Behind the Scenes – When the World Comes To UN Headquarters
Feature: Behind the Scenes – When the World Comes To UN Headquarters
New York, Sep 30 2013 - Gridlock and fanfare – two words often associated with the United Nations. At no time do they crop up more frequently than when the General Assembly opens its high-level session in the fall every year.
World leaders descend on Turtle Bay, the nickname given to the stretch of high-priced real estate along the East River where UN Headquarters is located, choking traffic in midtown Manhattan. New Yorkers wait patiently at crossing points as police on high alert and sniffing dogs secure access to the buildings.
Motorcades, security personnel with dark glasses and walkie-talkies, diplomatic retinues and hordes of press correspondents swarm into the historic, now refurbished, complex serving as home to the Organization of 193 Member States and thousands of staffers.
It is the time of year when world leaders present their views at the UN about pressing world issues, in what is known as the “General Debate”.
Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens, Emirs and Foreign Ministers take centre stage during the two weeks of the General Debate. The UN is in the eyes of the world and media coverage is at its height.
From 24 September and the following 10 days, more than 130 world leaders are here to deliver an address incorporating their country’s laundry-list of priority issues in the kick-off to the 68th General Assembly session.
Above, a motorcade wends its way up First Avenue en route to the General Assembly. Credit: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine
The impressive line-up this year includes 84 heads of State, 41 heads of Government, 11 Deputy Prime Ministers and 65 Foreign Ministers scheduled to address the Assembly on sustainable development, poverty eradication, climate change, human rights, and a range of peace and security issues.
As everyone gears up for the frenzy of meetings, the Department of Public Information stretches itself to make sure that what is sometimes referred to as an annual “talkfest” is carried on airwaves and cyberspace and in print to the farthest corners of the planet.
Multiple teams of UN photographers, TV camera crews, radio producers from UN Radio, website experts and news writers make it possible for all the major meetings to be webcast, to be carried on TV and captured in photos by staff hauling cameras and racing around the UN buildings. Others prepare succinct and quick summaries and stories that can be carried by radio, TV, social media and online news portals to bring UN events closer to the world.
Dag Hammarskjöld, second Secretary-General of the United Nations, photographed in front of the Headquarters' buildings. 1953 Credit: UN Photo
UN photographers have accompanied the Secretary-General over the decades on trips to all corners of the planet. Seen here in Korea, Grant McLean (in beret) arranging to photograph farmers in a village near Seoul. (1950) UN Photo
A UN Radio announcer for the broadcasts to China. (1950) UN Photo
In the radio master control room, the nerve centre of all sound control at UN Headquarters, an engineer patches a radio programme from a UN studio into a transcontinental line. (1957) UN Photo/MB
Much has changed since a UNTV crew filmed Premier Nikita Khrushchev (centre, at desk), of the former Soviet Union, being interviewed by Mr. David Susskind for Channel 13. (October 1960) UN Photo
The first session of the United Nations General Assembly opened on 10 January 1946 at Central Hall in London, United Kingdom. The Crown Film Unit at work filming the proceedings of the General Assembly. (10 January 1946) UN Photo/Marcel Bolomey
Whether you are in Nauru in the Pacific, or Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Argentina, or close to the rooftop of the world in Nepal, it is possible to follow the deliberations of the General Assembly and the debate in real time as the proceedings unfold. That is because gavel-to-gavel live streaming of the General Debate and major events on the margins of the sessions are carried by UNTV and its webcast team.
In one of the newest developments, most of the meeting rooms have been equipped with robotic cameras which allow the discussions to be broadcast live, and to be heard in all of the UN’s six official languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). Over the three busiest days this week, more than 715,000 unique visitors from over 200 countries and territories checked in on webcasts of UN events via multiple platforms including mobile devices, said webcast team leader Andreas Damianou.
Pictured, a crowd of journalists gathers to cover a press briefing outside the Security Council Chamber. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
In addition, a few years ago an online news portal was created for the UN’s own news service, where wire-style stories are posted, covering activities of the UN and its agencies and programmes across the world, in all official languages. These stories, with links to multimedia elements of interviews and TV clips, go up quickly and provide readers and RSS subscribers w
For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news