[Dateline: 2 October 2008, Washington | Author: DPI]
The UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Washington, DC and the Better World Campaign, a non-profit organization which works to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the United Nations, last Thursday hosted a photo exhibition on Capitol Hill in Washinton, offering visitors an insight into 60 years of UN Peacekeeping efforts across the world.
Themed: “Looking Back, Moving Forward: Honouring 60 Years of United Nations Peacekeeping”, the exhibition during a reception, drew more than 100 Capitol Hill staff, NGOs and diplomats from many countries, including ambassadors from Uruguay and Canada. The exhibition followed an information fair hosted by UNIC and Washington-based UN agencies to better inform Congressional staff about the UN system’s presence in Washington, and to display materials and experts to brief on agencies’ current initiatives.
UNIC Director Will Davis moderated, and the list of speakers included H.E. Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United States; Massachusetts Representative William Delahunt; Connecticut Representative Christopher Shays; and former UN staffer Abiodun Williams of the US Institute for Peace.
Prince Zeid described to the audience the isolation experienced by peacekeepers, deployed far from home, saying, “The long and tedious debates at the UN....this is not the UN”. He added, “The Pakistani soldier and the Indian, working together: that is the UN.”
Representative Delahunt called peacekeepers “a great bargain for the US....Others serve at great risk, and Americans should be grateful to them.” Representative Chris Shays called the UN “an imperfect organization, but an amazing one,” stressing the need for the US to help "make it better, not tear it apart.”
US State Department official Jim Warlick also took to the podium, strongly refuting the “ugly rumor that the US doesn’t care about the UN” by detailing the United States’ myriad supportive initiatives. He cited both the UN’s challenges (Sudan, the DR Congo) and “many success stories” (Haiti, Liberia and Sierra Leone).
In all, “there is a lot to be proud of,” a sentiment shared by an enthusiastic audience who spent time absorbing the exhibit’s inspiring message.