Kodak captures 140 world leaders: the class of '95

New York - It was Kodak that brought meaning to the new world order. For a few brief minutes yesterday, the leaders of virtually every land on the planet succumbed to the collective discipline of posing for a giant school photograph to commemorate the 50th birthday of the United Nations, writes David Usborne.

In a cavernous conference room in the bowels of UN headquarters, presidents, potentates and princes were cajoled and bullied by a man from Kodak, to stand straight, stop chatting and to "smile as prettily" as the few women leaders among them. "I thank you, Kodak thanks you and the whole world will thank you for coming along this morning," he said. Jiang Zemin of China seemed amused; Nelson Mandela of South Africa, looked as grim as his shirt was colourful.

In other regards, the three-day jamboree of 140 heads of state and government, the largest in the history of humankind, threatened to spin into glorious and untrammelled disorder. The five-minute rule that every leader is meant to respect at the podium to speak was violated by the first to get there: President Bill Clinton. His speech lasted 15 minutes.

Nor was the chaos limited to the UN building. Ask any ordinary mortal who was trying to navigate the streets of Manhattan this weekend. As the myriad delegations sped about town in block-long motorcades, entire sections of the city were closed to traffic.

At 7am yesterday, when the leaders were already out of their beds and rolling towards the UN tower, the east side of midtown Manhattan was eerily empty. The normally jammed canyons of First and Second Avenues were deserted as far as the eye could see, except for galaxies of flashing police lights and and the occasional black-limousined caravan of one leader or another.

Barely visible was the security blanket, surely one of the most intense ever deployed. Roof-tops revealed sharp-shooters, just one element of an operation involving 3,000 US secret service agents and a large part of the New York police force. Among police concerns were various street protests orchestrated by opponents of leaders including Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and Cuba's Fidel Castro, whose daughter, Alina Fernandez Revuelta, was leading the agitation against him.

First among the parties were dinners offered last night by President Clinton at the New York Library and by the New York Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, at the World Financial Center on Saturday. Pork, beef and shellfish were left off the menus to avoid giving offence to any of the guests. "Not all of our parties are capable of starting the Third World War, although with some of our weddings you might think so," remarked Liz Newmark of the catering company for Mr Giuliani's bash.

President Castro was not invited to either occasion. He, however, was set to be feted by thousands of supporters at the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church at a special service in his honour in Harlem last night.

There will be a few faces absent from the soon-to-be-historic Kodak moment. Saddam Hussein was not there, nor was Libya's Muammar Gaddafi. Two faces that might have graced the front row, Helmut Kohl of Germany and John Major, were also missing. Mr Kohl, to general consternation, is not coming to New York, while Mr Major opted to pass on the first day of fun and was due to ariive in town late last night.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam