Magazine article UN Chronicle

'A Culture of Communication.' (Report from the Task Force on the Reorientation of United Nations Public Information Activities)

Magazine article UN Chronicle

'A Culture of Communication.' (Report from the Task Force on the Reorientation of United Nations Public Information Activities)

Article excerpt

In his letter dated 17 March 1997 addressed to the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General had identified as a principal challenge the need for a strengthened communications and information operation, which would help increase global support for the United Nations. In pursuit of that goal, the Secretary-General convened the Task Force on the Reorientation of United Nations Public Information Activities, composed of communications experts from both within and outside the United Nations system.

The report of the Task Force, entitled "Global Vision, Local Voice: A strategic communications programme for the United Nations Nations" has been issued. The Secretary-General has occurred with the report's principal recommendations, which include:

* Placing the communications function at the heart of the strategic management of the Organization and consolidating all communications activities under a strong senior official, who would be part of his immediate team, in order to turn the United Nations into an effective modern communications-oriented organization.

* Strengthening the Organization's capacity to communicate at the\country level, so that the United Nations global messages, activities and information both reflect and are tailored to meaningful local contexts. ms will entail establishing imaginative local partnerships, in close cooperation with Governments.

* Completing the process of integrating United Nations information centers into the offices of United Nations Resident Coordinators, but with a much stronger system of feedback and accountability. To ensure effective delivery of communications and information programmes, the Resident Coordinators should work closely with and report to the senior official in charge of United Nations communications activities.

* Creating a culture of communications throughout the Organization, with responsibility for public diplomacy being borne by all senior officials, ambassadors and the larger United Nations family.

* Recognizing the role of the General Assembly in providing strategic guidance and direction for the communications and information function, while giving the Secretariat much greater responsibility for determining the methods with which mandated goals will be met.

In line with his occurrence with the conceptual approach and thrust of the Task Force's recommendations, the Secretary-General has proposed that the post for the communications and information function be at the Under-Secretary-General level, reflecting the importance of the role of communications, not as a support function but as an integral part of the substantive programme of the United Nations. The new entity will be called the Office for Communications and Public Information. …

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