Monday, February 5, 2029, General Assembly Hall, United Nations Headquarters, Manhattan
Secretary-General Mateo Velasquez walks to the podium to bring the group to order and to open the General Session of the U.N. “Good morning, Ambassadors of the World! Today is Monday, February 5, 2029. It is a special day for us in many ways. First, we extended our session because of the needs of our nations. I hope the grumbling about your shortened holiday season has run its course.” Laughter spreads through the audience. There is some delay for translating.
This delayed-laughter phenomenon causes Benjamin to snicker. Janet whacks him on the leg. Benjamin clears his throat and sits up tall with a serious expression. She jots down a quick note and passes it to him: “This is not a comedy club. Laughter does not cross cultures. Cut it out!” They smile at each other.
Secretary Velasquez continues. “I hope you embrace the importance of your duty measured by the need of your country and its citizens. We are indeed in complex times. Your nations and citizens need you more than ever. I hope that you all can appreciate this.
“There are other reasons this is a special day for us. We welcome a newly- appointed ambassador. She represents the United States of America. She is a part of our Assembly body and a voting member of the U.N. Security Council. We’ll hear from her personally a little later today. For now, I ask you to welcome her with your applause. Ambassador Janet Jagger, please stand.”
Janet stands. Though she is uncomfortable in the spotlight, she waves to the other ambassadors. She cannot sit down soon enough.
Secretary-Director Velasquez continues his remarks. “There is a third reason this is a very special day. We have with us the newly-seated Pope of the Catholic Church. His Holiness Pope Robert Kellan will be making his first appearance on stage today to deliver a worldwide initiative. This is an honor. I don’t want to take anything from his address, so I will simply ask you welcome His Holiness, Pope Robert Kellan, with your applause.”
The audience is on its feet in seconds. Janet and Benjamin join the standing ovation. During the ovation, Janet begins to wonder why one religion continues to have this level of presence within the United Nations. She doubts many citizens of her country know the Pope—or his representative—has full access to every meeting held by the U.N. This unlimited access also gets the Pope into meetings in the General Conference Room.
The General Conference Room is where the ambassadors, presidents and, evidently, the Pope, go to discuss the issues in a secret “off the record” assembly. There is no recording allowed in the General Conference Room. All conversations are confidential. All deals struck there are secret. Janet is looking forward to her first session there tomorrow as well as the first session of the UN Security Council. She cannot even imagine the intensity of discussing ugly matters between nations in front of the Pope.
Janet looks at Benjamin applauding with great enthusiasm. He’s a member of the Catholic Church. To him, this is once in a lifetime. Janet leans over and whispers into his ear. “Do you know if His Holiness is staying overnight and sitting in with the UN Security Council and the General Conference Room assembly tomorrow?
“Yes. He intends to stay and attend both.”
“How is it that you have access to this information before I do?”
“You’re kidding, right? It’s the job of the Assistant to the Ambassador to gather information and report it to his—or her—Ambassador. I’ll know most things before you.”
“I guess you’re right. Can I please request if you know something that pertains to my position, you will inform me right away?”
“Hmmm, that’s a request that requires some discernment. Let’s talk about it after the session.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“You must trust me, Janet.”
“Alright, I’ll give you an hour, but no more.” As she smiles at him, the applause ends.
The Ambassadors and their teams take their seats. Secretary Velasquez waits for the room to return to silence before he begins the introduction. “My fellow Ambassadors, it is with great honor I welcome to the platform a man respected around the world. I have read the important global initiative he brings to you today. The U.N. Security Council approves and supports this message. It is a call to action the world must answer. I ask you honor our guest—and fellow member—with the consideration and respect that he deserves. Fellow Ambassadors, I present to you His Holiness, Pope Robert Kellan.”
The Pope approaches the stage and climbs the nine stairs without assistance. At age forty-nine, Pope Kellan is the youngest leader of the Catholic Church in recent history. “Blessings, Ambassadors of the United Nations. Greetings to the incredible support staff and interpreters who make it possible for us to meet in unity. Thank you for allowing me to address your assembly today. I am humbled to address an audience of this caliber. In order to respect your time, I will head directly into my message.
“My fellow U.N. Members, I come to you with a heavy heart. I also come to you with a heart of hope. Please do not fixate on the negative—rather, embrace the positive. It is the position of the Catholic Church our planet is in grave danger. The danger comes to us from three challenges. We must face these challenges with bravery and action.
“First, our planet’s known reserves have been practically depleted. The scientists who consult with the U.N. tell us if current trends continue, Earth can only support the human race for twenty-five more years. Global warming will reach a point where humans will no longer be able to reverse it.
“Many of us in this room might know the pain of seeing our children and grandchildren begging for clean water and food. Animals will suffer even greater consequences as they will be competing with man for the dwindling staples of survival. Most of the planet’s waste is coming from a desire for convenience, a taste for a carefree lifestyle, and irresponsible dietary habits.
“Second, the planet’s distribution of wealth is severely unbalanced. We are all sharing the same planet, and should share in its riches. We cannot escape the responsibility of caring for our fellow man. If we do not rescue our brothers and sisters living in poverty, we will not be able to escape the anarchy that will follow. Crime will hold our neighborhoods captive.
“The wealthy cannot solve the challenges of the poor by putting up walls. We are approaching a point of wealth disparity in which ninety-five present of the world’s wealth is in the hands of five percent of its population. I fear the ninety-five percent will reach up with its sheer numbers and pull down the wealthy. Violence could sweep the industrialized nations. We must share the world’s wealth, or pay the consequences.
“The third thing we must confront is the escalation of crimes of religion. Over three million lives have been lost because of differences in our faiths. Terrorism in the name of religion must end immediately. Our militaries and law enforcement officers cannot solve the problem with their guns alone. We must do our part.
“The U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously to invite the Catholic Church to help build a bridge between the religions of the world. Today, I am introducing Thirteen Mandates for a United World for your consideration. I am asking you to consider them carefully and to vote with us to rescue humanity. The clock is ticking, so I ask you do not delay.
“Before I present the Mandates, I would like to introduce the person who will be responsible for implementing and governing this initiative in its totality—should it be adopted. She co-authored this document with me. Many of the proposed solutions came with her input. The U.N. Security Council has approved her to regulate this program in all 193 nations for a period of three years. Many of you know this person well and know of her accomplishments. I am honored to introduce to you, Anna Cohen.”
A shock wave of disbelief runs through Janet’s body. This can’t be right. As the rest of the audience stands to show support for Anna, Janet leans over to Benjamin—hoping he can hear her over the noise. “Benjamin, what just happened? Does the Pope have the authority to do this?”
“Yes. He already had the authority to do so before he acquired the support of the U.N. Security Council. Look, I know this is unnerving. Let’s not draw attention to our shock and dismay. We will handle this in the General Conference Room. Janet—don’t forget Anna is the President’s daughter.”
“I haven’t forgotten.” She drops her head in disbelief.
Anna takes the stage. “Greetings; I am honored to be with you today. I want to work with you in an effort to stop the needless loss of life at the hands of the greedy. We will work together to reign in the irresponsible behavior of religious zealots. We will no longer be idle. It is our duty to seek solutions. I promise you this: If you will give me three years to implement the Thirteen Mandates for a United World, I will give you three years of life without terrorism.
“If I succeed, you can renew my contract. If I fail, you can consider other options. I believe you will not need to consider other options. I hope to stay until we have averted the crisis. I am here to help you to save the world from an impending internal combustion. I ask you join us to secure the future of our planet. Thank you.”
The audience is on its feet again. It’s obvious to Janet these yet unknown Thirteen Mandates will be approved based solely on the words of the Pope and Anna Cohen. She glances over to Benjamin who shrugs in disbelief. The noise in the Hall is so loud Benjamin resorts to writing a note to Janet. He passes it to her: “Remember this day. You are witnessing the beginning of totalitarian globalism.”
Anna steps back from the podium after her gesture of head to forearm. It amazes Janet this little arm thing of hers crosses so many cultures. She has undeniable appeal. Anna does not leave the stage. Instead, she takes one of the seats on stage located behind the Pope. “Aren’t those seats reserved for the world’s government elite?”
Benjamin slips off his glasses to clean them with a cloth from his suit pocket. “Evidently, she now thinks she qualifies.” He winks at her and refocuses on the stage.
The Pope takes the podium once more. “My fellow ambassadors, please follow me on the screens. I present for your consideration, the Thirteen Mandates for a United World:
1. Only one Spiritual Being will be recognized by the United Nations.
Though most religions have a God they worship, the U.N. would take the position we all serve the same spiritual being. Religions could continue to use their own verbiage and worship practices, but for issues addressed by the U.N., we would only recognize one God. Furthermore, anyone convicted of killing his fellow man in the name of religion will be sentenced to an international prison. These cases will come before the International Court of Justice. Like the U.N. building, the international prison will sit upon neutral soil. The Catholic Church has graciously offered to donate land from its property in Rome. The prison will be for both long and short-term incarcerations. Construction would begin as soon as this Assembly gives its approval. Italy has offered a temporary prison for us to use until we have readied the new prison. The temporary prison can be operational within thirty days.
2. Religion will defer to government.
When asked whether it was lawful for Jews to pay taxes to Caesar, Jesus responded: ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are Gods.’ It is imperative that the citizens of the world accept that laws belong to government. In the biblical story I just shared – Caesar represented the government. The message is clear: Should religion and law conflict in the future, the U.N. will side with law.
3. All leaders of the world will require the approval of the United Nations.
Upon election, the men and women chosen for the highest offices in any member nation must be vetted and seek approval of the U.N. The International Court of Justice would conduct thorough background checks on presidents, prime ministers, and other top government officials. They would be looking for incidents of prejudice against any religion, gender, or race. If rejected by the U.N. courts, the candidate cannot assume office and voting will begin again in the candidate’s nation. A second election will occur.
4. All nations will share in the protection and renewal of the Earth’s resources.
All nations would be required to participate in the preservation of the world’s resources. This includes lowering emissions, controlling pollution, using fuel-efficient vehicles, and limiting the waste of food, plastics, and paper products. All nations would be encouraged to embrace a shared economy—such as rideshare, homeshare, airshare, self-driving cars, and Elon Musk’s fast passage trains. These forms of shared economy and those that rise up will be free of burdensome regulation and taxes. The citizens of the world will adopt a plant-based diet to reduce the many resources depleted in order to raise meat for human consumption. The Trusteeship Council of the United Nations will handle this accounting.
5. Only one currency will be recognized by the United Nation.
Because of the work done here at the U.N., the world is largely using electronic money and cryptocurrency. This practice is weaning citizens off paper, uncovering money laundering schemes, and shutting down human traffic rings. There are fifty-thousand citizens in the U.N.’s trial money-management program. They have lived an entire year exclusively on electronic banking. They have also allowed ten percent of their income to flow to a mandatory savings program. As of this morning, only five percent of the citizens in the program withdrew money from their savings over the last twelve months. This is a significant improvement over the seventy-five percent of citizens who live paycheck to paycheck and do not have any reserves. If this program goes global, withdrawals from savings would require the approval of the U.N. Banking Division. The purpose of this mandate is to curb the world’s wasteful spending and restore its resources. This Mandate will require all citizens to exchange their paper and coin money for credit no later than December 31, 2030. After this date, paper money and coins would no longer have value. The only exception to this will be the exchange of gold. It will remain the world’s standard of money.
With the acceptance of this Mandate, bartering will be illegal due to the difficulty in tracking taxes. Loans and debts would also be illegal by the end of this year. Just as the U.N. cleared the debts of the nations, so shall the nations clear the debts of their citizens. The U.N. will see that all debts between nations and citizens be cleared by the end of this year. Settlements will give our planet a reboot. Our intentions will be to give every person, company, and nation a new start.
We expect each nation represented here today is adhering to the laws already in place. Penalties for not enforcing the U.N.’s financial regulations, already approved by his governing body, will include sanctions after December 31, 2030. As we move to the next level, each nation will seek volunteers to implant with a microchip. This identifier will offer easy access to medical history and finances. The initial volunteers will receive a financial bonus for leading the way. The U.N.’s Economic and Social Council will email you the details of the proposal.
6. All space exploration will be equally owned by the nations of Earth.
The nations of the world will work together on space exploration and the possibility of relocating of the human race to other planets. This program would include sharing ownership of all satellites and exploration missions already in operation. All citizens would have equal access to information on our shared space exploration. All people of the world will be given equal consideration for migration to other planets should this become necessary.
7. All weapons and manpower will be revealed to the U.N. Security Council.
All 193 members of the United Nations will be required to make its weapons inventory known to the U.N. Security Council within sixty days and update it yearly. In keeping with the original charter of the U.N., only five countries may possess nuclear weapons, and are therefore exempt from disclosing their weapon inventory. Exempt member nations are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Every non-exempt nation must report its number of troops in active military duty.
I know this request will make many nations uneasy. Dire times require dire measures. The U.N. cannot do its job of helping the world to remain free from war if it is not aware of what its members are doing to prepare for war. Just as you united together to disarm the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2019, so shall you disarm any nation that does not cooperate with their fellow members on the U.N. Security Council.
8. All private and public businesses will be required to register with, and be approved by, the United Nations.
Businesses already in operation in each nation will go through a comprehensive audit. This will be identical to the one done with companies registering for a U.N. license in the future. The U.N. will be looking for unfair pay practices, unsafe working conditions, infractions of U.N. regulations, excessive abuse of the Earth’s resources, unpaid taxes, and prejudice in hiring. Any business not compliant will be penalized. As of December 31, 2029, it will be illegal for a business—in any nation—to receive or disperse funds without a business license from the U.N.
9. All nations will have open borders for immigration.
All nations of the world shall allow immigration to and from their countries. The U.N. must approve any restrictions or limitations. In your email following this address, you will find the qualifications for immigrating to a new nation. These qualifications ensure immigration practices are fair and practical for all nations. Once all the citizens of the world have a tracking chip implanted, immigration will be a mute problem.
10. The United Nations will recognize any and all unions of consenting adults.
Any union of consenting adults will be legal. Legally recognized marriages can be of any race or gender, but cannot exceed seven adult members in a single unit. Polygamy will be legal, and the minimal marriage and sexual consent age will be set at fifteen years and six months. To get this number, we averaged the age of marriage in all of the member nations. The U.N. courts will support all spousal rights and responsibilities for every member of a marital unit.
11. All children will be under the protection of the United Nations until the age of eighteen.
This protection would include decisions made for them on education, health care, discipline, and career selection. The U.N. would be open to hear testimonies from children who feel abused or neglected by their parents. The U.N. would also have the power to take action on behalf of these young citizens—up to and including—removing them from the custody of the parents into a more beneficial environment. Citizens under the age of eighteen, who have an exceptional talent, IQ score, or potential for greatness in any way may move from its family unit to a facility/supervision to develop their gift for the betterment of the world. The biological parents are fiscally responsible for any children they bear until they reach the age of eighteen, even if they are no longer in their custodial care.
12. Education will be mandatory.
Every citizen of the world over the age of six, and of sound mind and body shall enroll in online education. The courses would be free of cost on the U.N. website. There would be translations into all languages practiced in our 193 member nations. Any university or learning institution that receives tax credits from its government must accept the credits of the U.N.’s online education. Illiterate persons will receive free instruction on learning to read. Anyone who does not complete these educational requirements would be subject to a yearly tax penalty. Anyone who lacks access to a computer will get a solar-powered hand-held electronic tablet.
13. Universal Health Care will be made available to every citizen who resides in a member nation.
This will be as simple as forcing open access to every physician, hospital, urgent care facility, assisted living residence, and pharmacy in the world. All providers would be required to treat any person who is in a member state of the U.N. A pay-for-service system would be set up in consideration of each nation’s economy. There would be a universal requirement: For citizens to retain their free healthcare, they would be required to do their part to stay healthy. This would include following the advice of their assigned physician on diet, mental health protection, prescription medications, drug and alcohol intake, limits of high-risk behavior, and the prevention of STDs. The Secretary-General’s office will send you the documents to cover your questions later today.
“Thank you for your attention. I know you will require more information to cast your vote. The supportive documents are prepared and will arrive to your email today. We await the approval and support of the United Nations to begin. If we work together with integrity and tenacity, we can make the future a better place for every citizen within three years.”
The Pope and Anna walk off stage side-by-side and disappear out a back entrance. One by one, the Ambassadors rise to their feet to applaud the Pope’s remarks. Janet stands, but instead of applauding, she begins a paper conversation with Benjamin: “Please tell me that didn’t happen.”
“We’re in big trouble.”
“Yes we are!”
Once the crowd settles back into their seats, Secretary-Director Velasquez begins to speak. “I told you this was a very special day. I know you have a lot going through your minds at this time. If you check your email, you will find a copy of the Thirteen Mandates for a United World. You will also find the 1,200 supportive pages drafted by the legal department of the U.N to help with implementation of these programs.” The audience gives out a sound that is half laugh and half groan.
“Each mandate will be voted on separately. The legal committee will be tweaking the language and intent of the document. The final vote will occur on March 5, 2029. We will take a break now and reconvene at 1:00 p.m. We look forward to our next speaker, Ambassador Janet Jagger of the United States.”