As renovation of the United Nations was being completed several years ago, I made one of my casual visits to the old studios of UN TV. It felt like the passing of an age as the dedicated staff spoke nostalgic of the studios and space that had served for decades global citizens, even before that term was adopted more broadly. In the shared work space and cramped cubicles were not only the staff but memories going back, well to the beginning. Of course there were the politicians generally waging the diplomatic confrontations that reflected wars still raging or now forgotten. However, there were also the snapshots that presented key moments in the evolution of the Artists speaking the new language of diplomacy, from Audrey Hepburn and Beyonce to Muhammad Ali and Leonardo DiCaprio. As the new studio was occupied the old was razed, and most of the memories would only remain in the minds of the old-timers.
One remnant that was moved to the new space, actually in front of it was the old transmission equipment. It was bulky, as might be expected, but also outdated in mission. Transmission of live debates to the globe’s great broadcasters such as the BBC and ABC gave citizens around the globe the opportunity to be witness to the moments that would define the future, or simply existence or mutually assured annihilation, as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now though the messages are more broad, from environment, health, education, gender equality, poaching and bio-diversity to the constant need to promote peace among states and cultures.
Along with the existing staff that made various transitions into the new studios, the broadening of the UN TV mission has been both evolutionary and revolutionary. The UN has dozens of missions around the globe with thousands of capable persons, some of them producing insight into their work and the persons and nature with whom they work. There are also even more willing collaborators who are producing their own vision, more artistic or true to life representations of the evolving challenges facing the global community and the rising identity of global citizens.
Besides this rather veneer description, here is a link to UNTV’s more recent presentations, what a decade earlier I dubbed as “film-reports” for “Diplomatically Incorrect.” The diplomat-artist is not just in the form of the personality of the Goodwill Ambassador but also the vision and presentation of the avant-garde of global citizens: Once you are in the water you’ll discover it is more than a pool but a sea of change. Several of the more recent UNTV film reports featured “LGBT Homeless Youth” to “Cartoonists for Peace” to “Eat Offbeat: Refugee Chefs in New York City.” (See Link – UN in Action)
Inside Studio H at UN Headquarters, 2011 & 2012
By, Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey w/ Susan Sacirbey Contributing