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34th Session (2012)

General Debate: Argentina

Statement by Mr. Gerardo Diaz Bartolome, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Argentina to the United Nations (24 April 2012)

Mr. Chairman,

The Argentine Delegation wishes to thank you, the Bureau and the Secretariat for the work carried out, wishing you the best of success and renewing our full willingness to contribute to the work of this 34th session of the Committee on Information.

We would like to express our recognition to the work done by Mr. Maher Nasser, Acting Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. We appreciate his commitment and dedication in discharging his duties, as shown, on this occasion, by his clear and comprehensive presentation. Our recognition also goes to former Under-Secretary-General, Mr. Kiyo Akasaka, with our best wishes of success in his future responsibilities.

We do commend the work made by the team of UN Television and UN Radio, as well as by the authorities and staff of the Library and the UN Information Centers for their dedication in the significant work they carry out.

Mr. Chairman,

Argentina fully associates itself with what has been expressed by Chile on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as well as Algeria on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and wishes to make following comments in its national capacity.

Argentina is grateful for the reports submitted by the Secretary-General on the Activities of the Department of Public Information contained in documents A/AC.198/2012/2, 3 and 4, concerning strategic communications, news and outreach services. This information contained in them undoubtedly contributes to a detailed follow-up of the work developed by the Department in the promotion and better understanding of the goals and mission of the United Nations in a wide variety of issues of high significance and interest of the international community.

Mr. Chairman,

We once again reiterate Argentina’s full support for the work of the United Nations Information Centers as elements of key importance in disseminating the “public face and voice” of the Organization while communicating with local audiences in their languages. We thus encourage the Department to continue supporting them and strengthening their structure regarding both staffing and equipment.

We are very pleased that the UNICs are increasingly using social networking tools to disseminate information, including in local languages, as they contribute to expanding public outreach and leveraging communications campaigns.

We cannot but reiterate our satisfaction for the work done by the United Nations Information Centre in Buenos Aires which, since its establishment in 1948, has been the "voice" in Spanish of the Department of Public Information in the field, raising awareness among a massive audience and mobilizing their support for the United Nations at both local and regional levels. This Centre also serves the brother Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

Mr. Chairman,

My Delegation joins the Department of Public Information in understanding the significance of speaking to the people in their own language. That is why we strongly support and promote its commitment to multilingualism.

We commend the efforts made by the Department, in coordination with the other Departments, so that the United Nations web site can be truly attractive, complete and, fundamentally, multilingual. In this regard, we appreciate the updating of several web pages on thematic issues and the creation of commemorative sites in the six official languages. As an example, allow me to point out the wide update and enriched contents of the website on Decolonization, which is a result of the close cooperation between the Department of Political Affairs and the DPI.

We are pleased that the DIP has expanded its outreach through the use of social media, in all official languages, given the proliferation of social networks in various parts of the world, including in the developing countries. We do support the use of the valuable resource and its contribution to multilingualism. Compared with 2010, the fan base on the Spanish Facebook site has increased by over 300 per cent, reaching a total of nearly 16,000. However, it should be always taken into account that these resources are in nature “additional” to the UN website, which is not replaced by them nor do these additional resources constitute a solution to the increasing linguistic disparity of the website.

We renew our full support for the search of cooperative agreements with academic institutions to expand the scope and improve the quality of a wide range of multilingual informative material which is published on line. We are very proud that the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, in Argentina, is the first university in Latin America to have joined these series of cooperative arrangements in January 2012. We conceive this cooperation as a concrete means to support the efforts of the DPI to reach the linguistic parity in all official languages in disseminating the contents of the webpage.

Mr. Chairman,

Argentina is happy once again to see that the United Nations web site in Spanish has expanded over the last years, an evidence of which is the growing number of visits to it.

In fact, after English, Spanish has once again been the second language of visits in 2011: visits to the UN website in Spanish amounted to 15% of the total, after English (65%) and before French (8%), as shown in the Secretary General’s report (A/AC.198/2012/3). As informed by the Secretary General, the trend since 2005 is the sustained increase of visits to the Spanish pages from 5% in 2005 to 15% in 2011.

Nevertheless, despite the force of these statistics, we are concerned that the contents available in the Spanish website still continue to be much lower than that in the English website. That is why we urge once again the Department of Public Information to guide itself by its own statistics and adjust the linguistic contents of the website to the true demand of the public, while bearing in mind that it is also the responsibility of all UN offices to provide the DPI with information in the six official languages.

Mr. Chairman,

In this context, it is even a bigger concern that there has been no progress at all on the elaboration and dissemination of daily press releases which continue to be published in only two of the six official languages. This is inadmissible.

Allow me to be clear on this: we are not referring here to the working languages of the Secretariat but to the multilingual mandate on public dissemination through the UN website which establishes the full respect of the necessary parity among six “official” languages.

My Delegation would like to recall that, during the 33rd Session of the Committee on Information, the Secretariat itself confirmed that there exists no mandate of this General Assembly deciding that dissemination of daily press releases should be restricted to the working languages of the Secretariat instead of the official languages of the Organization.

That is why we renew the need to comply with the existing mandate to disseminate the UN voice in its six official languages, granting the Department the necessary resources to that end.

At the same time, neither can we continue to condition the mandate on multilingualism to resource availability; this is not the appropriate forum to discuss this. However, as we all recognize the need for greater resources to undertake the necessary reform, it is time to be creative. That is why we urge once again the Department to design, as soon as possible, a strategy to satisfy the debt to those States that legitimately claim the use of all official languages, without discrimination, in strict accordance with the mandate established by the relevant General Assembly resolutions.

My Delegation is encouraged to know that it is not alone in this effort. The same concern has just been expressed by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and by the Group of 77 and China, as well as most of the delegations that have taken the floor.

This is the reason why we urge to design a strategy that makes it possible to reduce the existing gap through creative schemes that enable the elaboration of daily press releases in all official languages. Of course this should be implemented without resigning the objective to achieve the necessary additional resources.

For example, as a first and immediate step, such a strategy should provide for the elaboration of press releases in the rest of the official languages, at regular intervals and during predetermined time-frames, within the existing resources. Languages could even rotate in a provisional initial stage. Editorial criteria, length and frequency of existing press releases could be modified so as to make room for new teams to start elaborating the press releases in one of the other official languages, according to schemes to be creatively determined. There are geographical representation criteria that may help in the process as well as the statistics available to the Department, which constitute an objective source of information to elaborate and guide decisions in this regards, at the same time that they confirm the trends and needs of the public.

Mr. Chairman,

As regards traditional media, Argentina commends the work done by the team of the United Nations Radio in Spanish and their important contribution to the success evidenced by the increase of the United Nations Radio and Television services as a whole. As it has already been said, we consider it very important to continue employing traditional media in conveying the message of the Organization as they constitute the primary means of communication in most developing countries.

We also celebrate the significant progress made in the process of digitization and urge the Department to continue with this task, while specially recognizing the work of the Library staff for their efforts for the benefit of mankind in preserving the heritage of us all, in particular the several training courses and close contact with depository libraries.

To conclude, in a year of intensive communication activities as evidenced, besides the aspects already described, by the several campaigns and technical innovations, we would like to extend our best wishes of success to all those working in the Department of Public Information. Our special recognition goes to all of them for their permanent disposition, willingness and openness to enquiries and requests from Member States in a framework of transparency, efficiency and high professionalism.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

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