The United Nation’s Department of Public Information (DPI) announced they are hosting their annual conference in August 2018 during their townhall – Looking Back, Looking Forward. Previous conferences offered roundtable discussions, NGO workshops, exhibits, youth-led activities, networking opportunities, and side events. This year’s conference seeks to raise awareness and foster dialogue regarding the role of global citizenship by including individuals of all races, gender, and ages in the discussion.
A briefing that took place earlier this month, which NGO professionals and representatives of the DPI community attended, covered and outlined the details of the upcoming conference. Speakers included Jeff Brez, Bruce Knotts, Saphira Rameshfar, and Shamina de Gozaga. All four panelists discussed the logistics and overall expectations of the upcoming conference.
Saphira Rameshfar, a representative of the Baha’i International Community, reflected on a conference she attended in South Korea last year with 1,300 youth professionals. Rameshfar mentioned that the youth professionals engaged in a number of topics, including youth employment. Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban-Ki-Moon, attended the conference and emphasized the necessity of youth professional involvement in the global dialogue. According to Rameshfar, a successful conference involves the need for consistent dialogue, substantive conversations, and a continual exchange of ideas with youth professionals.
Shamina de Gonzaga, Executive Director of World Council of Peoples for the United Nations (WCPUN), was adamant and vocal about the finer details and the broader purpose of DPI/NGO’s 2018 conference. She referred to the history and making of DPI/NGO and added that the conference should not continue as a complacent process, but rather the department’s model should have a meaningful purpose and influence all aspects of society. Gonzaga outlined more details of the purpose of the DPI/NGO and insisted that the conference should be productive and gain more tangible and intangible resources, which allows the opportunity to complete their mission.
Attendees asked panelists insightful questions that inspired thoughtful comments and reflections. One attendee asked, “How do we move forward on new issues with an older paradigm?” This question highlighted the importance of partnership efforts within grassroots organizations.
“None of the work would not be done without the work before us,” replied Shamina de Gonzaga.
Referring to the history of the department, Gonzaga noted the opportunity the DPI/NGO brings to grassroots organizations, which plays a vital role in the functionality of the United Nations’ mission. Since the founding of DPI/NGO, its mission has been to create and provide civilians with a platform to engage in dialogue with the United Nations. Established in 1946, the DPI and NGOs have worked collectively to assist national information services, educational institutions, and other organizations and foundations interested in spreading information about the United Nations. Essentially, DPI/NGO’s mission is to work together to make a difference.
Gonzaga’s overall perception and passion in her selected words further questioned the current approach of DPI/NGO conferences. In sum, Gonzaga stressed the importance of establishing a more productive and efficient conference by grasping a solid understanding of the role of DPI/NGO and how to truly make an impact in the global community.
Other concerns included bringing people from remote locations to attend the conference. The panelists discussed ways to broaden the capability for individuals to attend physically and virtually. By providing alternative ways of attending, the conference becomes accessible for any interested individual to attend, which is the mission of DPI/NGO.
Towards the end of the briefing, panelists discussed financial concerns of the conference and possible locations to host the event. Bruce Knotts, a co-chair of the UN NGO Committee on Human Rights, mentioned the need for a more creative approach to meet the fiscal demands of the conference and considered partnerships with institutions and businesses. As far as hosting the conference in countries such as Nigeria, Canada, and China, Knotts recognized that he encourages for governments to allow conferences held within their borders. Without the permission of foreign governments, the DPI/NGO simply cannot host the conference in another country.
In all, the largest takeaways were comments made by youth professionals and one of the School of Diplomacy’s very own, Father Brian Muzas, a professor at the School of Diplomacy and a DPI/NGO representative. The youth professionals acknowledged the importance and value of informing populations and building awareness. However, they strongly encouraged the department to have a “call of action.” The tactic, call of action, is important in building momentum for community development and societal improvement.
Father Brain Muzas summed the fundamental points and purpose of the upcoming conference. Commenting to the questions regarding purpose and impact of the conference, he had closing remarks on the department function and transition to create a conference that reflects the addition, comparison, consequence, and exemplification of the points reviewed during the conference.
The upcoming 67th DPI/NGO conference is sure to hold value and have a lasting impact as the department seeks to address fundamental global issues and foster a stronger, united, and knowledgeable global community.
Below is a list of previous conferences held by DPI/NGO:
UN DPI/NGO 66th Conference: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Together
UN DPI/ NGO 65th Conference: Our Action Agenda: The Role of Civil Society in the Post-2015 Development Agenda
UN DPI/ NGO 64th Conference: Sustainable Societies: Responsive Citizens
UN DPI/NGO 63rd Conference: Advance Global Health: Achieve the MDGs
UN DPI/NGO 62nd Conference: For Peace and Development Disarm Now!
UN DPI/NGO 61st Conference: Reaffirming Human Rights for all: The Universal Declaration at 60
UN DPI/NGO 60TH Conference: Climate Change: How it Impacts Us All
UN DPI/NGO 59TH Conference: Unfinished Business: Effective Partnerships for Human Security and Sustainable Development
UN DPI/NGO 58th Conference: Our Challenge: Voices for Peace, Partnerships and Renewal
Photo Credit: https://outreach.un.org/ngorelations/dpi-ngo-conference-2
Ruthly Cadestin is a UN Digital Representative for the Center for UN Studies and Global Governance. Currently, she is a second-year graduate student at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University. She graduated from King’s College where she studied International Business with a focus on Economics and History. Her topics of interest are human rights, international law, and economic development, specifically human trafficking and labor rights.