On 18 January 1962, the United Nations Information Centre for the Caribbean Area (UNIC) opened its office on Keate Street in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in fulfilment of the General Assembly’s (UNGA) 1946 mandate to, “promote an informed understanding of the work and purposes of the United Nations among the peoples of the world,” and on the UNGA instruction of 1961 to improve UN information services to Non-Self-Governing Territories. As a branch office of what was then the Department of Public Information, the UNIC’s specific task was to tell the UN’s story strategically and directly to Caribbean audiences.
The Government of the United Kingdom had agreed in 1961 to the establishment of a UN Information Centre “to service the Federation of the West Indies, British Guiana and British Honduras.” A few months after the Centre’s opening – with the consent of the Government of the Netherlands – (what were then) the Netherlands Antilles and Surinam were added to the UNIC’s area of responsibility. Today, the UNIC continues to reach audiences in States, countries and territories of the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Netherlands overseas territories (Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius).
The UNIC distributes material about the activities of the United Nations Secretariat, particularly those activities with direct impact and relevance in the Caribbean; it assists six Resident Coordinator Offices (RCOs) and other UN offices in the region communicate about their own work; and it creates original products and events to share UN messages and mobilise audience action on human rights, peace and security, the climate emergency, and other sustainable development priorities. The Centre collaborates with organisations and individuals; government, civil society, educators, and youth; internal UN colleagues and external partners. It keeps audiences in 19 Caribbean countries and territories up to date on the UN’s work in the region, and it amplifies the Caribbean’s own development priorities to international audiences using global UN platforms.
The UNIC deploys all available public information, outreach, and strategic communications tools and technologies to maximise its impact and relevance, and it has worked over the years to adapt to the information needs of its audiences, outreach partners and internal UN clients across the region - whether as a repository of printed UN material or as a gateway to digital UN resources; through on-site outreach, commemorative and information activities, and media disseminations, or via virtual events broadcast over social media.
In 2022, 60 years after its establishment, the UNIC remains the face and voice of the United Nations in the Caribbean, operating within a restructured UN System, in new premises, and through programming adapted to pandemic conditions.
As the Centre marks its 60th anniversary of service to audiences, collaborators, and UN colleagues in the Caribbean, it commits to draw on the lessons of the past and embrace the opportunities of the present as it refines the Centre’s vision for the years to come. It will continue to tell the story of the United Nations as it unfolds globally and is experienced regionally here in the Caribbean. It will deliver messages about the ideals that drive the UN’s work and the activities and innovations that give these principles life. And it will build information partnerships and networks that are sustainable and are relevant to the Caribbean’s development vision.
The future of the UNIC, and the wider UN System in the Caribbean, rests in the future of this region. To celebrate UNICCaribbean@60, our audiences and partners are invited to share their own ambitions for the future of the Caribbean and ideas about the role of the United Nations in supporting that vision.
The Centre will look out for your ideas on all available platforms - including Facebook and Twitter @CaribbeanUN (@Caribbean.UN on Instagram) - about the future of the UN in the future of the Caribbean and on how we can work together to #buildbackbetterCaribbean. And over the coming months, you can look out for more from the UNIC on its history in the region.