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 now known as the UN Department of Global Communications. Communicating in more than 80 languages, the Department tells the UN story across multiple platforms “to build support for the aims and work of the United Nations".
  • 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).

IPRA hosts workshop on fake news and the demise of community newspapers worldwide at the UN 68th Civil Society Conference

IPRA is proud to have hosted the workshop “The Battle between fake news and transparency: How can communities save their local newspapers while social media dominate“, at the UN’s 68th Civil Society conference which took place in Salt Lake City on 27 August 2019.

The workshop moderated by IPRA Board member Jim McQueeny, featured prominent speakers on media issues, including Jennifer Napier-Pearce, editor, The Salt Lake Tribune; Barbara Swann from Swann Media Consultants, and Peter McDonough, professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University.

The workshop tackled the way that censorship, authoritarianism, fake news, technology and geography are uniting to create a communications barrier; and the fact that many community newspapers are losing their independence due to financial and political forces. This dual trend creates PR challenges for the way that the media and NGOs communicate SDG goals.

Over 5,000 NGOs and others attended the conference, making it one of the most important UN civil society conferences ever. All regions of the world were represented with many attendees from Africa. Workshops during the three days of the conference focused on diverse topics, such as Peace Making, Women’s and Girl’s issues, Youth Issues, Climate Change, Economic Development, Infrastructure, the media and many more. The focus of workshop sessions was on action that international NGOs are taking in their countries to support the SDGs.

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.

IPRA at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly

IPRA's representatives Jim McQueeny, Barbara Burns and youth representative Matthew Cossel attended an NGO briefing with the President of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés in September 2018. Garcés has more than 20 years of multinational experience, holding various positions for her native Ecuador both domestically and abroad. She is only the fourth woman to hold the position, the first since 2006, and the first from Latin America. In addition to a focus on revitalization of the UN, priorities of her administration include decent work conditions, persons with disabilities, environmental action, migration and refugees, youth, peace and security, and gender equality.

The briefing provided an in-depth conversation between the NGO community and the President regarding the 73rd session of the General Assembly and the inclusion of civil society in its work. For more information follow this link https://www.un.org/pga/73/.

H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés

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

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


No Barriers Tango, Turkcell, Turkey


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.

IPRA appoints new UN youth rep

IPRA has named Dakota Silver as our latest UN Youth Representative to the Department of Global Communications to help relay relevant news from the United Nations to both IPRA members and to the public relations community internationally, paying special attention to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Silver joins Matthew Cossel as IPRA’s youth representation at the United Nations. The Youth Representatives' commitments include providing input on youth issues and participating in general work through attending meetings and contributing to discussions.

Silver is a senior at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University with a major in policy studies. Previously, she was an intern at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University and an intern at the US advertising agency EFK. She has also done volunteer work teaching English in Dharamsala, India.