solana122_ H. Armstrong RobertsClassicStockGetty Images_UN HQ 1940s H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

Reopening the Peace Factory

Some regard the United Nations as one of the greatest achievements of the so-called liberal international order that was conceived at the end of World War II, while others argue that the organization has never been very liberal, international, or ordered. Both positions have become clichés, but the second is closer to the truth.

MADRID – The Sperry Corporation was an American manufacturer of electronic components, information-technology equipment, and defense systems that obtained lucrative government armaments contracts after the United States entered World War II. When the firm reduced its output after the war, a large part of its production site in Lake Success, New York, fell into disuse and became available to potential lessees.

This is how, before moving to its current site on the banks of the East River, the recently established United Nations came to use a converted arms factory from 1946 until 1952 as its second temporary seat. The location might have seemed unsuitable at first for an organization founded to promote peace and international cooperation, but what better symbol could there be for the post-war era? A place that once made weapons of war was now nicknamed the “peace factory.”

Today, the UN is celebrating its 75th anniversary with an event that, unavoidably, will take place mainly in a virtual format because of COVID-19. This commemoration precedes the opening of the annual UN General Assembly, which for the first time will not bring together world leaders in New York City.

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