Brand-Naming the Political-UN
world press freedom day

Brand-Naming the Political-UN

"If the United Nations is a country unto itself, then the commodity it exports most is words." Esther B. Fein.

"In the 21st century, I believe the mission of the United Nations will be defined by a new, more profound awareness of the sanctity and dignity of every human life, regardless of race or religion. Mr. Kofi Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat, seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 2001.

I have been both a participant and a facilitator in a local senior citizens workshop to help retirees like me to "re-learn" or re-discover the laws of life in the globalised world, where our children and grand children have become globalised, and whereas our immediate physical and emotional needs in the ripened body state remain local and immediate.

Aside from the usual do's and dont's, some of the pension-fed retirees had time to think and talk about worldly affairs impacting on humanity in this 21st century. Thanks to the current UN General Assembly Session on disarmament, with the only head of state of Iran participating and delegations of USA, UK and France dutifully walking out similar to what we see every day in the Indian parliament, we got an interesting subject to talk about – "imagine a world without the political-UN".

A quick audience response was that it was OK to do without the political-UN, but certainly we cannot do without BB Internet. Despite tons of paper used in writing and producing huge number of reports coming out each of the GA sessions in so many different languages, what has really come out to help people in the poor countries and those people living a marginalised life in the richer countries? Because of instant communication and information spread, help came in almost instantly during Haiti earthquakes, thanks to many humanitarian organs and governments, and also the non-political UN outfits.

The political-UN indeed helped to generate international conventions, treaties, MOUs, et al during the past six decades, without changing our inner mechanisms that generate anger, fear, hatred, arrogance, greed, and jealousy, often overwhelming truthfulness and reliability of life to enhance our awareness of fellow beings, understanding, respect, caring and sharing.

Thanks to the spread and reach of Internet and digital revolution, the "UN" documents became freely available for the world citizens to see and understand if any of those ocean of words have relevance or otherwise in regard to real life on earth. Sadly enough, such beautiful languages and words still need the understanding, response and respect from our own governments to make the conventions, UN GA resolutions etc. meaningful and their willingness to govern by such ideals so as to make its citizens daily grind any better or worse than before.

Until today, the political-UN remained a kind of platform of punching bags to score and settle issues through verbal diarrhoea, walk-ins and walk-outs, while important changes affecting the life, for better or worse, came from the smaller and more focused conclaves like G7, G8, G20, UNICEF, ICAO, WHO, FAO, WFP, ASEAN, World Trade Talks, etc.

With so "much" accomplishment to speak about for the political-UN, there seems a new trend to "brand naming" United Nations or UN, as some kind of copyrighted phrase, logo, etc. – long and short – or trade mark of an industrial property. According to the UN Legal Office, the trademarks/copyrights of United Nations and "UN" are registered in USA and Europe. Hence, the UN ownership limited to those bureaucrats who are operating the behemoth machine, and others need permission to use the phrase, logo, or flag. Schools in many countries were/are normally encouraged to have UN Associations to spread awareness of the fundamentals of the organisation and conduct mock debates on key issues to help students learn human issues and solutions. Does the new emphasis on copyright "UN" mean that every school and debating forum on UN affairs need to get clearance from the chief of the UN before saying and doing anything to forward the cause of human development or criticize its handling of global issues?

Is it not common sense that as the United Nations comprising of all member States, the symbol, its ideas and actions are related to the collective expression of all citizens of those countries. The same citizens have the right to express different ideas, opinions and arguments on any subject of human activity. If the UN as an entity made up of ONLY a few thousand staff who want to be the sole-owners of the name and form of the organization, this can only show their lack of commitment to whatever that has been said in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Charter. Copyrights for an invention maybe acceptable to provide recognition and reward to the inventor; however, it is foolish to hold on to the idea that no other human being could not think or invent similar items or produce similar ideas. Physics tell us that we humans and all living organisms are connected; if this is so, how can any one person or organization claim sole-ownership of anything?

Trade Marking or Copyrighting "UN" and its mission objectives would amount to short-circuiting human freedom of thought and expression and this situation cannot be in harmony with the human rights declaration of the same organization. Developing such intolerance to what others have to say, would only make the whole organization weaker and less effective at a time when the world needs coherence, cooperation and collective wisdom for human progress.

As regards branding, it is true that the name "United Nations" is a kind of perfect fit in the naming methodology, creatively explored and linguistically articulated to convey the mental theme of "unity in diversity". Undoubtedly, it is a compelling brand name phrase that conjures up in the minds young and old a kind of a unique utopian entity with a kind of motivation to join efforts in the making of it in reality.

However, the short acronym "UN" certainly does not generate the same "positive mental enzymes" – thanks to the English language "prefix" of the same two letters to "undo" everything done well. It is difficult to see how anyone wants to copyright and trademark such non-starter "prefixes".

Never mind. If the UN Legal Office is convinced of the brand-naming UN, the next logical step is in providing a full range of naming services where the name is the verbal identity of the global peace business; product and service naming including defining names, tag-lines and relationship statements for portfolios of products or services. If this is all that is necessary to guarantee world peace and prosperity we should all propagate the brand name "UN" to communicate a set of conducive business objective(s) to achieve a new world order and vision.

Then the "UN" can work with their client States to define business objectives and examine whether their branding strategy is aligned to serve the chosen objectives and driving growth by taking the dynamic market perspective. Is it then natural to expect that these various objectives of the member States are inline with the "UN" charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Now, let us see how the brand name "UN" can help promote the business objectives described in the document called UN Charter:

According to one independent website (un-cyclopedia version of United Nations ), the Charter consists of a preamble and a series of articles grouped into chapters.


  • Chapter I sets forth the purposes of the United Nations of New York, New York in accordance to the provisions, including the important provisions of the maintenance of international peace and security.

  • Chapter II only lets the cool kids enter the United Nations.

  • Chapters III-XV, the bulk of the document, describes the organs, organ systems and institutions of the UN; and when the General Assembly can have potty breaks.

  • Chapters XVI and Chapter XVII describe arrangements for integrating the UN with established international law and the consequences of putting gum under your desk.

  • Chapters XVIII and Chapter XIX provide for amendment and ratification of the Charter.

The following chapters deal with the enforcement powers of UN bodies. They are considered an ignorable policy in the UN:

  • Chapter VI describes the Security Council's power to get up in everybody's business;

  • Chapter VII describes the Security Council's power to authorize economic, diplomatic, and military sanctions, as well as the use of military force to resolve disputes;

  • Chapter VIII is a French translation of a George Carlin comedy routine;

  • Chapters IX and Chapter X describe the UN's powers for economic and social co-operation (very little), and the Economic and Social Council that oversees these trivial powers;

  • Chapters XII and Chapter XIII describe the Trusteeship Council, which oversaw decolonization and equal rights for apes and monkeys;

  • Chapters XIV and Chapter XV establish the powers of – respectively – the International Court of Justice, the United Nations Secretariat, and NAMBLA


It may be difficult to agree with the tone and tenor of the above description, but the UDHR values implore civilized world to recognize the freedom of expression in celebration of the United Nations "World Press Freedom Day" and accept the different spheres of opinions however unpalatable that may be. That should be the hallmark of true "United Nations".

Since the task of maintaining this freedom of press – or what is commonly known the freedom of the fourth estate – rests with the journalists around the world whose "freedom" to function unfettered depends on a democratic system of governance that guarantees the rights to free speech and free expression.

Can this be accomplished by brand naming "United Nations" and "UN" and getting irritated and intolerant with those who hold different and sometime quote opposite ideas and views? Maybe the UN Legal Division could be helped with a consultation with the International Court of Justice or its own reformed Internal Justice system that can certainly expand the mindset and the mental frame to agree to disagree, and become inclusive of even those who seem determined using their rights to differ.

May we hope that the real "UN" (not the brand-named one) display a sense of accommodation and inclusiveness of all that is called "we are the world".

V. Muthuswami, Chennai, India.
Joint Appellant of the Common Cause Appeal # UNAT 2009-001.

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