Sunday, 17 January 2021

UN in your language

Information, art, food and fun as UN celebrates in Brussels

Capture décran 2013-10-21 à 16.25.30

Thousands of people joined the team of the 26 offices of the UN in  Brussels in celebrating UN Day on Grand Place, Sunday 20 October.

There was a true birthday party atmosphere on Grand Place, which was fitting since UN Day marks the world organization´s birthday albeit celebrated 4 days ahead of the actual date of October 24.

Among the thousands, who happened to be on the Grand Place during the celebration was an unexpected but very welcome guest, the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese campaigner, who was visting Brussels.

The drums of peace played by UNRIC staff provided the soundtrack to the festivities. The sunshine joined in and at times adorned the guilded buildings on the UNESCO heritage site Grand Place.

UN staff chatted with visitors on current issues, while others enjoyed photo and poster exhbitions, games, quizzes and sustainable food.

An American tourist expressed his surprise to see a photo of Che Guevara addressing the General Asembly, while a Belgian lady hummed  John Lennon´s Imagine, whose words were displayed alongside other poems on peace by such authors as Bertolt Brecht and Raymond Queneau.

French artist Georges-Pascal Ricordeau came from Paris, with his “White Flag”. “I created it as the Drapeau Blanc  - a white flag for the white nights (Nuits Blanches)  celebrations in Paris,  out of plastic bags that I had picked up from the streets,” Ricordeau told the website. “The white flag of course stands for peace and it is appropriate to display it on UN day.”

UNEP, the Environment Programme, challenged visitors to guess how much food goes to waste in the world and many were astonished to hear the correct answer: over 30%.

FAO has declared 2013 the year of Quinoa and delicacies and recipes made of the Andean seeds were popular with visitors. So were the many quizzes on offer. Some promoted the Millennium Development Goals and with a throw of a dice it was decided, if a player would enjoy the advanttages of being born in the Democrratic Republic of Congo, which at number 186 is the last country on UNDP´s Human Development Index; India at 136,; Belgium at 17; or the world champions, Norway at number 1.

One of the most popular games was to create your own peace dove or Unigami, although at least one visitor said the instructions reminded him of a DIY instruction manual : Easier said than done!

The UNHCR´s big tent served as a reminder of the plight of the world´s millions of refugees and lest we forget, the UNRWA staff were there to remind us of the 5 million Palestinians,  whose needs are largely taken care of by the UN agency.

There was also a strong focus on the UN´s role in peacekeeping, with over 100,000 peacekeepers woldwide, in providing humanitarian aid and in protecting Human Rights, just to mention a few of the subjects raised by the UN during its lively birthday celebrations on Grand Pace.

The UN celebrated UN Day for the fourth year in a row on Grand Place. “It is important that the people can come to the UN and feel that the UN is theirs, that it does not  only belong to the governments and the members states. alone,” said UN Director Vigilante. “The UN is all the people, so they have to come close to us, they have to talk to us, and criticize us , but they have to support us as well.  We need more and more interaction like this. “


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