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Media Masters - Melissa Fleming…

Media Masters with Paul Blanchard

welcome to media Masters a series of one-to-one interviews with people at the top of the media game for the United Nations previously head of global communications at the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees should lead their multimedia new service and coordinated global campaigns in the Press And on social media for this is head of Media outreach of the international atomic energy agency, when they won the Nobel Peace Prize and her award-winning book a hope more powerful in the sea that 16-year old daughter has the most harrowing escape from war-torn Syria made into a Hollywood film, thank you for joining me that was a real tongue twisting CV and quite a bag of it is a lot of initialisms lot of agents.

I don't know how you pronounce other organisations, but he managed well and what we should tell Allison that we had about three four girls and doing it with you very patiently waiting to thank you for thank you for spoiling my brushes.

Career had the Iron Curtain and then got into the international organisation Cena just found it fascinating to be working with somebody Nations on real issues and then moved from journalism and communications and how do you make the move? What were the circumstances? How did it come about? I was in Munich it was the date me because it was 1989 the Berlin Wall who just fallen down and United the working for this radio station that was Broadcasting across the Iron Curtain and kind of been waiting for this day, but then I was offered a job at an organisation that was also working across Eastern West it was called the organization for security and cooperation in Europe and it was a communications job and it was a fascinating organisation.

is it was dealing with human rights but also building democratic institutions in countries that have never been democracies and trying to prevent Wars but then you know the Bosnian War happen, and I found myself a kind of on the Frontline of Media communications then and now you just been appointed under-secretary-general for Global communications for the UN is that well as all-encompassing is it saying this is a daunting as I feel like getting my career path probably let me to this because I've been working on some of the angles of of the UN human rights conflict prevention and then I was doing I was just for the international atomic energy agency at the time what you know the lead-up to the Iraq war nuclear non-proliferation nuclear security and then I was working on a refugee issues which

Became one of the top headline news issues of our time but also you know capture my heart and now I'm coming to the seat of the United Nations that kind of like you know where the government sits and the seed of the Security Council the general assembly but also you know communicating on everything that when does Oliver the world in and really with a focus on climate of a focus on peace and security and on the sustainable Development Goals which I hope all of you listen to put up if not happy to give a little synopsis an incredible amount of stakeholders Incredible as you just sending and I'm a huge amount of responsibility me.

What is your day today? How big is your team and what is your job in involve? What is a typical week well and there are 700 people on my team that sounds like a lot but if you

We do audio visual services basically bringing the meetings of the UN to the outside world, so it's all right just live and recorded but more for the for the Press And the public audiences in a we have we have websites and social media and we do we do video that we distribute to broadcasters.

We have information centres all over the world in 59 countries, so you know we're trying to communicate.

You know not just the UN is doing but also the values we stand for and you know in this world is becoming much more isolated in our country is becoming more inward-looking nationalistic.

We're really trying to promote what we call multilateralism which is global cooperation.

We're dealing with some of the biggest issues that threaten our planet whether it's Tina

Definitely cross borders and need in our international cooperation to Salford to resolve, whether it's climate change which is affecting all of us in the world or you noticed there's so many cross-cutting issues that we believe cannot be solved by any one country individually we need the United Nations and the countries to agree together to 2000 together and what's top of your to-do list it within your job and you mentioned these shoes are obviously incredibly important but in terms of what type of your to do is within the job well developing now a communication strategy which is a really feel strongly and I did at my previous job as well that we as communicators were communicating cos I mean we all have had so many colleagues are just amazing.

They have journalistic backgrounds.

You're the word for news organisations from around the world, but I'm trying to impress.

All that we are working for a cause which means we're not just about providing information about capturing people's imagination so I have in my strategic communications 3 w's of Communications rather than the 5 w's of journalism who what when where and why my 3wr these ones but obviously we have to leave the narrative by providing authoritative information data statistics.

We have all of that however there is the saying statistics are human beings with the right off.

It really resonates like always have it.

You're not in so if we throwing statistics that people what happens is that either react by feeling numb in intact psychologists call the States psychic numbing or popular politicians connect to take those numbers.

Light some of them dead in the lead up to brexit in your country and in and you know feed on the fears of their populations by saying how masses of people are coming to ARK on my second w.

Is why care and that is in a challenging my colleagues to do the exercise if we're going to be communicating.

Who are we communicate to why and why should they care home to preach to the choir to the quiet even even require sometimes you know if there's just so much do men out there.

We need to feel moved we need to feel like you know this involves me to think or compassion fatigue.

Isn't there really is and this is where I mean my final we was work now.

So once you get people to care.

We need to mobilize and ask them to do something but in that why care part.

What's really important for me is?

Storytelling it is a you know everybody goes home in the evening and turns on Netflix and watch his stories so we can think it's communicators that we can just throw press releases of people and interested people all humans have always been attracted to stories and social psychologists will tell you is that if you even present like the situation of human suffering and make it look so starving children if you presented them with two children there be much less likely to give to those then if you presented only one so the one is extremely important in storytelling stories of 1 are accessible and they allow people to feel this is this is a story out.

I want to hear but it's also a problem that potentially I could help out with it's not so overwhelming so I do not do every.

Kristoff and then your time absolutely he's kind of a role model for me in terms of his Formula and he's actually told me he is a columnist for the New York Times who really writes about some of.

Some of the worst human suffering around the world, are you know diseases calamities and he said to me he always spend more time trying to find the character the person who is going to represent that situation then he does actually researching the story because that character is going to get people to care for his readers to care and as an ingredient they'll to that character and these are all true characters in and I've gone through hell and there but they've emerged that ingredient is Hope and this is why some patients have have also adopted to like amnesty International with a call Hope based communications and that's something that I think I've been doing instinctively as well.

Don't just leave people feeling like the situation is just so terrible so often and so big so hopeless that I hope someone is taking care of it, but I clicked internal well.

I mean that's the

I'm better of the UN that there to make a difference in to do something about this surely.

That's right and we do need part of my job is to communicate the good work at the UN is doing from an organisation.

I think represents the best of the UN and that is unhcr the UN refugee agency.

I worked there for 10 years traveled to Morrisons in refugee camps and so people wouldn't I just escaped war with the just the clothes on their back and desperation and like you couldn't but also they can just the resilience of the human spirit which was really very inspiring but I think one of the things that I thought people needed to know and didn't know was who is delivering the aid that was keeping these most vulnerable people on earth alive and helping them to thrive so these Are The humanitarians, Who

In Earth they not only are witness to atrocities, but they also listen to stories of people who have gone through the horse angel of war and they take those stories in over and over and over again until they suffer their own drama, but they keep going they can you find this work so compelling and the sacrifice in on the piece of sitting in an outdoor cafe or just being with with family and they do this because they know they just feel that it's their duty to serve others so inspiring and actually I started the podcast you do a podcast the podcast that was the goal of it.

It's called good night was the interview these humanitarians.

You know not about what their work is all about but the effect of this work on them and it's quite compelling because I can ask.

That workers have on you you've seen the best of humanity and the worst of humanity it must be both inspiring and almost debilitating and you must have seen some horrendous things that how do you see that that's right.

Yeah, it was it's really hard sometimes to see what human beings can do to others and you know to walk through you and Syria many times and even just to see cities that I'd been to before the war that were just spectacular stunning beautiful restaurants even the most delicious food and retractable reduced to just sleep, but it wasn't you know of course when you see that then you really feel you know the distraction, but you know that in those buildings people were living and remember coming across once walking through the city of.

Which was a UNESCO World Heritage site and was just completely destroyed and no people and I remember just the absence of Sound not even springtime and I came across this little boy must have been about 10 looking very Earnest and standing alone and he was standing next to a missile and had a colleague who spoke Arabic next to me, so I could understand what he said.

He just looked at me and pointed to the missile and said this missile killed my father and I just kept looking at me and that is me ever since they actually took a picture of him in the missile, and I'm using you not just bring home.

You know how the you know that just the absolute effect of war and how important it is for us to help the survivors the victims of War because not only is it the right thing to do but it's also we were.

To bring about peace and we have to help those who who survived the war because they can be Agents Of Change and the architect of a new and better Society after the war when it seems that geopolitics is infinitely more complicated now than it used to be I mean in was when I was a child watching the television news you kind of sure who the combatants were which side was the bad side.

Where's now there's multiple actors and different politics and I decided is Russia in Syria it's not even more complicated do sometimes struggle to understand the political complexities yourself or is that something that you try to stay away from and focus on the humanitarian agenda my previous job unhcr with holy aware of the gym politics, but we were focused entirely on relieving human suffering in providing impartial.

Here in New York this is the political seat of the UN so we have to try to understand and navigate the geopolitics of the secretary-general does he know that his that's his role is to also kind of you know facilitate peace talks put parties together and try to create the conditions for peaceful resolution of conflicts, but it is you're absolutely right Scott and so much more complicated and it's also become much more dangerous for un staff to operate on the ground it used to be that when flag just like the press badge in the sign of the Red Cross were untouchable like if you saw those signs in your had a gun you were going to come you're not just all different types of Armed groups involved in this complex is not black and white anymore.

Simpson terrorists and the university is very very dangerous to work in war zones and their more more humanitarian workers peacekeepers, who are in the line of duty.

I mean if you look at what I said is done in Syria he's deliberately killing journalist to allow him to get away with more crimes because sunlight is the best disinfectant and covering his atrocities means he's going to get away with more.

I mean there's evidence that he deliberately targeted Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times definitely it's very very difficult for journalism.

That has been to work in Syria and that has resulted in and dangerous and they have been destined and absolute terrible losses of thumb amazing.

It must give you an incredible feeling of Pride out another you know the UN is part of the solution sometimes it does you know.

He has more influence than not and sometimes as incredible success in other times not like any organisation that has ups and downs but you clearly had a good guys.

They are trying to bring about a Better World that's right.

I mean we really trying sometimes.

It's it's hard because you know we know that there are people in need and we can't access them or a war has been going on like this area one for 9 years and it's still but that's not for lack of trying and the UN does stand and it was founded over 75 years ago in order to make sure that we living in a planet.

That is not engulfed in war and we work towards peace and we work towards the dignity of every human being and yeah, it's inspiring to work for an organisation that has those values how you do it with secretary-general Antonio guterres in fact he was my boss.

He was for a 10-years.

He was the high commissioner for refugees before he became Secretary General so that's how I got to know him and he lured me here.

No I actually applied for the job and luckily I got it.

He is an amazing inspiring me to actually brilliant and he also really gets need to communicate really gets the need to use all means of modern and traditional media and communications to get our messages out.

So it's a very supportive environment to work when you look at the scale of what you were doing at the unhcr and I'll do some research for This podcast you know you were driving attention and generating support for the Worlds 70 million refugees and displaced people and almost beyond the comprehension of human beings with the terrorist right off try explaining to people what that means.

I think the size of the UK will the UK's what's 65 million country.

It's more than your entire country and these are people who have been forced to flee their homes because of a conflict or persecution so this is different people.

There's a lot of completion in the media and deliberate compilation by politicians of the refugees refugees are people who have been forced to flee and cannot return home because of the dangers.

They would face so they protected under international law but unfortunately not always protected the way they should be it's about choice particularly brexit and our country this seems to be a lack of anyone that comes from another country will there be an economic migrant or refugee want to come because you've got no choice.

Are you want to come do I need to get both you know?

Should be welcome in my view.

I don't understand why there is this this this other ring well, it seems to be very convenient for you because it plays on on on fears of people unfortunately it seems to work to win to win votes but not necessarily you know we have had examples of politicians who presents Justin Trudeau campaign the time on the platform of I am going to bring 30000 Syrian refugees to Canada and he won and you know the population of Canada came out and cheer these refugees as they were arriving at the airport and they have one of the biggest programmes of private sponsorship of refugees anywhere in the world.

That's become a model for other countries that is you know it was in communities get together and they sponsor refugee families to come over and then they're in charge of taking care of that family for at least one year so that they can get.

Feed-in in an extremely successful way to also integrate and yeah, so it's I think it's really how the narrative is built it's interesting when you do surveys even in the UK and you ask people would you be willing or do you think your country should allow people who are fleeing war and persecution to come into Britain the majority will say yes, because the majority of decent people the majority of people depends on how it's friend of course and then they are very often about in there, but they have worries.

There's been a lot of propaganda.

You know linking refugees with terrorists or migrants coming to jobs.

So this is what needs to be addressed in one needs to take these fears seriously and and just try to work on them and when you spoke clearly about the power of telling that the store.

The Beatles you like the Syrian woman who would survive in the boat with a baby that would be very powerful and obviously you turned into a book.

Could you tell us about that now? Yeah? Well, I am first told the story on the kids stage and it's a story of a teenage Syrian refugee young woman named hour and there was 19 years old for love major love story about their her fiance tell that this refugee life is no life for us.

Let's get on one of those boats and go to Europe and so I couldn't swim she put her life in danger because of the hope that's why the book is called a hope more powerful than the sea very long story short the boat in the depths sinking there are 500 passengers on board including 100 children and on day two in the water.

She was floating on this little child's floating ring the kind that toddlers used in swimming pools and you know the love.

Life I'm just in a brown before her eyes.

Just saying that I can't I can't survive any more people were drowning all around her and when she was rescued after 4 days and 4 nights and she had two little babies on her chest were not her own one and then entrusted to her by by a grandfather would said I just lost 27 members of my family.

Please take this child my grandchild and I will not survive in another mother who gave her a little two-and-a-half year old daughter because she was browning and when does babies put through door was rescued and so the door and both of them and been resettled to Sweden and they've restart their lives there.

Thanks to you need to your program.

This would be people in the audience when I told that the stage were silent and crying and I realised they all came up to me afterwards and said why you know and they were asking all these questions.

The war in Syria the Refugee situation and why people were suffering so much what can tell them to take those boats the Notorious smuggler business? What are solutions for refugee? Yes, it's obvious and then I turned into a book and the book has done very well as translated in all kinds of languages and there's a young readers edition that's being used for teaching in schools here in the US and options for Hollywood movies listings balbriggan j.j.

Abrams which is very exciting yeah.


I mean it's going to popularize the story yet further and many more people with how much is a welcome.

I think it will bring a different perspective to people on the Syria war why people flee the Muslim faith even though it is a very faithful young Muslim girl woman in touch with her.

Very close, so close in touch with her.

We talk a lot and she's also Consulting for the movie so hoping very much that actually gets made, but it's interesting isn't it because when we were talking about the 70 million displaced people that rattled off that you know I managed to rattle and very easily, but then when you speak very powerful so compelling about our one person.

I'm incredibly moved by that I mean that does prove your point that you know you've got a person.

That's a real.

I mean you cannot fail to be moved by that but the thing is if I told the story of one of the refugees around I don't think it would have resonated as much so it's again this has to be some hope so that people can you not just don't feel like of course.

I told within doors story.

You know the tragedy of losing her fiance.

The people who drown drown her of losing little Zayn Malik and finally after they had been rescued she died on the on the ship that rescued them all in all of this is just devastating and tragic but at least some happy news and hopefully news at the end that allows people to you know also just feel a little bit of after a little bit of you.


There are things that we can do so yeah, it's it's it's storytelling that that's beautiful away.

It's kind of like a most Hollywood lips are there there's an individual who faces a serious evolved conflict and manages to overcome perhaps some help along the way and then emerges somehow resilient with the message.

Is it for the involvement of celebrities such as Angelina Jolie in racing? When is it?

Refugees I personally think it's very effective in many ways.

Can you get all that extra attention but some people quite similar celebrities involved do you get a backlash as long as it's not the only reaching out to people we've always used celebrities in I think very very effectively if you're very aware through their fanbases.

I mean these are often people never reach never so with Angelina Jolie or that she was devoted to her humanitarian side to unhcr refugee chords from genuinely genuinely cares and she comes back and maybe people quick because of the photograph of her, but then they see her in with a refugee child in her arms or speaking to her in a refugee family and that sends a kind of secondary message was Angelina the things that refugees are ok.

I think that too so it's extremely helpful in that way and we have number of a celebrity supporters to our incredible numbers of fans, but also for example.

We use a we have to Goodwill Ambassadors at unhcr for riders very popular riders like holiday was saying the author of The Kite Runner he is a completely different Angelina Jolie would also so his work tends to involve writing about what he's witnessed and seen and introducing that to his audience is extremely helpful Neil Gaiman at the writer is also a supporter of unhcr refugees and he does remarkable stirring work in after his visit refugee situation and it comes back any publishers in you know obviously they can publish and in any place they were so it's I think it is enormously helpful.

It's not the only tool that we need.

We have extended our reach and to move people another criticism that you get that again.

I do agree with but this year some people getting some courses are saying that there was no white Saviour's it is that help the people who are trying to help the world's poorest it seems to me to be an unfair criticism but how do you do with that? Yeah? I do I mean I've been also accused of being a white saviour your weight and that you working in the next to play with whatever colour of the person is suffering and we're all doing our best to solve especially true Because who in their right mind would want to help people and then declined to do so on the basis of their with no I think it's I think it's sometimes the pictures that are not go out with a white person with.

Assume that this means that the white person thinks that there's so much better.

I don't know about frankly we haven't got it very much.

I think it's not a huge issue with the advent of social media course we get much more Credits in the criticism that disturbs me the most is you know from the haters and it's just really shocking sometimes I get soot from x do to what fascinates me endlessly is enough were people always horrible, but because he had to meet face-to-face E8 you can have went along with the social niceties, or is it the Twitter brought out the horribleness of some people and they weren't like that because you actually know you see female celebrities and politicians routinely threatened with murder and death and Raven horrendous things that is just

Unconscionable crowds bring out the worst in people are can so if they if somebody has a kind of people thought generally will keep it to themselves, but if they feel that they have others were thinking the same hateful, but then they feel like they have a community and they give them a bit of protection since I think so, I think that's not one of the problems with social media is people don't feel isolated in there hatred you any sense because geopolitically seems to me.

You know make a broad analysis of course but it seems to me that would actually stepping back in some ways, you know we've got President Trump who was in a clearly in the multinational institutions working together.

We've got brexit and Boris Johnson as prime minister elected on a kind of brexit platform.

You look at Turkey country that huge with my other people with a horrible president.

You know just seems to me that the rise of these kind of court and quotes strong men leaders and we seem to be affecting them.

We try to work with everybody is it has definitely become more difficult the Security Council is much more divided than ever before we're seeing the rise of lots of small countries and in groups saying that actually we believe in multilateralism.

We believe in global cooperation.

We want the UN to work the wind is important for us.

We don't want to be isolated and alone so you know what's the countries that might be moving away and others on our kind of filling the Void so it is an interesting time it probably some good so it might be one of the most challenging times in the world with with all of them concerned that we face with climate change with maybe and cyber security.

But there's some hope that you know countries are taking these issues seriously their citizens are starting to rise up and tell them that important you have a lovely day today.

You know this year almost helmet lawlessness take the amount of stuff that happened in the world.

Do you have any kind of stability in your day today week to week job? Are you at the mercy of events as they happen and what is a typical day in a typical week for you or is there is literally no such thing where the good thing is that? I'm not a spokesperson for the organisation.

I've been in that role.

I have done in the head as well.

It's a really unpredictable function because you're driven so much by outside events and needing to respond respond respond to the media so my colleagues are with with the day the day with the media.

So I think I have a kind of hybrid role where I am working on the strategy and managing.


Receiving Ambassadors and diplomat's I'm going to and moderating events, so I'm trying it away sometimes I end the week and I think what I do.

So every week this week.

So yeah, I think it's just the beginning of this job for 2 months and well.

I'm really trying to you.

No work with the team developing a global strategy so that we can be really effective at communicating information, but as I said cap is imagination with content that gets people don't care.

It's difficult I mean I plan my day at the Beginning only morning when I get up and I always try to set three things that I want to achieve and foremost as a struggle to get on because it's only till 15 by the time.

I finish reacting to things to do the things that it is intended to start at 9 that morning.

I maybe it's just before email.

And Slack momentarily solve the problem but even that's gone bananas now.

You know we have hundreds of channels in in the company and one seems to just be reacting to everything starts communications Challenge for you as well, because you know I prefer reading articles now in entrepreneur magazine where it says right at the beginning.

This is a 4-minute read and if it booked for that wouldn't really think that determines not only that not got time for that.

I also sadly don't have the attention span anymore.

I still have to say and I tried of course it's frustrating when I see how much there is that I would like to read at night and not able to bed.

I find podcast really help me because when I'm doing things in the morning listen to what you don't listen to NPR on the radio.

I can still do other things and in the informed or very proactively listen to the news hour podcast on the BBC

I listen to podcasts that kind of fill me in in some of them are very long form interviews like this one is your favourite podcast be frightened one of them that was very kind and you never leave very well.

Thank you a lot of people are interested in your role, because it is so it all encompassing it is such a huge amount of responsibility United Nations and to inspire in the best kind of storytelling about what the United Nations does and what it stands for so and how to do that with the greatest of respect to whoever's in charge of communications for sale the Kellogg's cereal company or BASF for IBM I never know that they're very important jobs and ever dedicated, but it's not yours is an order of.

Will try to bring about global peace hearing well global suffering communications to strategically to help we'll communicate that there is a problem like there is a terrible war in Yemen for example and suffering a Human Scale beyond belief how can access that enough through through storytelling how we going to get a remote place in the imagination to people and then what we want them what we want them to do.

So yes, these are issues of War and Peace of the survival of our planet but also stories of Incredible ingenuity and innovation of mediation of humanity and Human Kindness but I think I also need to be told to demonstrate that we are actually in many places in.

Going backwards in some areas for moving forwards in others and these kinds of stories of Solutions also kind of have a ripple effect and there's actually there is a new line of journalism that I'm hoping to adopt it's called Solutions journalism.

Have you heard that I have not that was you some of Alice is at least my knob head of it.

It's well.

It's too New York Times journalist David bornstein and Tina Rosenberg starting to think they were doing is uncovering the problems and they were frustrated and thank you know is there a way that we could still be credible not do advocacy or fluff but do a kind of journalism play the new formula for journalism is actually helping to resolve problems and they are above and beyond merely as a melee button right so it's

If you got a Solutions journalism that or you can read about it and they started a actually kind of like an academy, they trained thousands of journalists there are around the world who not just in the us and there are a lot of newspapers and television stations that are actually adopting this approach.


Is is it having an effect on their there? They're proving it is so in Denmark a similar approach was started several years ago.

It's called constructive journalism and they've even you know surveyed readers and viewers and listeners of the pieces that have found that people feel after reading them they feel well.

They do feel informed.

They feel much more hopeful more optimistic willing to become involved themselves, and so this is this is a new line of girls if you look in a lot of newspaper pages for example the Guardian

They have a whole section that is devoted to it's not really positive news, but it's news of things that are working it's terrible outside and there is optimism and another newspaper those inspired life in the Washington Post in the Week magazine as one of the columns headline that it wasn't all bad.

It was like 3 nib three little news in brief things that say of the good things that happened in the world and the prison system in Norway which is a model for the world and so it's interesting as this is coming because of demand to it's not just that the journalist at news organisations feel we need to do more stories about Solutions and you know things that result in positive.

It's actually driven a couple of times.

I said in my former home of York in the north of England days to save on the local City Council I did 6 years there and when we first got elected the the editor of the local newspaper the Yorkshire Evening Press was a man who really wanted the best of the city and was a really good journalist editor and give us a brief that said we will never splash on local council does good job because it's and he said it's nature you should have just asked have a viable business that sells newspapers and local council makes another mistake and messes up again unfortunately going to sell newspapers.

So it's not that I'm against you want to see you fail.

You have to acknowledge that the negative stories are always going to be more prominent than any successes and he was saying that that's that's a facet of human nature and as evidenced by the newsstand sales he puts a negative.

It's going to sell my papers.

Can you blame him? It's true, but then how do you explain this latest study that more and more people are actually avoiding the news entirely.

I have I have some friends.

Here is a couple Michael rosenblum and Lisa London and they've actually they teach video they trained to be brought over the world including and radio journalist BBC The Guardian to use their iPhone to get any way they serve their work at the gates with Verizon on a number of TV stations around the us and there no fires know whether no traffic none of that usual local news instead and they're doing only storytelling and following the story over time so for example.

They had a homeless family and that reporter who was doing the story with spent the night with the family followed for days and then come back week after week and it's becoming a model that is being replicated across the us because people are fed up with this traditional.

Bananas bananas bananas, and before this role with you when you worked with the international atomic energy agency during its inspection working in Iraq Iran and North Korea how do you never get those kind of sensitive environments that there was a tough job because I was the chief spokesperson to the eye and then so I was having to communicate on in this case when the entire press attention was was on us because we were the inspectors and Iraq in the lead-up to the Iraq war and we were basically make a determination of whether Iraq and restarted its nuclear weapons program, and so they were interested in every detail on the same time in Iran was under scrutiny about it's nuclear weapons programme North Korea I kicked out the inspectors and had started its nuclear uranium enrichment and so I come in there as a spokesperson and I have 0 technical background.

Nuclear background but in the end it turned out to be kind of an asset because I was like a translator I mean I had to go and really get briefed and really get through my head and forget it after five minutes but not speaking nobody understands so reluctant to speak and we needed to be out there.

We needed to be communicating.

This was this matters of warranty that was a lot of manipulation that you know I'm on those with interest and so we needed to be the Neutral voice out there and saying there is no evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq and didn't really work, but I remember you know I was coming on us networks at the time and causing a lot of waves that because I was basically contradicting.

Administration of the saying that support of Tony Blair but it was inevitable that the time even when he's basically said that they've also said that they were wrong and so in the end.

You know that because we can actually on the findings that you probably would have only found enough you really scrutinized resolutions.

You know we really made a point of being out there and communicating this yes the drumbeat of war with louder is interesting that because I'm ever at the time that when Saddam kicked out the weapons inspectors.

I saw that is evidence of the Hilton have it where is of course he kicked them out because he wanted to give that impression was he actually didn't have them so in a sense.

He was doing bushes work for him.

We were back in that so there's that was a few years before and of course that raise a lot of suspicion and of course the accusation was the head bolts nuclear and chemical and chemical.

Harder to prove the non-existence of on with nuclear gas the kurds of course and where you that's with nuclear.

We knew all the sites very complicated to build a nuclear weapons program so many compound I tried recently and I feel beyond you know maybe Googling it suited to you.

Have you have you ever to be incredibly globally and want to kick back and flip burgers for a couple of years almost an existential you know conflicting priorities of geopolitics and it's very compelling that way.

Yeah, I mean when you work for a Cause

The greater good it really did it fuels you keep you going they can also frustrated because you always feel like you never do enough but I do find it.

I do find it compelling I have another life on a Greek island little time.

You hurry up bringing about global peace then.

I'd be happy to Stump up some money on go fund and we could let you have a little island and enjoy your time with my husband my kids being able to visit and yeah, but that's that's for the future and this is this work is so is so compelling it's important.

It's just been out for inspiring to wake up in the morning and know that you're doing making a contribution to the greater good.

What's your relationship like with other stakeholders in this in this ecosystem like what's your relationship with David Miliband international rescue committee.

Are you friends? Are you can a friendly right?

I mean you guys are the UN and then you can have a clip 70 you so big or is it that you have to pull together a Coalition of of everyone who can be part of the solution absolutely and David Miller dance organisation and I are cedars fantastic work and works with unhcr and many places in the field that we call it.

There's no way that you went can solve the problems of the world alone and it needs the other great organise it would recall end cos he's out there who are associated with the UN and work in partnership, and we need government.

We need individuals we need civil Society and so you know the uns of course.

I'm doing pending and where we are much of the work, but especially in places.

Dangerous remember you and this this morning like we were the first to come in the last the last to leave and you know you see some refugee situations where the average time a refugee will there be an Exile is like 20 years and you'll see three generations of refugees sitting there in this you know in limbo because the war hasn't stopped and you know your colleagues.

You're sticking with them being by their side the whole time trying to raise money for them trying to make sure their schools and I was getting them.

Hope I was getting a burrito today and the guy in front of me was complaining because someone put them with sauce on his taco and he was very dreadfully upset and I know it just makes you thinking I just have you tell that is given and you know the the depth of the baddest going on in the world.

You know of course sometimes I used to I used to feel that you don't be coming out of a war zone and I go back home.

I was living in Vienna in Austria

And I would be working for the town and seeing all these people gossiping and unperturbed you know children running in a park and everything after cutting children who work in basements and that's why they had to live in in even do the class work and didn't they only had one change of clothes and they were the ribs are sticking out so hungry and then I decided you know it's like you know but then I started to think you know what we should aspire to those scenes that I was saying in Vienna no one should have to live like everybody should have the chance to email feel that their child is running for a park and there is no danger and that I can sit in a cafe and there's not going to be a bomb falling on me, so actually the guy with the burrito.

Don't worry about the hot sauce in our lives.

I don't worry about hot sauce on the transition team for the new un Secretary General Antonio guterres in 2017 is it a huge?

Angel Delight the coronation of a king or a new President actually work it was funny because we were we were a team of like we started out and we're only about 6 people I know and a little bit but it was a very lean team Secretary General of the UN now, but it was it was exciting it was not trying to learn a lot dinner.

What is he going into and what does he want to adopt you want to improve? So it was it was exciting.

I thought it was leading to this was 2 years ago to me joining the team but then I got sick so I was I would during that time.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I went through the toughest times in my life imagine.

Sorry to hear that you know I'm fine so I learnt a lot and also about the value of my own life and under.

Family and relatives who went through breast cancer recently and you know of course it was a huge stress for her as well, but also for us as the wider family caring about it and she was worried about us.

That's the thing yeah, you're worried about yourself, but you're also worried about the people who are worried about you and I know that the particular my husband was in I'm doing so much for me and my kids.

Who are just have when they hurt all they knew they know cancer from Hollywood and their people you know when you get cancer.

You die.

So you know I was did often having to be the strong one and then provide you know it gives you a lot of perspective because when your you have a life-threatening disease you start thinking about what's really important.

Who is important to prioritise more that the things in your life in value in when it comes down to it's interesting because it's apparel.

I probably wasn't recognise it myself.

You know it.

Was you know when refugees flee and they lose everything.

Important to them or their loved ones and that's basically you know stripped of everything you don't think about material goods, but you do think about the human beings for the most important to Christians book recently and he was talking about the differentiation between material values that you think you're judging like your salary and help me cos you haven't what model is and son and what he calls funeral value.

No one says it's someone's funeral or we have three cars and they say he was an honorable man who cared for his family was always on time.

He enjoyed working in the community that you know people never talk about things that people dwell on the other things that I think are important family very much and it was dedicated to them.

If you can choose a profession where you're also doing something that helps others and if you can't use that profession if you could just do something that helps others always say that don't even do one thing you know once a week help somebody who is a needle donating is is also really helpful, but sometimes even that human contact and to so it makes a difference wonderful thing you know one action to mitigate climate change unit 1 change lifestyle.

You know it's part of the human family and I hope you feel better when doing things for others the problem that you have as a communicator when you when you tack let you know an existential threat to humanity itself light climate change is although it's a huge Factor humanity itself.

It doesn't create new stories on a daily basis that can be running a pain obviously.

Weather events and so on but it doesn't fit into an and a Daily News agenda, and I Wonder Why how are you? Can't deal with that as a communicator because you don't acknowledge on in one side of my brain that are affected by another another side of my brain is just concerned about what I'm doing today and this week and my diary and it's short term commitment necessary mean anything interesting.

I think the New York Times has Ireland I think they thought were thinking the same thing and they decided to devote much more resources journalistic Talent towards covering climate change and so they will see a lot more stories in the New York Times and they have it actually newsletter.

That's just about climate coming out you seeing I think more more news organisations covering it.

Just waiting until the flood happens or that the fires burn, but we try to work around.

Reporting like releases of seminal reports that will put new perspective in new gauges into what's happening in the world the latest scientific Discovery and around that and find different angles that we can look at left daily news, but you know every couple months come up with something big that we can push out the generator attention to the litany of things that you've done that you can be incredibly proud of what you've done that.

You are most proud of I think the book that I wrote The Hope more powerful than the sea and the TED talk and millions of users using that wasn't true, but that really was amazing in which people but also it really helped me my own public speaking capabilities TED talk really makes you focus on wouldn't know I'm guessing.

Fantastic exercise in learning the most effective way to deliver a speech and so yeah, I've organised to entrain even trained refugees to be 10 speakers, so I'm a big fan of the formula, but a book has something lasting that is it was dancing and I thought I would you know I'm good at tweets and maybe a speech but I'd really didn't think I was up to writing a book so you try to the books.

You know I really really enjoyed it to end and I enjoyed that I can keep telling the story but it doesn't just go away and so yes, I would be if I had some more time time is an issue.

It's been an honour and a privilege and an incredibly interesting conversation.

Thank you for your time.

Thank you so much for having me phone.

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