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".
  • Since 1984 IPRA has consultative status with the New York based Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
  • Since 1983 IPRA has consultative status with the Paris based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
  • Since 2002 IPRA has been an accredited organisation to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) based in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • IPRA also engages with The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations.

IPRA contributes to the UN’s sustainable development forum July 2023

IPRA’s submission on Climate Change Guidelines has been accepted for the United Nations high-level political forum on sustainable development, held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. IPRA proposed that the UN consider the IPRA Climate Change Guidelines in a modified form suitable for adoption by all communicators. The modified guidelines are:

All those who wish to communicate on climate change should:

  1. act with honesty and integrity by 
    • ensuring honesty in climate-related communications
    • translating the science into communication that can be understood in the public arena
  2. establish the moral conditions for dialogue by 
    • fostering an internal culture in which all parties feel safe to voice concerns 
    • promoting climate education in the public arena
  3. be open and transparent by 
    • reporting on their own organization’s emissions and reductions pathway
  4. avoid misunderstandings by  
    • ensuring that work is in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals
    • advising management about societal expectations
  5. ensure truth and accuracy by 
    • encouraging reference to science-based sources in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    • calling-out inaccurate communication in the public arena
  6. not disseminate misleading information by 
    • preventing greenwashing in communication by referencing science-based data.

Read the full IPRA submission here.

The theme for the UN event, held from 10 – 19 July 2023, was “Accelerating the recovery from Covid-19 and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. IPRA’s submission was intended to make this implementation practical.

UN’s fake news initiative resonates with IPRA proposal

IPRA reported below its opinion that fake news is a main and under-recognized challenge that inhibits achieving the UN goals. This was a key finding of a global member outreach conducted by IPRA as its contribution to the UN75 dialogue. We called on the UN Secretary General to declare an annual day to bring worldwide attention to the issue. And the UN is doing just that.

The UN is keen to encourage people to pause before they share any information because it may be misinformation. The UN Share Verified initiative fights fake news and the next step in this initiative is Pledge to Pause. This seeks to change behaviour by creating a new norm for the way people share information online. 


Now, more than ever, we need to think carefully about news and information that we share. Where has it come from? Is it fact-checked? Indeed does it comply with article 7 of the IPRA Code which covers accuracy? False and inaccurate information spreads from person-to-person. It hijacks our emotions, taps into our weaknesses, tricks us into contributing to a chain of events that can harm us all. The UN is calling on us all to break the chain of lies.


On 21 October 2020, the UN asked the world to Pledge to Pause before sharing information online. IPRA fully supports this as it resonates with our suggestion of a Verified Information Day. IPRA has urged all its members to take this pledge and to share the pledge with their local networks. 


The UN has created a resources link to help spread the Pledge to Pause.

As the UN turns 75, IPRA urges a global fight on fake news

Fake news is a main and under-recognized challenge that inhibits achieving the UN goals. This was a key finding of a global member outreach conducted in July by IPRA, the International Public Relations Association, as its contribution to the UN75 dialogue.

The decline of traditional journalism with editorial oversight, combined with the rise of social media, has changed how the world sends and receives information. Now opinion is portrayed as fact, propaganda is mistaken for democratic decision. Lies go untested.  One result is a proliferation of fake science. Moreover, the emergence of new types of social media are being overwhelmed by fake stories. 


Reset the date of the SDGs

IPRA also felt that two long-term problems are critical to the survival of humanity:  the rise in average global temperatures causing a scarcity of potable water and the digital divide between developed and underdeveloped countries. Without a solution to these problems, people will be worse off in 2045.  IPRA encouraged the UN to reset the date for completing its Sustainable Development Goals from 2030 to 2045, with a priority on SDG13 (climate action) and SDG6 (clean water and sanitation).


Enhance the Verified initiative

Finally, IPRA called on the UN Secretary General to emphasize the importance of global cooperation to counteract misinformation by declaring an annual Verified Information Day bringing worldwide attention to the UN’s own Verified initiative announced in May. 


For the full IPRA contribution click here.

For the final UN 75 report click here.

IPRA hosts workshop on fake news and the demise of community newspapers at the UN 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.

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:

IPRA is a member of The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO). The conference’s vision is “to be the primary support and platform for a civil society represented by a global community of informed, empowered and committed NGOs that fully participate with the UN in decision-making and programs.”

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

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 Golden 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


BASF Start Up Science, Press Office, Serbia


Soaps with Dots, Apriori, Croatia


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

IPRA supports the UN comms executive committee

IPRA acknowledges the work of member Member Emeritus Barbara Burns in New York. Barbara was elected by the NGO community to serve on the UN Department of Global Communications NGO executive committee in 2017. This has brought new visibility for IPRA.

And we are delighted to announce that Dakota Silver was also elected to the NGO executive committee in 2020. Silver and Matthew Cossel are IPRA’s youth representation at the United Nations. The Youth Representatives' commitments include providing input on youth issues and participating in discussions.