Pretoria – The UN in South Africa featured prominently at the annual Diplomatic Fair, where exhibits from over 40 of the diplomatic missions based in South Africa’s capital city were visited by 5,000 people on 14 and 15 September 2012.
A precinct was set up on the lawns of the Union Buildings in the centre of Pretoria, which hosts one of the largest diplomatic communities in the world, to mark Heritage Month.
The UN Communications Group, led by the UN Information Centre, organized the UN exhibition and information stand at the Fair. 26 volunteer UN staff and interns from nine UN agencies made the stand quickly become one of the most popular at the Fair. The volunteers engaged directly with a broad range of visitors, many of them students, who were curious to hear more about the UN and the work of UN agencies based in South Africa.
On the opening day, the UN Resident Coordinator in South Africa, Dr. Agostinho Zacarias, welcomed the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, Mr. Ebrahim Ebrahim, and the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in South Africa, Ambassador Mpoko to the UN exhibition.
In addition to the personal engagement of the staff, the UN distributed a large amount of information materials thanks to the active participation of all 16 UN agencies based in South Africa. The main thematic focus was on the MDGs.
Visitors asked about a range of international issues, from the civil war in Syria and the Security Council, to the role of United States in the diplomatic sphere and refugees in South Africa.
One of the visiting teachers remarked on how impressed he was by the passion and engagement of the team. It was encouraging to see a collective UN effort contributing to the public outreach.