WIDESPREAD SUPPORT EXPRESSED IN COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION FOR UN PILOT PROJECT FOR INTERNATIONAL RADIO BROADCASTING
WIDESPREAD SUPPORT EXPRESSED IN COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION FOR UN PILOT PROJECT FOR INTERNATIONAL RADIO BROADCASTING
Committee on Information
3rd Meeting (AM)
WIDESPREAD SUPPORT EXPRESSED IN COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION FOR UN PILOT PROJECT
FOR INTERNATIONAL RADIO BROADCASTING
A number of speakers this morning underscored the primacy of radio as the most widely used and available traditional medium and expressed widespread support for the pilot project for international radio broadcasting and the role of the Department of Public Information (DPI) in enabling developing nations to meet their information and communication needs.
[The Radio Pilot Project was initiated on 28 August 2000 and features live 15-minute daily radio feeds in various languages, which are broadcast through partnerships with a range of local, regional and national broadcasters.]
Nepal’s representative said the launch of the pilot project for the development of international radio broadcasting capacity was a milestone in the history of United Nations radio. It had been able to establish a direct, immediate and effective daily channel of communication with the world’s broadcast media and, through them, to a vast global audience. The dearth of financial resources to give continuity to a programme of such vital importance to developing countries was, therefore, a matter of concern.
All speakers from the Portuguese-speaking delegations were unanimous this morning in their call for strengthening the DPI’s Portuguese-language radio service.
Mozambique’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), said the Portuguese language unit was the only non-official language operation that sought to offer an amount of work equal to that produced by the six official languages in the United Nations Radio Section. It reached a worldwide audience of more than 230 million Portuguese speakers on five continents through 21 networks that gathered some 1,500 radio stations. The service was a success story for the DPI.
While recognizing the financial constraints of the Department, through creativity and allocation of resources, he said it was possible to reinforce the Portuguese-language service towards better efficiency and quality. The DPI was also aware of the possibilities ahead, which was why it supported the initiative of the Web page of the Portuguese language unit, which would be launched on 8 May.
While commending the quality of the “flagship magazine”, the United Nations Chronicle, India’s representative said thought needed to be given to restoring the monthly periodicity of that publication. In addition, the requirement to bring it
out in all the official languages needed to be carefully examined and, if there was a clientele, additional resources should be made available to cater to it.
Guyana’s representative said that efforts should be made to ensure that all United Nations information centres were equipped to disseminate information using current technology. Some centres were equipped with Web sites, while others were not. Resources should be provided to enable those centres without sites to launch one as soon as possible.
The representative of the United States, addressing the question of improving access to United Nations information, said the DPI was the administrator of the Organization’s largest and most frequently accessed Web site. As such, it should take the lead in establishing one central Internet portal that would encompass all United Nations Web sites and allow for the searching and retrieval of information from one central search facility.
China’s representative said that, although Chinese was a language used by a quarter of humanity, it did not have as much parity as English and French on the United Nations Web site. That was not acceptable since there were many Chinese speakers who wanted to find about United Nations affairs on the Internet.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said public information activities should inform the world of the activities of Member States and their views on respective issues. A lack of objectivity and impartiality might result in the transmission of distorted information. Special interest needed to be paid to that aspect, to avoid having public information activities represent only the interest of a certain country or region, he warned.
Participating in the session this morning as observers were the representatives of the Bahamas, Saudi Arabia and Tajikistan. A representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also attended the meeting in that capacity.
Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Japan, Belarus, Monaco, Libya, Jamaica (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Angola, Portugal, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Tajikistan.
The Committee will meet again tomorrow at 10 a.m. to commemorate World Press Freedom Day.
The Committee on Information met this morning to continue its general debate. [For background information on the twenty-third session of the Committee, which began on 30 April, see Press Release PI/1336 dated 27 April].
KIYOTAKA AKASAKA (Japan) said people around the world needed to be informed of decisions and actions taken by the United Nations, and of the experiences of its related organizations in the field. They also needed to be informed about information gathered on vital issues, such as the environment, development, conflict prevention, HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases. Through its public information activities, the Organization should also promote awareness of human rights and the welfare of children, as well as a sense of interdependence among all peoples. It must do so in a way that was relevant to the targeted population, in terms of content and technology.
He said that, in view of the limited resources available to it, the Department of Public Information (DPI) would be able to fulfil its mandate only by rationalizing its activities, adopting new technologies, and cooperating with and mobilizing the private sector. He hoped the final resolution of this session would be a balanced and action-oriented, one that would serve as a useful tool in guiding the work of the Department in the coming year. His delegation also strongly supported the United Nations House initiative taken by the Secretary-General, as a practical way to strengthen the public information capability of the Organization in many Member States.
He went on to say that consolidating various United Nations-related offices scattered around a country into one entity would not only increase the efficiency of the activities of those offices but also heighten the visibility of the Organization and enhance people’s understanding of its activities. His Government valued the work of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Tokyo as the core public information unit in that newly established United Nations House. In addition, he added, his Government had provided the building and the land on which that House was located, on a rent-free basis.
VLADIMIR VANTSEVICH (Belarus) said that an imperative of the current session of the Committee on Information should be maintaining the dynamic of strengthening the information component of United Nations activities. The approaches indicated in the reports before the Committee testified to the determination of the Organization to create a just and effective world information order. Belarus noted with satisfaction the specific steps taken by the DPI to reorient its activities. Substantial progress had been made in increasing the information potential by creating a single communications strategy and culture throughout the Organization. Daily radio broadcasts were now successfully carried out.
He called on the DPI to be guided in its work by the General Assembly resolution which stressed that any reorientation should maintain activities in areas of particular interest to developing countries and economies in transition. That same wording should be included in the new resolution to be adopted by the Assembly at its next session. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Minsk needed stronger financing and greater human resources for information dissemination. Belarus had attached significance to the information component of that office. He was concerned about the elimination of the post of the Information Officer at the P-4 level in United Nations/UNDP office in Minsk. That decision contradicted the provision of the Secretary-General’s report on the equitable allocation of resources to information centres. He hoped for the speedy restoration of the post.
Belarus attached importance to expanding two-way information flows between the United Nations and his country, he said. The Government supported maximum coverage of the United Nations by the mass media and encouraged the media to provide clear information on United Nations activities. He welcomed the programme for journalists from developing countries and was interested in involving Belarus in that programme. On the development of the United Nations Russian radio service, given the technical difficulties inhibiting national radio and television campaigns, radio broadcasts were limited to 15-minute daily programmes. Belarus was ready to discuss its involvement in daily 15-minute broadcasts. He called on the General Assembly to adopt a decision to continue the project for a two-year period. Belarus favoured strengthening the role of the Department in selecting press officers for peacekeeping operations. He called on the DPI not to reduce its activities to provide information on the Chernobyl disaster. Objective information on the size of the tragedy was an important part of its work.
LI HYONG CHOL (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said there continued to be attempts to mobilize modern mass media to inject other values into progressive countries and dilute their precious cultural traditions. The establishment of a new international information order was, therefore, one of the primary tasks facing the international community. That would contribute to peace and prosperity in the new century, by using modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) to promote friendship and solidarity among nations. It was necessary for developed countries to actively support developing nations in their efforts to enhance their own public information capabilities, through the transfer of technology and financial assistance.
“We should ensure objectivity and impartiality in the United Nations public information activities”, he said. The Organization’s public information activities were, in essence, to inform the world of the activities of Member States and their views on respective issues. Accordingly, a lack of objectivity and impartiality might result in the transmission of distorted information to the world. That could have adverse effects. Special interest therefore must be paid to that, lest public information activities represent only the interest of a certain country or region.
“We should also ensure that United Nations public information activities made a tangible contribution to economic and social development in developing countries”, he added. The DPI should also consider organizing a training course specifically on ICTs, which could be used as an opportunity to transfer new technologies to developing countries.
JACQUES LOUIS BOISSON (Monaco) said his delegation would play a constructive role in the work of the Committee. In that regard, he wished to make the following points:
-- It was of highest importance that the six official languages of the Organization be respected. That would guarantee efficiency and would support the “United Nations Houses”.
-- Monaco condemned violence and threats against journalists and the use of media to incite racism.
-- The Organization must take advantage of the irreversible movement of information technology. Simplification of the means of communication opened up many avenues regarding the content and structure of information, provided that ethical aspects were respected.
The dimensions of freedom of expression were changing, he said. It was increasingly become a collective right. Radio, television and press were burgeoning even in very poor areas, and dialogue was leading to greater pluralism. The Organization must develop communications and ensure that its content was a vehicle for the promotion of its principles, such as the fight against racism. Freedom of the press was a daily reality in Monaco.
Monaco appreciated the declaration of the Interim Head of the DPI at the opening of the session, he said. He had identified ways in which the United Nations could work in the area of information in a statement delivered in the two working languages of the Secretariat. That was an excellent way to improve communication. Monaco was particularly interested in the pilot project for radio broadcasting. Radio was the only means of communication to reach isolated zones. In that light, he hoped the pilot project would be renewed after evaluation by the General Assembly at its next session. Direct transmission from the United Nations Headquarters was one of most striking examples of new direction being followed by the DPI.
DONALD S. HAYS (United States) said that last year 24 journalists worldwide had been killed in pursuit of news stories in war-torn regions and in repressive States. Freedom of the press was a fundamental tenet of democracy. The United States continued to be impressed by the DPI’s enhancement of the United Nations Web site and noted its recent redesign and the launch of the “UN Works” page. However, he questioned the need for the DPI to employ an outside contractor to rationalize the Web site. Both Web site rationalization and enhancement could and should be done with the in-house expertise the Department had cultivated since it began developing the Web site in 1995. In fact, the Department’s Web site team was a textbook example of what could be accomplished by using existing resources when dedicated professionals apply the knowledge, commitment, flexibility and creativity necessary to get the job done. He commended the Dag Hammarskjöld Library for development of the UNI-I-QUE (United Nations Information Quest) documentation database, the UNBISnet (United Nations Bibliographic Information System) publications and documentation database and for its effective training programme.
The United States could not agree more with the Secretary-General that the Organization should adopt the best management practices and technologies available and concentrate on those tasks that reflected the current priorities of Member States, he said. The United States applauded the Department of Peacekeeping Operations for its extensive reform efforts. The DPI must also take a critical look at its operation to ensure that it was optimally set up to support Member States' priorities. Such a review must look beyond departmental lines to improve coordination, efficiency and integration throughout the United Nations system. Maintaining public information components in peacekeeping operations, for example, would require cooperation between the DPI and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
For all Member States to receive the maximum benefit from United Nations programmes in all areas, all United Nations activities should be reviewed, rationalized and prioritized, he continued. The Secretary-General’s ongoing “UN Houses” initiative was aimed to ensure that all United Nations entities with ongoing missions at the country level, including the United Nations information centres, operated in common premises. The sharing of common premises and services by all United Nations system offices should improve efficiency and effectiveness and lead to significant cost-savings that could be dedicated to current priority issues such as humanitarian relief.
Not only would the posting of all parliamentary documents in the six official languages enhance the multilingual nature of the Web site, but it would also lead to efficiency by eliminating the duplicate formating and posting of documents, he said. He thanked the Information Technology Services Division for ensuring that the required bandwidth would be in place to accommodate public access to the optical disk system. On the question of improving access to United Nations information, the DPI was the administrator of the United Nations largest and most frequently accessed Web site. The Department should take the lead in establishing one central Internet portal that would encompass all United Nations web sites and allow for the searching and retrieval of information form all United Nations system Web sites from one central search facility.
The United States was pleased to see that the Department terminated the preparation of the press release compendium of the General Assembly resolutions, given the official record supplement was now being distributed earlier, he added. The United States continued to question the need for the DPI to produce the long and near-verbatim press releases that were issued after meetings, including those of the General Assembly and its committees. While they were comprehensive and seemed to meet the needs of some delegations, those press releases did not appear geared to satisfying the needs of the press or the public. Perhaps a good start of those financial and staff resources should be used to further develop the Department’s capacity in other areas. The United States understood that while the DPI continued to apply the latest advances in information technology, it would also rely on traditional media to meet the needs of its technologically diverse clientele.
KOREEN SIMON (Guyana) said that through technology, developed countries had greater control over the dissemination of information, with several undesirable consequences. One was uneven information flow and bias in favour of those who controlled it. Another was the loss of potential benefit to people in conflict and to socio-economic progress in developing countries, because they lacked the technology required to gain access to information. Those consequences could be avoided if developing countries were given resources needed to advance technologically, and if the appropriate information was directed to those who could benefit from it.
He said developing countries relied on the United Nations to provide assistance, to enable them to meet information and communication needs. The
DPI had served those countries well in that respect. The information centres, however, should be given adequate resources, to ensure that the needs of those who could benefit most from the receipt of information were met. As a traditional means of disseminating information, radio continued to be the most widely available medium in developing countries. The pilot project for international broadcasting had made a positive contribution to the lives of people who could not be reached by other media. “We join those who have called for a continuation of the project beyond this year, and we hope that adequate funding will be provided which would enable it to continue to serve regions of the world that will benefit most from it”, she said.
She went on to say that efforts should be made to ensure that all information centres were equipped to disseminate information using current technology. Such an approach could benefit the Caribbean, since the centre in Trinidad and Tobago must serve that entire region. Yet, that centre was not equipped with a Web site. The resources should be provided to enable centres without sites to launch them as soon as possible. Moreover, in designing Web pages, due consideration should be given to the technological limitations of developing countries, since complex designs did not allow for quick down-loads.
MENG XIANYING (China) said her delegation was concerned that the gap between developed and developing countries in accessing ICTs was widening. She appealed to the developed countries to strengthen cooperation and narrow the digital divide. She also called on the DPI to play an active role in that regard.
The upcoming Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance to be held in Durban, South Africa, in September, was one of the important meetings of the new millennium. She hoped that the DPI would go all out to publicize the positive significance of that Conference and make its own contributions to the eradication of both existing and new forms of racism.
She said that although Chinese was a language used by a quarter of humanity, it did now have as much parity as English and French on the United Nations Web site. That was not acceptable since there were many Chinese speakers who wanted to find out about United Nations affairs on the Internet.
ISA AYAD BABAA (Libya) said that because information was the hallmark of modern life, the information technology revolution constituted a major challenge to developing countries. The information revolution and globalization were two sides of the same coin. In the past, press and radio had played an important role in mobilizing people against colonization. Television continued to play an important role, as well, and Internet sites were important for mobilizing forces of resistance against the barbarism of globalization.
While the information technology revolution had made the world a small village, the gap between the North and South continued to worsen, he said. Information technology was a two-edged sword. It could be used in the service of humanity to ensure the prosperity of mankind, or it could be used with ill intentions to damage the interests of humanity. He was concerned about attempts to control the means of communications and to brainwash the international community.
The DPI must play its role in unveiling the negative uses of technology and in fighting for human rights and the self-determination of peoples on the basis of the United Nations Charter, he said. Information work must be strengthened so that the rights of occupied people could be defended and a new world order established on the basis of law and justice. The United Nations had played an important role in the past 30 hears against the policy of apartheid in South Africa. It was time for it to play a similar role against racist ideologies based on annexation and occupation of land, dispersal of peoples, scorched earth policies and abuse of women and children. The DPI must denounce Zionist policies before the cancer reached other parts of the world.
Libya supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations on the reorientation of the DPI, he said. It was important for the Department to reorganize its information programmes so that it could met the needs of the developing world. Information activities were still insufficient and must be stepped up to strengthen the harmonious coexistence of peoples. He was happy to see the progress of the radio pilot project. He supported measures to improve the United Nations Web site. He was disturbed to see that great differences still existed between the English language Web site and other Web sites. He endorsed the use of the Arabic language in areas of the Organization’s work, including the Internet.
Libya appreciated DPI's role of awareness-raising, which was an area that required increased resources. He asked the DPI to coordinate its work with the specialized agencies to make computers available in remote locations. Information centres must deal with other development problems such as drought, desertification and the preservation of the environment. The needs of developing countries must be met. He hoped that the DPI would help developing countries to benefit from the information technology revolution.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said it was undeniable that the goal of closing the digital divide was still elusive. The Internet and new technologies were critical tools to promote development, yet the developing countries trailed behind on the information superhighway, and people in those countries ran the risk of being marginalized. The CARICOM was heartened, however, by initiatives taken by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote community-based projects geared towards providing universal access to information. Building access, nevertheless, was not just about connectivity, but also about enhancing the body of available information.
She said the Small Island Developing States (SIDSNET) Web site had proven to be important in the Caribbean for exchanging ideas on mutual problems. She commended DPI for the airing of programmes on United Nations Television Channel 78 on the Organization’s activities and asked how those programmes could be given worldwide coverage. In addition, the radio pilot project, launched last August, had been of benefit to the CARICOM, which welcomed its continuation. She also called for introduction of radio programming in Creole for the people of Haiti.
She said effective public information and communication in mission areas was a necessary component of peacekeeping operations. It was also necessary that an effective information programme for generating public support for international peacekeeping operations be implemented. She commended the Department for its efforts to promote upcoming conferences and special sessions of the General Assembly. She also subscribed to the proposal by Bangladesh to publicize the decade of a culture of peace. In addition, the upcoming Montego Bay meeting on the Law of the Sea Convention should not go unnoticed and should be promoted by DPI. The Department should liaise with commercial stations such as the Discovery Channel to promote the importance of the Convention.
CARLOS DOS SANTOS (Mozambique), speaking on behalf of the Community of Portugese Speaking Countries (CPLP), said that, from diverse and distant regions, the Lusophone Community had one common language and one common information tool, the radio. That was why it attached particular importance to the message of the United Nations through the DPI’s radio broadcasts and its Portuguese language activities. The Portuguese language service was the only non-official language that sought to offer an amount of work equal to that produced by the six official languages in the United Nations Radio, reaching a worldwide audience of more than 230 million Portuguese-speaking people on five continents through 21 networks that gathered some 1,500 radio stations. The service was a success story. People in the Portuguese-speaking world were better informed on United Nations goals and accomplishments. More must be done, however, to ensure that the success story did not turn into a glory of the past. He reiterated the Community’s strong support for strengthening the capacities of the programme. One single producer, Joao Lins de Albuquerque, performed all the tasks of that section and Mr. Dos Santos commended his tireless efforts to meet the goals of the United Nations.
The CPLP supported the strengthening of the Portuguese radio service, he said. Such strengthening would demand a minimum standard team of four full-time producers, a backup producer and a production assistant. While recognizing the financial constraints of the Department, through creativity and allocation of resources, it was possible to reinforce the Portuguese-language service towards better efficiency and quality. The DPI was also aware of the possibilities ahead, which was why it supported the initiative of the Web page of the Portuguese-language service which would be launched on 8 May. The heads of State of seven Portuguese-speaking countries and Xanana Gusmao, on behalf of the Timorese people, were sending their firm message of support for the new challenge of United Nations Radio.
There was urgent need to reverse the widening gap between the rich North and poor South, he said. The Committee and the DPI could play a crucial role in reducing the gap. He was encouraged by the vision and commitment demonstrated by the DPI and commended it for its efforts to fulfil its mission to create broad- based global recognition of United Nations acitivities. He welcomed the establishment of an information and communication task force. Shared responsibility and solidarity among nations was fundamental. The United Nations must continue to assume its pivotal role to create an environment conducive to development.
MANUEL AGOSTO, Vice-Minister for Social Communications of Angola, said his delegation hoped that the DPI restructuring would consider expanding the broadcasting staff by including the position of Assistant Producer in the United Nations Portuguese Language Broadcasting Service. That would allow the CPLP to participate directly with their own production of regional programming and broadcasting of information and world news.
He said the Portuguese language radio-broadcast service, which was an extremely important part of the DPI, was currently operated by one single producer and covered Brazil, East Timor, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, and Portugal with a total of some 230 million listeners. In his country alone, the United Nations broadcasts were heard by more than 12 million people. That was just one more reason for continued improvement of the DPI public information services and the strengthening of its relations of mutual cooperation with the local media.
He said that in Angola freedom of speech and the press were constitutional rights. “Today we are at the stage where the answer to the question about what kind of press law we should have is found by polling the country’s population”, he said. With that in mind, Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos presented to the country a new press law bill and invited everyone, especially the members of the press, to discuss that bill in a democratic and open way. It had received an overwhelming response from the people.
FRANCISCO SEIXAS DA COSTA (Portugal) emphasized the valuable work done by the United Nations Information Centre in Lisbon, which provided information both at its facilities and on its Web site. Portugal attached particular importance to the Portuguese-language radio programmes, which had completed four decades as the United Nations’ primary information service to Portuguese-speaking people. The audience of more than 230 million people benefited from the news, features, and analyses produced in New York. Through the radio programme, the Lusophone Community was better aware of the United Nations’ role.
The demands of the Portuguese language programmes to cover United Nations objectives required the strengthening of the capacity of the service. The Portuguese language programme was the only non official language service that sought to produce work equal to the other official languages. That task was done by one single producer –- Joao Lins de Albuquerque -- whose tireless efforts were highly commended by the Community. While Portugal understood financial constraints facing the DPI, through creativity, the reinforcement of the Portuguese language service would be possible. He asked the DPI and the Committee to support practical means for the Portuguese language programme. One additional producer post would meet the demand. He trusted the goodwill of the DPI to make that possible.
YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said his delegation wished to highlight DPI’s role in promoting the commemoration of the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. In this millennium, enhancing dialogue between different cultures and religions would be conducive to the creation of mutual understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence. The Department also needed to maintain and improve its activities in areas of interest to developing countries, as well as countries with special needs, including economies in transition.
He said that while many delegations had stressed the importance of DPI’s activities on socio-economic issues, his delegation believed that the dissemination of information related to conflict resolution and preventive diplomacy should also be one of the priorities. He stressed that the traditional media were still principal sources of information. Despite the revolutionary progress in electronic dissemination, traditional media would occupy a primary position for a long time in both developing and developed countries. Changes in psychology were not as rapid as changes in technology. The DPI, therefore, needed to focus on dissemination of information through television, radio and press.
He commended the work carried out by the United Nations Information Centre in his country and the DPI representative. That Centre closely and productively cooperated with State bodies, as well as with non-governmental organizations. He also asked members to support his country’s candidacy for membership of the Committee.
MADINA B. JARBUSSYNOVA (Kazakhstan) said the Department was a key actor in the area of communication and information and should mobilize global support for the work of the Organization. The DPI could be more focused on publicizing United Nations activities and achievements, such as poverty eradication, drug control and the advancement of women. Living in a modern, globalized world, he understood the necessity of the United Nations to use advanced technology. However, balance must be achieved to ensure that the benefits of the information revolution reached the developing world.
Kazakhstan commended the DPI for devoting more time to the enhancement of the United Nations Web site which was a useful information source. Use of radio and television was most relevant for the developing world, as only a small portion of the world’s population had acquired access to the Internet. She emphasized the importance of the activities of depository libraries, which brought documents and publications to users around the world. The radio pilot project should be put on a stable basis and be further expanded. Kazakhstan was looking forward to continuing its coordination with the Department to increase public awareness of the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.
KAMALESH SHARMA (India) said the media often dictated the agenda. “It chooses what to beam into our living rooms and how to present it.” A case in point was the excessive preoccupation with armed conflicts in the past few years. Unfortunate as those were, there was, however, a vaster reality of underdevelopment which might not be “breaking news”, but had been “soul breaking news” for countless generations. “Both the persistence of poverty and efforts to conquer it are news to warn or inspire us.” The need for comprehensive, objective and impartial information flow was self-evident. Not just because truth must prevail, but also to revive the mush broader international agenda which would, above all, address the 3 billion poor and all their attendant indignities.
He said the DPI could play a useful role in exercising the awareness- promotion function and in informing the peoples of the world about the subjects and issues being dealt with by the Organization, the results achieved and the reason why it was falling short of expectations. “We must commit our support to DPI to endow it with the required resources”, he said. “The attrition in posts to which Mr. Shashi Tharoor referred has to stop.”
He said that while improvements to the United Nations Web site were appreciated, there were still areas which needed further work. In some instances, the summary of discussions of the formal and open meetings of the Security Council were not available for 48 hours or until the end of the weekend. For smaller missions that did not have enough delegates to cover all meetings, the timely posting of the summaries on the Web would be of immense help in keeping abreast of the developments and serve as a “force multiplier” in their functioning. He cautioned, however, that accuracy, impartiality and objectivity must be preserved and should not be sacrificed for speed.
He commended the quality of the flagship magazine, the United Nations Chronicle. Thought needed to be given to restoring the monthly periodicity of that publication. In addition, the requirement to bring it out in all the official languages needed to be carefully examined, and, if there was a clientele, additional resources should be made available to cater to it.
VOLODYMYR G. KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said that the information revolution brought with it not only opportunities, but also clear challenges and risks. The United Nations must ensure that information and communications technology was turned into a factor for development. Given the limited nature of resources, the DPI should focus on optimizing the effectiveness of its activities. He noted with satisfaction the information component of the United Nations office in Ukraine, which had posted its own Web site. Regarding the Chernobyl accident, while Ukraine had met its obligations by closing the power plant, the consequence of the accident continued. It was important to disseminate information on the need for international assistance through the United Nations. He thanked the DPI for organizing events devoted to the fifteenth anniversary of the accident.
Along with the United Nations resident coordinator, it would be useful if the DPI could support projects which made computer equipment available to libraries so that they could access the libraries of the information centres, he added. The activities of information components should be closely linked with the work of the depository libraries. There was also a clear need to establish closer contacts between information centres and ministries of foreign affairs. He supported the policy to expand the information content of the United Nations Web site and the use of the six official languages.
A notable success of the DPI had been the implementation of direct radio broadcasts, he said. The creation of official radio pages on the Web site was an additional way to provide up-to-date information. That should continue to be a main part of the Department’s work. There was also need to expand the range of international partnerships. Ukraine supported the view of other delegations to support closer contacts between the DPI and other Secretariat departments. He thanked the Department for its information activities in areas such as development, human rights and socio-economic questions.
HIRA B. THAPA (Nepal) said his delegation had taken a keen interest in the founding of the ICT Task Force. He was pleased that preparations were under way to make it operational and was convinced that once it was functional it should create conditions under which poor developing countries like his would be able to extract value from the communication revolution, rather than watch that process extract from them.
He said that notwithstanding the tremendous advantages of revolutionized ICTs, the importance of traditional means of communications like radio broadcasting was still a priority for his country. In that light, the launch of the pilot project for the development of international radio broadcasting capacity in August 2000 was a milestone in the history of United Nations radio.
That project, he continued had been able to establish a direct, immediate and effective daily channel of communication with the world’s broadcast media and, through them, to a vast global audience. The dearth of financial resources to give continuity to a programme of such vital importance to developing countries was, therefore, a matter of concern.
RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said the Secretary-General’s reports presented a broad range of useful activities in the sphere of public information. On the radio pilot project, it was a promising area of activity for the DPI. The significance of that project went far beyond information work. Tajikistan fully supported it. As a result of Tajikistan's cooperation with Russian broadcasting, a range of programmes had been produced on key problems facing the world, such as illegal drug trafficking and the resolution of the Afghan conflict. The broadcasts were useful and important. Most developing countries could not support new information and communications technologies and the gap between developed and developing countries was filled by the United Nations radio broadcasts.
The broadcasts were one of the few direct channels of information from the Organization, he said. Although there was no mandate or resources to continue the radio programme, it was important to continue its activities. He hoped that the Committee would recommend that the programme continue.
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