United Nations

A/RES/51/138


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

10 February 1997

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH



Fifty-first session
Agenda item 87


                  RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

     [on the report of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee
                 (Fourth Committee) (A/51/594) and A/51/L.61]


            51/138.     Questions relating to information

                                       A

                      Information in the service of humanity

      The General Assembly,

      Taking note of the comprehensive and important report of the
Committee on Information, 1/

      Also taking note of the report of the Secretary-General on
questions relating to information, 2/

      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 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, in addition to bilateral cooperation, at 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 3/ of the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which should
support both public and private media.

                                                          83rd plenary meeting
                                                              13 December 1996


                                       B

           United Nations public information policies and activities

      The General Assembly,

      Reaffirming its primary role in elaborating, coordinating and
harmonizing United Nations policies and activities in the field of
information,

      Also reaffirming that the Secretary-General should ensure that
the activities of the Department of Public Information of the
Secretariat, as the focal point for the public information tasks of
the United Nations, are strengthened and improved, keeping in view the
purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the
priority areas defined by the General Assembly and the recommendations
of the Committee on Information,

      Taking note of all the reports of the Secretary-General submitted
to the Committee at its eighteenth session,

      Encouraging the Secretary-General to develop a concrete plan to
continue to enhance the public image of the United Nations,

      1.    Welcomes the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to
membership in the Committee on Information;

      2.    Recalls its decision to consolidate the role of the
Committee as its main subsidiary body mandated to make recommendations
relating to the work of the Department of Public Information of the
Secretariat;

      3.    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;

      4.    Takes note of the reductions in the resources allocated to
the Department of Public Information, expresses its concern about the
proposals of the Secretary-General on further reductions in the
Department's budget which might negatively affect the activities
mandated by the General Assembly, and requests the Secretary-General
to support the Department of Public Information, in accordance with
section II, paragraph 6, of Assembly resolution 50/214 of 23 December
1995;

      5.    Also takes note of the efforts of the Secretary-General to
put into practice the need for an effective 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 at
the planning stage of such future operations through interdepartmental
consultations and coordination with the other substantive departments
of the Secretariat;

      6.    Requests the management of the Department of Public
Information to review the Department's publications and proposals for
publications to ensure that all publications fulfil an identifiable
need, that they do not duplicate other publications inside or outside
the United Nations system and that they are produced in a cost-
effective manner, and to report thereon to the Committee at its
nineteenth session;

      7.    Takes note of the report of the Secretary-General regarding
the review of major publications of the Department of Public
Information, 4/ and urges all efforts to ensure timely production and
dissemination of its major publications, in particular the UN
Chronicle, the Yearbook of the United Nations, the World Media
Handbook and Africa Recovery, maintaining consistent editorial
independence and accuracy, taking the necessary measures to ensure
that they contain adequate, objective and equitable information about
issues before the Organization and reflecting divergent opinions
wherever they occur;

      8.    Requests the Secretary-General to conduct a review of
existing publications produced and disseminated by the Department of
Public Information in the sphere of development and to renew his
efforts to improve existing publications or explore the possibility of
alternative publications, in such a manner as to respond to the
development-related information needs of people, in accordance with
the requirements that the publications fulfil an identifiable need,
that they do not duplicate other publications inside or outside the
United Nations system and that they are produced in a cost-effective
manner;

      9.    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,
particularly in developing countries and countries in transition, and
especially in those countries where there is a need for greater
understanding about United Nations activities;

      10.   Reaffirms also that United Nations information centres meet
the primary objectives outlined by the Committee in its report to the
General Assembly at its forty-second session; 5/

      11.   Recalls the report of the Secretary-General on the results
of the trial of integrating United Nations information centres with
field offices of the United Nations system in general, 6/ and
requests the Secretary-General to continue the integration exercise in
a cost-effective manner and whenever feasible, 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 United Nations
information centres are not adversely affected and to report thereon
to the Committee;

      12.   Welcomes the action by some Member States with regard to
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;

      13.   Takes note of the report of the Secretary-General on the
allocation of resources to United Nations information centres in
1995, 7/ and calls upon him to continue to study ways and means to
rationalize and effect equitable disbursement of available resources
to all United Nations information centres;

      14.   Also takes note of the important impact on the functioning
and the fulfilment of the objectives of some of the United Nations
information centres of the development of new technologies such as the
Internet and CD-ROM, and their effect on the dissemination of
information, the increase in the number of United Nations depository
libraries in some Member States and the increased importance of all
concerned actors of the international community in their cooperation
with the Organization;

      15.   Requests the Secretary-General therefore to submit a report
to the Committee, for its consideration at its nineteenth session, on
United Nations information centres, in particular, on added value,
efficiency, cost-effectiveness and avoidance of duplication,
especially in the areas of new technologies, with a view to offering
recommendations on the review, strengthening and rationalization of
their activities;

      16.   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;

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

      18.   Takes note of the requests of Bulgaria, Gabon, Guinea,
Haiti, Kyrgyzstan and Slovakia for information centres or information
components;

      19.   Requests the Secretary-General to conduct an evaluation,
within existing resources and without detriment to mandated programmes
and activities, through the services of an independent consultant
selected after an open and transparent selection process, of the
functioning of the Dag Hammarskjo"ld Library, covering, inter alia,
its infrastructure, operations, staffing and budgetary situation, with
a view to improving all its services and taking advantage of new,
cost-effective automated and electronic library information and
communication technologies and services and taking into account
previous studies on the subject, and to submit a report thereon to the
Committee at its nineteenth session;

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

      21.   Encourages the Secretary-General to explore ways and means
to improve the access of United Nations radio to airwaves worldwide,
bearing in mind that radio is one of the most cost-effective and far-
reaching media available to the Department of Public Information and
is an important instrument in United Nations activities, such as
development and peacekeeping, in accordance with its resolution 48/44
B;

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

      23.   Commends the Department of Public Information for the
important role it played in responding to the increased public
interest resulting from the fiftieth anniversary of the United
Nations;

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

      25.   Invites Member States and relevant international
organizations to submit to the Secretary-General by 15 March 1997
their observations and suggestions on ways and means of furthering the
development of communication infrastructures and capabilities in
developing countries, and requests the Secretary-General to submit a
report thereon to the Committee at its nineteenth session;

      26.   Recommends, in order to continue to facilitate contact
between the Department of Public Information and the Committee between
sessions, that the Bureau of the Committee, together with
representatives of each regional group, the Group of 77 and China, in
close contact with the members of the Committee, should continue to
meet on a regular basis and consult at periodic intervals with
representatives of the Department;

      27.   Takes note of the contribution made by Member States, in
cooperation with the Department of Public Information and the United
Nations Coordinator of International Cooperation on Chernobyl, to
information activities for the tenth anniversary of the Chernobyl
disaster, and recalls its resolutions concerning the consequences of
the above-mentioned disaster, in particular, resolutions 50/31 B of 6
December 1995 and 50/134 of 20 December 1995, encouraging the regular
exchange of information with the countries concerned and with the
relevant organizations and bodies of the United Nations system, with a
view to enhancing world public awareness of the consequences of such
disasters;

      28.   Recognizes the positive role of the regional seminars held
at Windhoek, Santiago, Almaty and Sana'a for the promotion of
independent and pluralistic media, takes note of the invitation of the
General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization at its twenty-eighth session, in its resolution
4.6 of 15 November 1995, 8/ to cooperate with the Director-General of
the Organization in the preparation and organization of a similar
regional seminar in 1997 in Central and Eastern Europe, depending on
the availability of funding, also takes note of the offer of the
Government of Bulgaria to host such a seminar, and invites the
Department of Public Information to provide the requested assistance
in jointly mobilizing the support of various other voluntary funding
sources;

      29.   Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Committee at
its nineteenth session and to the General Assembly at its fifty-second
session on the activities of the Department of Public Information and
on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the present
resolution;

      30.   Decides that the nineteenth session of the Committee should
last no more than ten working days, and requests the Bureau of the
Committee to explore ways and means of making optimum use of the
Committee's time;

      31.   Requests the Committee to report to the General Assembly at
its fifty-second session;

      32.   Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-
second session the item entitled "Questions relating to information".

                                                          83rd plenary meeting
                                                              13 December 1996


                                     Notes

1/     Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-first Session,
Supplement No. 21 (A/51/21).

2/     A/51/406.

3/     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.

4/     A/AC.198/1996/3.

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

6/     A/AC.198/1995/5.

7/     A/AC.198/1996/2.

8/     See United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization, Records of the General Conference, Twenty-eighth
Session, vol. 1, Resolutions, sect. IV.A.4.

 

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