More people must know about vital UN work with support from States, official says

Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public InformationPeter Launsky-Tieffenthal aadresses the 35th session of the Committee on Information. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

22 April 2013 – United Nations staff members are on the frontlines in such vital endeavours as providing life-saving aid to victims of conflict, vaccinating millions of children and leading the fight to end extreme poverty and violence against women – and their story must be told to the global audience, the Organization’s communications chief said today.

“The role of the Department of Public Information is to tell those stories,” Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information, told the 114 members of the Information Committee (COI), an intergovernmental body that meets annually to assess progress made by the United Nations in the field of public information.

"For the Department, this is not always an easy task, because, as a truly global organization, we would like to tell our story in as many languages as possible," said Mr. Launsky-Tieffenthal, who is also the Coordinator for Multilingualism at the UN.

He was optimistic, he said, about the meeting the challenges, however, presenting as strategic objectives strengthening cooperation with Member States, coordinating communications throughout the United Nations system, and creating modern, efficient and results-driven communication capacity, on the basis of lessons learned from past experience.

He said that greater fiscal efficiency is being obtained through optimal use of new technologies, including social networks and applications. At the same time, audiences were also being expanded through older technologies, greater multilingualism and partnerships with Member States and the private sector.

China National Radio, he said for example, airs UN Radio’s Chinese language programmes and live link-ups when there is breaking news, including in primetime morning slots. At the same time, the Weibo account of the UN (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter) is followed by 3.5 million people.

Mr. Launsky-Tieffenthal said that the Department would, this month, experience a significant "leap forward" with the implementation of its new digital media asset management (MAMS), which should allow all audiovisual productions of DPI to be met on a common digital platform.

On the ground, he said that partnerships with Member States have reached a new level through the network of 63 Information Centres (UNICs), which works in 53 different languages.

Finally, in response to the request of the Committee to present a strategy to produce press releases in all six official UN languages, not just English and French, Mr. Launsky-Tieffenthal announced a pilot project was underway in partnership with the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management.

In the pilot, press releases will be made available in Spanish for specific meetings and the results then evaluated to determine the additional resources needed to maintain full coverage of meetings in that language, said the Deputy Secretary-General.


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