THE BLOG

At The UN, Every Day Is Staff Day

25/10/2016 11:38

There is so much more to the United Nations here in Vienna than fountains and flagpoles.

Venture down the hallways and corridors of the Vienna International Centre (VIC), on any given day, and you will find evidence of animated activity.

From ardent discussions in the VIC's multitude of meeting rooms, to the quieter, more earnest conversations in the cosy corners and anterooms of this sprawling UN hub - one of four along with New York, Geneva and Nairobi.

The sweep of those activities is stunning. Human trafficking, nuclear technology, peaceful uses of space, migrants, industrial development and disarmament are just some examples of the labours undertaken in Vienna by its more than 4,000 staff in numerous international organisations.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan saw Vienna's role as engaging in the fight against uncivil society. This is a telling insight, but Vienna is much more. Innovation and creativity lie at the heart of this hub; a rich, golden seam running through all of the efforts at the imposing global coalface.

Illustrations are not hard to find. When you think of the International Atomic Energy Agency, safe, secure, and peaceful nuclear technology is a clear goal, but so is child nutrition, confronting the Zika virus and helping countries control animal disease.

Look at the material floating out of the Office for Outer Space Affairs and you discover discussions on satellite navigation and meteorology jostling with a global children's art competition on looking at the stars.

Glance at the UN Industrial Development Organization front page and it teams with support for hydro-electric stations, protecting the ozone layer and building corporate responsibility. And so it goes.

When combined these efforts form a weighty contribution to making the world more civil, more peaceful, as well as the much wider work on every aspect of the sustainable development goals and Agenda 2030. Vienna may sit in middle Europe; but, it is quite literally plugged into the rest of the world.

Yet this dialogue with discovery is not the end of the line. Essential discussion precedes effective delivery. The real worth of Vienna--the true currency of this vibrant UN hub--is not in its meetings, conferences, or consultations, it is in the help offered around the world to those most in need.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, for example, operates in dozens of countries globally. Many of these offices are in complex and challenging places; locations where hardship is a grim daily reality.

Staff in these offices are working with drug users, human trafficking victims, HIV/AIDS sufferers, and prisoners. All of them desperately need support and assistance. It is, therefore, far beyond the VIC and Austria that the UN in Vienna is doing its most inestimable work.

But what ends far away, begins with the organisations here in Vienna and their country offices. Its origins are with the staff. Together they define the United Nations through their passion, commitment and dedication to the ethics and principles of this fine organisation.

The truth, perhaps the one salient, self-evidential, existential truth of the United Nations is that it cannot advance peace, security, development and human rights without dedicated and specialized staff. They are quite literally the alpha and the omega of this organization. We thrive with them; without them, we would only ever fail.

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