“The United Nations cannot achieve the purposes for which it has been created unless the peoples of the world are fully informed of its aims and activities. In order to insure that peoples in all parts of the world receive as full information as possible about the United Nations, the Department of Public Information should consider the establishment of branch offices at the earliest practicable date.” [A/Res/13(I), Annex.].
This statement is as valid today as it was in 1946 when the General Assembly set out the terms of reference for the activities of the Department of Public Information (DPI). The first nine United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) were established in 1946-1947 [JIU/REP/79/10]. Today, the network of 63 United Nations information centres (UNICs), services (UNIS) and offices (UNOs) link the UN Headquarters with people around the world.
Information centres are the principal local sources of public information about the United Nations system. They strengthen their information presence and enhance communications efforts at the national level and within regions through the use of information and communication technologies, by building partnerships, and by adopting strategic communications approaches to field work.
United Nations information centres are responsible for promoting greater public understanding and support for the aims and activities of the United Nations and for disseminating information on the work of the Organization to local populations, especially in developing countries.
At present, one of the main tasks of UNICs is to promote awareness of the Millennium Development Goals: the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, ensuring access to primary education, promoting of gender equality, empowerment of women, reduction of child mortality, improvement of maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, protecting the environment, and the attainment of a global partnership for development.
UNIC Kathmandu is located in the UN House where most of the UN agencies in Nepal are also located. However, UNIC is previledged to have a separate entrance for visitors to facilitate their access into the Centre – be it to consult the reference library; to attend press conferences or for information seeking purposes.
UNIC undertakes extensive press activities, such as organizing press conferences for visiting UN officials, and for other UN agencies located in Nepal. It prepares joint statements for the UN Country Team on various important issues and disseminates statements of the UN Secretary-General and other press releases/news/articles/reports coming from UN Headquarters. It is fully accessible to media persons during entire office hours and round the clock by telephone.
The Centre takes lead responsibility in coordinating the UN agencies in observing various UN Days as identified by the UN Country Team. UNIC chairs the Information Working Group (IWG), a network comprising of Information Officers from UN agencies in Nepal which has been mandated by the UNCT to coordinate public information-sharing among the UN agencies. It assists in the launching of various UN reports in Nepal and organizes workshops, seminars and participates in book exhibitions.
UNIC conducts educational outreach activities in different parts of the country and provides UN publications to various educational institutions and community libraries.
The Centre is equipped with audio-visual products which are widely disseminated to the media. The Centre screens films and documentaries pertaining to development and politics for the media persons, UN staff and the general public. UNIC is also is the medium through which groups, organizations and individuals submit their memorandum or petition to draw the UN’s attention to various issues.