1 November 2010
Deputy Secretary-General

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

United Nations, Media, Share Goals of ‘Providing a Voice for the Voiceless’,


Deputy Secretary-General Tells Dag Hammarskjöld Journalist Fellows


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at the annual luncheon of the Dag Hammarskjöld Scholarship Fund for Journalists, in New York, today, 1 November:

It is an honour to be here for this special occasion.  I congratulate this year’s fellows and welcome our distinguished guests.

Sir Brian Urquhart, you have contributed so much to the United Nations, and have been a source and guide to so many, not least to journalists.

Mr. Nicholas Kristof, your articles and columns have brought human rights and development issues vividly to life on the page and on the screen.

Thank you both for your support.

I am sure many of you know the veteran United Nations correspondent and former United Nations Correspondents Association President, Mr. Ian Williams. 

Mr. Williams has written a book called The UN for Beginners.  He takes a critical approach.  But he concludes that despite its imperfections, the United Nations symbolizes the reality that we must all live together in this one world. 

In fact, he says, if the United Nations did not exist, we would have to invent something like it.

Again and again, public opinion polls show widespread support for a more active United Nations with much broader powers than it has today.  At the same time, they show scepticism or dissatisfaction with the United Nations performance.

This seeming contradiction reflects the fact that the United Nations works on some of the most complex, most intractable, and most important issues — from climate change to the environment to the effects of the global financial crisis.

We welcome the scrutiny of the media and expect you, on behalf of the world’s people, to hold us to the highest standards, to bring it to our notice if we fall short, and to inform people when we meet or exceed expectations.

But many people in the world lack first-hand media coverage of what is happening at United Nations Headquarters.  And often, they are the very people who are most affected by decisions taken here.  People in developing countries, in countries recovering from conflict, in countries where the media is struggling to pay the bills.

The Dag Hammarskjöld fellowships are an attempt to redress this imbalance.

The fund has been sponsoring journalists from developing countries to cover the General Assembly since 1962.  It is a great tribute to the resourcefulness and energy of the UN-based journalists who run the fund — and the generosity of their donors from foundations, corporations, United Nations missions and agencies.

I congratulate this year’s fellows:  Ms. Débora Dongo-Soria from Peru; Ms. Nadia Zibilila from Togo; Mr. Mahesh Acharya from Nepal; and Ms. Melini Moses from South Africa.

I hope your experience here has been positive and has equipped you with new skills and contacts for the future.

And I thank all the United Nations-based journalists, and the donors, who gave their time, energy and money to this worthy cause.

Raising awareness, advocating for the most vulnerable, providing a voice to the voiceless.

We may not always see eye to eye, but the United Nations and the media often share the same goals.  We rely on your work.

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For information media • not an official record