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Forging a Public Information Policy for the United Nations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 May 2009

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Extract

If there is truth in the assertion that the strength of the United Nations depends upon the support of public opinion within member states, the responsibility of those organs of the United Nations which supervise public information activities of the Secretariat is an important one. To those concerned with the future of international organization an analysis of the scope and limitations of the information programs which have developed in the first six years of the history of the United Nations should be of primary value. What are the problems which national delegates to the United Nations face in making decisions about the way in which an international secretariat should attempt to influence public opinion? What is the process by which such decisions are made in the administrative framework of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies? What outcomes in terms of increased international cooperation can be expected from the information activities of United Nations Secretariat?

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Copyright
Copyright © The IO Foundation 1953

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References

1 This proportion is based on total costs, including office expense and printing, i.e., all items listed in Sections 13 and 21 of the annual budget estimates, specific items in Sections 19, 20 and 26, and an allocated portion of expen ditures in Sections 17 and 18. So computed the information budget is larger than the total operational cost of the League of Nations at the time of its greatest activity. The minor part of UNESCO's budget devoted specifically to United Nations information and the budgets for publicity of the Specialized Agencies would add approximately 20 per cent to the United Nations information budget. The proportion of information expenses to total expenses for the operation of the whole United Nations system is between 6 and 7 per cent.

2 General Assembly document A/64, July 1, 1946, p. 25–28.

3 Information Centers are located in Washington, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, London, Paris, Copenhagen, Geneva, Prague, Belgrade, Moscow, Monrovia, Cairo, Teheran, Karachi, New Delhi, Shanghai, and Sydney. (The Warsaw office was abolished in 1952). The DPI weekly Survey of Opinion, a digest of editorial reactions, was abolished for reasons of economy as of January 1, 1950.

4 General Assembly document A/C.5/223, September 18, 1948.

5 Neither the reports of these advisory committees nor the reports of the n.g.o. committees mentioned below have index symbols. Complete files are available only at the Department of Public Information.

6 General Assembly document A/C.5/369, September 27, 1950.

7 General Assembly document A/1853, September 1951.

8 General Assembly document A/C.5/L.172, January 28, 1952.

9 Teaching of the Purposes and Principles, the Structure and Activities of the United Nation and the Specialized Agencies in Schools and Educational Institutions of Member States, Economic and Social Council, documents E/837, E/1667, E/2184.

10 Economic and Social Council document E/2184, May 2, 1952, p. 56.

11 An analysis of research already done in this area has been made by Kleinberg, Otto: Tensions Affecting International Understanding, A Survey of Research, Social Science Research Council, Bulletin No. 62, New York, 1950CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 See Kleinberg, Otto, op. cit.; National Administration and International Organization, A Comparative Survey of Fourteen Countries, Report of an Inquiry Conducted Jointly by the International Institute of Administrative Sciences and UNESCO, Brussels, 1951Google Scholar; The Technique of International Conferences, A Progress Report on Research Problems and Methods, UNESCO document SS/SIC/12 prov., Paris, 1950Google Scholar.

13 In the social and economic work of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies, machinery for direct consultation between delegates and international non-governmental organizations has been technically productive. In so far as the DPI and UNESCO efforts strengthen the membership and initiative of these organizations they make a minor but significant contributton to the functioning of the United Nations.

14 In the United States, according to the conclusions reached by the National Opinion Research Center in a study of attitudes in Cincinnati, Ohio, six months of intensive campaigning on behalf of the United Nations brought virtually no widening, of the audience. Cincinnati Looks Again, N.O.R.C. Report 37 A, Chicago, 1948Google Scholar.

15 A further danger is that internationalist enthusiasm may create easy targets for the fears and suspicions of narrowly nationalistic organizations. This has happened in the United States in the case of the opposition to the flying of the United Nations flag and in the case of the recent campaign against UNESCO as a “subversive agency”.

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