On opening day, Summit flops

15 September 2005
Crossing the street to enter the UN building yesterday, I passed Abdoulaye Wade, the president of Senegal. Honestly, I would never have recognised him if it weren't for the clapping and shouting supporters who had lined up near the sidewalk barricades hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Later, I nearly bumped into President Lula of Brazil as he got off an escalator on the 2nd floor of the UN building and entered an elevator. I know I probably should have accosted him for an interview, but he was very busy and had about nine equally busy men surrounding him. Que pena. But how fun to be sharing hallways with all these world leaders. Apart from that, my afternoon was pretty uneventful. The UN Summit programme is called the "Journal" and it is surprisingly brief - about a page or two per day. Most of the meetings are closed, and the press just sit around outside meeting rooms waiting to pounce on officials when they come out. Yesterday, there were addresses from 80 heads of state, and today there will be 80 more. It's been sad to see how damning NGO statements on the UN draft document are (seriously, have a look). Combined with the whole US/Bolton ordeal and frustration over how to bring about UN reform, this Summit is not a happy one. Maybe things will perk up later. Or at least before the year 2015.

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