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Ronald Spiers, the United Nations' undersecretary for political affairs, discussed how the U.N. has become a hub of "quiet-corridor" international diplomacy over the past ten years in a talk last night. During his 30-minute speech in front of 50 people at Vance Hall, Spiers gave a short history of the U.N. in order to emphasize the dissolution of of the U.N.'s traditional bipolarity in General Assembly votes. Furthermore, Spiers said, the U.N. has become more central in international diplomacy in contrast to the past where such diplomacy was handled by North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact. He cited the recent Persian Gulf resolutions as an example of the U.N. as a diplomatic hub. This increased use of the U.N., he explained, has produced a two-fold effect. First, it has put a financial strain on the U.N. "The more active the member nations become in the General Assembly, the higher the [U.N.'s] commitment needs to be," Spiers said. Spiers described the U.S. as standing "hypocritically" in the center of this issue. Its strong insistence on nations to use the U.N. stands in contrast to the fact that it owes $70 million in membership dues to the U.N., he said. The second effect that change has had on the U.N. is that "a new category of issues of global impact have come to the forefront." The General Assembly has also begun to work on more common issues, he said, reflecting new sense of "collaboration" among U.N. members. These issues include the environment, the drug trade and human rights. Spiers said the Kurdish crisis is a historic problem that could only be solved through "democratization" and not through independence. Kiera Reilly, secretary of the Penn Political Union, praised Spiers' ability to communicate his knowledge of U.N. history. "Spiers was fascinating," the College sophomore said. "His long and distinguished service was reflected tonight in the many experiences he communicated to us."

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