At its first session, in 1946, the General Assembly decided to create a special Department of Public Information (DPI) in the Secretariat. Recognizing that the UN's aims cannot be achieved unless the world is fully informed of its objectives and activities, the General Assembly directed that DPI should work to promote the fullest possible informed understanding of UN affairs. Accordingly, the UN provides a steady stream of information on its activities, covering virtually all media—press, publications, radio, television, films, photographs, and exhibits.
DPI provides information to news correspondents and facilitates their access to meetings, documents, and other news sources. In any given year, several thousand press releases are issued at UN headquarters, including accounts of meetings, texts of speeches, announcements of special programs, and background or reference papers. DPI holds daily briefings and helps to arrange press conferences for members of delegations and senior members of the Secretariat and the specialized agencies.
Booklets, pamphlets, and leaflets covering the work of the UN are published in many languages. The UN Chronicle, issued quarterly in the six offical languages of the UN, reports on UN activities. The Chronicle now has its own web site at www.un.org/Pubs/chronicle , which includes information on the contents of individual issues as well as links to selected articles and cover images from the magazine. DPI also issues a Yearbook of the United Nations.
To illustrate UN activities in the field, photo missions are periodically undertaken throughout the world. The photographs obtained, together with extensive coverage of events at UN headquarters and other principal conference centers, are widely used by newspapers, periodicals, book publishers, and government information agencies. Posters and photo display sets are prepared for exhibition at UN headquarters and for worldwide distribution.
DPI press releases, background information releases, and other public information documents are available on the Internet by accessing http://www.un.org/news/ . United Nations documents (major reports, and resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council, and ECOSOC) can be accessed by Internet users. In the United States, many large libraries provide a free window onto the Internet, allowing access to some of the UN documents.
A major responsibility of DPI is to assist the accredited correspondents of national and commercial broadcasting organizations in their coverage of the UN's work. In radio, correspondents may use studios and recording equipment at UN headquarters, and New York is linked with distant capitals by shortwave or radiotelephone. Film and television correspondents may receive visual coverage of principal meetings of the Security Council and the General Assembly, as well as of press conferences and briefings. Satellite transmissions carry this material around the world.
DPI broadcasts meetings of principal UN organs by shortwave and produces its own radio programs in the six official UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish), reaching listeners in more than 100 countries. UN films and programs are produced not only for television but also for groups in schools, universities, and nongovernmental organizations.
The Public Inquiries Unit handles individual inquiries from researchers and the general public seeking specific information about the United Nations and its subsidiary organizations. The unit can refer callers to the appropriate UN department or organization, and send by mail UN documents such as reports by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly or Security Council.
The network of United Nations Information Centers (UNICs), Services (UNISs) and Offices (UNOs) links Headquarters with the people of the world. Located in 77 countries, these branch offices of the United Nations Department of Public Information help local communities obtain up-to-date information on the United Nations and its activities. As of November 2002, 48 UNICs had created their own web sites, in local languages. The list of UNIC web sites follows: Algiers, Algeria (French) www.unic.org.dz ; Ankara, Turkey (English/Turkish) www.un.org.tr/unic.html ; Antananarivo, Madagascar (French/Malagasy) www.onu.dts.mg ; Athens, Greece (Greek) www.unic.gr ; Baku, Azerbaijan (English) www.un-az.org/dpi ; Bangkok, Thailand (English) www.unescap.org/unis ; Beirut, Lebanon (English/Arabic) www.escwa.org.lb ; Bogota, Colombia (Spanish) www.onucolombia.org ; Bonn, Germany (German) www.uno.de ; Brussels, Belgium (English/French/Dutch) www.unbenelux.org ; Buenos Aires, Argentina (Spanish) www.unic.org.ar ; Cairo, Egypt (English) www.unic-eg.org ; Copenhagen, Denmark (English/Nordic languages) www.un.dk ; Dakar, Senegal (French) www.cinudakar.org ; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (English/Kiswahili) www.unic.undp.org ; Dhaka, Bangladesh (English/Bangla) www.unicdhaka.org ; Geneva, Switzerland (English/French) www.unog.ch/unis/unis1.htm ; Harare, Zimbabwe (English) www.samara.co.zw/unic ; Islamabad, Pakistan (English/Urdu) www.un.org.pk/unic/ ; Kiev, Ukraine (English/Ukrainian) www.un.kiev.ua ; La Paz, Bolivia (Spanish) www.nu.org.bo/cinu/ ; Lisbon, Portugal (Portuguese) www.onuportugal.pt ; London, United Kingdom (English) www.unitednations.org.uk ; Madrid, Spain (Spanish) www.onu.org ; Mexico City, Mexico (Spanish) www.cinu.org.mx ; Minsk, Belarus (Russian) www.un.minsk.by/dpi/dpi_r.html ; Moscow, Russian Federation (Russian) www.unic.ru ; New Delhi, India (English) www.unic.org.in ; Nairobi, Kenya (English/Kiswahili) www.unicnairobi.org ; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (French) www.cinu-burkina.org ; Panama City, Panama (Spanish) www.cinup.org ; Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago (English) www.unicpos.org.tt ; Paris, France (French) www.onu.fr ; Prague, Czech Republic (Czech) www.unicprague.cz ; Rabat, Morocco (French) www.cinu.org.ma ; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Portuguese) www.unicrio.org.br ; Rome, Italy (Italian) www.onuitalia.it ; Sydney, Australia (English) www.un.org.au ; Tashkent, Uzbekistan (English/Uzbek) www.undp.uz ; Tehran, Iran (English/Farsi) www.unic-ir.org ; Tokyo, Japan (Japanese) www.unic.or.jp ; Tunis, Tunisia (French) www.unic-tunis.intl.tn ; Vienna, Austria (English/German/Hungarian/Slovenian) www.unis.unvienna.org ; Warsaw, Poland (English/Polish) www.unic.un.org.pl ; Washington, D.C., United States of America (English) www.unicwash.org ; Windhoek, Namibia (English) www.un.na/unic.htm ; Yaounde, Cameroon (English) www.un.cm/cinu ; and Yerevan, Armenia (English/Armenian) www.undpi.am . These sites post calendars of events sponsored by the Centers along with information on major UN activities, such as the General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem and the establishment of the International Criminal Court. The centers maintain up-to-date reference lisbraries of UN publications and documentation and answer public inquiries. DPI material is translated into local languages by the centers, which work closely with local media, information agencies, educational authorities, and nongovernmental organizations in their area. The centers also inform UN headquarters about local UN activities, which, in turn, are publicized by DPI. In 1996, the UN began integrating the functions of its information centers into the office of the UN representative/resident coordinator in the respective host country.