Behind the scenes at the Information Service at the UN in Geneva
We spoke to four of the staff who make this service's work possible
1 Oct 2022

Miladin Bogetic, Press Officer.

What does your regular work day look like?

As the social media manager for @UNGeneva channels, I dedicate most of my time to creating and curating content for our five platforms: Twitter English, Twitter French, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Social media never sleeps, so every day my team and I need to produce informative, effective, and visually appealing materials to share with our 1.9 million followers from around the world. In addition to leading @UNGeneva social media, I also contribute to the office’s outreach activities (including the organization of the flagship Graduate Study Programme), and I monitor Swiss and global media.

What do you like most in your work?

I enjoy being constantly challenged on how to present sometimes difficult and complex issues in a short, digestible format that will catch our audiences’ attention, make them care, and hopefully inspire them to act. At @UNGeneva, we cover a broad range of issues, and we create and publish content both on global priorities, such as climate action or post-COVID-19 recovery, as well as local, Geneva developments, including the Human Rights Council, press conferences, and cultural events. Day in, day out, I need to keep abreast of a wide variety of topics, which is quite stimulating and does not allow me to become complacent.

What are the challenging issues you have to deal with?

While human rights are one of the core areas of work for International Geneva, they can also be a sensitive topic to post about. Critically worded statements by UN Special Procedures (independent experts, rapporteurs, and working groups appointed by the Human Rights Council) could sometimes lead to adverse reactions by Member States criticized in those statements. Another recurrent challenge is how to present sometimes very technical and specialized meetings or events in a manner that will seize the attention of our followers and inspire them to want to learn more about a particular topic. There is always room for improvement, and, as the world of social media is constantly evolving, learning never stops!

Francois Richer,  Assistant d’information

Comment se déroule votre journée de travail habituelle ?

Depuis maintenant plus de 17 ans auprès du Service de l’information de l’ONUG, je suis en charge des accréditations officielles des différents médias et agences de presse qui effectuent un travail journalistique auprès de l’organisation. Il faut savoir que plus de 500 journalistes sont accrédités de façon permanente et temporaire et j’ai donc la charge de faciliter leur accès lors des conférences et réunions de travail qui se tiennent au Palais des Nations. Mes fonctions incluent aussi l’assistance lors des points de presse afin que les journalistes puissent effectuer leurs tâches dans les meilleures conditions. De plus, je gère la location de leurs bureaux, ainsi que toute autre demande d’assistance relative à leur présence dans l’enceinte du Palais des Nations en collaboration avec les différents services de l’ONU. Des journées bien remplies !

Qu’est-ce qui vous plaît le plus dans votre travail ?

Je suis particulièrement fier de pouvoir rendre possible le travail de toutes ces agences de presse et correspondants à Genève. Le fait d’être en contact direct avec tous ces médias étrangers et nationaux me permet d’avoir une vue d’ensemble assez précise sur un très grand nombre de sujets de travail de l’organisation ainsi que sur l’actualité internationale en général. J’apprécie aussi le contact direct avec nos clients et le fait de pouvoir travailler avec des personnes de différentes origines et cultures. Je pense que c’est une réelle chance ! Nous recevons aussi régulièrement des demandes d’accréditation pour des tournages de films et de reportages culturels, historiques, et parfois de manière plus anecdotique, comme ce fut le cas récemment pour le nouveau chiot Topper du service de la Sécurité.

Quels sont les défis que vous devez relever ?

L’accréditation des journalistes est une tâche qui varie souvent selon l’évolution de l’actualité. Il est donc impératif de réagir rapidement et de pouvoir offrir un service optimal, notamment lors des visites du Secrétaire général, des visites de chefs d’Etats, ou lors de conférences internationales. De plus, il est parfois compliqué de pouvoir répondre à toutes les demandes d’assistance des médias, comme ce fut notamment le cas lors du transfert de tous les bureaux des journalistes dans le cadre du Plan Historique Stratégique de rénovation du bâtiment. Un vrai défi!

Margaux Creagh, Associate Press Officer

What does your regular work day look like?

As an Associate Press Officer, I produce summaries of the meetings of the Human Rights Council, the Human Rights treaty bodies, and the Conference on Disarmament – within a couple of hours after the meeting ends. The releases are written in real time, and aim to capture the most important aspects of the discussions. They are then disseminated to the media, diplomatic representations, non-governmental organizations, and the public.

Depending on the week’s schedule and what Committees are on that day, I will begin by summarizing any statements the team has been sent prior to the meeting and try to ensure that I am as prepared as possible before the meetings begin. I will either stream the meetings on UN TV or sit in and watch them in person, at the Palais des Nations.

What do you like the most in your work?

Watching Committee members and other UN experts ask tough questions and discuss global issues is definitely one of the things I enjoy most about my role. Also, being present during key political moments, such as during the Conference of Disarmament in February this year when delegates staged a walkout to protest the war in Ukraine.

I also enjoy listening to constructive dialogue during country reviews: it is inspiring when delegations are ready to adopt the Committee recommendations to create real changes in the area of human rights in their country.

What are the challenging issues you have to deal with?

Everything included in the final summary needs to be accurate – especially when it comes to sensitive topics. This can sometimes be difficult when technology and translation are at play, so intense focus during the meetings is always required.

It can also be challenging to turn around meeting summaries at such a fast pace – you need to be as prepared as possible and make sure you do not fall behind over the course of the meeting.

Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, Public Information Officer

What does your regular work day look like?

As the manager of the webcast team, I focus on planning, scheduling, and coordinating the team’s work. I also manage relationships with the UN entities which are our clients, and with key stakeholders including the Department of Conference Management (DCM), technical services, and ICTS. It takes a lot to ensure a good viewing experience for our global audience. Many people are part of the workflow which, in the end, makes it possible for someone on the other side of the world to watch a meeting of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, for instance, live from Geneva.

What do you like the most in your work?

Enabling the public to follow multilateral discussions in full transparency, in the UN’s six official languages, to experience the UN’s work in real time, and to get trusted information from the source. Specifically, providing this kind of access to Human Rights Treaty Bodies and Human Rights Council meetings, where the world’s most difficult human rights issues are tackled, fills me with pride.

What are the challenging issues you have to deal with?

Managing a busy webcast schedule, with 1,000 meetings webcast out of Geneva each year; dealing with technical challenges in the heat of a live event; and being a reliable source of support for my team so that they can always execute at a high level of quality.

* Laura Johnson is a UNOG Translator and a Member of the Staff Coordinating Council.
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