Old Set-up Gets New Name

08/08/2001
JUNIC, an annual gathering of heads of Information units in UN agencies and programs was targeted for abolition in new "reform proposals."

"Too many items on the menu and very little cooking," was the expression used by dismissive experts just before a meeting of agency heads at the Administrative Committee on Coordination. Some senior DPI officials were advised at the time by somewhat determined "policymakers" not to resist the winds of progressive change. That was the final answer.

Well, UNIC met in Geneva in early July, and decided that a new name will go a long way towards meeting new requirements. It will henceforth be known as the "Communications Consultations Bureau" or something to that effect. Actually, it is back to the future. The original name, in the 1970s, was Consultative Committee on Public Information (CPPI). Reform proposals in the 1980s transformed it---with the exact same people-into Joint UN Information Committee (JUNIC). The good news is that the Information professionals always manage to survive mainly because their critics realize that in a crunch they need them for basic survival.

Another positive hint is the election of Christine Engfeldt, FAO Communications Chief, as chairperson of the new group. Engfeldt also worked for HABITAT in Nairobi, and is an experienced professional with an overall UN approach and an innate talent for building consensus. She will certainly do her best to inject a dynamic focus on urgent communications issues and carry everyone on board.