United Nations Should Move to World Trade Center Site

Published in the New York Daily News, November 6, 2001

"Clearly, we're living on borrowed time." That was Joseph Connor, the under-secretary general for administration of the United Nations, earlier this year. Mr. Connor was referring to the United Nations headquarters, on the East River, completed in 1953. The building's roof leaks. It lacks a decent sprinkler system. Asbestos must be removed. And, most significantly, it's much too small, which is why the United Nations has annexed space in dozens of nondescript buildings, a patchwork of cramped and anonymous quarters.

Mr. Connor estimated the cost of getting the U.N. headquarters in shape at a cool $1 billion.

There's a better way to spend the money. The United Nations should build a new headquarters on the World Trade Center site. Every day, representatives of 189 nations would occupy Ground Zero. Physically and symbolically taking a stand against terrorism.

Architects are busy debating whether, and how, to rebuild. The owner of the World Trade Center leasehold favors a quartet of 50-story towers. But truncating the towers would give the terrorists reason to crow. If the site is to be developed, nothing less than 111 stories (the previous 110, plus one) will do. The U.N. is, the ideal tenant -- its presence would give every country, friend or foe, a stake in keeping New York safe. The U.N. needs more room. But more than that, it needs to send a message.

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