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New UN logo designed by SA

South African design proved, once again, that it can hold its own with the world's best when a design by TBWA\South Africa was chosen recently as the official logo for the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights 60th anniversary.
New UN logo designed by SA

Spearheaded by Eleanor Roosevelt, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. Next year marks its 60th anniversary.

To celebrate, the UN is declaring 2008 “Human Rights Year”. Its intention is to create awareness and educate people about their basic human rights. These include, among others, the right to free speech, education, liberty and freedom from poverty, the last of which is considered by the High Commissioner of Human Rights, Louise Arbour, as the most pressing human rights issue facing the world today.

Personally approached Reg Lascaris

To help launch this initiative, the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights approached Reg Lascaris personally to ask if TBWA\South Africa could help with the design of the logo. The UN's New York agency had made several attempts at a logo already but none had captured the sentiment and sense of occasion that the UN wanted to convey.

Inspired by the challenge, and excited by the thought of having a South African company involved in something of such international importance, Lascaris approached the Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban offices of TBWA\South Africa in August 2007 and instigated an internal competition to see who could come up with the winning logo.

The brief was a tough one – to design a logo, independent in visual style from the existing UN logo that would reflect the core principles of the Declaration of Human Rights. The design should be a logo for the people and represent the global community.

Unveiled around the world

The winning logo, designed by TBWA\ Johannesburg's Yolande Mulke, was unveiled in UN offices around the world when Human Rights Year was officially launched on Monday 10 December, Human Rights Day.

This is a first for TBWA\South Africa and, in fact, SA, says Reg Lascaris. “As a South African agency, to have been asked to design a United Nations logo and then to have ours chosen over other countries is an enormous privilege.”

As for the designer, Yolande Mulke, she couldn't be more thrilled. “Logos are such personal things. To have a logo bought is often more about luck than anything else because people either love it or hate it. To have one of mine chosen feels fantastic and such an honour.”

The design itself takes its inspiration for the existing UN logo. “I did as much research as possible before even starting,” explains Mulke. “I looked on the website and at other material for anything that could inspire me. The only thing that caught my eye was the laurel wreath at the base of the UN logo.”

Final logo took shape

Adapting the wreath visual to resemble a person with outstretched hands, Mulke had the base for her logo. With a little input from creative directors Adam Webber and Margie Backhouse, the final logo took shape.

“I think what the UN likes about it is the continuity of using the wreath device from the UN logo and the feeling of peace and welcoming that the man with his arms wide open projects.” comments Mulke.

The logo will be used in conjunction with the 60 year anniversary, as well as after 2008 as the official Human Rights logo.


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