These sinecures that go to the powerful. Conventions of the connected in swank cities while partying on the dime of others. How does one sign up? Also how did something noble but perhaps futile degenerate into this. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.
In Brussels, it is big business hosting international organizations, today notably NATO and the central staff of the European Union. Think of how great this is for Brussels. A lot of well paid staff with a healthy sized support staff that are hired locally. The big shots will be spending lots of money that comes from the outside. Probably more than their high salaries as most are old money. In addition there will be subsets that will be constantly hosting conventions, where lesser big shots will be coming from far and wide to spend, spend, spend. So Belgium puts out a stamp to celebrate an especially important convention. How nice of them to emphasize the history and noble original purpose of the organization. A stamp issue showing a fancy restaurant, a 5 star hotel, a disco, and a fancy mall would have been a little too real.
Todays stamp is issue A157, a 3 Belgian Franc stamp issued by the Kingdom of Belgium on September 14th 1961. It was a 2 stamp issue celebrating the 50th Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union that was held in Brussels that year. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents used.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union was the brainchild of French parliamentarian Frederic Passy and English Parliamentarian Randal Cremer. Both men were avowed pacifists that hoped an international body could arbitrate disputes before they lead to war. They were part of a large movement of the time that included American William Jennings Bryant and steel baron Andrew Carnegie. The IPU started in Bern, Switzerland in 1892 but soon moved to ironically Brussels. World War I went unprevented and the organization moved to Oslo and then to it’s current home in Geneva. The work and noble intentions of Messers Passy and Cremer saw both men individually awarded Nobel Peace Prizes. Cremer had guided through parliament a bill that all disputes between the USA and the UK be handled by arbitration. Passy had been useful in an international dispute involving the future of Luxembourg in the 1860s.
The organization changed after the passing of the founders and became less about peace and more to do with promoting vague notions of representative government. One party states are still welcome to the parties and the most recent, the 138th was held in the home base in Geneva earlier this year.
It was decided that a woman from the Americas should be the current President of the IPU so after a contest with a lady from Uruguay, Mexican Gabriela Cuevas Barron was given the title in 2017. She is young. still in her thirties and had to change left wing parties in Mexico with the rise in fortune of the National Regeneration Movement at the expense of her former party PAN. Her short resume includes work for NGOs, so I bet she is adept at party planning on an international scale. Nice work if you can get it, but none of her biographies list the wars she prevented. Hopefully then the Nobel committee will hold off on her award.
Well my drink is empty and I will pour another to toast Ms Cuevas on her title. Maybe that would get me invited to one of those great living large on someone else’s dime conventions. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.