What a welcome to New York. Three days after arriving, a series of bombings occurred in New Jersey and Manhattan. I am not taking it personally!
As of writing it seems a man named Ahmad Khan Rahami is responsible and whilst there have been some injuries, there have been no fatalities thus far. One can only hope and pray that will continue to be the case.
The bombings will only escalate the already significant security precautions in place ahead of Leaders’ Week at the United Nations.
Leaders’ Week sees the heads (or their representatives) of the 193 countries that comprise the UN give a speech detailing their priorities and positions on some of the issues to be discussed in the coming months.
This week we will be represented by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, with the PM scheduled to speak on Wednesday evening.
The logistics of any city managing so many foreign dignitaries is complex and resource-intensive but NYC seems to handle it with ease. Police are everywhere on the streets even on regular days, which makes the city feel very safe for visitors. However, there are extra-large concentrations of security around the hotels hosting some world leaders.
Streets are blocked off, barricades have been erected and still life goes on as if it’s nothing unusual for New Yorkers. I guess one gets used to such activities after a while.
Despite only being here a few days, I get a sense that nothing much fazes New Yorkers. They go about their business, expecting to be left alone and in turn, they seem to leave others to do their thing.
That makes for a great laissez-faire society until one needs some help, which everyone assures me is unlikely to be forthcoming.
One man I met yesterday told me that the locals really don’t like getting involved in other people’s problems because of the potential implications for themselves. He also said it depends on which part of Manhattan you are in, with some areas friendlier than others.
My commitments at the UN this week entail attending some discussions on a number of topics that I have expressed an interest in. These include refugees, climate finance, LGBTIQ legislative change, violent extremism and some global nanny state health initiatives.
Over the coming months, I hope to witness how the UN and their various member states see these issues and what impact, if any, these discussions might have on Australia. I expect that will be one of the most interesting aspects of this secondment; seeing first-hand the agenda of the UN and its implications for our nation.
I know many Australians are concerned that aspects of our own self-determination can be undermined or compromised by global agreements. As good global citizens, we honour agreements we enter into but many other nations do not.
Over the duration of my stay I’ll be updating this ‘letter from America’ on my blog with a regular snapshot of my experiences here in NYC.
Update notifications will be posted on social media and for those of you who don’t use it, I’ll remind you through my weekly email.
That means that my weekly comment will revolve around the common sense issues that matter most to all of us.