Exchanging experiences with neighbors on “One UN voice”

Podgorica 15-16 May 2014
What works and what doesn’t in the area of joint UN communications? What are the key principles of success? What are the main challenges? How to communicate complex work of different UN entities in a clear and compelling way?
These, and many other topics, popped-up during the dynamic exchange of experiences between joint UN communications teams from Kosovo[1] and Montenegro. A two-day visit of Kosovo communications team to their colleagues in Montenegro was initiated by the UN Coordination Officers on both sides, as quite a new practice, not only in the region, but also worldwide.
“My colleague from Montenegro and myself believed that gathering of this kind would be mutually beneficial for both sides. Bringing together two teams of communications professionals to directly discuss and elaborate in depth on certain communications topics, allowed both teams to open new horizons - to learn from each other about good practices but also about some not so good examples,” said Nora Sahatciu, UN Coordination Officer from Kosovo.
Despite different contexts that the two UN systems work in, communications teams clearly identified common ground and a number of mutual concerns, during a series of focused discussions.
“I was particularly impressed by a couple of examples which Kosovo team presented, especially with the Journalist Poverty Prize and utilization of a film festival to communicate UN’s goals and results,” said Vlatko Otašević, Chair of the Joint UN Communications Team in Montenegro underlining that this kind of exchange of experiences appears to be useful beyond the expected level.
Two teams discussed both theory and practice, with particular attention to concrete examples. A number of different perspectives were heard in a lively discussion, as both teams established quite an open dialogue from the very start. Teams learned from each other about examples of successful advocacy but also about certain communications bottlenecks on both sides.
Shpend Qamili, UN Communications Analyst from Kosovo was quite satisfied with the outcome of the visit.
“Although most of our work is closer to art and not science, it does help a lot to see what, and how peers in the region are doing!? It boosts your team’s confidence to see how you are doing well in certain areas and how you can improve in other areas while learning from others,” said Qamili.
Tailoring external communications for specific target groups, scaling down “heavy” language to easy-to-understand forms, some concrete initiatives, power of networking, ways of utilizing great potentials of social media, are only some of the points which participants agreed upon. Also, “One UN Voice” was underlined as one of the crucial components of Delivering as One way of work and building the image of United Nations at a national level.
Two teams committed to continue cooperation and exchange of good practices and communications products in the future, hoping that this collaboration model would expand throughout the region and beyond. The teams also agreed to timely stage next possible exchange visits during an active campaign or a major event with high visibility, in order for visitor party to participate during the campaign/event and get first-hand experience.

[1] This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.