Former U.N. assistant secretary-general to speak at Sierra Nevada College |

Former U.N. assistant secretary-general to speak at Sierra Nevada College

Tonya Canino

Opinions on the United Nations tend to fall in three camps: hate it, love it, or just don’t know about it.

However, Tahoe residents will be given another way to consider the international policy organization on Tuesday – learn from it.

Gillian Sorensen, the former assistant secretary-general of the U.N., will be speaking at Sierra Nevada College on “The U.S., the U.N. and you: Toward a better world future.” The free presentation will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in Patterson Hall on the Incline Village campus.

Called the “diplomat’s diplomat” by the New York Times, Sorensen has been brought here by the Sierra Nevada chapter of the United Nations Association and the Institute for Indigenous People.

Those two groups are headed by a 92-year-old dynamo, Dr. Bill Redel of Sierra Nevada College.

His first encounter with the United Nations was while serving in the Vietnam War, when he was assigned to support peacekeeping teams from Poland and India, Redel said. In 1991, he was asked to attend a U.N. peacekeeping discussion and the president of the United Nations Association urged him to start a chapter in Nevada. He has been president ever since. The chapter’s goal is to act as an information channel from the U.N. to the association’s members.

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“We started the United Nations Association because our people should understand what the U.N. is doing,” Redel said.

Ted Harris, president of the Golden Empire chapter of the United Nations Association said he is bringing his Grass Valley members to Sorensen’s speech because it is important to be brought up to speed on foreign policy with presidential elections in 2008.

“In 18 months we’ll be looking for a better foreign policy and the public should get up to speed on what’s going on,” Harris said.

An international view is important for Republicans and Democrats alike, he said.

“It is important to know what the U.N. is doing in the foreign field. Quite often, we think the U.N. does nothing,” said Redel.

Sorensen’s current position as senior advisor at the United States Foundation is to be a national advocate on matters related to the U.N. and the United States’ relationship with the U.N. She is known as a mediator who can find common ground among a variety of opinions, Harris said.

“She just appreciates that the U.N. has to be supported by all points of view. She’s just very good at answering questions from all perspectives,” Harris said.

Sorensen will be taking questions from the audience after her talk.