of the organization is doing work that has tremendous impact on your daily life and you may not even be aware of that. Behind the scenes the UN is making the world a place with more peace, rights and well-being for all. The problem is we simply don't hear about it.
In countries where the UN is on the ground, people know why the UN is there and how it helps. But what does the UN do for kids in Nebraska, Berlin, Buenos Aires or Tokyo? Does the average person in the UK or Italy have a good sense of what the UN does for them, personally?
From the moment we wake up and until we go to bed, our daily routines are touched by the work of the different organizations that are part of the United Nations and of international Geneva. From making a phone call to checking the weather, from strapping a baby into a safe car seat to driving on roads that have consistent signage. We seldom have the full picture, or any picture at all of the negotiations, regulations and laws that have actually been put in place for us to be able to eat a delicious mango from the other side of the world, buy a pair of shoes or download music. This includes the rights of workers, patents, and trade regulations. The work of the UN and its partners is everywhere, putting essential rules in place and getting countries to agree on things that greatly improve the lives of each and every one of us on a daily basis.
This is a big part of what the UN does, but we are probably as little aware of it as we are of our kidneys. When was the last time you thought of that part of your body?
A general view during High Level Segment of the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. 3 March 2014. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré