Dispatches from human rights conference and New York

I know it’s a train town, but so far on my visit to NYC, I’ve ridden the bus four times, and each time I’ve hit the “great trip” lottery button. Except for one, the buses haven’t been crowded at all, and I’ve been able to do what I like to do most: look out at street level and see what people are up to. 

My visit to the UN human rights consortium has been great; unsurprisingly, Yemen and Myanmar have been the topics of discussion, with climate refugees and South Sudan as well.  I have been learning quite a bit: one hopeful, impressive thought has been that unlike the US, Bangladesh has been willing to accept refugees from Myanmar, and they seem to be doing okay with relocation efforts. 

Otherwise, not much good news.  Lots of speculation about what US’s bilateralism means now.  Everybody here is willing to grant that post-WWII world order and multilateralism needed to be rethought, but…Trumpism is incoherent and ad hoc, and it’s accelerated an erosion in civic institutions that will take a very long time to rebuild. The one point of hope there seems to be that perhaps what we might rebuild could be better and most just than what we have had in the past. 

My favorite quote from yesterday, after a very good question from one of the student participants: “Yes, well, the UN Security Council is useless…until it isn’t.”  

After we were done with UN yesterday, I joined a small group of people yelling at the US for sending both doctors and bombs to Yemen. I know the people are really tiny, but the setting was too lovely to miss, and I never want to show people’s faces in protest photos because we have apparently decided to become a fascist nation. 


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