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TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES. Sarah Crowe and James Elder. Truth. Setting the scene for taking calculated risks for children. New Delhi. Kathmandu. Colombo. Establishing facts and speaking in one voice.

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Truth and consequences

  • Sarah Crowe and James Elder


Setting the scene for taking calculated risks for children

New Delhi



Establishing facts and speaking in

one voice

“We have clear evidence that children are being caught in the crossfire and that children are being injured and killed”

Daniel Toole, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia.

Close relations with the international

media in Delhi and Colombo

Off the record briefings with Journalists in Colombo and Delhi

20 interviews with BBC

15 interviews with CNN

25 + with Al Jazeera

UK Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, London Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Economist, Chicago Tribune, CBC, NPR, ABC, The Australian, LA Times, Le Monde.


Controlling the follow-up

kill pic of Ban, use only HDL



From NGOs, media and within the UN

Breaking News - Expulsion

Crowe did 48 interviews in 3 days - 7-10 Sept.

UK Times / AFP / IRIN / CNN

Lead story in all leading news networks the day it broke

UNICEF reacted furiously."We are extremely disappointed with the allegations and we reject them unequivocally," Sarah Crowe, UNICEF's regional communications chief, told AFP.

Elder had been doing his job by "speaking out on behalf of those who do not have a voice which we would expect from any UNICEF spokesperson”.

We categorically stand by all the statements we made throughout the conflict and since the conflict on the situation of women and children in Sri Lanka."

However, Crowe said that UNICEF would continue its work in the war-torn country. "We will continue to uphold our mandate. That will not change," she said.

R E S P E C T the war-torn country. "We will continue to ...from the media

“Elder’s expulsion..for speaking out against those abuses and child casualties....this was his brief and his responsibility”

australian logo

“Voices of voiceless silenced”

“James Elder seemed utterly committed to one thing - the welfare of the hundreds of thousands of civilians caught up in the war. To several of us journalists, it was clear that raising the plight of these people was for him far more than just a job”

From NGOs and UN agencies the war-torn country. "We will continue to

“(The expulsion) is not something that did not have consequences but principles are important and it spared UNICEF” - Director, Human Rights Watch

The SG expresses full confidence... in the United Nations in Sri Lanka, which includes making public statements when necessary in an effort to save lives and prevent grave humanitarian problems -UN Secretary General

Government of Sri Lanka was astonished by UNICEF’s response as they thought UNICEF “would roll over and play dead” - say nothing and let Elder go. Sri Lankan media asked Sarah if he was going to be fired and she said “no he would be rewarded”. Sarah Crowe, Regional Chief of Communications, UNICEF South Asia

“I should like to say how bold and supportive you have been to James in his difficulties with the Sri Lankan government and its complete lack of tolerance to free and objective reporting....your report in which you SUPPORT your staff member and do not isolate him...bloody done well you!! ” John Campbell, WFP official expelled from Sri Lanka 2008

Then... response as they thought UNICEF “

  • “UNICEF is becoming increasingly risk averse”

  • “Growing reluctance to take on sensitive issues”

  • “Risks losing position as the leading and credible voice for children”

Outcome of ROSA communications Team Meeting, May 2009

State of the unicef brand
State of the UNICEF brand response as they thought UNICEF “

measure of courage - worst rating!

The findings are based on consumer surveys conducted by a consulting firm (Brandasset consulting) and reflect opinions/views of people outside of UNICEF.  (Sample populations from a general public are interviewed)

And now
...and now response as they thought UNICEF “

From the ED :

“Take more rather than less risk”

“The job is more important than the paperwork”

“Go to the edge of the envelope...we will support you”