United Nations

A/53/21


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

1 June 1998

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH




                                                         A/53/21
       
                                                         Original: English
       

General Assembly       
Fifty-third session


             Report of the Committee on Information*

(* The present document is a mimeographed version of the report of the
Committee on Information on the work of its twentieth session.  The final
report will be issued as Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-third
Session, Supplement No.21 (A/53/21/Rev.1)


Contents         

                                                       Paragraphs   Page

  I.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    1-12        2

 II.  Organizational questions . . . . . . . . . . . .   13-20        3

      A.  Opening of the session . . . . . . . . . . .     13         3

      B.  Election of officers . . . . . . . . . . . .     14         3

      C.  Adoption of the agenda and programme of work   15-17        3

      D.  Observers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   18-19        4

      E.  Other matters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     20         4

III.  General debate and consideration of substantive 
      questions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   21-46        4

 IV.  Preparation and adoption of the report of the 
      Committee to the General Assembly at its 
      fifty-third session. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   47-54        9

Annexes

  I.  Statement by the Chairman of the Committee on Information 
      at the opening of the twentieth session. . . . . . . . . .     16

 II.  Statement by the Under-Secretary-General for Communications 
      and Public Information at the opening of the twentieth 
      session of the Committee on Information. . . . . . . . . .     17



        I.     Introduction


1.   At its thirty-fourth session, the General Assembly
decided to maintain the Committee to Review United
Nations Public Information Policies and Activities,
established under Assembly resolution 33/115 C of 18
December 1978, which would be known as the Committee
on Information, and to increase its membership from 41 to
66. In paragraph 2 of section I of its resolution 34/182 of
18 December 1979, the Assembly requested the Committee
on Information:

               "(a)     To continue to examine United Nations
     public information policies and activities, in the light
     of the evolution of international relations, particularly
     during the past two decades, and of the imperatives of
     the establishment of the new international economic
     order and of a new world information and
     communication order;

               "(b)     To evaluate and follow up the efforts made
     and the progress achieved by the United Nations system
     in the field of information and communications;

               "(c)     To promote the establishment of a new,
     more just and more effective world information and
     communication order intended to strengthen peace and
     international understanding and based on the free
     circulation and wider and better-balanced dissemination
     of information and to make recommendations thereon
     to the General Assembly;"

and requested the Committee on Information and the
Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its
thirty-fifth session.

2.   At its thirty-fifth session, the General Assembly, in
its resolution 35/201 of 16 December 1980, expressed its
satisfaction with the work of the Committee on Information,
approved the report of the Committee and the
recommendations of its Ad Hoc Working Group, 1/
reaffirmed the mandate given to the Committee in Assembly
resolution 34/182, and decided to increase the membership
of the Committee from 66 to 67 members. The Committee
on Information agreed, at its organizational session in 1980,
that the principle of geographical rotation would be applied
to all the officers of the Committee and that they should be
elected for two-year terms of office.

3.   At its thirty-sixth to fifty-first sessions, the General
Assembly again expressed its satisfaction with the work of
the Committee on Information, approved the reports of the
Committee 2/ and its recommendations, and reaffirmed the
mandate given to the Committee in resolution 34/182
(General Assembly resolutions 36/149 B, 37/94 B, 38/82
B, 39/98 A, 40/164 A, 41/68 A, 42/162 A and B, 43/60 A
and B, 44/50, 45/76 A and B, 46/73 B, 47/73 B, 48/44 B,
49/38 B, 50/31 B, and 51/138 B. At its fifty-second session,
the Assembly took note of the report of the Committee3 and
adopted its consensus recommendations (Assembly
resolutions 52/70 A and B of 10 December 1997).
Furthermore, the Assembly requested the Committee to
report to the Assembly at its fifty-third session.

4.   At its thirty-ninth session, the General Assembly
appointed two new members of the Committee, namely
China and Mexico; at its forty-first session, the Assembly
appointed Malta as a new member of the Committee; at its
forty-third session, the Assembly appointed Hungary,
Ireland and Zimbabwe members of the Committee; and at
its forty-fourth session, the Assembly appointed Nepal a
member of the Committee.

5.   At its forty-fifth session, the General Assembly
decided, on the recommendation of the Committee on
Information, to increase the membership of the Committee
from 74 to 78 members, and appointed Czechoslovakia, the
Islamic Republic of Iran, Jamaica and Uruguay members
of the Committee. The Assembly also decided on the
appointment of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
as a member of the Committee, with immediate effect, to fill
the vacancy left by the German Democratic Republic.

6.   At its forty-sixth session, the General Assembly, on
the recommendation of the Special Political Committee,
decided to increase the membership of the Committee on
Information from 78 to 79 members, and appointed Burkina
Faso a member of the Committee.

7.   At its forty-seventh session, the General Assembly,
on the recommendation of the Special Political Committee,
decided to increase the membership of the Committee on
Information from 79 to 81 members, and appointed the
Republic of Korea and Senegal as members of the
Committee.

8.   At its forty-eighth session, the General Assembly
decided, on the recommendation of the Special Political and
Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), to increase
the membership of the Committee on Information from 81
to 83 members, and appointed Gabon and Israel members
of the Committee.

9.   At its forty-ninth session, the General Assembly, on
the recommendation of the Special Political and
Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), decided to
increase the membership of the Committee on Information
from 83 to 88 members, and decided to appoint Belize,
Croatia, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan and South Africa
members of the Committee.

10.  At its fiftieth session the General Assembly, on the
recommendation of the Special Political and Decolonization
Committee (Fourth Committee), decided to increase the
membership of the Committee on Information from 88 to
89 members, and appointed the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea a member of the Committee.

11.  At its fifty-second session, the General Assembly, on
the recommendation of the Special Political and
Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), decided to
increase the membership of the Committee on Information
from 89 to 90 members, and to appoint Georgia a member
of the Committee.

12.  The Committee is composed of the following Member
States:

Algeria
Argentina
Bangladesh
Belarus
Belgium
Belize
Benin
Brazil
Bulgaria
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Chile
China
Colombia
Congo
Costa Rica
C“te džIvoire
Croatia
Cuba
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Democratic Peopležs Republic of Korea
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Denmark
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Ethiopia
Finland
France
Gabon
Georgia
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Guatemala
Guinea
Guyana
Hungary
India
Indonesia
Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Lebanon
Malta
Mexico
Mongolia
Morocco
Nepal
Netherlands
Niger
Nigeria
Pakistan
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Republic of Korea
Romania
Russian Federation
Senegal
Singapore
Slovakia
Somalia
South Africa
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Syrian Arab Republic
Togo
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Ukraine
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United Republic of Tanzania
United States of America
Uruguay
Venezuela
Viet Nam
Yemen 
Yugoslavia
Zimbabwe


      II. Organizational questions


       A. Opening of the session


13.  The organizational meeting of the twentieth session
of the Committee on Information was held at United Nations
Headquarters on 4 May 1998. The session was opened by
the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Jose' Alberto de Sousa
(Portugal).


       B. Election of officers


14.  Upon the nomination of the representative of Egypt,
the Committee elected by acclamation Mr. Abdullahi
Abubakar (Nigeria) to serve as a Vice-Chairman and
complete an unexpired term of office in the Bureau. The
officers of the Committee on Information for the period
1997 1998 are thus as follows:

Chairman:
              Mr. Jose' Alberto de Sousa (Portugal)

Vice-Chairmen:
              Mr. Holger Martinsen (Argentina)
              Mr. Abdullahi Abubakar (Nigeria)
              Mr. Salman Abbasy (Pakistan)

Rapporteur:
              Mr. Alyaksei Skrypko (Belarus)



       C. Adoption of the agenda and programme of work


15.  At its organizational meeting, the Committee adopted
the agenda and programme of work (A/AC.198/1998/1), as
amended:

          1.   Opening of the session.

          2.   Adoption of the agenda and programme of
               work.

          3.    Election of officers.

          4.    Statement by the Chairman.

          5.    Statement by the Under-Secretary-General.

          6.    General debate and consideration of substantive
                questions:

                (a)  Promotion of the establishment of a new,
                     more just and more effective world
                     information and communication order
                     intended to strengthen peace and
                     international understanding and based on
                     the free circulation and wider and better-balanced
                     dissemination of information;

                (b)  Continuation of the examination of United
                     Nations public information policies and
                     activities, in the light of the evolution of
                     international relations and of the need to
                     establish the new international economic
                     order and the new world information and
                     communication order;

                (c)  Evaluation and follow-up of the efforts
                     made and the progress achieved by the
                     United Nations system in the field of
                     information and communications.
 
          7.   Preparation and adoption of the report of the
               Committee to the General Assembly at its fifty-third session.

16.  The Committee held the substantive meetings of its
twentieth session at United Nations Headquarters from 4 to
15 May 1998.

17.  For consideration of item 6, the Committee had before
it the reports of the Secretary-General on:

              (a)     Implementation of the measures regarding
information and communications (A/AC.198/1998/2);

              (b)     Activities of the Joint United Nations
Information Committee (A/AC.198/1998/3 and Corr.1).


       D. Observers


18.   The following Member States took part in the session
as observers: Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan,
Canada, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Libyan Arab
Jamahiriya, Luxembourg, Malawi, Namibia, Oman, Panama,
Qatar, the Republic of Moldova, Solomon Islands,
Suriname, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia and the Holy See.

19.  Representatives of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International
Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Industrial
Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Health
Organization (WHO) and the Organization of African Unity
(OAU) also attended.


       E. Other matters


20.  The Chairman informed the Committee that Angola,
the Republic of Moldova and Solomon Islands had
requested membership in the Committee.


     III. General debate and consideration of
          substantive questions


21.  Statements during the general debate were made by
the following States members of the Committee: Algeria,
Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, China, Costa Rica,
Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt,
Ghana, Guyana, Indonesia (on behalf of the States members
of the Group of 77 and China), Iran (Islamic Republic of),
Jamaica (on behalf of the States members of the Caribbean
Community), Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Nepal,
Netherlands (on behalf of the States members of the
Western European and Other States Group), Pakistan,
Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Syrian
Arab Republic, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland (on behalf of the States
members of the European Union and associated countries),
United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America,
Uruguay and Viet Nam.

22.  Statements were also made by the observers for Haiti,
the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Solomon Islands. The
Assistant Director-General for Communication, Information
and Informatics of UNESCO addressed the Committee, as
did the President of the United Nations Correspondents'
Association.

23.  In taking up the substantive questions before the
Committee, all speakers expressed their sincere dedication
to the principles of freedom of the press and freedom of
information, which were fundamental freedoms
indispensable to democracy and development. They
appreciated the important commemoration of World Press
Freedom Day on 4 May 1998, which had been organized by
the Department of Public Information of the United Nations
Secretariat, in cooperation with UNESCO, the United
Nations Correspondents' Association and the World Press
Freedom Committee (WPFC). A number of delegations
noted that it was especially meaningful to hold such an
event during the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as contained in
General Assembly resolution 217 A (III). Many speakers
emphasized the importance of article 19 of the Declaration,
which embodied the commitment of the international
community to the right to freedom of information and
expression. A member of one delegation spoke of a famous
journalist killed by extremists in his country, noting,
however, that hundreds of other journalists had refused to
give up the struggle to pursue their profession. All
delegations paid tribute to the dedicated journalists
throughout the world who performed their duties in the face
of daily threats and harassment. One delegation pointed to
its dedication to implementing the Declaration of Alma Ata
on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Asian Media,
adopted in 1992 at a seminar organized by Kazakhstan in
cooperation with the United Nations and UNESCO. The
UNESCO representative informed the Committee that the
World Press Freedom Prize had been given by UNESCO
to a jailed journalist and also referred to the imprisonment
of a member of the jury for the Prize.

24.  Several speakers recalled the phrase "global village"
in describing the world on the threshold of the twenty-first
century. Technological achievements in the field of
information had obliterated the "constraints of time and
space within and between nations", in the words of one
speaker. It was of great importance to a number of speakers
that the United Nations take action to ensure that developing
countries, with the appropriate assistance, could benefit
fully from the informatics revolution in meeting the
challenges of economic and social development. One
speaker, addressing the Committee on behalf of a large
group, as well as a number of other speakers, reiterated that
they attached the highest priority to the realization of the
establishment of new, more just and effective global
information and communication practices, based on a free
and balanced flow of information, in a world where
disparities in technological advances and the gap between
the developed and developing countries were widening. It
was critical in their view that the gains of the technological
revolution in the field of information be made accessible to
the developing countries or, in the words of one speaker, the
global village would be little more than a "country club".
In the words of another delegation speaking on behalf of a
large group, there was a need to establish a balance in the
dissemination of information, to ensure a diversification of
information sources and to attain a mutually beneficial
partnership in the information sector. In his view, the
principles of the Charter of the United Nations should be
upheld and, to this end, public information should be made
available to all humankind and not left to the media of a few
developed nations. One delegation said that the United
Nations must act urgently to end the "colonialism of
information" and to establish a more balanced flow of
information that neither distorted nor manipulated the
realities of developing countries. Concern was expressed
by some delegations that news from developing countries
did not receive adequate media coverage. One speaker,
addressing the Committee on behalf of a large group,
acknowledged UNESCO's important work in cooperating
with news agencies and broadcasting organizations in
developing countries to disseminate information on priority
issues.

25.  In addressing the public information policies and
activities of the United Nations, a number of delegations
observed that the role of the Committee on Information in
the effort to reform the Organization in the key area of
information and communications had diminished. As one
speaker put it, the Committee was "off to one side".
Members generally agreed that it was now time for the
Committee to make a significant contribution in assisting
the Secretary-General in reshaping the key area of public
information on the eve of a new century. As one delegate
put it, it was time "to rethink the past and prepare for the
future".

26.   A number of speakers addressed the subject of the
working methods of the Committee, in the belief that a new
mechanism was required to help the Committee negotiate,
as well as to impart a new dynamic. One delegation,
speaking on behalf of a large group, said that this
mechanism should be open-ended, transparent and
inclusive, and a number of other speakers supported the
creation of an open-ended working group. Many speakers
spoke of the need for consensus to prevail in the work of the
Committee, although one delegation was of the view that
while consensus was important, change might be required
to keep up with the winds of reform in the Organization.

27.   All speakers welcomed Mr. Kensaku Hogen as head
of the Department of Public Information and pointed to the
fact that his appointment at the level of Under-Secretary-General 
signified the importance attached to placing the
information and communications function at the heart of the
strategic management of the Organization and to developing
a culture of communication. Tribute was paid to Mr. Samir
Sanbar for his invaluable contributions and untiring efforts
in the sphere of public information as former head of the
Department.

28.  The majority of delegations voiced their support for
the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation
of the measures regarding information and communications
and agreed that it would serve as a very useful basis for the
Committee's deliberations. Several delegations also referred
to the earlier report of the Task Force on the Reorientation
of United Nations Public Information Activities, the thrust
of which the Secretary-General had concurred with.
Speakers maintained that the Department of Public
Information, as the focal point of the Organization for
information and communications, should be strengthened
to fulfil the expectations of its Member States and their
peoples around the world. A great many delegations
supported the broad objectives of the new orientation for
the field of information, as contained in the report of the
Secretary-General. Many also believed that, in elaborating
and implementing the reform proposals for the reorientation
of the Department, the Secretary-General should fully take
into account the views of Member States. All agreed that
the United Nations should be projected as an open,
transparent and public institution and concurred with the
view that communications was not a support function, but
rather an integral part of the substantive programme of the
Organization. Accordingly, one delegation, speaking on
behalf of a large group, and other speakers encouraged the
involvement of the Under-Secretary-General for
Communications and Public Information in the Secretariat's
decision-making processes at the strategic level, in the
belief that he had an extremely important role to play as
principal strategist for United Nations communications
policies. Many speakers expressed support for the plan to
institute a strategic planning group within his office to
execute an integrated programme for communications and
hoped that this group would consider the views of Member
States and keep them informed. Another delegation made
the point that "strategic guidelines implied choices", and
that, in this context, it was essential for the Department of
Public Information to follow General Assembly-mandated
activities. Several delegations said that they wished to see
the Department attach importance to ensuring impartiality
and objectivity in United Nations information activities.

29.  Many speakers agreed that it was important that the
unified message of the United Nations be supportive of the
developing countries and of development in general. In the
words of one speaker, the United Nations should "convey
the voice of the voiceless" to the whole world in an
objective manner. One speaker was of the view that the role
of information should be strengthened to stimulate
development assistance worldwide. It was agreed by a
number of delegations that information also had a vital role
to play in the promotion of world peace.

30.  Many speakers believed that in order to complete the
tasks ahead of it, the Department would need to be provided
with sufficient resources. They praised the Department of
Public Information for having utilized all means of
communications to disseminate its materials and pointed to
negative consequences for the Department's information
activities owing to reduced resources allocated to it in the
1998-1999 budget. One speaker did not favour "an arbitrary
percentage reduction of the Department of Public
Information's budget" and was of the opinion that each
activity should be reviewed regularly on the basis of its
relevance, usefulness and effectiveness. Many feared any
further reduction could adversely affect the capacity of the
Department to fulfil its comprehensive mandates and
responsibilities and stressed that mandated information
activities must be implemented. They underscored that any
change in these mandated activities must be approved by
Member States. One speaker was of the view that it would
be inadvisable to resort to private contributions to meet
financial shortages, as it could affect the priorities
established by Member States. Another delegate quoted a
statement by the Deputy Secretary-General of the United
Nations to the effect that reform was more than mere
streamlining of structures, looking at posts or dealing with
budgets, rather "it was ensuring that the United Nations was
relevant and equipped to deal with present and future
challenges in the world".

31.  A delegation, speaking on behalf of a large group, in
agreeing with this viewpoint, said the group fully respected
the autonomous responsibility of the Secretary-General for
the structure and functioning of the Secretariat and believed
that the objective of reform should be to enhance the
efficiency and effectiveness of information activities, rather
than to just cut costs. One delegation, speaking on behalf
of a group, said it supported the Secretary-General's goal
of ensuring that the United Nations message was delivered
with more vigour and purpose and to greater effect and to
this end agreed with his reform efforts. It said also that there
was a need for a flexible approach from Member States to
allow the Department of Public Information to carry out its
multiple mandates. A number of delegations said that they
looked forward to the detailed blueprint of the new United
Nations communications strategy and one expressed
disappointment that the Secretary-General's report did not
contain more details on the reorientation plan. One
delegation said that only by making communications and
information a cross-cutting issue in all its programmes and
activities could the United Nations effectively realize its
long-cherished objective of globally spreading its message
of peace, justice and development.

32.  As to specific public information activities, many
delegations agreed that the Department of Public
Information's priorities for 1998 should be to inform the
public on: the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights; the United Nations
Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the
Establishment of an International Criminal Court; the
fiftieth anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping; and
the special session of the General Assembly on the world
drug problem, as outlined in the report of the Secretary-General. 
One delegation, speaking on behalf of a group,
looked forward to an information programme supporting the
special session of the Assembly for the review and appraisal
of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable
Development of Small Island Developing States 4/ scheduled
for 1999. A number of speakers expressed support for the
Department's programme for Palestine and for its
continuance, and several called for more information on
decolonization. One delegation welcomed the recent
publicity given by the Department of Public Information to
the report of the Secretary-General on the causes of conflict
and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable
development in Africa. Another speaker proposed that the
Department of Public Information should consider
publicizing the problem of the former Soviet nuclear test
site near Semipalatinsk in her country. A number of
delegations, stressing the magnitude and increasing negative
impact of the Chernobyl disaster, encouraged the
Department, in cooperation with other relevant bodies of
the United Nations system, to continue to strengthen their
efforts to enhance world public awareness of the
consequences of that catastrophe. Several delegations said
that the Department of Public Information should strengthen
its activities to highlight socio-economic problems facing
the countries in transition. This, in the view of one speaker,
could contribute to generating assistance on the part of the
international community in implementing democratic and
economic transformations in those countries. A number of
speakers pointed to the importance of the information
components as an integral part of all peacekeeping and other
field operations. In their view, it was of critical importance
that the people of the host country be adequately informed
of the mandates and goals of these missions.

33.  Most speakers were supportive of the views expressed
in the report of the Secretary-General on the importance of
forming partnerships with information redisseminators, in
the belief that such links were absolutely essential in
reaching the people of the world. At the same time, several
delegations cautioned that, while the cooperation of 
non-governmental organizations was very much appreciated in
carrying out the work of the United Nations, no measures
should be taken that would "undermine" the Organization
as an intergovernmental body. Several other delegations
said that it was useful for the Department of Public
Information to have contacts with the media and civil
society, but that, at the same time, "the responsibility of the
Department of Public Information to serve the Member
States" was paramount. On the other hand, many speakers
emphasized that the United Nations must continue to build
enduring partnerships with non-governmental organizations,
the media, educational institutions and other representatives
of civil society. In the belief that youth should be the focus
of information programmes, one delegation agreed that the
Department of Public Information's outreach to educational
institutions was important. Another was supportive of the
Department's activities for young people with programmes
such as the CyberSchoolBus. Some speakers noted with
appreciation that the Secretary-General intended to
strengthen the working arrangements among the Department
of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Political
Affairs, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and
the Department of Public Information.

34.  All delegations praised the important work of the
United Nations information centres in taking the message
of the Organization to the national and regional levels where
public opinion was created. Many believed them to be a key
component of United Nations outreach, especially for
developing countries and countries in transition. One
speaker said that the information centres did a good job of
maintaining strategic contacts with influential audiences and
were thus a very important part of the information strategy
of the United Nations. It was noted by several delegations
that the role of the centres differed depending upon the
specific needs of the country in which they were located. A
number of delegations expressed their concern about the
cutting back of resources to the centres and were of the view
that sufficient funding must be provided to allow them   in
particular those located in countries where local media were
less developed   to perform their functions. Another
delegation said that it was important that national
information officers in the field should be trained to use the
new technologies.

35.  In regard to the process of integrating information
centres with field offices of the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), many speakers agreed
this should be done on a case-by-case basis, taking into
consideration the views of the host country, with the
understanding that the information functions and the
autonomy of the centres would not be adversely affected.
One speaker, addressing the Committee on behalf of a large
group, was concerned about the problems being encountered
with respect to the integration of information centres, and
a number of others voiced the same concern. One delegation
expressed its support for the Secretary-General's intention
to establish a single "United Nations house" in each
country, and another, with the same point of view, urged
that the Department of Public Information continue,
wherever possible, to integrate United Nations information
centres under one flag. Several speakers stated that
integration was not effectively serving the greater interest
of the United Nations and its public information
responsibilities, and one asked for a review of the
integration exercise, taking into account experience in the
field.

36.  Many delegations spoke of the success stories of
information centres in their countries. One delegation
referred to the vital role that the United Nations Information
Centre in Tokyo played in enhancing public understanding
of United Nations activities in Japan. Another highlighted
the information work of the University for Peace in Costa
Rica and expressed appreciation to the Committee for its
support of the institution. One delegation said that excellent
cooperation existed between the United Nations information
centre in Tehran and various governmental and non-governmental 
bodies in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Another delegation said that its Government valued highly
the activities of the information component in the United
Nations office in Minsk, and another speaker praised the
activities of the United Nations information centre in Accra.

37.  One delegation said that there should be a flexible
country-level model for information centres and, as for the
unified regional centres, it believed there was a need for a
careful approach, based on a range of factors. Another said
that the proposal for establishing regional hubs should not
be implemented through elimination of or reduction in
resources of effectively functioning centres and information
components in the field. One delegation urged the
Secretary-General to accord high priority to requests by
Member States to open centres in their capitals. Another
reiterated its call for an information centre in Port-au-Prince
and one delegation, speaking on behalf of a group,
reiterated the request for an information officer for the
multi-island office of UNDP in Kingston.

38.  All speakers agreed with the Secretary-General's
strong emphasis in his report on the potential of new
technologies to expand the dissemination capabilities of the
United Nations. All were unanimous in the belief that the
Internet had opened important new avenues of
communications for the Organization and praised the bold
steps being taken by the Department of Public Information
in effectively entering cyberspace, especially through the
Internet, the so-called fourth medium. Many delegations
praised the Department's work in providing excellent
electronic services, which were widely used every day, and
pointed to its efforts in maintaining and enriching the
United Nations home page on the World Wide Web. In
order to bring electronic information to developed and
developing countries alike, several delegations urged the
Department of Public Information to work to expand the
electronic availability of United Nations information in all
six languages. One delegation referred to the need to clear
cyberspace and satellite broadcasting of violent and
"immoral" materials.

39.  Two delegations noted that all 185 permanent
missions were now connected to the United Nations Web
site and other United Nations databases. A number of
speakers commended the use of information technology by
the Dag Hammarskjo"ld Library. One said the work of the
Library merited attention and needed to be developed and
supported in every way. Another speaker thanked the staff
of the Library for their "innovative role" in disseminating
very helpful information via electronic mail and welcomed
as a "positive development" the fact that, as a result of the
Department's initiative, permanent missions now had the
opportunity to enjoy equal access to electronic data. Several
speakers were of the view that the work of the Committee
on Information and that of the Economic and Social
Council's Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on
Informatics should be complementary in promoting the use
of modern information technology for the benefit of the
United Nations and its Member States. It was observed by
one delegation that the United Nations did not have an
Organization-wide mechanism for technology planning and
budgeting and, in this regard, expressed appreciation for
what he considered to be the Department's "voluntary
efforts" on the United Nations home page. He called for
"greater focus and attention and reallocated resources" to
be devoted to this area.

40.  While clearly appreciating the reach and scope of
electronic communications, a majority of speakers stated
that it was of particular importance to the people of the
developing countries that the Department of Public
Information should maintain its outreach through the
traditional media. In this connection, they appreciated the
Department's continuing efforts to strengthen United
Nations Radio. Another suggested that Member States
should be informed of "who exactly were the recipients" of
United Nations radio programmes and on what frequency
they received them. Several delegations pointed to the good
work of the Caribbean Radio Unit and supported the 
long-standing mandate of full programming in French and in
Creole for Haiti, calling for a report on that matter. One
delegation referred to the Department's "New Contacts"
radio programme and said that it was becoming more useful
to his country's media. Another speaker said that Spanish-language 
stations should receive radio programmes through
the Internet. Several delegations drew attention to the need
for increased United Nations Radio broadcasting in Russian,
as well as for publications in that language. One speaker
pointed to the agreements that his country and other
Portuguese-speaking countries had made with United
Nations Radio to distribute information in the Portuguese
language.

41.  A number of speakers supported the feasibility study
on a United Nations international radio broadcasting
capacity currently being conducted and looked forward to
receiving its results. One delegation regretted, however, that
the Committee had not played a part in the preparation of
the study. Many were of the view that the Department of
Public Information should make strong efforts to develop
such a capacity as a priority, although one delegation said
that it must be compatible with the interests of developing
countries. On the other hand, several delegations were not
certain that direct radio broadcasting by the United Nations
on a global level was warranted. One delegation urged that
the Department of Public Information consider the
possibility of further exploiting existing international media
networks in order to avoid competing with them. Another
was very supportive of United Nations international radio
capacity, in the belief that it would greatly benefit the
peoples of the small island developing countries, and further
justified such an initiative as a means of telling the United
Nations story daily to worldwide audiences, as well as of
helping to narrow the information gap. One speaker said
that the medium of television needed more attention from
the Department.

42.  One delegation protested the "violation of its national
sovereignty by radio and television transmissions from
another country", which were directed specifically against
it for "subversive goals".

43.  One speaker called for general strengthening of United
Nations publications, while another called for further
streamlining of the Department's active publications
programme since a "cost-based, consumer-driven process"
was vital at this time. On the subject of linguistic diversity,
one delegation said that information in English was of
"extremely limited usefulness" for its people, and therefore
called for the issuance of publications and radio
programmes in all official languages, particularly Russian.
Several delegations agreed with this point of view and
stressed the importance of the Russian language to the
citizens of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
countries. One speaker said that print and audio-visual
materials, as well as electronic products, in Chinese were
"still far from enough". On this same subject, one delegation
asked that the Department of Public Information "diversify
its linguistic programmes" to include Farsi. Several
delegations called for more products in Arabic.

44.  As to the Department's relations with the press, one
speaker said that the Office of the Spokesman for the
Secretary-General expertly provided complete and timely
information to the media and another expressed its
appreciation for the Department's services to
correspondents. One speaker said that the Department
should give priority to providing delegations with press
releases. The representative of the accredited press corps
at Headquarters said that the current Secretary-General had
been very accessible in his dealings with the media. He
appealed for even-handedness in dealing with the press. A
number of speakers expressed their support for training
programmes for information professionals from the
developing countries and appreciated the progress made by
the Department of Public Information in training
broadcasters and journalists from these countries.

45.  One delegation praised the important work of the
Department of Public Information's Visitors' Service and
expressed special appreciation to the tour guides. He hoped
that the limits on tour group size could be relaxed in the
interest of added productivity.

46.  At the end of the general debate, the Under-Secretary-General
for Communications and Public Information made
a statement responding to some of the questions raised by
delegations.


      IV. Preparation and adoption of the
          report of the Committee to the
          General Assembly at its fifty-third
          session


47.  The Committee then took up item 7 of its agenda, and
a debate on procedures for negotiations ensued. One group
maintained that negotiations should take place in the Bureau
of the Committee, together with the representatives of the
regional groups and the Group of 77 and China. A large
group maintained that the Committee needed more
transparent procedures and that negotiations should take
place in an open-ended working group. At the end of the
discussion, the Chairman said that he would initiate
consultations on an informal basis to consider the draft
resolutions and invited all interested delegations to attend
these consultations, to begin the next morning. The
Committee proceeded to adopt this latter course of action.

48.  At its 7th meeting, on 15 May 1998, the Committee
decided, by consensus, to recommend to the General
Assembly the adoption of the following draft resolutions
and draft decision:

              Draft resolution A

              Information in the service of humanity

              The General Assembly,

              Taking note of the comprehensive and important
report of the Committee on Information, 5/

              Taking note also of the report of the
Secretary-General on questions relating to information, 6/

              Urges all countries, organizations of the United
Nations system as a whole and all others concerned,
reaffirming their commitment to the principles of the
Charter of the United Nations and to the principles of
freedom of the press and freedom of information, as well
as to those of the independence, pluralism and diversity of
the media, deeply concerned by the disparities existing
between developed and developing countries and the
consequences of every kind arising from those disparities
that affect the capability of the public, private or other
media and individuals in developing countries to
disseminate information and communicate their views and
their cultural and ethical values through endogenous cultural
production, as well as to ensure the diversity of sources and
their free access to information, and recognizing the call in
this context for what in the United Nations and at various
international forums has been termed "a new world
information and communication order, seen as an evolving
and continuous process":

              (a)     To cooperate and interact with a view to
reducing existing disparities in information flows at all
levels by increasing assistance for the development of
communication infrastructures and capabilities in
developing countries, with due regard for their needs and
the priorities attached to such areas by those countries, and
in order to enable them and the public, private or other
media in developing countries to develop their own
information and communication policies freely and
independently and increase the participation of media and
individuals in the communication process, and to ensure a
free flow of information at all levels;

              (b)     To ensure for journalists the free and effective
performance of their professional tasks and to condemn
resolutely all attacks against them;

              (c)     To provide support for the continuation and
strengthening of practical training programmes for
broadcasters and journalists from public, private and other
media in developing countries;

              (d)     To enhance regional efforts and cooperation
among developing countries, as well as cooperation between
developed and developing countries, to strengthen
communication capacities and to improve the media
infrastructure and communication technology in the
developing countries, especially in the areas of training and
dissemination of information;

              (e)     To aim at, in addition to bilateral cooperation,
providing all possible support and assistance to the
developing countries and their media, public, private or
other, with due regard to their interests and needs in the
field of information and to action already adopted within
the United Nations system, including:

                      (i)     The development of the human and technical
                      resources that are indispensable for the improvement
                      of information and communication systems in
                      developing countries and support for the continuation
                      and strengthening of practical training programmes,
                      such as those already operating under both public and
                      private auspices throughout the developing world;

                      (ii)     The creation of conditions that will enable
                      developing countries and their media, public, private
                      or other, to have, by using their national and regional
                      resources, the communication technology suited to
                      their national needs, as well as the necessary
                      programme material, especially for radio and
                      television broadcasting;

                      (iii)     Assistance in establishing and promoting
                      telecommunication links at the subregional, regional
                      and interregional levels, especially among developing
                      countries;

                      (iv)     The facilitation, as appropriate, of access by
                      the developing countries to advanced communication
                      technology available on the open market;

              (f)     To provide full support for the International
Programme for the Development of Communication 7/ of the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization, which should support both public and private
media.


              Draft resolution B

          United Nations public information policies and
          activities

              The General Assembly,



              Reiterating its decision to consolidate the role of the
Committee on Information as its main subsidiary body
mandated to make recommendations to the General
Assembly relating to the work of the Department of Public
Information of the Secretariat,

              Welcoming the fact that the Secretary-General has
established a post of Under-Secretary-General for
Communications and Public Information, with the appointee
to that post  to head the Department of Public Information,
and noting that the Secretary-General concurs with the view
expressed in the report of the Task Force on the
Reorientation of United Nations Public Information
Activities entitled "Global vision, local voice: a strategic
communications programme for the United Nations" 8/ that
the information and communications function should be
placed at the heart of the strategic management of the
Organization,

              1.     Reaffirms its resolution 13 (I) of 13 February
1946 in which it established the Department of Public
Information of the Secretariat;

              2.     Calls upon the Secretary-General, in respect of
the public information policies and activities of the United
Nations, to implement fully the recommendations contained
in paragraph 2 of its resolution 48/44 B of 10 December
1993;

              3.     Expresses its concern about the trend to reduce
the resources allocated to the Department of Public
Information, and reiterates that all changes or reductions
must be in accordance with the existing budgetary rules as
consistent with Article 17 of the Charter of the United
Nations;

              4.     Requests the Secretary-General to continue to
implement fully the mandates as established by the General
Assembly;

              5.     Takes note of the conceptual framework outlined
by the Secretary-General on the reorientation of United
Nations public information activities as contained in his
report on implementation of the measures regarding
information and communications, 9/ encourages him to
further develop his proposals for the reorientation of United
Nations activities in the area of public information and
communications, taking into account the views of Member
States in this regard, and requests him to submit his detailed
plan thereon to the Committee on Information for
consideration at its twenty-first session in 1999;

              6.     Emphasizes that through its reorientation,.the
Department of Public Information should maintain and
improve its activities in the areas of special interest to the
developing countries and others with special needs,
including countries in transition, and that such reorientation
should contribute to bridging the existing gap between the
developing and the developed countries in the crucial field
of information and communications;

              7.     Takes note with appreciation of the efforts of
the Secretary-General to strengthen the public information
capacity of the Department of Public Information for the
formation and day-to-day functioning of the information
components of peacekeeping and other field operations of
the United Nations, and requests the Secretariat to continue
to ensure the involvement of the Department of Public
Information at the planning stage of such future operations
through interdepartmental consultations and coordination
with other substantive departments of the Secretariat;

              8.     Encourages the Secretary-General to further
strengthen consultative arrangements, as appropriate,
between the Department of Public Information and other
substantive departments of the Secretariat, in particular
those dealing with development issues;

              9.     Takes note of the report of the Secretary-General
regarding the review of major publications by the
Department of Public Information submitted to the
Committee on Information at its nineteenth session, 10/ and
urges the Secretary-General to exert all efforts to ensure
timely production and dissemination in all official
languages of the United Nations of all its major
publications;

              10.     Emphasizes that the publications should fulfil
an identifiable need, should not duplicate other publications
inside the United Nations system and should be produced
in a cost-effective manner;

              11.     Urges the Secretary-General to exert all efforts
to ensure that publications, as well as other public
information products of the Department of Public
Information, contain comprehensive, objective and
equitable information about the issues before the
Organization and maintain editorial independence,
impartiality, accuracy and full consistency with resolutions
and decisions of the General Assembly;

              12.     Calls upon the Secretary-General to ensure full
and direct access of the representatives of the Member
States to the briefings organized at Headquarters by the
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General and to
ensure wider dissemination of the outcome of such
briefings;

              13.     Also calls upon the Secretary-General to exert
all efforts to ensure that information to be presented to the
media is made available to delegations fully and in a timely
fashion;

              14.     Takes note of the report of the Secretary-General
on the evaluation of publications produced by the
Department of Public Information in the sphere of
development, submitted to the Committee on Information
at its nineteenth session, 11/ and requests him to renew his
efforts to better meet the needs for wider dissemination of
development-related information;

              15.     Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General
on the evaluation of the Dag Hammarskjo"ld Library
submitted to the Committee on Information at its nineteenth
session, 12/  and encourages him to continue his efforts to
introduce the latest technological developments into the
work of the Library with a view to ensuring that it continues
and strengthens its role as a broadly accessible resource for
information on the United Nations for Member States and
others;

              16.     Reaffirms the importance attached by Member
States to the role of United Nations information centres in
effectively and comprehensively disseminating information
in all parts of the world, in particular in developing
countries and countries in transition, and especially in those
countries where there is need for greater understanding
about United Nations activities;

              17.     Also reaffirms that the United Nations
information centres meet the primary objectives outlined
by the Committee in its report on its ninth session; 13/ 

              18.     Takes note of the proposals contained in the
report of the Secretary-General's Task Force on the
Reorientation of United Nations Public Information
Activities 8/  concerning United Nations information centres,
including the proposal for the organizing of a United
Nations information centres network and the establishment
of regional hubs, and notes that these proposals are being
considered by the Department of Public Information;

              19.     Also takes note of the report of the
Secretary-General on the results of the trial integration of
United Nations information centres with field offices of the
United Nations Development Programme, submitted to the
Committee on Information at its nineteenth session; 14/ 

              20.     Further takes note of the observation by the
Secretary-General's Task Force on the Reorientation of
United Nations Public Information Activities regarding the
substantial problems that some integrated information
centres have encountered in performing their information
and communications functions, and accordingly requests
him to take this experience into account;

              21.     Stresses that the future integration exercise
should be carried out in a cost-effective manner and on a
case-by-case basis, taking into account the views of the host
country and ensuring that the information functions and the
autonomy of the United Nations information centres are not
adversely affected, and requests the Secretary-General to
report thereon to the Committee on Information at its
twenty-first session;

              22.     Emphasizes the need to review earlier cases of
integration of United Nations information centres, in
accordance with paragraph 87 of General Assembly
resolution 52/220 (III) of 22 December 1997, with a view
to rectifying the situation if the need arises;

              23.     Requests that, in respect of developing proposals
for the establishment of regional hubs, the views of the
Member States concerned be taken fully into account;

              24.     Reaffirms the role of the General Assembly in
relation to the opening of new United Nations information
centres, and invites the Secretary-General to make such
recommendations as he may judge necessary regarding the
establishment and location of these centres;

              25.     Takes note of the information provided by the
Secretary-General on the allocation of resources to United
Nations information centres in 1996, 15/ and calls upon him
to continue to study ways and means of rationalizing and
effecting equitable disbursement of available resources to
all United Nations information centres and to report thereon
to the Committee on Information at its twenty-first session;

              26.     Welcomes the action by some Member States
with regard to providing financial and material support to
United Nations information centres in their respective
capitals, and invites the Secretary-General, through the
Department of Public Information, to consult Member
States, where appropriate, on the possibility of providing
the centres with additional voluntary support on a national
basis, bearing in mind that such support should not be a
substitute for the full allocation of financial requirements
for the United Nations information centres in the context
of the programme budget of the United Nations;
              
              27.     Takes note of the requests by Gabon, Guinea,
Haiti and Kyrgyzstan for information centres or information
components;

              28.     Recognizes the continued enhanced cooperation
between the Department of Public Information and the
University of Peace in Costa Rica as a focal point for
promoting United Nations activities and disseminating
United Nations information materials;

              29.     Expresses its full support for the wide, accurate,
equal and prompt coverage of United Nations activities
through the continuation of United Nations press releases
both in working languages of the Secretariat, namely
English and French, and, where circumstances require, in
other languages, and stresses the importance of the
continued speedy issue and high quality of those press
releases in both working languages;

              30.     Encourages the Secretary-General to continue
exploring ways and means of improving the global access
to airwaves of United Nations Radio and, where possible,
through partnership with other media services, bearing in
mind that radio is one of the most cost-effective and
far-reaching media available to the Department of Public
Information and an important instrument in United Nations
activities, such as development and peacekeeping, in
accordance with General Assembly resolution 48/44 B, and,
in that regard, requests the Secretary-General to prepare a
report on his efforts to develop an international radio
broadcasting capacity for the Organization, taking into
account the linguistic diversity of Member States, and to
submit it to the Committee on Information as soon as
possible and no later than at its twenty-first session;

              31.     Also encourages the inclusion of programmes
of United Nations Radio, in all available languages, on the
United Nations home page on the Internet;

              32.     Underlines the continued importance for the
Department of Public Information of using traditional and
mass media channels to disseminate information on the
United Nations, and encourages the Department of Public
Information to take full advantage of recent developments
in information technologies, such as the Internet, to
improve, in a cost-effective manner, the dissemination of
information on the United Nations, taking into account the
linguistic diversity of the Organization;

              33.     Welcomes the steps being undertaken by the
Department of Public Information to strengthen its capacity
to carry out its responsibility for both maintaining and
coordinating the United Nations home page and for
providing its public information content;

              34.     Expresses its appreciation for the ongoing
programme for broadcasters and journalists from
developing countries conducted by the Department of
Public Information, and calls for its further expansion so as
to include a larger number of trainees from developing
countries, as well as trainees from countries in transition;

              35.     Acknowledges the important work carried out
by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization and its collaboration with news agencies and
broadcasting organizations in developing nations in
disseminating information on priority issues;

              36.     Requests the Department of Public Information
to continue to ensure the greatest possible access for United
Nations guided tours, as well as to ensure that displays in
public areas are kept as informative, up-to-date, relevant
and technologically innovative as possible;

              37.     Urges the Department of Public Information to
take the necessary measures, through the provision of
relevant and objective information, with a view to achieving
the major objectives set forth in the report of the
Secretary-General on the causes of conflict and the
promotion of durable peace and sustainable development
in Africa; 16/

              38.     Recalls its resolutions concerning the
consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, in particular
resolutions 51/138 B of 13 December 1996 and 52/172 of
16 December 1997, and encourages the Department of
Public Information, in cooperation with the countries
concerned and with the relevant organizations and bodies
of the United Nations system, to continue to take
appropriate measures to enhance world public awareness
of the consequences of this disaster;

              39.     Requests the Secretary-General to report to the
Committee on Information at its twenty-first session, in
1999, and to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth
session, in 1999, on the activities of the Department of
Public Information and on the implementation of the
recommendations contained in the present resolution;

              40.     Decides that, starting from the twenty-first
session of the Committee on Information, preparation of the
report of the Committee shall be carried out by an
open-ended working group;

              41.     Requests the Committee on Information to report
to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session;

              42.     Decides to include in the provisional agenda of
its fifty-fourth session an item entitled "Questions relating
to information".


              Draft decision

          Increase in the membership of the Committee on
          Information

              The General Assembly decides to increase the
membership of the Committee on Information from 90 to
93 members and to appoint Angola, the Republic of
Moldova and Solomon Islands as members of the
Committee on Information.

49.  Following the adoption of the draft resolutions and the
draft decision, statements were made by the Netherlands (on
behalf of the States members of the Western European and
Other States Group and Japan), Japan, Indonesia (on behalf
of the States members of the Group of 77 and China),
Jamaica, Brazil, the Syrian Arab Republic, the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (on behalf
of the States members of the European Union), Italy and
Co^te d'Ivoire.

50.  The representative of the Netherlands said that his
group was generally satisfied with the results achieved
during the current session of the Committee and with the
constructive atmosphere in which discussions had taken
place. However, he regretted that "the consensus reached
at the level of the General Assembly, whereby the
consultative mechanism commonly referred to as the
 Extended Bureau' had been agreed upon, was ignored". He
emphasized that his group continued to be of the opinion
that the Extended Bureau had served the Committee and its
members well and that the results achieved at the current
session did not differ significantly from those reached when
the Extended Bureau had been used. He said that his Group
regretted that a full discussion of the paragraph in draft
resolution A containing a reference to the "so-called new
world information and communication order" had not been
possible. His group did not support the concept of a new
world information and communication order which, in its
view, belonged to a time long past and could be used to
stifle the freedom of the media and the free flow of
information. He added that the acceptance by his Group of
the text of the resolutions ought not to be taken as
agreement with that concept, which should be reviewed at
the next session of the Committee. He said that, beginning
with the next session of the Committee, preparation of the
report would be held within an open-ended working group
and hoped that the "formality and physical distance" that
had characterized the informal meetings of interested
delegations at the current session would "not be repeated".

51.  The representative of Indonesia stressed that the
open-ended informal consultations had proved to be
extremely meaningful and had contributed to the principle
of transparency and participation which should be
maintained. His group was of the view that draft resolution
A, particularly the part on the new world information and
communication order, was of particular importance. It also
believed in the "centrality" of the Department of Public
Information and affirmed that the Department must fulfil
its tasks of making the world aware of priority issues in an
"equitable manner". The representative of Jamaica agreed
with the views of the Group of 77, as did the representative
of the Syrian Arab Republic, who added that the idea of a
new world information and communication order had never
been intended to entail a curbing of the free flow of
information. The representative of Co^te d'Ivoire
appreciated, on the part of the African States Group, that
the aspirations of his group had been taken into
consideration.

52.  The representative of Brazil appreciated the
establishment of an open-ended working group and the fact
that the Committee "had the courage" to move in a direction
of change and hope for the future. The representatives of
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
and Italy said that they found the session to have been a
productive one and appreciated the spirit of compromise.

53. The representative of Japan reiterated that the
Department's activities should not be considered
non-programme ones, and said his delegation strongly
opposed any reduction in the Department's budgetary
resources from the level approved by the General Assembly.
He said also that, while his delegation accepted draft
resolution A, he urged the developing countries to embark
on a new path and "consider new ideas at the next session
of the Committee".

54. The Chairman announced that the Committee on
Information would hold a one-day resumed session prior to
the consideration by the Special Political and
Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) of item 87,
entitled "Questions relating to information" (resolutions
51/137 of 13 December 1996 and 52/70 B of 10 December
1997), of the provisional agenda of the fifty-third regular
session of the General Assembly. The proposed report of
the Secretary-General on an international radio broadcasting
capacity would be discussed at that time.


                                Notes


          1/   Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-fifth
               Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/35/21), annex, sect. V.

          2/   Ibid., Thirty-sixth Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/36/21);
               ibid., Thirty-seventh Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/37/21 and
               Corr.1); ibid., Thirty-eighth Session, Supplement No. 21
               (A/38/21 and Corr.1 and 2); ibid., Thirty-ninth Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/39/21); ibid., Fortieth Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/40/21); ibid., Forty-first Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/41/21); ibid., Forty-second Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/42/21); ibid., Forty-third Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/43/21); ibid., Forty-fourth Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/44/21); ibid., Forty-fifth Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/45/21); ibid., Forty-sixth Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/46/21); ibid., Forty-seventh Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/47/21); ibid., Forty-eighth Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/48/21); ibid., Forty-ninth Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/49/21); ibid., Fiftieth Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/50/21); and ibid., Fifty-first Session,
               Supplement No. 21 (A/51/21).

          3/   Ibid., Fifty-second Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/52/21).

          4/   Report of the Global Conference on the Sustainable
               Development of Small Island Developing States, Bridgetown,
               Barbados, 25 April-6 May 1994 (United Nations publication,
               Sales No. E.94.I.18 and corrigenda), chap. I, resolution 1,
               annex II.

          5/   Ibid., Fifty-third Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/53/21).

          6/   A/53/__.

          7/   See United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
               Organization, Records of the General Conference,
               Twenty-first Session, Belgrade, 23 September to 28 October
               1980, vol. 1, Resolutions, sect. III.4, resolution 4/21.

          8/   A/AC.198/1997/CRP.1.

          9/   A/AC.198/1998/2.

         10/   A/AC.198/1997/3.

         11/   A/AC.198/1997/4.

         12/   A/AC.198/1997/2 and Add.1.

         13/   Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-second,
               Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/42/21), chap. III.D,
               recommendation 36.

         14/   A/AC.198/1997/5.

         15/   A/AC.198/1997/6.

         16/   A/52/871-S/1998/318.


                              Annex I

        Statement by the Chairman of the Committee on Information
                at the opening of the twentieth session


1.   As we start the twentieth session of the Committee on
Information, allow me first to welcome Mr. Kensaku Hogen,
the newly appointed Under-Secretary-General for
Communications and Public Information.

2.   I have had the opportunity to meet with him on several
occasions, and I am pleased to note the provision of
availability, dialogue and cooperation on his part. I look
forward to continuing such an open relationship in the
future.

3.   I would also like to extend my greetings to his
predecessor, Mr. Samir Sanbar, whose dynamic in dealing
with information issues was always an encouragement to
me, and I wish to thank him for the support that I received
throughout the years.

4.   The opening meeting of the twentieth session of the
Committee is being held on the same day that the United
Nations has celebrated, here in the same room, World Press
Freedom Day, to honour and remember those reporters,
journalists and editors who were victims of censorship and
repression and who, in many cases, died while serving in the
line of duty and promoting a free press.

5.   The year 1997 saw no progress regarding freedom of
the press, and it must be underlined that an independent
media, acting without interference, is of crucial importance
to the fostering of democracy and development.

6.   The right to freedom of opinion and expression has
a further meaning this year, when we celebrate the fiftieth
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

7.   The report of the Secretary-General on the
implementation of the measures regarding information and
communications focuses on a new orientation towards
spreading the message of the United Nations, and the
appointment of an Under-Secretary-General to head the
Department is a clear signal of the intention to develop a
culture of communications throughout the Organization.

8.   The Committee on Information, with its specific
mandate, has an important role to perform in making sure
that the United Nations continues to draw public support,
enhances its efficiency and strengthens its capacity to
communicate at country and regional levels.

9.   The report of the Secretary-General contains several
points on the new orientation of the Department of Public
Information that deserve reflection. In this regard, it is my
conviction that members of the Committee share identical
views on the important role of information technology, with
its rapid advances, in sending forth the message of the
United Nations -- and quickly. In this particular field, it is
rewarding to observe the growing number of people who use
the Internet to obtain information about the United Nations
and its agencies.

10.  This does not diminish the continuing important role
in promoting the United Nations of traditional technology,
such as print, television and, naturally, radio, which is a
cost-effective and far-reaching tool for keeping all the
regions of the world informed about what the United
Nations is doing. Also, in disseminating public information,
United Nations Radio is of key importance in peacekeeping
operations and humanitarian activities.

11.  I have just made reference to the elements that today
contribute to the fastest dissemination of the image of the
United Nations but will refrain from going into detail
regarding all the subjects for reflection contained in the
report of the Secretary-General, namely the partnership with
information disseminators, the Dag Hammarskjo"ld Library,
publications and United Nations information centres, which
also play an important role in the Organization's ability to
communicate at country and regional levels.

12.  I have been in contact with representatives of the
different groups and with individual members and intend
to continue to remain so. Today, at the opening meeting, I
wish to thank these individuals for their cooperation,
understanding and suggestions, which have been of great
importance to me in preparing for this twentieth session.

13.  I am encouraged by the indications that I have been
receiving to the effect that members of the Committee wish,
as in the past, to have consensus guide our work, and I am
looking forward to a constructive session, informed by a
spirit of cooperation.


                            Annex II

   Statement by the Under-Secretary-General for Communications
 and Public Information at the opening of the twentieth session of 
                  the Committee on Information


1.   I consider it a distinct pleasure and honour to have my
first opportunity to address the Committee on Information.
I have sought, in the few weeks that I have been at the helm
of the Department of Public Information, to meet personally
as many of the representatives of the members of the
Committee as possible. I have also had the pleasure of
exchanging views with the major groups of States
represented in the Committee, and I have been greatly
encouraged by the cordial welcome and advice that I
received from all of you.

2.   May I also take this opportunity to pay tribute to my
distinguished predecessor, Mr. Samir Sanbar. He has left
for me a department of hard-working staff members
dedicated to the service of the United Nations and, in his
very cordial conversations with me, has given me invaluable
advice about the Department, as well as about the
Committee on Information.

3.   In my discussions with representatives of Member
States at various levels, it has become clear to me that the
issues related to the reform process are uppermost in the
minds of the members of the Committee. Indeed, the
Secretary-General's call for a reorientation of the
communications and public information activities of the
United Nations has also been my first concern since the day
I joined the Organization. The task and challenge before us
are to elaborate a comprehensive plan and strategy that will
make the process of reorientation a reality. The report of the
Secretary-General's Task Force on the Reorientation of
United Nations Public Information Activities has provided
us with a clear analysis and recommendations that will assist
us greatly in this endeavour.

4.   As he has stated in his report entitled "Implementation
of the measures regarding information and communications"
(A/AC.198/1998/2), the Secretary-General concurs with
"the conceptual approach and the thrust of the
recommendations" of the Task Force. In addition to the
recommendations of the Task Force, I have also studied
carefully the information that emerged from comprehensive
staff-management consultations within the Department of
Public Information.

5.   The Secretary-General has underscored the
fundamentals of the reorientation process by emphasizing,
first, the essential role of communications "as an integral
part of the substantive programme of the United Nations",
and, second, the need to "develop a culture of
communications throughout the Organization".

6.   I believe that the Secretary-General, in establishing
these priorities, has laid the foundations of the new
orientation of our public information and communications
activities. It follows that under these guidelines the next
steps, that is to say, the development and implementation
of specific measures, should become a relatively easier task.
In respect of giving meaning to these priorities, I would
look to the advice we receive at the current session of the
Committee, and also to the broad objectives defined by the
Secretary-General in his report. These include:

             - The need to project an image of the Organization as
               an open and transparent public institution;

             - The need to strengthen the Organization's ability to
               communicate at the country and the regional level
               around the globe, and to strengthen its capacity to use
               the latest information technologies to that end;

             - The need to develop the capacity to deploy given
               resources flexibly to meet exigencies;

             - The need to strengthen further the Department's
               capacity to work closely with other parts of the
               Organization to design and implement
               communications and information strategies for
               substantive and thematic objectives;

             - The need to follow closely the strategic guidance and
               direction of the General Assembly on the
               implementation of mandates.

7.  The role and influence of information media
worldwide have undergone dramatic changes in the decades
since the creation of this Organization. Media organizations
are now in many instances in a position to take on the roles
of opinion makers. In today's democratic milieu, once
public opinion is formed on particular issues highlighted by
the media, political leaders respond quickly. The basic
mandate of the Department of Public Information calls for
"an informed understanding" of the work of the
Organization. Today, however, the effort required to have
the media disseminate a sufficient quantum of accurate
information about the work of the United Nations is greater
than ever before. Sensational stories are inevitably given
first priority in the highly competitive culture of today's
media. In this environment, issues concerning conflicts and
natural disasters leading to heavy loss of life invariably gain
prominence. On the other hand, stories concerning, for
instance, the alleviation of poverty, social development, the
rights of the ageing and the disabled, and so forth  rarely
appear in the newspapers or on broadcasts. The existence
of this reality does not mean, however, that we in the
Department of Public Information must give up in despair.

8.   It is essential that we come to understand the
requirements of today's media culture and respond
appropriately so as to disseminate the United Nations
message to all parts of the world. In this effort, we all have
to work together   by "we" I mean the staff of the
Department, the staff of the whole Organization and, not
least, representatives and ambassadors of Member States.
Here lies, I believe, the true meaning of "communications
culture". This means that in planning and implementing all
mandated programmes care should be taken to give the need
for communications a high priority. This also means that the
Department of Public Information must strive to keep in
step with the latest trends in the field of communications
and, more importantly, acquire the latest technologies that
play such a crucial role in producing the dramatic changes
in the world of information.

9.   When the Department of Public Information was
established, the print medium and radio were dominant.
Soon thereafter, television came forth to compete for public
attention on an equal footing. With the advent of satellite
broadcasting, however, the current decade has seen such an
explosive growth in the reach of the visual media that
Marshall McLuhan's "global village" may be said to be
already upon us. The phenomenon of a new fourth medium,
the Internet, has only added to the rapid "annihilation of
distance", to use Arnold Toynbee's phrase. This new
medium, though still in the early stages of its development,
has compelled communications and information specialists
everywhere to recognize its far-reaching potential, and they
have been responding immediately. We in the Department
of Public Information can do no less.

10.  I am glad to report that we already have an effective
and efficient operation in the Department which enables us
to play a central role in managing, coordinating and
providing public information content for the United Nations
home page on the Internet. It is my intention to make every
effort within the limited resources at our disposal to
continue to enhance the Department's capacity to use the
new medium to its full extent. Print, radio and video
production will be geared towards taking optimum
advantage of the multimedia capacity of the Internet.
Furthermore, in order to underscore the importance of the
Internet and utilize its potential in interfacing with the other
three media, I am keeping the Information Technology
Section directly in my office, and I intend to strengthen its
leadership by raising it to the Chief-of-Service level,
through redeployment of existing resources. Steps will also
be taken to further enhance training in the use of the Internet
to cover all staff in the Department, so as to enable all
divisions to make their contribution and thus complement
the work of the Information Technology Section.

11.  One of the important recommendations that emanated
from the report of the Task Force on the Reorientation of
United Nations Public Information Activities was the need
to strengthen the capacity of the Department for strategic
planning. In order to meet this need, I am establishing
within the Department a Strategic Communications Planning
Group which will assist and advise me on critical issues that
have a direct bearing on the image of the Organization. The
Group will be composed of the Directors and Chiefs of
Service of the Department and will be supported by a small
unit in my office. The functions of the Group have been
spelled out in the report of the Secretary-General contained
in document A/AC.198/1998/2. What I wish to stress in
addition is that the Group will also enable me to have a
direct link to all the staff in the Department and keep them
informed of all the relevant and significant discussions and
decisions, taken at higher levels, that affect them.

12.  In keeping with the Department's role in developing
and implementing the information and communications
programmes of the Organization, I should like to stress the
need to continue the close working relations that exist
between the Department of Public Information and other
substantive departments of the Secretariat. Indeed, this is
another key aspect of the "communications culture" that the
Secretary-General has called for. It is only through an
Organization-wide recognition of this need that we can
ensure that public information and communications
components are integrated into all programmes. The
Department of Public Information has a wealth of
experience in working closely with other departments and
programmes to develop and effectively implement publicity
programmes for major world conferences and special
sessions of the General Assembly. It has also succeeded in
developing close and effective relationships with the
Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the
Department of Political Affairs in ensuring that public
information and communications are given their due priority
in field operations.

13.  One significant aspect of the Department's work in
support of world conferences and special sessions of the
General Assembly involves the availability of sufficient
resources for such activities. While the General Assembly
established special additional allocations in the budget for
the Department's promotional activities in support of the
recent cycle of world conferences on economic and social
issues, no such allocations are being made for the special
sessions of the Assembly. The result is that the Department
of Public Information has very limited resources in its
regular budget to allocate for activities in support of the
special sessions. I have in mind the very important
upcoming special session on the world drug problem as well
as the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of
Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International
Criminal Court. I believe that the special allocation by the
Assembly of very modest amounts for such publicity
programmes, for use by the Department of Public
Information, would greatly enhance our capacity to assist
in ensuring the success and popular impact of the
deliberations and results of the special sessions. I should
add that the observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the
adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
the fiftieth anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping are
also major priorities as regards the Department's
information and communications activities this year. I am
glad to report that we are working closely with the
substantive departments concerned to ensure that these
landmark events are recognized around the world.

14.  Given the importance attached to the situation in
Africa by the General Assembly, the Security Council, the
Secretary-General and the Department itself, we undertook
at very short notice a major media outreach effort to
publicize the recent report of the Secretary-General on
Africa. Both to maximize impact and in the interest of
speed, United Nations information centres and services, as
well as selected journalists, were provided via electronic
mail, facsimile or the Internet with the embargoed press
materials we had prepared, and with the report itself. This
was the first time that the Organization had used the Internet
and electronic mail to provide significant press materials.
As a result, the report received outstanding worldwide
media coverage.

15.  The image of the United Nations in the media
worldwide varies from country to country. Moreover, it may
sometimes pass through a cycle of favourable and
unfavourable media comment in the same countries. To a
considerable extent, these situations also reflect how
effectively we have been able to package and present our
activities to the mass media in a timely and news-oriented
manner. To respond to such challenges quickly and
effectively requires both an effective news-gathering
capacity and, at the same time, a media response capacity.
Both functions, though interlinked, are also distinct in terms
of the type of activities they entail. To develop the former,
an approach built around the concept of a central news desk
tied to the global news cycle will be developed in the
Department. The elements are present in the existing News
Distribution Section. What is needed is to further strengthen
its news-gathering and timely distribution capacity. To
strengthen the media response capacity of the Department,
in order to respond adequately to media comment on the
work of the Organization, I intend to establish an
interdivisional task force that will be responsible for
analysing media reports and for providing advice on
appropriate responses. In cases of misinformation, it would
ensure that necessary steps are taken to provide the media
with an accurate picture. Elements of this capacity also exist
in the Department, and a good example of a very useful
product of such activity is the small publication entitled
Setting the Record Straight. I believe copies of the latest
edition are available on the table at the back of this room.

16.  The simplest description of the work of the
Department could perhaps be provided in two words:
"building partnerships". If I may extend this description
further, I would call it "building partnerships with
redisseminators". First and foremost among these partners
are the media. The Secretary-General himself has opened
his doors to the media. With the help of the Office of the
Spokesman, media representatives have accompanied the
Secretary-General on many of his important missions, and
the results are there to see in the news headlines. Indeed, the
Secretary-General has established a model for us in building
our partnerships with the media.

17.  For those of us in New York and Geneva, our
immediate partner is of course the United Nations
Correspondents' Association (UNCA). I am very glad to
report that this morning's special commemoration of World
Press Freedom Day was co-sponsored by UNCA, among
others. This, I understand, is a first occasion for such
cooperation, and I can justly express my pleasure and pride
in being part of this new partnership. In keeping with the
Secretary-General's desire, I intend to establish a dialogue
with the representatives of UNCA so that we can work
together to ensure the best possible working conditions for
UNCA's membership.

18.  Another very important partner in the redissemination
of information about the United Nations is of course the
non-governmental organization community. I am greatly
encouraged by the mounting interest on the part of non-governmental
organizations in becoming associated with the
Department of Public Information. The role of civil society,
especially non-governmental organizations and the business
community, is increasingly recognized around the world.
Our objective, as part of the new orientation, will be to
improve the facilities for their activities at the United
Nations on a continuous basis. This applies equally in the
field, where our information centres perform functions
similar to those of the Department's Non-Governmental
Organization Section at Headquarters. It shall be my
endeavour to encourage non-governmental organizations
from all parts of the world to develop links with the
Department and thus become partners in reaching out to the
grass roots, so as to mobilize support for the United
Nations.

19.  In addition to communicating with information
redisseminators, the Department also has a very significant
programme of direct dissemination of information to the
public. These members of the public are the over 600,000
people who visit the United Nations in New York, Geneva
and Vienna every year to take guided tours and participate
in briefing programmes. Together with the Public Inquiries
Unit and the Group Programmes Unit, the United Nations
guided tour programme constitutes a unique and effective
information dissemination activity. It shall be my endeavour
to ensure that the current restrictions on the number of
visitors per tour group and the resulting financial situation
are addressed, and that workable solutions are found so that
they may continue as valuable communications and income-generating 
activities.

20.  The advent of new technologies in the information age
is often confined to mean the advent of the Internet. In many
ways this may be true, but the new technologies have also
had a very significant effect on the growth of the traditional
media, including radio and television, which have gone from
strength to strength. This is especially important for
countries where the Internet is still in its initial stages and
is too expensive for widespread use. The Department has
therefore continued to attach priority to these two traditional
media, especially for broadcasts to developing countries.
Recently, a study on the feasibility of the development of
a United Nations international radio capacity was completed
with the cooperation of a major national broadcasting
organization. We are examining various aspects of the
study, especially the technical, financial, programming and
managerial implications. I will be reporting to Member
States on possible further steps in this regard as soon as
possible. In the meantime, the Department is preparing to
launch a pilot project for a direct broadcasting schedule for
selected regions in Africa and Europe. Furthermore, the
posting of audio files of daily United Nations news bulletins
on the Internet illustrates a new avenue of growth for the
two media together on the United Nations Web site.

21.  In the field of video services, I should like to point
with great satisfaction to our ongoing partnership with the
Cable News Network in producing and broadcasting the
"UN in Action" series to a worldwide audience. The new
orientation of the Department will strengthen and encourage
such partnerships with media organizations around the
world.

22.  The role of the print medium continues to be a central
focus of our communications policies. This is so despite the
growth of the other three media. The Department's
publications programme remains at the centre of our
outreach efforts. Last year, a major readership survey
confirmed the importance of United Nations print materials
to redisseminators around the world. The Department will
focus on a more demand-driven publication programme to
ensure production of high-quality, attractive material that
demonstrates the relevance and centrality of the work of the
United Nations system to the everyday lives and concerns
of people everywhere.

23.  The Dag Hammarskjo"ld Library of the future will be
a library without walls whose foundation will be technical
innovation. The increasing demand for remote access to
full-text information calls for a virtual library where users
will be able to identify material in any collection and
download it electronically. Recognizing that electronic
formats remove all geographical and physical barriers and
facilitate the provision of value-added and cost-effective
information services, the Library initiated several major
activities this year. There is little doubt that this represents
the wave of the future, and the Department cannot be found
wanting in terms of keeping abreast of the latest technology.
In addition, through its system of depository libraries,
currently numbering 364 in 141 countries, the Library has
also continued to disseminate documents and publications
issued by the Department. To ensure more effective
oversight and enhanced service to depository libraries, a
joint inter-agency programme of visits to these libraries was
initiated earlier this year.

24.  From the early days of the Organization, it was
recognized that the United Nations could not achieve its
purposes unless the peoples of the world were fully
informed of its aims and activities. In order to support the
Organization, people needed to understand what it stood for.
It was logical, therefore, that the General Assembly decided
in 1946 to establish branch offices of the Department of
Public Information to promote an informed understanding
of the United Nations among the peoples of the world.
These branch offices became the United Nations
information centres.

25.  The local presence of the information centres and their
knowledge of the community have always been a major
strength of our mission to reach as many people as possible
around the world. The report of the Task Force stressed that
the message of the United Nations needed to be made
relevant to people at the country level. This is exactly what
the information centres have been doing and doing well.

26.  The role of the information centres as a catalyst must
also be underscored. Today, much more so than in the past,
global affairs are shaped not only by Governments but also
by other influential actors, such as non-governmental
organizations, media, think-tanks, foundations, educational
institutions and the business community. Professionally
headed information centres are crucial in regard to keeping
these organizations informed and engaged, while drawing
on their energy, resource base and networks to promote
United Nations communications objectives. The rapid
advances in communications technology and computer
applications have already had wide-reaching beneficial
effects on the effectiveness and relevance of the information
centres, and they carry enormous potential for the future.

27.  However, these exciting developments happen to
converge with a period of budgetary contraction, which has
hit especially hard in the field. During the last decade, the
information centres have suffered greatly as a result of
consecutive cuts in both posts and operational resources.
Over the last six years, for example, Professional posts have
decreased by 40 per cent. At the same time, additional
offices have been established. I fully agree with the concern
expressed by the Task Force over the very limited resources
being made available for information centres.

28.  We are therefore at a crossroads where decisive action
on the future of the information centres is needed. My
approach is not to lament over insufficient resources, but
to look at how we can best do the job with the resources
provided to us by the General Assembly. To attain the
communications goals set by the Secretary-General, and
drawing on recommendations of the Task Force, I am
examining very carefully the recommendations regarding
the establishment of regional hubs. Moreover, the
weaknesses in the integrated centres identified by the Task
Force should be fully addressed in a cooperative effort by
the Department of Public Information, the United Nations
Development Programme and other United Nations system
partners. Discussions are already taking place within the
newly created United Nations Development Group on
practical issues in this context.

29.  In all aspects of the integration exercise, we will
proceed within the parameters set by the General Assembly,
namely, on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the
views of the host country and ensuring that the information
functions and autonomy of the information centres are not
adversely affected.

30.  My statement to the Committee is in two parts. The
part that I am delivering orally reflects on the conceptual
framework set out by the Secretary-General in his report;
the second part, which covers the Department's activities
over the past year in greater detail, is being distributed to
you.

31.  In preparing for my participation in the work of the
Committee, and in familiarizing myself with the work of the
Department of Public Information, I have been very pleased
to note the highly extensive range of information activities
that the Department undertakes throughout the year. Many
of these activities have come to be taken for granted and
therefore do not receive the recognition that is due. In
developing measures in the context of the process of
reorientation, it is my intention to work closely with my
colleagues in the Department and to seek to take full
advantage of the wealth of expertise they possess. The
resources provided to us in the 1998 1999 programme
budget are limited. Our task is to deploy these resources
more flexibly to highlight the priorities set by the General
Assembly and, at the same time, fulfil all our other
mandates. One priority should be very clear to all of us: in
the information age, the Department of Public Information
has to stay in the forefront in serving the international
community and the United Nations. Moreover, as the Task
Force report states unequivocally: "The communications
function should be placed at the heart of the strategic
management of the Organization."

32.  In paragraph 6 of its resolution 52/70 B of 10
December 1997, the General Assembly requested the
Secretary-General to report to the Committee on
Information at its twentieth session on United Nations
public information activities.

33.  Over the period under review, and as part of its efforts
to promote informed public understanding worldwide about
the goals and activities of the United Nations, the
Department of Public Information has continued to develop
partnerships and strengthen the channels of communication
with a broad range of information redisseminators,
including the media, educational institutions, United
Nations depository libraries, non-governmental
organizations and other elements of civil society. In that
endeavour, it has worked closely with other substantive
departments of the Secretariat, as well as with the funds,
programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations
system to identify information priorities, formulate
appropriate information programmes and project a unified
message of the United Nations in order to tackle a wide
array of global problems and concerns.

34.    The Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
continues to support the Secretary-General in his
media functions, including press interviews, press
conferences and other media appearances. After the Deputy
Secretary-General assumed her functions, the Office began
to provide media relations assistance to her, too. The
Spokesman travelled with the Secretary-General to Iraq in
February and made arrangements for some of the
international press corps to accompany the Secretary-General's 
party. Several journalists also accompanied the
Secretary-General during his visit to the Middle East in
March and some media representatives are accompanying
him during his current visit to Africa.

35.  The Office of the Spokesman continues to provide
daily briefings for correspondents accredited at
Headquarters, followed by briefings for interested
delegations, on developments regarding the activities of the
Secretary-General and the work of the United Nations.
These briefings are the main source of latest information on
the Organization. The Office also arranges for press
interviews with senior officials of the United Nations and
sets up background briefings, such as those on the
Secretary-General's recent report on Africa, on the United
Nations reform and currently on his trip to Africa. The
activities of this office continue to provide vital assistance
to correspondents permanently accredited at Headquarters;
accreditations numbered 2,352 in 1997, while 3,940
additional temporary media accreditations were issued at
Headquarters to media representatives attending specific
events or using media services of the Department of Public
Information.

36.  The Department's press releases issued on a daily
basis in both working languages of the Organization
continue to provide the only immediately available written
account of proceedings of intergovernmental meetings held
at Headquarters, as well as a wide range of information on
the activities of the Secretary-General, the Deputy
Secretary-General and the substantive offices of the
Secretariat both at Headquarters and in the field. Press
releases are now also posted on the Internet for immediate
availability to the media, government offices in Member
States, the network of United Nations information centres
and other offices away from Headquarters, as well as to 
non-governmental organizations and the public at large.

37.   Owing to its direct and far-reaching access and
cost-effectiveness, radio remains one of the most important
communications media for the United Nations, particularly
in times of crisis. During 1997, the Department distributed
more than 200,000 cassettes of its taped programmes in 15
languages to some 1,800 radio stations and networks
worldwide, thereby providing in-depth coverage of a wide
range of issues dealt with by the United Nations and
organizations of the United Nations system. The Department
has also increased access by broadcasters worldwide to its
telephone news feeds. Moreover, since March 1998, daily
radio news bulletins in English and French have been
encoded into radio news files and posted together with the
text on the United Nations home page on the Internet.

38.   Over the period under review, the Department, in
cooperation with a major national broadcasting network,
completed a feasibility study on the implications of the
development of an international radio broadcasting capacity
for the United Nations, to serve the general public
information needs of the United Nations and its common
system and also fulfil the specific communications
requirements of peacekeeping situations. The Department
is currently analysing the findings of this study and will
share them with Member States in due course. During the
summer, the Department hopes to launch a pilot direct
broadcasting service in English and French, initially
targeting listeners in Africa and Europe, so as to test the
capacity to introduce direct and sustained shortwave
programming and evaluate the impact of such broadcasts.

39.   Taking advantage of intense media interest in the
United Nations generated by the recent visit of the
Secretary-General to Iraq, United Nations Television has
continued to strengthen its relationship with broadcasters
worldwide. Throughout the crisis in Iraq, for example, it
provided a great number of national television organizations
and international television news syndicators with a
comprehensive service, including live coverage, on
developments centring around the Security Council, the
return of the Secretary-General to Headquarters and other
events. Similarly, the television and photo team from the
Department that accompanied the Secretary-General to
Baghdad was able to make television feeds and still
photographs available to large numbers of international
media present in the Iraqi capital. During that period, great
public interest worldwide led to the broadcast of the
Department's documentary material on United Nations work
in Iraq on television networks throughout the world.

40.   To meet the needs of broadcasters and ensure
coverage of United Nations activities, the Department has
also continued to pursue co-productions with major
broadcasting organizations. It recently co-produced a series
of stories about the United Nations Mission of Observers
in Tajikistan (UNMOT) with the British Broadcasting
Service and Deutsche Welle, thereby ensuring their
coverage of United Nations activities in that country.
Moreover, as part of media outreach for the upcoming
special session of the General Assembly on drug issues, the
Department has also already produced, within existing
resources, three news features in the "UN in Action" series
on aspects of the worldwide drug problem, while another
feature on this subject is under preparation. By the time of
the session, these items will have been distributed to news
editors in more than 100 countries in five languages,
reaching an estimated audience of 200 million viewers. The
Department will also provide international news syndicators
with full coverage of the special session. Moreover, a "B-roll" 
of compilation material on drug issues will also be
available to news organizations to supplement their
coverage of the debate and statements.

41.  The second United Nations World Television Forum
which took place in November 1997 is an example of
another initiative undertaken by the Department to
strengthen relationships with media institutions, seen as key
and indispensable partners in projecting United Nations
messages to a worldwide audience. Organized in co-sponsorship 
with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy,
Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI) and Mediaset and held
under the theme "Television in the new multimedia
environment", the Forum provided a venue for an ongoing
professional dialogue between the United Nations and the
television industry, to highlight themes of common interest
and identify specific areas of cooperation. It was opened by
the Secretary-General, together with Lamberto Dini,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy.

42.  The Department is also continuing its efforts to
provide training opportunities for journalists and
broadcasters from developing countries. Its six-week annual
training programme for young media practitioners from
developing countries will begin in mid-September for
participants from 20 Member States, four of them sponsored
by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation of Germany. A similar
programme is being organized for the fourth year in a row
for Palestinian media practitioners.

43.  The Department is also striving to strengthen
partnerships within the Secretariat as well as with the
organizations of the United Nations system through the
machinery of the Joint United Nations Information
Committee for which it continues to provide the secretariat.
Forging dynamic professional partnerships at the
Headquarters and field levels with other substantive
departments of the Secretariat and with partners throughout
the United Nations system is instrumental in the effective
delivery of United Nations messages and for building an
informed and supportive constituency. Such partnerships
are also essential if the Department is to fulfil a multitude
of mandates with the limited resources at its disposal and
develop and implement system-wide thematic information
campaigns on priority issues of concern to the international
community.

44.  This year, in close cooperation with the relevant
substantive departments of the Secretariat and with
organizations of the system, the Department has developed
comprehensive communications programmes to promote
several upcoming high-priority observances and
conferences. All planned activities are being funded from
the regular budget of the Department, as additional
resources are no longer allocated for information
programmes for conferences and special sessions of the
General Assembly.

45.  For the upcoming special session of the General
Assembly on the world drug problem, scheduled to take
place from 8 to 10 June 1998, the Department is undertaking
an accelerated media outreach campaign in the six weeks
leading up to the session so as to generate broader
understanding of the related issues. This builds on the more
long-term activities undertaken by the Department at
Headquarters and through the network of United Nations
information centres and services in the field in the months
leading up to the special session. A similar information
programme and range of activities have also been developed
for the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of
Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International
Criminal Court, to take place in Rome from 15 June to 17
July 1998.

46.  The Department has worked closely with the Office
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
to develop a comprehensive information strategy for the
observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The year-long
observance was launched on Human Rights Day, 1997, with
a number of events organized by the Department in different
venues. In New York, a special event featured several
notable speakers, including the First Lady of the United
States of America and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka. This
was preceded by a two-day journalists' round table. The
United Nations Information Service in Geneva also
organized an event to mark the beginning of the anniversary
year, as did many other information centres and services
around the world. Selections from the text of the instrument
and photographs from a major exhibit mounted at
Headquarters for the launch of the observance of the fiftieth
anniversary are being reproduced in a booklet for broader
distribution. The exhibit itself, to which several
internationally acclaimed photojournalists contributed their
work, was also mounted in Geneva for the annual session
of the Commission on Human Rights and will travel to other
venues during the year. An additional exhibit on the
recipients of United Nations Human Rights Awards is
planned for presentation at Headquarters during the
anniversary event this December. Up to now, over 220
language versions of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights have been produced, more than half of them by the
network of United Nations information centres and services
worldwide. The centres used the relevant articles of the
Declaration as the subject of seminars, student rallies,
exhibits, television and radio programmes and countless
speaking engagements by centre directors. Other events
during this year, such as the observances of International
Women's Day and World Press Freedom Day held earlier
today, as well as the annual DPI/NGO Conference, are being
tied to the relevant provisions of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. The Department is continuing its efforts
to use a proactive media outreach to promote all related
activities.

47.  The Department has also developed a programme of
outreach activities to heighten public awareness of youth
issues, broaden substantive knowledge of youth concerns
and encourage youth involvement in United Nations issues,
in preparation for the World Youth Forum and the World
Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, scheduled
to be held in Lisbon in August 1998, to review and appraise
the progress in the implementation of the World Programme
of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond.
Preparations are also under way for the October launch of
the International Year of Older Persons (1999). The issue
of ageing is already generating great interest among 
non-governmental organizations and the Department is working
closely with a number of groups to prepare activities in
observance of the Year.

48.  In the area of peace and security, the past year has
seen steady emphasis on interdepartmental cooperation to
ensure that communications and public information are
integral components of the activities in these areas, both at
Headquarters and in the field. Progress has been slow, but
steady. A manual containing provisional guidelines for
public information components in peacekeeping and other
field missions has been finalized and is being published as
part of the training handbook series produced by the
Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the Secretariat.
The two departments continue to consult regularly on
budgetary and staffing requirements for public information
components in the field and have also cooperated in the
establishment of a Trust Fund for Public Information in
Peacekeeping. The Fund is intended as a vehicle through
which interested donors may supplement resources in
mission budgets and will permit rapid start-up of public
information activities. The Government of Japan has made
the first contribution to this Trust Fund, to strengthen
information activities of UNMOT. Cooperation between the
two departments also extends to activities in observance of
the fiftieth anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping this
year, which will provide an opportunity to honour all those
who have served in such missions and focus public attention
on the value of United Nations peacekeeping as a tool in
conflict resolution.

49.  As part of its special information programme on the
question of Palestine, the Department organized a regional
seminar for Asian journalists on the theme "Prospects for
peace", held in New Delhi on 3 and 4 February 1998. The
Seminar, hosted by the Government of India, brought
together Palestinian and Israeli experts, policy makers and
journalists, as well as senior media representatives from
throughout Asia, to familiarize them with the latest
developments in the Palestinian situation. In accordance
with General Assembly resolution 52/51 of 9 December
1997, the Department is preparing another, similar seminar
for the European region, to be held in Prague on 25 and 26
June 1998.

50.  Non-governmental organizations and other elements
of civil society are another key constituency for the United
Nations. The Department provides services for a growing
number of national and international non-governmental
organizations, with 1,547 such organizations now having
associate status with it. The Department's Resource Centre
has continued to enhance its services to associated and other
organizations, becoming a regular meeting place for 
non-governmental organization committees working on priority
issues before the United Nations. The annual DPI/NGO
Conference, scheduled to take place from 14 to 16
September 1998, will be held under the theme "The fiftieth
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
from words to deeds".

51.  Public interest in the Organization is also enhanced
through education and training programmes, special events
in observance of selected commemorative days and years,
exhibits and services to the public. Events at Headquarters,
including those organized in co-sponsorship with external
partners, are designed to highlight priority issues of the
United Nations and attract media attention, thus augmenting
the Department's public outreach function. Services to the
public continue to be among the most visible, direct and
immediate means at the Department's disposal, currently
reaching over 600,000 people annually. When the United
Nations is in the news, as it has been in the wake of the
Secretary-General's visit to Iraq, the interest of the public
increases accordingly. The volume of correspondence,
especially electronic mail handled by the Department,
skyrocketed, as did the number of people taking the guided
tour, straining thereby the capacity to satisfy this most
welcome public interest in the Organization.

52.  The guided tour provides visitors with direct, personal
contact with the United Nations, giving it a human face.
However, the impact of this activity is still diminished
owing to the continuing restriction on the number of visitors
per guide to 15, limiting both the Department's ability to
accommodate all those interested in taking the tour and the
income from this activity. Moreover, the tour route is much
in need of an overhaul, as many gifts and artwork from
Member States need repair and cleaning and many exhibits
require updating. While the Department has begun to make
some modest improvements, more is needed than is
currently allowed through the resources available in its
regular budget. The Department is looking forward to the
advice and assistance of the Committee in securing possible
extrabudgetary resources for this purpose.

53.  Outreach to educators is another area pursued by the
Department. Over the last year, a series of workshops and
seminars for educators, as well as "Students' Days at the
United Nations" have been introduced. This summer, the
Department will offer two 10-hour workshops for teachers,
organized in cooperation with the New York City Board of
Education, to better equip teachers to bring the United
Nations into the classroom. The Department also organizes
briefing programmes, as part of the effort to educate the
public and cultivate relationships with educational
institutions and representative and influential elements of
civil society. Among those, it continued an ongoing
semester-long programme with the School of International
and Public Affairs at Columbia University and hosted the
annual conferences of both the National High-School and
the National College Model United Nations, each drawing
over 2,000 young people to Headquarters.

54.  The last year has seen exponential growth of Internet
use as the fourth communications medium available to the
Department. While the number of accesses to the United
Nations home page had been just over 11 million in 1996,
it increased to 42 million in 1997. The number of accesses
between the beginning of 1998 and mid-April 1998, coming
from 130 countries around the world, crossed the 20 million
mark. To meet this demand, the Department established,
through redeployment of staff, a new Information
Technology Section in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General 
for Communications and Public Information,
responsible for the coordination, management and
maintenance of the United Nations home page, as well as
for assistance and training of user offices in preparation of
contents for the site. As additional departments start posting
material on-line, the task of maintaining the home page
becomes more demanding, requiring additional
redeployment of resources to meet the growing needs. At
present, efforts are continuing to redesign the structure of
the United Nations home page, making it more user-friendly
and adding new features, such as audio files. Also, in
accordance with provisions of General Assembly resolution
52/214 C of 22 December 1997 in which the Assembly
stipulated that the home page should be made available in
all official languages, a pilot Web site in Russian has just
been launched. In addition, 12 United Nations information
centres and services use their own home pages to expand
outreach, while 14 additional centres are also preparing to
launch Web sites. In the months to come, the Department
hopes to increase the range of official documentation and
public information materials available through its home
page, making most of them available either at the same time
as, or even earlier than, the printed versions. This will
enhance the use of Internet communications between
Headquarters and offices in the field. New techniques will
also be used to ensure more attractive and user-friendly
presentation of the materials, with enhanced search
functions.

55.  The United Nations CyberSchoolBus, a pioneering
educational project available through electronic mail,
reaches thousands of schools and tens of thousands of
students in over 50 countries with biweekly announcements
and information. While its backbone on the production and
dissemination end is held together by the power and
potential of information technology, its emphasis is on high
content, not technology. Using the basic medium of
electronic mail, United Nations offices and non-governmental 
organizations even in the least developed
countries are able to transmit information on United Nations
activities to a network of schools and educators who lack
their own electronic mail access.

56.  Electronic technology also continues to impact on the
changing role and programme delivery of the Dag
Hammarskjo"ld Library. In April 1997, an Electronic
Resources Development Section was established in the
Library to bring under one roof the maintenance and
development of the Integrated Library Management System
(ILMS) and other computer systems, the Internet/Intranet
sites, and the shared indexing and preservation programmes,
as well as the testing and evaluation of new electronic
services on the market. Recognizing that electronic formats
remove all geographical and physical barriers and facilitate
the provision of value-added and cost-effective information
services, the Library initiated three major activities this
year: the launching of a daily desktop delivery of major
news stories concerning the Organization, "UN in the
News", which now reaches an audience of over 3,000
delegates and staff throughout the United Nations system;
the strengthening and expansion of its training programme
in electronic information retrieval; and an expansion of
electronic desktop dissemination of time-/mission-critical
information. Because electronic subscriptions have proved
to be more cost-effective and timely, the Library has
continued its efforts to replace print with electronic
subscriptions whenever possible and to initiate cost
recovery where feasible. It has also initiated the United
Nations System Consortium, which, through system-wide
subscriptions to electronic information from the Economist
Information Unit, Oxford Analytica, NewsEdge and other
services, realized approximately US$ 60 million in purchase
cost savings for the United Nations for the first four months
of 1998 alone. At present, 20 members are taking advantage
of the volume-driven subscription rates available through
this service, and several other organizations of the United
Nations system are considering membership. This initiative
has enabled the permanent missions to have access to
electronic information previously available only to
Secretariat staff.

57.  Over the period under review, the Library's home
page has been expanded to include "UN-I-QUE", a
searchable database for selected United Nations documents
from 1946 to the present; "Documents Alert", a service
announcing the availability of new important documents;
"Maps", a site in English and French containing updated
maps of current peacekeeping operations; "United Nations
Documents: research guide", an on-line guide to the
structure, organization and use of United Nations
documents; and a complete listing of electronic resources
available in the Library and its branch offices. The Library
has also posted Cyberlinks, a collection of links to regional
and country Internet information resources and news
services, which has recently been enriched by a listing of
special substantive topics, such as peacekeeping, human
rights, environment and so forth.

58.  The Library has completed the conversion of the
United Nations Bibliographic Information System (UNBIS)
database to the new format. At present, UNBIS includes,
for the period 1946 1997, resolutions of the General
Assembly, Economic and Social Council, Security Council
and the Commission on Human Rights, as well as documents
of the International Court of Justice. Retrospective indexing
of pre-1978 documents of the Security Council has been
initiated. Two major publications have been prepared as
vital tools of UNBIS: Index to resolutions of the Security
Council (1946 1996), issued in 1997; and United Nations
document series symbols (1946 1996), issued in 1998.
Through ILMS, the Library will enhance the linkages
between UNBIS and the optical disk system to create a
complete resource on United Nations documentation. ILMS
will also serve as the basis of a shared indexing network
linking libraries at Headquarters with overseas duty stations.
Through a more innovative use of technology, the UNBIS
catalogue will provide a truly interactive resource that will
include Internet sites of the United Nations system and
image files of selected United Nations maps. Digital files
of maps, together with accompanying documents, will also
be available in the optical disk system. To meet the requests
by Member States, the Library has initiated, in cooperation
with the Department of Management, a programme of
retrospective digitization of documents from the United
Nations microfiche collection, to be uploaded to the optical
disk system.

59.  Through its system of depository libraries, currently
numbering 364 in 141 countries, the Library has also
continued to disseminate documents and publications issued
by the Organization. To ensure more effective oversight and
enhanced service to depository libraries, a joint inter-agency
programme of visits to those institutions was initiated
earlier this year.

60.  Despite the increasingly sophisticated technology
available to much of the Department's core audiences, a
recent worldwide survey of readership of its publications
revealed the continuing demand for print products. While
the survey showed the wide availability of the Internet, even
in the most developed countries there was a clear, strong
assertion from groups that work actively to redisseminate
information about the United Nations that print publications
remain vital to their work. The Department's Design Unit,
which consistently produces outstanding designs to meet the
needs of both the Department and other parts of the
Secretariat, continues to receive the plaudits of all those
who use its services.

61.  The survey, carried out to assess the continuing
relevance of UN Chronicle, Africa Recovery and other
recurrent publications by the Department, confirmed the
large hunger for information about the Organization. A
number of innovations have been introduced to further
enhance the value of these publications to their readership.
More attractive covers, greater use of graphics and
photographs, and articles about and interviews with eminent
personalities and authors have been introduced in the UN
Chronicle and other publications. A thematic approach,
bringing out the relevance of the entire United Nations
system to peoples' daily lives, has replaced the descriptive
accounts of deliberations in various bodies in publications
such as Basic Facts. To meet the demand for updated
information, publications such as UN in Brief and Image &
Reality are now being issued yearly and in more languages
than before, and also placed on the United Nations home
page for readers with access to the Internet.

62.  Another method of disseminating United Nations
information is through the sale of its publications. During
the biennium 1996 1997, the Department's Sales and
Marketing Section reported an excess of income over
expenditure amounting to US$ 1.7 million, exceeding
almost three times its estimated earnings for that period. For
the second biennium in succession, this Section was leading
over all other revenue-producing activities of the
Organization, reporting some 45 per cent of the total
revenue for the biennium.

63.  Over the last year, the Department has further
enhanced its cooperation with the World Bank to ensure that
Development Business remains the premier vehicle for fast,
efficient information on procurement for projects in
developing countries across the entire United Nations
family and the world's major regional development banks.
A new product, Development Business Online   a
commercial Web site now in development with the
cooperation of the World Bank   will be launched shortly.
With its sophisticated search capabilities and continuous
updating, it will offer subscribers faster, easier access to the
information now published in Development Business and
will generate additional subscribers.

64.  Given the high priority accorded by the United
Nations to peace and sustainable development in Africa, the
Department has focused, with considerable success, on
raising the profile of the continent in the media. A major
media outreach effort, which included the production of
some very effective press materials disseminated
worldwide, ensured that the report of the Secretary-General
to the General Assembly and the Security Council on the
causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and
sustainable development in Africa was prominently covered
by much of the world's press. Another campaign,
undertaken during the recent visit by the President of the
United States of America to several African countries,
succeeded in obtaining coverage of both the continent's
remarkable economic turnaround and its continuing need
for development assistance and debt relief. The upcoming
summit-level Tokyo Conference on African Development,
at which the United Nations will be a full partner, will,
similarly, give the Department an opportunity to
disseminate widely information about Africa.

65.  The local presence of the United Nations information
centres and their knowledge of the conditions in the
countries that they serve have always been a major strength
of the United Nations mission to reach as many people
around the world as possible. The report of the Secretary-General's 
Task Force on the Reorientation of United
Nations Public Information Activities stressed that the
message of the United Nations needed to be made relevant
to people at the country level. United Nations information
centres worldwide are uniquely equipped to perform that
function at the local level and to bring to the members of
their communities a sense of the relevance of the work of
the United Nations to those members' daily lives, by
tailoring the Organization's message to local conditions and
interests for maximum impact and providing it with a local
face and voice.

66.  The activities of the United Nations information
centres over the past year reflect a strengthened emphasis
on educational and youth outreach and growing partnerships
with the ever-expanding community of non-governmental
organizations. In several locations, the business community
has also provided opportunities for cooperation in support
of United Nations themes.

67.  Some activities have been extraordinary in their scale
and impact. For example, the United Nations Information
Centre in Rome reached an agreement with Benetton, the
clothing manufacturer, to feature articles of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights in the company's worldwide
advertising campaign, including billboards in New York
City, reaching an estimated 60 countries. Other activities
were extraordinary in different ways. For example, staff of
the United Nations Information Centre in Yangon set up a
United Nations booth at a pagoda festival in Pindaya,
Myanmar. Since plywood boards were not available,
bamboo mats were framed with bamboo slats to serve as
poster display boards. The end result was that the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights   along with other
achievements of the United Nations   was brought to the
attention of thousands of local people who visited the
pagoda festival.

68.  United Nations information centres have also been
very active in disseminating information about United
Nations reform and in organizing activities relating to
narcotic drugs, in particular with the view to publicizing the
upcoming special session of the General Assembly on that
issue. In most countries of the world, concerns of young
people are not confined to the borders of their own country.
They are exposed to all the vital questions of our day, and
feel that they have a stake in the future of our planet. Very
often, they want the United Nations to be part of the
answers. That is why educational and student outreach
programmes are among the fastest-growing activities of the
United Nations information centres and services worldwide,
encompassing student briefings, adaptation of United
Nations educational kits, teacher training, curriculum
support, workshops and other means of bringing the United
Nations into the classroom.

69.  Over the last year, all information centres were
provided with the very latest computer technology. Staff
were trained both in computer applications and in Internet
use. That most centres now have the ability to communicate
by electronic mail contributes to our being brought closer
together and makes possible the immediate transmittal of
the latest information from Headquarters. The optical disk
system, while not yet available at all centres, has
contributed greatly to the enhancement of services to the
media, researchers and the public at large. Intense efforts
are also under way to explore the use of videoconferencing
as a means of expanding the outreach of United Nations
information centres.

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Date last posted: 10 January 2000 10:05:30
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