The United Nations Information Centres or UNICs, make up the global network of field offices of the UN Department of Global Communications (DGC) which was originally established as the Department of Public Information in 1946, by General Assembly resolution 13 (I), to promote global awareness and understanding of the work of the United Nations. DGC undertakes this goal through radio, television, print, the Internet, video-conferencing and other media tools.
The Department reports annually on its work to the UN General Assembly’s Committee on Information. The Committee, which meets once a year, is responsible for overseeing the work of DGC and for providing it guidance on policies, programmes and activities of the Department.
UNICs are key to the UN’s ability to reach the peoples of the world and to share the United Nations story with them in their own languages. These centres, working in coordination with the UN system, reach out to the media and educational institutions, engage in partnerships with governments, local civil society organizations and the private sector, and maintain libraries and electronic information resources.
The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Australia was established in November 1948 in Sydney. Later moving to Canberra, it is the formal UN presence in Australia and the principal local source of information about the United Nations system. Its information-related responsibilities also extend to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Samoa, Tuvalu, Tonga and Vanuatu.
An internationally recruited Director heads UNIC, and is the official representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Australia and the South Pacific. With the United Nations playing an ever-increasing role in many of the world’s conflict zones to resolve key political, social, and economic issues, UNIC aims to help people in the region better understand what the UN is doing to make a difference in their lives. It’s activities include:
- disseminating information on the UN to government agencies, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, and the general public.
- assisting the media on all UN-related issues.
- promoting better public awareness and understanding of the aims and principles of the United Nations by organizing public events, coordinating seminars and conferences etc.
- speaking engagements and addressing events organised by government, non-governmental organisations and other community groups.
The UNIC network gives global messages a local accent and helps bring the UN closer to the people it serves.