Dag Hammarskjöld Fund Honors 2016 Fellowship Recipients


A reception to recognize the Dag Hammarskjöld Journalism Fellows was held at the United Nations on November 1, attended by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President of the General Assembly Peter Thomson, senior U.N. officials, diplomats and members of the U.N. press corps.

Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Cristina Gallach congratulated the four 2016 Fellows and cited the importance of the Fund’s program for the journalists to develop their careers and achieve further success. When noting highlights of their experience, “one fellow told me the diplomatic encounters in the Security Council; another told me the amount of events and activities during the General Assembly,” but all agreed that the “weeks spent here with us are going to be unforgettable,” Gallach said.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous described the Fund as “a splendid initiative”, and commended it for bringing high-caliber journalists from around the world to the United Nations to gain a deeper knowledge of the organization for their audiences.

The class of 2016 beat out more than 100 other candidates from 40 developing nations to come to New York for the 10-week program, which exposes them to international diplomacy in ways they never could duplicate at home.

“My daily work at ComunicaRSE is dedicated to covering the latest news on Sustainable Development,” Dag Fellow María Julia Arana of Argentina told the gathering. “So I was pleased to hear that the U.N. Global Compact is assuming the role of challenging companies to make real commitments – for example establishing a price on carbon emissions- so the Paris Agreement doesn’t stay simply plans on paper.”

Arana was able to do extensive reporting on the landmark climate agreement during her fellowship, including being present in New York on November 4, when the deal came into force, and interviewing Lise Kingo, the Executive Director of the U.N. Global Compact.

For the first time in decades, the Fund selected a fellow from Iran. Rouhallah Faghihi reports for the Persian-language Entekhab news agency in Tehran, and is a contributor in English on Iranian affairs to the Guardian, the Middle East Eye and Al Monitor.

“I applied for a few journalism fellowships in the United States at the same time, and I was accepted in three,” Faghihi said. “Dag Hammarskjöld was the one I chose because I thought I could learn a lot through witnessing the General Assembly and Security Council meetings close-up, and the negotiations for resolving global problems.” He added that it has been, “A lifetime experience that I couldn’t get anywhere else.”

Sofie Syarief from Indonesia said that this year’s fellows had the opportunity to experience the selection of the both the next U.N. Secretary-General – Antonio Guterres of Portugal – and the next U.S. President – Donald Trump.

“This year’s U.S. election is just a tasty side dish of our U.N. deliberations’ main course,” Syarief told guests.

“I come from the biggest Muslim country in the world, so, there is an especially huge interest in issues regarding the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, which intensified this past year,” said Syarief, a journalist and news producer for Indonesian news channel, Kompas TV.

Abdulfattoh Shafiev is a freelance journalist from Tajikistan and a Fulbright scholar. He is an editor for the Central Asia Analytical Network, created by George Washington University, and a contributor to Global Voices Online. At the United Nations, he covered events in three languages – Russian, Tajik and English — and concentrated his reporting on Central Asian nations.

He said one of his most impactful reports was when Ban Ki-moon rebuked presidents who cling to power beyond constitutional limits. “When I was writing ‘ruling’, my spellcheck kept changing the word into ‘ruining,’ which is actually also true in this case,” he said.

“Dragging those few words from Ban Ki-moon’s speech and linking it to the political situation in my region, has so far been the story that made the most impact and got the largest response from my audience,” Shafiev said.

The fellows also had individual sit-down interviews with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the General Assembly during the program.

“This whole fellowship has been an amazing ride; seeing international diplomacy at work from the front row seat is an incomparable experience,” Syarief concluded.

Comments by the 2016 Fellows.

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