“I’ve been coming every year for the past three years and I just wanted to say that it gets better and better.”
For the third consecutive year, the UN team in Brussels, coordinated by the UN Regional Information Centre (UNRIC), with the support of the City of Brussels, the Belgian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence, invited the general public to come and celebrate UN Day at an interactive, information village on the Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Over five thousand people converged on the town square to learn about the three pillars of the UN – Peace and Security, Human Rights and Development, to experience the living conditions of a refugee family, to sample World Food Programme emergency food rations (surprisingly delicious), to have their photo taken with the Secretary-General and to receive their “UN Pass”.
The Pass encouraged everyone to visit all the tents and play games highlighting development, human rights and peace and security, receive a stamp, return to the central tent where, in line with the participatory theme of this year’s event, they could contribute to the UN through a suggestion box, by making a UN flag or by having their photo taken with a message beside a life-size model of the Secretary-General.
Interviews with the Belgian media, the sound of drums being played, the wonderful scent of beans and rice cooking, the sight of a peace dove hovering over the Grand Place and flyers about the event guaranteed a huge turnout, and once on the Grand Place children and adults alike could drum for peace, fish for human rights and throw dice and darts for development. They could play the memory game (matching a pair of MDG symbols), the Human Development Index game, take part in quizzes on gender equality and peace and security, have their faces painted and finally have their voices heard on global issues by sending a message to the SG.
There was a real sense of enjoyment and fun amongst the visitors and the comments we received confirmed this.
“I am just a tourist in Brussels, and what you did here is amazing. Thanks for your concern for those who need it.”
And from the suggestion box came requests to sort out everything from the situation in the Middle East to all the waste and pollution we create worldwide.
Questions were asked on how to become a Secretary-General and how to change the structure of the Security Council.
But most of all we received messages on how important the work of the UN is and how without it there would be so much more suffering, war and hunger.
For more photos from the event please visit our Flickr album.
Visit our Vimeo channel to watch a short video of the event.