Visit the United Nations. It’s your world!

Let us visit an extraterritorial area on the East side of Manhattan island. Did you know that the land occupied by the UN headquarter are under the sole administration of the United Nations and not the US government?
That is not the only interesting information you will get when going on a guided tour at the UN Headquarter in New York City.

The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell.

Dag Hammarskjöld, Second UN Secretary-General

But first, let me summarize the facts:
The United Nations is an organization of sovereign states, which voluntarily join together to create a forum. The UN was founded after World War II with the aspiration to avoid future wars through dialogue among nations.

The Golden Rule mosaic is based on a painting by Norman Rockwell, ,osaic done by Coop Mosaic Artistico Veneziano.

In 1945, the UN opened with 51 Member States. Currently, 193 countries are UN Members; the latest state to join was South Sudan in Juli 2011. The UN has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Though describes as a “parlament of nations”, the United Nations is not a world government.

All actions of the UN are made based on decisions of the Member States. Thereby any course of action must be decided by the Member States. The Member States are committed to make worldwide progress around three main areas: Peace and security, socioeconomic development, and human rights.

The work of the UN is carried out almost all over the world and is done by its six principal organs: The General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat. The International Court of Justice is the only main organ which is not based in New York. It is based in The Hague, Netherlands. You probably heard about the initiatives that result out of the work of the principle organs: For example the The Action of Peacekeeping (A4P) or the Action for the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNICEF) and so much more.

The UN Headquarter in New York

Before settling its permanent home in New York, the organization led a roving existence. On December 10, 1945, the US Congress invited the United Nations to establish a permanent home in the United States. With a substantial donation from John D. Rockefeller Jr. and the land offered by the City of New York, a team of 11 architects designed the UN Headquarters complex. The cornerstone of the main building was laid on 21 August 1949. On 21 August 1951, the Secretariat staff began moving into their new offices.

The Guided Tours

I recommend the 1-hour guided tour with one of their experienced tour guides. These tours offer an engaging way to explore the United Nations Headquarters. You visit the General Assembly Hall and the different chambers. You learn about how the United Nations addresses issues such as peace, human rights, and how you can support the Sustainable Development Goals.

Guided Tours are on weekdays, Monday to Friday, in English, Spanish, and French. Currently, there are language tours in German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese and Korean but only on a few dates.

Please reach out if you want to book a guided tour in German. I am happy to organize a tour for you and your group.

Next to the general tour the UN Visitor Centre offers a Children’s Tour, a Black History Tour and the Focus on Women Tour. In the Fall you can join the Garden Tour. Reach out and I can organize such a specialized tour in your language.

Tour FAQs

  • You should arrive 1 hour prior to your tour time because of the security screening in order to check-into the building for your tour.
  • The use of photography (personal cameras, camera phones) is permitted but not video recording.
  • All coats and back packs must be carried while on tour (large bags and backpacks are not permitted).
  • The Visitors Café at the UN Visitor Centre serves a variety of international cuisine, everages and coffees. You find vending machines with snacks and beverages.
  • There is an ATM machine in the Visitor Centre near the gift shop.
  • For security reasons, children under 5 years of age are not permitted on tour. However, children of all ages are welcome in the UN public areas which included the Visitor Centre.
  • There is a dress code: Please dress appropriately for the international diplomatic environment of the United Nations.
  • There are no bathrooms available on the tour route. But there are bathroom facilities available in Visitor Centre before or after the tour.

My personal tipp: Write a letter or a postcard

The United Nations is the only non-state entity in the world who issues its own postage. UN Stamps feature award-winning design and highlight the wide range of issues on the United Nations’ agenda. 
Mail your unique letter or postcards to family and friends from the UN Office in New York. That is the perfect way to commemorate the date of your visit to the United Nations. 

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