The United Nations was part of life in Cyprus. Its peacekeeping forces have been in my country since the early 60s when I was born. I saw them everyday patrolling and sometimes, bringing food to the local population. I saw their commitment to help others live secure, peaceful and better lives. They inspired me.
My career started with the Department of Public Information at the United Nations Headquarters in New York under a three-month temporary contract. Seven years later, I passed the United Nations professional exams and moved on to the Information Systems Unit in the Facilities Management Division. Here, I was part of a core group appointed to get the Organization’s critical computer systems ready ahead of the 1999 computer bug scare also known as the Y2K bug.
Currently, I am with the Webcast Unit in the Television Section, managing the live and on-demand Internet broadcasting, and new media projects, including the United Nations Channel on YouTube.
After 20 years, I am still constantly looking for technological innovations to improve existing work or to begin new projects. When I joined the United Nations in 1989, personal computers were just being introduced and the Internet was yet to be a mass market commodity. Since then using technology to open up the work of the Organization to as many audiences as possible has been my work and my passion.
It started by introducing database programming and desktop publishing. This evolved into covering major United Nations conferences outside Headquarters via the Internet.
My first outside assignment was the Human Rights Conference in Geneva in 1993. I brought a portable Lan network with me to connect all the computers. With the help of the International Computing Centre in Geneva, we created a basic email system, to send conference news to all United Nations Information Centres across the world. It was also the first time we had created an electronic database for media accreditation.
The turning point was the introduction of the Internet in 1995. It provided a great opportunity to bring visibility to the Organization; we developed the United Nations website, which won an internal award from the United Nations Secretary-General for innovations and efficiency brought to the Organization’s work.
By 2001 we had developed the United Nations Webcast, and began broadcasting live on the Internet United Nations meetings and events held at the Headquarters in New York as well as major United Nations Conferences worldwide. This initiative also won an award for breaking new ground.
Today, we are using some of the latest technology to “open the doors” of the General Assembly, the Security Council and other major United Nations bodies, meetings and events, to the widest possible audience.
It was important to give people the opportunity to watch and listen in real time from anywhere in the world, the discussions, deliberations and positions of United Nations Officials and Member States on various issues that could affect their lives; this promotes transparency. And, it is really rewarding when we receive positive feedback from users around the world.
The United Nations has given me a lot. My work has allowed me to travel to over 30 countries where I have been given the opportunity to interact with other people and learn about their cultures, customs as well as living conditions. Whether it was spending time with the Maasai in Kenya, or the local people in Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan, it has been a priceless and gratifying experience.
It has also been very humbling. I have discovered that wherever people live, they have aspirations for a better life for themselves and their families; in some place it is tougher, in other places it is easier. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute my small part.