IPRA and the UN

IPRA has a long history of association and consultation with certain organs and agencies of the United Nations

Since 1984 IPRA has been an NGO associated with the New York based UN Department of Public Information (DPI).
Also since 1984 IPRA has had consultative status with the New York based Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Equally since 1996 IPRA has consultative status with the Paris based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

UN World Press Freedom Day 2018: will violence against journalists affect PR practitioners too?

By James McQueeny and Barbara Burns
IPRA representatives to the United Nations’ Department of Public Information New York, USA.

More than a thousand journalists have been killed in pursuit of news around the world in the past 10 years, more than 30 alone in the first few months of 2018. The trend is worsening for journalists and it should be worrisome for public relations practitioners.

Speakers at the 2018 UN’s annual World Press Freedom Day conference noted that the nature of today’s conflicts are contributing to the casualty count. Increasingly, journalists are finding themselves in conflicts that have no front lines, or they are treacherously arbitrary, and shifting within hours, thus giving them scant comfort about protecting themselves.

In addition, for today’s video journalists, their cameras and team require closeness to chronicle events, contributing to the casualty counts. Newsgathering technology is a lot different from when young correspondent Winston Churchill wrote his Boer War dispatches from the dark panelled library of the Lord Nelson Hotel in Cape Town.

An ominous trend

UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez, and some other speakers, noted a more disturbing and ominous trend: journalists are being killed far away from any battlefield. More reporters are being hurt, kidnapped or killed in the middle of big cities around the world. Indeed assassination is not an inaccurate characterization.

Guterres’ video remarks at the conference brought this development closer to home for public relations practitioners. Both they and reporters alike must often convey information that can be unpopular.

This trend of silencing journalists by violent means could easily put public relations practitioners next in line. PR professionals are frequently hired and consulted to craft defensive public arguments against government intervention, from regulatory to investigatory.

Guterres said there are not enough laws to protect the communication of unpopular or unwanted information in societies, subjective or objective, though it is an essential element in open societies. While Guterres referenced the need for more laws to protect journalists, he said, by extension, they are also needed for anyone in the communications business using their freedom of expression and the right to information.

Barbara Burns Steve Kornacki and James McQueeny

The IPRA team at the conference also included a guest observer, U.S. national show host Steve Kornacki of channel MSNBC, and IPRA’s designated UN Youth representatives Maeve McQueeny and Matt Cossel. Speakers included: LeMonde correspondent Marie Bourreau; Elisabeth Cantenys executive director A Culture of Safety Alliance; and Syrian activist and Reuters photojournalist Loubna Mrie.

How does the IPRA UN relationship work?

IPRA representatives in New York work directly with the UN DPI and ECOSOC in New York. The IPRA Secretariat works with UNESCO in Paris. The relationship has three main components:

In common with other NGOs IPRA assists UN outreach at the international, regional, and national levels, especially to disseminate information about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

IPRA acts as a conduit of UN information to its membership.

IPRA is an advisory body on communication to help the UN itself communicate:

Zero Hunger Challenge

The IPRA Board resolved at its January 2015 meeting to support the The Zero Hunger Challenge.

The Challenge - Hunger can be eliminated in our lifetimes

This requires comprehensive efforts to ensure that every man, woman and child enjoy their Right to Adequate Food; women are empowered; priority is given to family farming; and food systems everywhere are sustainable and resilient. Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012, the Zero Hunger Challenge is his personal vision of a world without hunger – a global call to action.

The challenge of Zero Hunger means:

Zero stunted children less than 2 years

100% access to adequate food all year round

All food systems are sustainable

100% increase in smallholder productivity and income

Zero loss or waste of food

How one IPRA member designed a Zero Hunger Programme?

The UN Secretary General has encouraged individuals and organisations from around the world to come up with programmes and ideas no matter how small they may be, to help end hunger. IPRA, as an NGO liaison to the United Nations, has been helping with the execution and promotion of the programme around the world since 2014 when IPRA chaired a panel of PR and advertising experts from around the United States. However, it occurred to us, myself and IPRA member, Barbara Burns, also an IPRA NGO liaison to the United Nations, why not practice what we are preaching? Like many organisations, it seemed my communications company was too small to matter. We are located in the corporate downtown of Newark New Jersey. We can see New York City out of our office windows: surely others are more able to do bigger things? However, one day I was hosting a lunch meeting in our office and I noticed a great deal of the catered food was left untouched. When I asked our office manager where it went to afterwards, she said it was offered up to staff or thrown out. Sometimes there is a lot of leftover untouched quality food from breakfast through to lunch meetings that was being thrown out. We called the local YMCA a few blocks from us, asking if we could arrange a regular pickup of the untouched food from our office meetings. They leapt at the chance and that agreement is still in place today. When I mentioned the arrangement to the managing partner of a law firm near to our offices, they joined up too. A second law firm has now joined as well. I am told two more companies are willing to do so as well. So from one idea, we now have a programme. It was as simple as that! 

James McQueeny September 2015. 

James McQueeny is an IPRA Board Member and the IPRA NGO Representative to the United Nations, and President, Winning Strategies, Newark NJ, USA.

GWA and the UN

The annual IPRA Golden World Awards (GWA) initiative, established in 1990, recognizes excellence in public relations practice worldwide in a variety of categories. Recipients of the award take particular pride in the recognition granted to their entry as meeting international standards of excellence. An overall IPRA Grand Prix for Excellence is presented each year. While there are many national and regional PR awards, there is only one truly global scheme: the GWA.

IPRA Global Contribution Award

The United Nations Award for outstanding achievement in PR was established in 1990 by the UN DPI in order to recognize programmes that address UN priority issues. Since 2017 this been called the IPRA Global Contribution Award and is given for PR programmes that support one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Global World Awards and the IPRA Global Contribution Award generate sustained worldwide publicity over the year from announcement of the programme in the spring to celebration of the winners in the autumn. The UN SDGs are featured in all materials.


Recent Winners


Saving Lives in Anguilla, Aequitas, UK


Student Movement Against Childhood Diseases, Mediators, Pakistan


Colour Me W, Strategic Communications, Ghana


Tackling Homophobia in Sport, Sydney Convicts Rugby Union Club, Australia


Hobby Clubs, Garanti Pension and Life, Turkey


Communicating to All, University of the Free State, South Africa


Money-Box for Van, Turkcell, Turkey


Vac From the Sea, General Electric, USA

UN Department of Public Information NGO

IPRA acknowledges the work of member Barbara Burns in New York. In late 2017 Barbara was elected by the NGO community to serve on the UN DPI NGO Executive Committee.  This will be  a two-year term and will bring new visibility for IPRA.