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STATEMENT BY MR. JOSE LUIS DE MATOS,
NATIONAL INFORMATION DIRECTOR,
MINISTRY OF SOCIAL COMMUNICATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF ANGOLA,
AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE UN COMMITEE ON INFORMATION
DURING ITS TWENTY-SEVENTH SESSION
20 APRIL 2005
My delegation would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you, on your election to lead us throughout this 27th session of the Committee on Information. Our congratulations are extensive to the other member of the Bureau for their election.
The Angolan delegation also thanks Ambassador Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh, for the successful work carried out in previous sessions of this Committee.
We thank Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Mr. Shashi Tharoor, for his detailed and comprehensive presentation made earlier, which outlined a full account of the tasks undertaken by the Department of Public Information.
My delegation associates itself with the statement of the G-77 and China as well as with the statement delivered by Sao Tome & Principe on behalf of the Community of Portuguese speaking countries (CPLP).
One of the biggest problems that developing countries face is the limited availability of resources to back up the existence of broad, democratic and balanced information services.
The development of information and communication technology, introduced major changes to all areas of human activity around the world.
However, access to these modern information and communication technologies has polarized the world into two groups: Those who are connected and those who are isolated. This situation has simply led to the marginalization of the people in developing countries, because they lack the financial resources and manpower with the required skills to use the new technologies and compete on equal footing with the developed countries.
The Angolan delegation believes that the translation of this project into concrete results would help lessen the gap imbalance in the relations between developed and developing countries in terms of their technological capabilities.
The delegation of Angola wishes to express its appreciation for the efforts the Department of Public Information has made in order to make available the existence of the United Nations Information Centres for a better dissemination of information about the work of the organisation around world.
Our delegation is pleased and takes the opportunity to thank the Secretary General for his report and the references contained in document A/AC.198/2005/3, regarding the Republic of Angola's offer to host the United Nations Information Centre in Luanda, to serve the special needs of the African Portuguese speaking countries.
The report advances some positive majors. Although we do understand the financial constraints of the Department, we cannot be silent to raise some concerns relating to the lack of resources which may hinder the government of Angola's ability to open the centre.
We urge the Department of Public Information, as it moves towards achieving its Millennium Development Goals, to continue its efforts for the opening of the Luanda Centre, taking into consideration the offer of rent-free premises that will be provided by the Government of Angola, in its determination to have such an office for the good of this organisation. We are convinced that this wish would be positively addressed by the current session of the Committee.
Moreover, we support the idea that more and adequate resources should be allocated in order to ensure the better functioning and the strengthening of the UNIC's in developing countries.
In this connection, the Angola delegation reiterates its commitment to host a United Nations Information Centre in Luanda to serve the special needs of Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Sao Tome & Principe and Guinea Bissau, five developing countries, some with war torn economies. Therefore, my delegation requests this Committee to look carefully at the question of Angola.
In its report, the Secretary General advances the unavailability of financial resources within the programme budget for the current biennium, but our understating is that such an evaluation does not exclude the possibility of allocating the necessary resources for the opening of Luanda's hub in the forthcoming programme budget for the biennium 2006/2007.
My delegation would like also to express delighted it is for the traditional means of communication, with particular reference to radio, which continues to be the most effective and far reaching media form, particularly in developing countries.
The delegation of Angola would like to pay special tribute to those, who under difficult circumstances, cover to the fullest extent the work of the UN Radio, and here our special thanks and appreciation goes to the Portuguese Radio Unit, for the services they have provided around the world and particularly in Africa. The Portuguese Unit of the UN Radio is about to complete 30 years of cooperation with the Angolan National Radio and I must say that we are very grateful for that.
On May 3, the freedom of the Press World day will be celebrated, and our delegation cannot let it go unrecognized, given its significance to so many, around the world.
Freedom of the press is one of the most important pillars of any democratic society under the rule of Law and is a right recognised under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Freedom of the press is closely linked to sustainable economic and social development and it is a valuable tool to ensure the exercise of the fundamental rights and liberties of the people.
Freedom of the press, speech and thought and democratization of the media are principles that the Angolan government holds as important political priorities in its endeavours to consolidate peace.
In this connection, Angola condemns and will continue to do so the fact that yet in many countries around the globe violence and interference against journalist is still occurring.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, my country had been through to an almost 30 years of civil war. Now that we are in the post-conflict situation, the Angolan press either the public or the private press has played a tremendously and important role towards the process of peace building and national reconciliation.
As part of the strategic framework the Angolan Government a New Press Law is currently under review.
Despite this improvement, however, a lot remains to be done and the government of Angola will continue to broaden the free access to information and expression by the population.
This is a process, which we decided to carry through in order to keep in step with the rest of the world. This is our peace dividend.
In conclusion, the Angolan delegation encourages the department of public information to continue its efforts for the improvement of the infrastructures and the information and communication technological capabilities in the world, as expressed in the Secretary General's report for which this Committee has an important role to play on providing adequate operational resources as requested by the DPI.
We are assured that under the able leadership of Mr. Shashi Tharoor and his team, these goals will be attained.
We also believe that at the end of our work a step forward will be made towards the strengthening of the relations between nations.