Saturday, 15 December 2018

UN in your language

Monthly Editorial - UNRIC Director

A belated Happy 2014 to all

Shooting Film-6feb

At UNRIC we started the year by looking into our communication priorities for this year and two subjects stand out: Climate Change and Food with the Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge initiative.  In the weeks and months to come we will be working on different ideas aiming to put Climate Change back on the front burner, both of policy makers and the general public. Any ideas are welcome.
Amongst the projects we are working on at the moment, I would like to point out the Portuguese Forum of Civil Society Networks in Portugal. This ambitious initiative was proposed by UNRIC’s Portuguese Communication Officer, Julia Alhinho. A much needed idea to bring together NGOs who are working on the same subjects but not necessarily together, and to stimulate the public debate on the Post-2015 Global Development Agenda? This event will take place on February 20th and 21th in Lisbon University - ISCTE.
2014 also marks the Tenth anniversary of the creation of UNRIC and looking back at what we have achieved, we thought it apt to give ourselves a slogan which is: [email protected]  Ten Years of Creativity.
Speaking about creativity, UNRIC has joined forces with the European Commission and has launched a video competition asking people to say how Europe has changed their lives. This competition is open to all creative who believe in Europe.
Watch this space for more news on our plans to be even more creative in 2014.
UNRIC Director, Afsane Bassir-Pour



“Mandela was perhaps the greatest moral leader of our time.”
 - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Like millions and millions of people around the world, my heart missed a beat when I saw the breaking news about Nelson Mandela’s passing. It was not so much pain or sorrow or shock that I was feeling, it was a sinking feeling, as if I had been orphaned.
But at the same time I felt so blessed to have been part of a generation lucky enough to have lived at the same time as Madiba.

And today as we celebrate the 65th  anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a text cherished and widely quoted by Mandela, we also say our final goodbye to him .

Today, 10 December 2013 we celebrate Human Rights and we celebrate Mandela’s life.



editorial photo

Jean-Paul Knott is searching for the perfect Mantra. 
"Everyone is waiting for the UN to gives us one powerful slogan that we can all repeat like a mantra." Says the Belgian designer. We are not there yet, but in our search for the one perfect slogan, we have so far provided him seven. In spite of our changing slogans, the celebrated Belgian fashion designer's passion for the UN has not waned. 

UNRIC's relationship with Jean-Paul Knott began seven years ago, in 2007, when we asked him to give the Centre an idea for a bracelet with the slogan F.U.N for Friend of the UN that we could give to people. The hick was, we ventured to explain, that we have no budget. Jean-Paul Knott said that in that case we should make our own bracelets. He suggested we buy rolls of blue ribbon that we stamped with the words We the Peoples in different European languages and wrapped around a post card.

The next year, in 2008, we all joined to enthusiastically celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a European campaign. Jean-Paul spent many an hour between international fashion shows, writing our slogan Know Your Rights, on (very cheap) T-shirts that with a couple of expert cuts here and there turned into 'it' fashion objects.

In 2009 we all wanted to believe that we really could really Seal the Deal on climate change in the COP15 conference in Copenhagen. And once again, in spite of our changing slogans, Jean-Paul Knott was unwavering in his passion for UN causes. This time our do- it-yourself goody took the shape of a cotton pin with Seal the Deal tattooed on it. We still remember taking turns in our offices ironing hundreds of tattoos on the pins. They looked great, even the Secretary-General wore one. And even though we did not Seal that deal, the idea remains very original and cheap.

In 2010 we thought we had hit the jackpot. To mark the 10th anniversary of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), for the first time the whole UN family agreed on one dream of a slogan for Jean-Paul Knott- We Can End Poverty. By this time not only every body at UNRIC, but so was everywhere at the designer's atelier was busy painting the mantra on t-shirts, bags, hats... etc. Jean-Paul put the slogan on his own collection printed each of the eight Millennium Development Goals. And the best thing about it was that it was easily translatable on all the Centre's languages.

In 2011, it took a bit of persuasion to make him see that the Rio+20 conference needed a more comprehensive, inclusive slogan like The Future We want, but he soldiered on along with us.

Last year our-nearly Knott-friend was seduced by the working title of one of the Centre's potential campaigns on Sanitation. I Give a ... We told him that it was a definite no go, because well... it just doesn't translate into other languages.

This year, still searching for the perfect mantra, we decided with Jean-Paul Knott's blessing, to celebrate UN day wearing blue scarves with nothing written on them that we can each personalize with any mantra we like. So last week UNRIC again became a workshop. With our interns tearing a hundred UN blue scarves from rolls of blue cotton. Much easier done then said. Jean-Paul taught us that you rip a cloth and not cut it. On his own scarf though, Jean-Paul Knott started writing over and over again We the Peoples with his permanent marker.
Merci M. Knott.

Happy 68th UN.

June - From Brussels to Times Square and Piccadilly Circus


The month of June began with our World Environment Day video on giant screens high up on New York's Times Square and in London's Piccadilly Circus. This was another joint venture between UNRIC, UNEP and our partner Fabrica.

Meanwhile our partnership with the visionary project 7 billion Others is going very well. After the diffusion of a clip from 7bO for International day of Cultural Diversity, we are working with the Good Planet Foundation (creators of 7bO) for World Refugee Day on June 20. It will be on the UNRIC website with subtitles in eight languages. Another feather in the cap of multilingualism.

Talking about UN Observances, here are some of the ones for the month of June:

  • 5 June – World Environment Day
  • 8 June - World Oceans Day
  • 12 June – World Day Against Child Labour
  • 14 June – World Blood Donor Day
  • 20 June – World Refugee Day

And to end on another positive note. UNRIC had the pleasure of receiving in our premises in Brussels, the first visit of the UN's new Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson during his official visit to Brussels. Mr. Eliasson who has worked, in one capacity or another, with the UN for the past 35 years, was invited to UNRIC for a round table discussion with ten prominent editorialists from major European newspapers. The free-flowing discussion was moderated by Madame Louise Arbour.

And last but not least, for the first time in probably a year, the sun is finally shining in our neck of the woods and has lifted the spirits. Let's hope it lasts!

May - Spring may be keeping us waiting here in northern Europe, but partnerships have been blooming in the last month


The new UN-EU communication initiative Partnering for a better world between UNRIC and the European Commission's Directorate-General for Communication had its 'soft' launch at MIP TV, in Cannes, last month and will be extended to the EEAS. A new platform open to all ideas.

We are also delighted to announce a new partnership with Goodplanet's 7 billion Others project is also in the works. 7 billion is a visionary project consisting of thousands of video interviews filmed in more than 84 countries and counting, drawing a large portrait of humanity. Take a few minutes to check out the website and you'll get the idea (

We have also been working on revitalizing the UN Associations, especially in Europe. Some are doing amazing work while others are languishing. Luckily two true friends of the UN- French diplomat Bernard Miyet, who after a long career as a diplomat joined the UN as USG for Peacekeeping under Kofi Annan, and Sir Jeremy Greenstock, a former British ambassador to the UN have been named presidents of the UNA France and UNA UK respectively and have expressed great enthusiasm to reenergize the UN associations.

Watch this space for more news soon.

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