– USG Akasaka’s Speech


2009 Annual International Photographic Council

Hall of Fame Award Luncheon

Thursday, 12 February 2009 – 12:15 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Delegates’ Dining Room, United Nations

    • Thank you, Ms. Schneider, and a warm welcome to all of you – members of the International Photographic Council and guests – to the United Nations. I am happy to join you here today.


    • I would like to begin by acknowledging Mr. McCurry and Mr. Harmel, and by extending my congratulations to Mr. Yamaki on his selection to receive the 2009 IPC Hall of Fame Award.


    • We in the United Nations Department of Public Information are proud of our long and productive association with IPC. DPI counts on organizations like yours, which is among over 1,500 non-governmental organizations associated with the Department, to support the work of the UN and advocate for its global principles. You play a key role in our operational work around the world to advance peace, development and human rights.


    • Photographs have a unique power to communicate distant events and to make them real – to seize people’s attention, shape public opinion, and mobilize every day people, as well as world leaders, to action.


    • IPC has provided invaluable assistance in helping the UN effectively share its story and achieve its goals through images of high impact.


    • In the more than 25 years we have worked together, IPC members have generously contributed their time, resources, creativity, and professionalism to the many and varied initiatives undertaken in collaboration with the UN.


    • You have helped to organize compelling photographic exhibitions here at Headquarters and other UN locations, engaging thousands of international visitors in such important and complex issues as ageing, population growth and the plight of endangered species.


    • In 2002, you helped us celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Guided Tours.


    • Through generous contributions of state-of-the-art camera equipment, IPC has also enabled UN missions in trouble spots like East Timor and Afghanistan, as well as in UN information centres, to document and expand their coverage around the world.


    • On behalf of the United Nations Department of Public Information, I would like to thank IPC and its members for these efforts.


    • I would like, in particular, to thank Jimmy Chung for his dedication and his unflagging support for the United Nations and this partnership.


    • With all of your continuing involvement, I’m certain we will develop and implement new projects to support the United Nations in the challenges it faces today and in the future.


    • I’m sure that many of you are aware of the renovation of the UN complex – the so-called Capital Master Plan. The “CMP” — as we call it — will be a challenging period for all of us. The move of staff, files, commercial services and other functions are already underway, and will be intensified in the coming months. Beyond the difficulties that all UN departments will face, DPI must address two issues in particular.>


  • First, DPI has a unique photo collection of approximately 600,000 images, consisting of negatives, slides and digital photographs from the mid-1940s to the present, depicting UN events, primarily in New York, but also from its work in the field. DPI has invested a substantial portion of its limited resources to digitize the entire photo negative collection in order to safeguard against the potential damage or loss of materials during the relocation and construction period.




  • While the images will be safely kept and backed up in servers, the records need to be catalogued and indexed, and the corresponding captions need to be digitized and included. We are currently searching for extra-budgetary resources to ensure this project is successfully completed.




  • Secondly, as the Capital Master Plan progresses, the Department will be responsible for documenting these historical activities of renovation and associated milestones.




  • Photography is key to this documentation, and we will very quickly need to find the specialized architectural lenses and photographic equipment this project requires.




  • As the work of the Organization has expanded considerably, particularly in the last two decades, the UN has faced difficulties in documenting all of its rich and varied activities in the many corners of the world.




  • However, the ever increasing number of media platforms and technological advances present us with a wealth of new ways to reach a global audience.




  • Photography remains an indispensable means of communication, and we welcome your expert advice on how best to leverage these new tools to further the UN message through photos.




  • I would like to end by thanking you all sincerely for your support, and commending the wonderful work you do.




  • I look forward to continuing our fruitful collaboration to help advance the United Nations’ work towards a better future.