In its nearly 70 years, the United Nations has won many awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize several times for its work on peacekeeping, climate change, children, refugees and more.

But lesser known is that the UN has been decorated by the film industry – with an Oscar! In 1947, the UN short film “First Steps” won the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject.

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The 10-minute piece about the treatment of children with disabilities takes us on the journey of one young boy as he learns to walk – first to move his legs, then to stand and then finally to take his first steps.

Several aspects of the film are now outdated and over the last decades the UN has supported the full participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society, including through the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Yet the film’s overall theme of achieving a life of dignity for all is one that continues to guide the work of the UN.

The Oscar still resides at UN Headquarters in New York and recently took a quick tour of the building in honour of this weekend’s Academy Awards ceremony.

Security Council

Oscar even paid a visit to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who wished luck to this year’s nominees!

The Academy Award also posed with several UN staff, including Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson.


Also this week, Steve McQueen, director of the Oscar-nominated film 12 Years a Slave, attended a screening of the film and panel discussion. You can watch it online.

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