Shashi Tharoor, formerly the Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, resigned from the United Nations yesterday. Tharoor was a legend at the UN. And in his inimical style (Tharoor also happens to be an award winning novelist) he takes to the pages of the Times of India to reflect on 29 years at a changing United Nations.
I joined the UN in 1978 as an idealistic young man of 22, hoping to serve refugees and discover the world.
I did a bit of both. But how much the institution I joined has changed! If I had suggested to my seniors at that time that the UN would one day observe and even run elections in sovereign states, conduct intrusive inspections for weapons of mass destruction, impose comprehensive sanctions on the entire import-export trade of a member state, or set up international criminal tribunals and coerce governments into handing over their citizens to be tried by foreigners under international law, I am sure they would have told me that I did not understand what the UN was all about. Indeed, since those were the late 1970s, they might well have asked me, “Young man, what are you smoking?”
Tharoor will certainly be missed. Continue reading his essay.