European Union External Action

EU-UN partnership mirrored in the Enlightened Universe exhibition

25/10/2018 - 10:23
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The partnership between the EU and UN and their defence of human rights was centre stage as the "Enlightened Universe" art installation was inaugurated Thursday (25th October) in Brussels. It marks United Nations Day and the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Schuman location in Brussels is symbolic as it is between the EU buildings and UN ones.

UN DAY, enlightened universe

The exhibition was opened by Barbara Pesce-Monteiro, UN Director in Brussels, Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative / Vice-President of the European Commission and the artist who originally created it - Cristobal Gabarrón. The inauguration comes just as the European Union and the United Nations are reaffirming their strategic partnership.

Same values, same principles

"For us, the European Union, working with the United Nations system, is the most natural thing to do", said Federica Mogherini in her opening speech. "We are based on the same philosophy which is that of cooperation." The logic of confrontation and competition is not leading to anything but conflict and competition. The only way to prevent conflict, crisis and human suffering is to cooperate, to work not only for peace and security but for human rights and human development. This is the core DNA of both, UN and EU."

The artwork speaks to individual responsibility

For both High Representative Mogherini and UN Brussels Director Pesce-Monteiro the silver installation does not only bring hope and colour. The globe represents a mirror.  "Looking at the world you see yourself. This is a very powerful appeal to individual responsibility. These triangles of mirrors reflect our own faces. It depends on us, on the approach we take if the common global picture is good or not", Federica Mogherini said.

Federica Mogherini spoke of the “similar DNA” of the EU and UN.


For Barbara Pesce-Monteiro from the UN, the “Enlightened Universe” also represents the partnership and our collective efforts to create a world where no one is left behind, under the framework of the Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Paris Agreement, and the Sendai Framework. "The 70 figures surrounding the globe, hand in hand, represent the 7.5 billion humans living on Earth today. Their hands joined in solidarity, demonstrate the importance of creating a more inclusive world. A world in which we have a shared responsibility to protect our planet", she stressed.

Spanish artist, Cristobal Gabarrón originally created the artwork for the 70th anniversary of the UN in 2015. For him the United Nations and the European Union "mean, share and represent the defense of values and the commitment to walk together towards a better world. As an artist and as a citizen, I want to insist that all these values and principles must be transmitted to children through education."

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