FOCUSING ON DPI ROLE IN FURTHERING MILLENNIUM DECLARATION GOALS, COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION TO MEET AT HEADQUARTERS 30 APRIL – 11 MAY

27 April 2001
PI/1336

FOCUSING ON DPI ROLE IN FURTHERING MILLENNIUM DECLARATION GOALS, COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION TO MEET AT HEADQUARTERS 30 APRIL – 11 MAY

27/04/2001
Press ReleasePI/1336

Background Release

FOCUSING ON DPI ROLE IN FURTHERING MILLENNIUM DECLARATION GOALS, COMMITTEE

ON INFORMATION TO MEET AT HEADQUARTERS 30 APRIL – 11 MAY

The Department of Public Information (DPI) will play an important role in meeting the challenge of the Millennium Declaration, the Secretary-General states, in one of several reports to be considered by the twenty-third session of the Committee on Information at Headquarters from 30 April to 11 May.

The central objective of all public information activities, the Secretary-General says, is to build broad-based global support for the United Nations by projecting it as a transparent institution capable of meeting the goals of its Charter.  In helping shape the “voice” of the Organization, the Department of Public Information is focusing its resources on bringing information about the Organization’s activities quickly and effectively to all regions of the world and demonstrating the ways in which the Organization is making a real difference in the lives of people everywhere.

During its two-week session, the Committee will consider a number of reports that illustrate the innovative ways in which the Department is developing further its “client” orientation by providing worldwide outreach for the United Nations system.  Among the areas to be discussed are the enhancement of the live radio broadcasts in all six official languages, which were launched so successfully last year and the creation of a United Nations news service to feed the demands of the global, 24-hour news cycle, particularly developing country media who have less access to information on United Nations activities. 

Other issues under consideration include optimal use of new information technology, the multilingual United Nations Web site and the important role of the United Nations information centres.  The system-wide "The UN Works” promotional programme, which provides an overarching demonstration of how the Organization translates broad priorities into programmes that have a direct impact on people’s lives, will also be reviewed.

Established by the General Assembly in 1978, the Committee examines public information policies and activities in light of the evolution of international relations and evaluates the progress achieved by the United Nations in the field of information and communications.  The Committee, which consists of 96 members, is also tasked with the promotion of a new, more just and more effective world information and communication order to strengthen peace and international understanding, based on the free circulation and wider and better balanced dissemination of information. 

At Monday's opening, the Committee is scheduled to elect its officers and adopt its agenda and programme of work.  It will hear statements by its Chairman and by the Interim Head of the Department of Public Information, Shashi Tharoor.

During the morning of 3 May, there will be an observance of World Press Freedom Day.

In its general debate, the Committee will examine reports on:  the reorientation of United Nations activities in the field of public information and communications; public information activities for the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations (2001); integration of United Nations information centres with field offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): implementation of the views of host governments; equitable disbursement of resources to United Nations information centres; cooperation between the Department of Public Information and the University for Peace in Costa Rica; a pilot project on the development of an international radio broadcasting capacity for the United Nations; continued multilingual development, maintenance and enrichment of the United Nations Web site; and activities of the Joint United Nations Committee in 2000.

A summary of the reports follows:

Reports before Committee

A report on the reorientation of United Nations activities in the field of public information and communications (document A/AC.198/2001/2) highlights the most recent measures taken to reorient the Organization's information and communications policies.  This reorientation is meant to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries and is a crucial part of the Secretary-General's reform of the Organization.  Central to the reorientation is the need to reach key disseminators of information, using the latest information technologies.  Also, the activities of other substantive departments must be supported and resources refocused to the country and regional levels.  The report states that communications and information functions must be at the heart of the strategic management of the Organization and should result in broad-based global support for the Organization.

The report goes on to say that the Department will play an important role in meeting the challenge of the Millennium Declaration to adapt the Organization to the new century.  Building on public interest generated by the Millennium Summit, a number of innovations are under way to increase support for United Nations activities, including a more determined effort to optimize the use of information technology -- both new and conventional -- to bring United Nations news to all regions of the world, in particular to news desks.  Other innovations include strengthening the United Nations Web site; creating a United Nations news service; introducing live United Nations radio broadcasts; implementing the system-wide programme, "The UN Works"; and devising new ways to build partnerships with non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, the business community and the media.

The goal of the new initiatives is to develop an infrastructure capable of instantaneous transmissions of text, image and voice messages from the Organization to the world, the report states.  The United Nations has been using the Internet as a major communications tool and is now in a position to address a world audience without relying exclusively on the traditional disseminators of information.  The United Nations Web site has achieved remarkable success, registering some 448 million hits in 2000, more than doubling the number of hits received in 1999 (about 198 million). 

In September 2000, the first major redesign of the Web site was unveiled simultaneously in the six official languages and included improved navigation, more cross-referencing and visually identical design in all languages, the report says.  However, the operation, maintenance and updating of the Web site have placed considerable demands on the Department.  Recruitment procedures for three posts of coordinators for the Arabic, Chinese and Russian Web sites are well advanced or completed.  The Publications Board has adopted guidelines for Internet publishing and the Department has launched new Web pages featuring upcoming activities.  To stimulate use of the Web site, the Department continues to conduct training seminars for information officials from developing countries.

Harnessing advances in broadband and other developments in "convergence" will significantly increase productivity as activities in one medium can be deployed across the others, the report continues.  The Department's last budget submission included a five-year technology strategy to overhaul its radio and television broadcast facilities to meet new production and dissemination requirements, without ignoring the needs of traditional media.  The proposal is based on an expert group report, which notes that most of the existing television plant must be brought in line with digital industry standards.  Much of the radio equipment at Headquarters is 30 years old.

According to the report, the United Nations News Centre, one of the most popular elements of the United Nations Web site, has firmly established itself as the gateway to the world of news at the Organization.  The deployment of an integrated digital photo management system later in 2001 will enable users to search for photographs online and download or link images to illustrate their news pages.  The Web site has also become an important window for promotion of United Nations video projects.  An electronic mail-based news alert service, which will go directly to the news desks of media around the world, will be launched before the next General Assembly.

The Internet is also facilitating the Department's public outreach activities, the report says.  Web versions of the Department's publications are often available to readers before the printed versions.  Web site pages are also being developed to provide information on the guided tour operation.  On the guided tour route, exhibits are being redesigned to enable guides to use interactive displays in their presentations.  The presence of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library on the Internet also continues to increase, with its Web page registering some 1.5 million hits in 2000.  UNBISnet, which comprises the Library's major databases, including its public catalogue, is now available on the Web.

The ability of the United Nations to communicate its message depends to a large extent on how well it projects its operations to the media, the report says.  The Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General continues to increase information flows to journalists, governments and the public.  The daily noon briefing remains the Organization's primary vehicle of information delivery.  A key dimension of the strengthened media effort is to bring the United Nations, including senior officials, directly to the desks of journalists, using both new and traditional instruments, such as the telephone.  The Department arranges briefings from Headquarters for groups of journalists through teleconferencing to ensure accurate coverage of important events.  To provide direct access to senior media figures, the Department also continues its programme of high-level briefings for senior journalists.  Another effective mechanism is the systematic placement of op-ed articles by the Secretary-General and other senior officials. 

Increased integration of news stories directly from the field is another part of the plan to enhance services to the media, the report continues.  In light of the 24-hour news cycle, the Department is studying the resource and technical implications of direct posting of news material from United Nations offices around the world onto the Web.

According to the report, one of the more dramatic examples of the Department's reorientation has been the pilot project for direct international radio broadcasting from United Nations Headquarters.  In September 2000, after more than 15 years of taped radio programme production and distribution, United Nations Radio shifted to daily live broadcasting in the six official languages to large audiences around the world.  The project seeks to deliver United Nations-generated news content to the 24-hour news cycle and foster partnerships with radio stations and broadcasting networks in different geographical regions.  In the television and video areas, the Department has increased the flow of live feeds and video materials for use by international television news syndicators and national broadcasting organizations.

The Department works closely with Secretariat departments and other entities to develop information programmes and products, the report says.  Communications strategies, modeled on the successful programme to promote the Millennium Summit, are being implemented to publicize the forthcoming series of follow-up conferences and special sessions of the Assembly.  The Department is also developing closer relationships with journalists covering specialized areas, such as economics and business, women's issues, human rights, disarmament and social concerns.

On the public information requirements of peacekeeping operations, the report says that the Department continues to provide operational planning and support to field information offices, in close cooperation with both the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Political Affairs.  In 2001, the Department is undertaking several projects in the areas of rapid deployment of information personnel to field missions, including start-up information kits for new field missions and standard operating procedures for acquainting newly appointed senior mission personnel with public information needs.

The more news-oriented focus of the Department has provided opportunities for the United Nations information centres to better serve local media.  By following developments at Headquarters and around the world, information centres translate selected news stories into local languages and transmit them to local media, highlighting the national or regional context.  Many information centres have made Internet-connected computer terminals available to visitors, giving them access to the wealth of information available from the United Nations Web site.  The investment in new technology, including the establishment of electronic mail in all information centres, has significantly improved the timely transmission of information material to the centres.  Thirty-six centres have established Web sites, often in local languages.

Technological innovations have also enhanced the production and range of publications, the report says.  One recent development has been the development of "twin-engined publications" which are available both in print and on-line.  The quarterly publication UN Chronicle, for example, serves a large subscriber base in hard copy and on-line.  Africa Recovery works with key African dailies to reproduce United Nations stories in the local press.  Plans are under way for an electronic mail service that will provide journalists in Africa with information in a more timely fashion.  UN Development Business, a self-financed, subscription based publication, provides procurement and bidding information on development projects funded by the major development banks, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the United Nations system. 

Using both ongoing programmes and new initiatives, the Dag Hammarskjöld Library continues to bridge the digital divide, the report states.  The recently launched "Small and field libraries technical assistance" page on the Library's Web site seeks to prevent unnecessary duplication of work, facilitate resource sharing and encourage the exchange of training and best practices.  With the completion of translations of the UNBIS (United Nations Bibliographic Information System) Thesaurus into Arabic, Chinese and Russian, multilingual subject access to the optical disk system and other United Nations documentation databases will be achieved in 2001.

Another report before the Committee concerns public information activities for the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations (2001) (document A/AC.198/2001/3).  The report states that the Secretary-General was asked to disseminate information on the dialogue and the impact it could have on promoting mutual understanding, tolerance, peaceful coexistence and international cooperation.  To that end, the Department of Public Information has undertaken a campaign to promote the concept of dialogue among civilizations involving all aspects of society.  Activities will help to foster a positive perception of diversity and depict the United Nations as a forum where such a dialogue can flourish. 

Among initiatives to support of the Year, the Department organized a meeting of representatives of United Nations organizations and agencies at Headquarters, the report says.  At that meeting, they agreed to convey the central message of the Year in their public information activities and to publicize the report of the Group of Eminent Persons for the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, which will be presented by the Secretary-General at the Assembly's fifty-sixth session.

During 2001, the Department will organize seven exhibits at Headquarters on cultural diversity, including an exhibition of the Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow.  Another exhibit, organized in association with the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations, will depict the opening of trade routes that began the dialogue among civilizations.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will also sponsor a broad range of activities, including conferences, colloquiums, publications and media productions.  Major events planned by UNESCO in 2001 include an international conference on dialogue among civilizations to be held at Vilnius, Lithuania, in April under the joint auspices of the Presidents of Lithuania and Poland and the UNESCO Director-General.

In cooperation with the Secretary-General's Personal Representative for the Year, Giandomenico Picco, and the United Nations information centres, the Department is also arranging for the production of twelve 60-second public services announcements.  Funded externally by Cahoots.com and produced by TVE of London, each of the public service announcements will highlight the life of an "unsung hero of dialogue".  The Department has also set up a new Web site, entitled "United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations 2001" to promote the Year in all six official languages, designed a logo, produced a background brochure and will provide regular press, radio and television coverage of programmes and events.

The report of the Secretary-General on the integration of United Nations information centres with field offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): implementation of the views of host governments (document A/AC.198/2001/4) contains the results of a survey questionnaire sent to 14 governments hosting integrated information centres.  Seven of the 14 governments hosting integrated centres responded to the questionnaire.  Of those seven, five governments made specific recommendations on how to enhance the effectiveness of the centres located in their capitals.

One host government expressed the view that the centre in its capital should not be integrated and that a Director should be appointed.  A decision was made to appoint a Director and the process of appointment is under way.  Another government felt that the centre it hosts should establish reference units at major universities, disseminate economic information to chambers of commerce and provide more support to depository libraries.  The Department of Public Information and the United Nations Resident Coordinator jointly funded a project to supply computer equipment to several universities and public libraries in that country to enable them to access the United Nations Web site and the library of the United Nations information centre.

Two host countries requested that increased human and financial resources be allocated to the centres located in their capitals, the report continues.  Both centres received increased resources.  One government requested that the office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in that country work more closely with its Ministry of Foreign Affairs to better promote United Nations activities in the host country.  In his capacity as director of the information centre, the United Nations Resident Coordinator welcomed the views of that government and has strengthened cooperation with media organizations in that country and established a United Nations Web site.

The report on the equitable disbursement of resources to United Nations information centres (document A/AC.198/2001/5) says that the General Assembly, in resolution 55/136 B, noted the existing imbalance in the available resources to United Nations information centres in developed and developing countries with great concern.  Member States requested that the Secretary-General examine the situation and report to the Committee at its twenty-third session.  As the "field voice" of the Department of Public Information, United Nations information centres promote public awareness and mobilize support for the work of the Organization at the local level.  This role is critical both in developing and developed countries for the United Nations to sustain the public support it requires to be effective and relevant.

According to the report, a balanced approach, which takes into account a variety of factors, is needed to offset the imbalances in technological advances and economic conditions in different parts of the world.  While it might be argued that dissemination costs could be reduced through increased reliance on communication tools such as the Internet, if the Organization is to carry out its mandated public information programme it cannot rely on one medium alone, particularly given the limitations of access to that medium in the developing world.

Economic conditions and cost of living in different parts of the world are major factors in determining the costs of maintaining information centres, the report says.   Centres must be centrally located and easily accessible to the public.  Varying real estate market conditions affect the cost of that basic requirement.  About 40 per cent of the total general operating costs of United Nations information centres are allocated to rent and maintenance of office premises.  Staffing resources are also affected by local cost of living conditions.  Each information centre has its own local salary scale determined by the International Civil Service Commission, and staff costs vary from centre to centre, even when the number of posts is the same.  Local conditions, rather than any distinction between groups of countries, play a major role in determining the distribution of resources. 

The report goes on to say that the centres forge partnerships with United Nations programmes, funds and specialized agencies present in the host country.  The presence or absence of other United Nations offices in a host country influences the decision of the Department regarding the allocation of Professional posts.  In the Department's 2000-2001 programme budget, only 35 Professional-level posts were available for 64 information centres.  In countries where there is no United Nations Resident Coordinator, the United Nations information centre director is the appropriate contact with the government.  It is likely, therefore, that the post of a full-time director in such a location would be maintained.  To the extent possible, however, care is being taken to distribute director posts in a balanced geographical manner.

The report also says that the actual costs of carrying out information activities vary greatly from location to location.  In some host countries media outlets are available free of charge, whereas in other locations access to mass media is available commercially and at a high cost.  Also, under a 1990 agreement between UNDP and the Department of Public Information on the rationalization of field representation, UNDP field offices carry out certain administrative and accounting support services.  Because of the absence of UNDP field offices, such services are not available to information centres in most developed countries.

According to the report, the Department is continuing its efforts to enhance the staffing and general operating resources of information centres in developing countries, particularly in Africa.  In 1999, five Professional posts were allocated to information centres in Africa and three more were added in 2000.  To enhance the work of the centres without a full-time director, the Department will make every effort to appoint national information officers. 

The report says that the number of local level posts is not sufficient.  To enhance the staffing resources of centres in developing countries, the Department has hired 18 local-level staff using general temporary assistance funds.  In 2000, there were 228 local-level posts for 64 information centres, 44 national information officer posts and 184 General Service posts.  In addition, 16 extrabudgetary local-level posts have been made available mainly through contributions of host governments.  The Department has also used additional creative measures to enhance the resources of the centres in developing countries.  For example, in 2000, several directors of African information centres were asked to serve on short-term assignment at other centres to assist in the recruitment and training of national information officers at centres without full-time directors.

According to the report, in 2000, a total of $1.82 million in general operating resources had been allocated for Africa, $1.33 million for the Americas, $1.13 million for Asia and the Pacific and $1.9 million for Europe.  Additional financial and staffing resources were provided to information services in Bangkok, Beirut, Geneva and Vienna, as well as to the information components of United Nations offices in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Eritrea, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. 

Regarding government contributions, the report says that annual cash contributions by governments had a positive impact on the successful operation of many centres.  In 2000, 31 host governments had provided rent-free premises and several governments allowed centres to pay only a symbolic rent.  In addition, 16 host governments contributed funds amounting to some $551,000 towards other operating requirements.  Japan continued to contribute some $200,000 annually for expansion of information activities of the Untied Nations Information Centre in Tokyo.

The Secretary-General's report on cooperation between the Department of Public Information and the University for Peace in Costa Rica (document A/AC.198/2001/6) says that the Department has consistently publicized the activities of the University and provided it with information output in print, video and audio formats.  The University is a focal point for promoting United Nations activities and disseminating United Nations information materials.  One example of the Department participation in the University's substantive activities was a panel discussion involving executive heads of the organizations of the United Nations system on the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, 1995-2004. 

The report says that the Department has also publicized the University's activities in its print output, including press releases.  The University regularly receives copies of the weekly television news magazine, "UN in Action".  The 1999 edition of the Yearbook will include a summary of the Secretary-General's report on cooperation with the University and the relevant General Assembly resolution.  For almost two decades, United Nations Radio has maintained a close working partnership with Radio for Peace International -- a short-wave broadcasting station that transmits its programming from the University's campus.  Starting in September 2000, when United Nations Radio launched its daily live news and current affairs programme in six official languages, Radio for Peace International began broadcasting the programme in English and Spanish.

The General Assembly requested that the Secretary-General submit a progress report on the implementation of the pilot project on the development of an international radio broadcasting capacity for the United Nations.  According to that report (document A/AC.198/2001/7), the Assembly intends to take a decision on the matter during its fifty-sixth session.  The Secretary-General was urged to strengthen the managerial capacity, staff resources, programme output and means of delivery of United Nations Radio in the six official languages and, if feasible, in other languages.  The pilot project is one of the key components in the Department's drive to more effectively disseminate United Nations news directly to the media worldwide.

The Department launched the radio pilot project on 28 August 2000 targeting audiences in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean.  Staffing, training and transmission facilities were in place to facilitate the launch just prior to the September Millennium Summit.  Arrangements were made with several distributors to provide short-wave transmissions to Africa and the Middle East in Arabic, English and French.  Satellite distribution arrangements were made with service providers to transmit the programming to partner stations in the Caribbean region.  As distribution and reception needs vary by region, other options for broadcasters include analogue telephone feeds, digital telephone systems lines and electronic file transfer.  Since the launch, the number of cassette tapes distributed by the Department has been reduced by some 25 per cent.  The overall target is to reduce distribution of taped programmes by 50 per cent before the beginning of the Assembly's fifty-sixth session.  Staffing levels among regional units have improved and near-parity level in all official languages has been achieved. 

The report says that a key component in the shift to daily programming was the development of a format of interest to broadcasters:  a 15-minute daily (Monday-Friday) package in all six official languages.  While focusing primarily on news developments from the entire United Nations system, the programme also includes interviews, background reports, features, updates from peacekeeping missions and coverage of activities of United Nations agencies around the world relating to development.  More than 50 per cent of the contents is gathered from activities in the field.

As the launch of the live programme coincided with the Millennium Summit in September 2000, the pilot project began by providing extensive coverage of the historic event.  In addition to the 15-minute live broadcasts in the six official languages, statements by heads of State, special reports, interviews and summaries of the debate were transmitted to partner stations.  During the three-day event, over 300 radio transmissions were fed to 140 radio broadcasters in 77 countries.  A total of 105 broadcasts in the six official languages and Portuguese were transmitted for live broadcast by 61 radio stations in 42 countries and a total of 12 heads of State were interviewed on the programme.

The programme also provided a public service mechanism, the report continues, by spreading information on the highly contagious Ebola virus through interviews with United Nations experts on the issue.  United Nations Radio linked an educational message with news of the virus's latest outbreak.  Particularly noteworthy was a round-table discussion with the most senior officials from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Rwanda and Burundi, who attended the Security Council meeting on the Great Lakes crisis in February 2001.  The

40-minute meeting was the first time senior officials had sat across a table in that manner.  The discussion was taken live by 10 African radio stations, which is the maximum number current technology can accommodate.  The transcript of the discussion was immediately placed on the United Nations News Centre Web site.

Partnerships with local, regional and national broadcasters are an important component of the project, the report says.  The Spanish language live programme is transmitted directly to over 40 partner stations in Central and South America, the Caribbean and the United States.  Live programming in Arabic is distributed from the International Broadcasting Centre at Headquarters and carried by 15 partner stations in the Middle East and North Africa.  The Chinese language live programme, transmitted by electronic file transfer, is received and rebroadcast by China National Radio and China Radio International, reaching an audience of hundreds of millions.  Live programming in French is transmitted to about 50 partner stations in Africa and the Caribbean.  The programme is also rebroadcast by Canal EF, which reaches listeners in Africa, Canada and France.  The target area in Russian is the Russian Federation and the Commonwealth of Independent States.  Live programming in English is broadcast in Africa, North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe.

Pending the Assembly's assessment of the pilot project, authorization for the project concludes this year. 

According to the report of the Secretary-General on the continued multilingual development, maintenance and enrichment of the United Nations Web site (document A/AC.198/2001/8), the Internet revolution has opened up new opportunities for delivering the United Nations message directly to the world at large, without the need to depend on intermediary disseminators.  As the use of the Internet increases, the reach of the United Nations message will become much wider and the dissemination cost per unit will drop sharply.  The Web site has continued to grow during the past year at a phenomenal pace.  It now transfers daily nearly 12 gigabytes (some 12 billion bytes) of information and registers more than three million hits a day from more than 159 countries.  Although raw numbers sometimes portray inflated usage, detailed analysis shows that an average of some 370,000 documents are currently viewed by users each day. 

On 1 September 2000, a completely redesigned Web site was launched simultaneously in all six languages of the Organization, the report says, marking a major step towards parity among the official languages.  The site provides a "splash page" in which users chose the language and are presented with similar-looking pages in each of the languages.  Navigation through the site is much simpler, with additional cross-links and a more intuitive interface.  Since September 2000, a total of 10,880 documents and information materials have been added in languages other than English and French.  For the first time, all statements made to the General Assembly during the Millennium Summit and the subsequent general debate of the fifty-fifth session were uploaded to the site.  Webcasts and uploading of statements will soon become regular features. 

While multilingual development, maintenance and enrichment of the Web site has been at the forefront of Internet activities, progress has been slower than expected due to a lack of in-house expertise and resources in the non-working languages of the Secretariat.  Moreover, the issue of public information content creation must be separated from the issue of ongoing maintenance, coordination and management.  Until those two issues are dealt with, the realization of a truly equal multilingual Web site will remain elusive.  To ensure the regular maintenance and enhancement of the Web site, the Department needs a sound foundation in terms of staffing and resources.  Some measures have been taken within existing resources, but further development of the Web site will require additional allocations.  The feasibility study called for in an earlier report will still need to be undertaken. 

The issue of content creation and development will need to be dealt with on an organizational basis, the report continues.  At present, official documentation is created in various Secretariat locations, using different formats.  With the adoption of uniform policy, procedures will be streamlined and many diverse methods of document production will be harmonized.  In 2000, the Publications Board adopted an administrative instruction on electronic publications, which lays down policy guidelines for the United Nations presence on the Internet.  The guidelines provide for the establishment of a working group on Internet matters, involving all content-providing offices. 

To date, six proposals for further development of the United Nations Web site have been presented to the Committee for its consideration, each involving the allocation of additional resources for the multilingual development, maintenance and enrichment of the Web site, the report says.  Given the constraints imposed by a zero-growth budget, much of the future development of the Web site will depend on policy decisions by the General Assembly with regard to making official documents available in all languages free of charge.  Decisions regarding the gradual development of the various language components will be necessary.  However, regardless of any decisions, the gap between English and the other language sites will continue to grow.  Efforts to ensure total language parity are bound to become more challenging and at the same time more resource-intensive.

During 2001, all resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council will be made available through the Web site at no charge.  However, to provide additional parliamentary documentation, guidance for the General Assembly is needed in view of its resolution 51/211F, which indicates that parliamentary documentation be made available on a fee-for-service basis determined by associated costs. 

The Department has identified specific portions of the main English language site for rendition in each of the other official languages, the report states.  Each language site is scheduled to be enhanced in small modules.  The first effort is to make General Assembly and Security Council resolutions available in all official languages.  Although textual content will remain the primary focus, multimedia content will continue to be developed.  The search capacity of the Web site has been dramatically improved by migrating all press releases into a database-driven system.  The Department will continue to analyse user statistics to determine Web usage patterns. 

In the report, the Secretary-General concludes that it would be a disservice to the Member States to continue to develop proposals that entail significant expenditures.  However, achievement of full parity among the official languages requires additional resources.  Policy decisions that will have to be taken with regard to content creation will also entail resource allocations. 

According to the report of the activities of the Joint United Nations Information Committee in 2000 (document A/AC.198/2001/9), that body held its twenty-sixth session in Geneva at the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organization from 11 to 13 July.  During the session, the Committee continued its broad-based discussions of ways to promote better public understanding of the role and achievements of the United Nations. 

The Committee considered different aspects of the "The UN Works" campaign and decided to propose that the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) endorse the campaign as a system-wide initiative.  The Committee also discussed various aspects of the communications strategies for media relations of the United Nations system.  At its twenty-seventh session, scheduled for 10 to 12 July, it will take up such issues as the communications aspects of the United Nations fight against the AIDS pandemic, the Internet and other media matters.

Committee Membership

The Committee consists of 96 Member States:  Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria,

Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's 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, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

At the beginning of the session, the Committee will elect a Chairman, three Vice-Chairmen and a Rapporteur to serve in their respective capacities during 2001 and 2002.

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For information media. Not an official record.