Speaker: U.S. needs to stop bullying the world

By Gus Bode

A woman who advised two secretaries-general at the United Nations dished out an hour of what she called “tough love” to the packed Student Center Auditorium on Tuesday night.

Gillian Sorensen, now a senior adviser to the United Nations Foundation, addressed the “schizophrenic” personality of the United States involving the United Nations during her speech, “The U.N. and You: What’s at Stake?” The speech was part of the fall lecture series sponsored by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

The United States “forgets” the rest of the world, Sorensen said.


“We need to stop being the bully on the block that doesn’t need anyone else,” Sorensen said.

Previously, Sorensen served more than 12 years as the New York City Commissioner for the United Nations and Consular Corps and four years as special adviser for public policy to former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. From 1997 to 2003, she served as Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations for current Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Matt Baughman, assistant director of the institute, said they invited Sorensen because she represents an important aspect of the campus, the university’s international population.

“A good percentage of our students come from outside of the U.S.,” Baughman said. “This provides an opportunity to raise interest and awareness of international affairs. It allows us to focus on issues beyond our borders.”

Sorensen, who is an American, said the support and respect from the United States when it comes to the United Nations is lacking. She said although the United States claims to support the United Nations, Americans consistently call the international organization names such as “lazy and incompetent.”

She referred to the attacks as “U.N. bashing,” and said it happens all too often by people who are uninformed of what the United Nations actually does for 193 countries.

“To me, it is self-evident we can do more together than we can do alone,” Sorensen said. “We need to repair a gap, a distance that has grown between us in recent years.”


Sorensen said the United Nations has been pursuing many positive efforts, which include rescuing victims of natural disasters, sheltering 20 million refugees, feeding the hungry through the United Nations food program, monitoring elections for 48 countries and promoting primary education in young women and men.

“It is the U.N. that contained conflict, reduced strife and ended wars,” Sorensen said. “These tend to be forgotten.”

She said the United Nations appears to be under “embattlement” from the United States, and there are necessary steps needed to regain respect. These include paying dues to the United Nations on time, paying voluntary fees to the United Nations Population Fund, working closely with the secretary-general for the United Nations and sending skillful, educated ambassadors who are willing to engage in debate.

Alexis Boudreau can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 255 or [email protected].