‘UN in Action’

November 2, 2009

The UN’s use of video and television is far broader than the UNIFEED platform that I described in my earlier post.

 It also produces ‘UN in Action’, an award winning television series, that “reports on the work of the UN and its Agencies around the world.”

 Each of the pieces in the series are approximately 3- to 5-minutes in length and illustrate “UN peacekeeping efforts as well as projects aimed at reducing poverty and human suffering, fighting disease, providing humanitarian assistance and stimulating economic growth.”

 There are 57 ‘UN in Action’ pieces produced a year and, like UNIFEED, the material is available free of rights to broadcasters.



November 2, 2009

The United Nations has long recognized the value of video to depict its various operations in action around the world, however, it is only relatively recently (in the last few years) that it has been able to create a digital platform for the showcasing and distribution of video footage taken by the UN to news providers around the world.

The system, known as UNIFEED, enables TV media outlets to cover important global issues by offering timely broadcast-quality video from throughout the UN system.

All of the material made available through UNIFEED is free of charge and rights-free. According to the UNIFEED webpage, “video material is currently available in two formats: web-quality Windows Media and broadcast-quality MPEG-2 PAL and NTSC for broadcast use. All material is also accompanied by shot lists and story synopses.”

Stories come from the global network of UN specialized agencies, funds and programmes, peacekeeping operations and UN Headquarters. New stories are posted on the UNIFEED website as soon as they become available on a daily basis.  

UNIFEED also delivers stories through Associated Press Television News (APTN) to its clients around the world in a 10 minute package transmitted by satellite twice daily.

It will be interesting to see how UNIFEED fares in a world where the sharing of video in high quality formats is evolving quickly. Will technology render it redundant?


Digital communications is also being used in areas of the UN’s work outside of the Secretariat, for instance in the work of the Alliance of Civilizations.

In 2005, a high-level group of experts was formed by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan to explore “the roots of polarization between societies and cultures today, and to recommend a practical programme of action to address this issue.” The group’s report put forward practical recommendations that form the basis for the implementation plan of the Alliance of Civilizations (AoC).

On 26 April 2007, former President of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, was appointed as the High Representative for the AoC by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to lead the implementation phase of the Alliance.

The AoC Secretariat, which is based in New York, works in partnership with States, international and regional organizations, civil society groups, foundations, and the private sector to mobilize concerted efforts to promote cross-cultural relations among diverse nations and communities.

The AoC has developed, as a key project, what it calls the ‘Global Expert Finder’ – an innovative online tool developed for the media to help broaden the number of voices being heard on issues that divide communities along cultural fault lines.

 The mechanism provides journalists around the world with “fast, free, direct access to some of the world’s leading commentators, analysts and academics.”

The individuals who have agreed to participate have expert knowledge on various subjects, including politics, law, education, women’s rights, human rights, terrorism, globalization, religion, and art.  They can speak to journalists in multiple languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish, and others.

 The AoC has also produced a short film, called ‘The Alliance’, about its work, which they have posted on the UN’s YouTube page – another example of what is now considered a standard communications vehicle within the Organization.  I have included the link above and will post the film below.

‘The Alliance’

November 2, 2009