WFUNA European UNAs Meeting - Vienna, Austria

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is a global nonprofit organization representing and coordinating a membership of over 100 national United Nations Associations.
WFUNA European UNAs Meeting - Vienna, Austria
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

On 8-9 April 2013 WFUNA held its first European UNAs Meeting in Vienna, Austria, at the invitation of the United Nations Association of Austria. In collaboration with the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), UNA-Austria organized an extensive program of briefings at the Vienna International Center for representatives of the 16 participating UNAs of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Norway, and Sweden.  Delegates were briefed by UN officials and had an opportunity to discuss joint projects and questions of common concern. 

The event was opened by WFUNA Secretary-General, Bonian Golmohammadi, and Janos Tisovszky, Director of the UN Information Service in Vienna. Mr Golmohammadi welcomed all participants and thanked the UNA of Austria, and in particular its Board member and WFUNA Vice-President, Axel Wuestenhagen, and its Secretary-General, Michael Pfeifer, for their invitation to Vienna.  Mr. Tisovszky underlined how UNAs are key natural partners of the United Nations; he outlined UNIS priorities alongside some of its latest initiatives. 

An extensive and inspiring session with Dr. Sandeep Chawla, Deputy Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) followed the opening of the meeting. Mr. Chawla outlined some of the strengths and challenges of the UN´s work on countering crime and drug trafficking worldwide and its contribution to human security. 

Dr. Serge Gas, Director at the Division of Public Information of the International Atomic Energy Agency, provided an informative presentation on the IAEA´s work and procedures. A stimulating Q&A session ensued on current challenges in the field of atomic energy and the monitoring of nuclear power stations. Mr. Benedikt Mandl, from the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), introduced the important work and structure of the organization. Of great interest is the organization's highly participatory model that integrates input and concerns from all stakeholders - including civil society and the private sector - in all its processes, at all levels.  

To conclude the afternoon, UNAs were briefed by Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Director of International Data Center and Executive Secretary-General elect at the Preparatory Commission of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and by the Spokesperson for the organization, Ms. Annika Thunborg, who explained in great detail the exciting and unique data gathering system of CTBTO. Over 300 monitoring stations allow CTBTO to monitor seismic activity worldwide and determine whenever and wherever potential nuclear tests occur. Despite the Treaty not having yet entered into force, upon its negotiation and adoption by a great number of States nuclear testing has substantially diminished. The presentation was followed by visits to the radionuclide roof top station and its operations center. 

In the evening of 8 April, UNAs were invited to a typical Viennese “Heurigen” dinner by UNA-Austria. The event provided a precious opportunity for UNAs to exchange views and meet with UN and Austrian government officials.

WFUNA’s European UNA meeting continued on Tuesday 9 April with a presentation by Dr Mazian Othmann, Deputy Director-General at UNOV and Director at the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and Ms Romana Kofler on “Bringing the Benefits of Space to Humankind”. UNA Representatives were invited to a lunch reception by H.E. Ms. Christine Stix-Hackl, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations in Vienna, IAEA, UNIDO and CTBTO. An internal session and a frank exchange of views with Janos Tisovszky, Director of UNIS, concluded the meeting. 


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