FOURTH COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXT ASKING GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO EMPHASIZE PUBLIC INFORMATION DEPARTMENT’S ESSENTIAL ROLE AS UN’S CLEAR, EFFECTIVE VOICE

29 October 2003
GA/SPD/273

FOURTH COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXT ASKING GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO EMPHASIZE PUBLIC INFORMATION DEPARTMENT’S ESSENTIAL ROLE AS UN’S CLEAR, EFFECTIVE VOICE

29/10/2003
Press Release
GA/SPD/273


Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

16th Meeting (PM)


FOURTH COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXT ASKING GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO EMPHASIZE PUBLIC


INFORMATION DEPARTMENT’S ESSENTIAL ROLE AS UN’S CLEAR, EFFECTIVE VOICE


Acting Without Vote, Delegates Approve Second Draft Resolutions, Draft Decision


The General Assembly would reaffirm that the United Nations –- the indispensable foundation of a peaceful and just world -- must be heard in a clear and effective voice, and emphasize the essential role of its Department of Information, according to one of three texts approved by the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this afternoon.


By other terms of that text -- approved without a vote as the Committee concluded its general debate on questions relating to information -- the Assembly would welcome the steps taken towards the restructuring of the Department, and encourage the Secretary-General to continue the reorientation exercise, as well as efforts to improve its efficiency and productivity through wide-ranging and innovative proposals.  It would welcome the progress achieved since the commencement of the reorientation exercise in enhancing the Department’s performance and effectiveness.


Also by that text, entitled “United Nations public information activities”, the Assembly would encourage the Secretary-General to strengthen the coordination between the Department of Public Information and other departments, including through the designation of focal points to work with substantive departments to target audiences and develop information programmes and media strategy for priority issues.


The Assembly would, by further terms, request the Department to pay particular attention to such major issues as the eradication of poverty, conflict prevention, sustainable development, human rights, HIV/AIDS, combating terrorism, and the needs of the African continent. 


Also by that text, the Assembly would note, with satisfaction, the success of the pilot project on the development of an international radio broadcasting capacity for the United Nations, and endorse the Secretary-General’s proposal that the pilot project be made an integral part of the Department’s activities.  The Assembly would also emphasize the importance of ensuring the full, equitable treatment of all official United Nations languages.  It would also welcome the Department’s contribution to publicizing the Secretary-General’s efforts to close the digital divide as a means of spurring economic growth and as a response to the continuing gulf between developed and developing countries.


Emphasizing that the United Nations information centres, or regional hubs, were the Department’s “field voice”, the Assembly would, by other terms, welcome ongoing efforts to review the allocation of both staff and financial resources to the centres, with a view to possibly transferring resources from the centres in developed countries to those in developing countries, emphasizing the needs of the least developed countries, and to other high-priority activities.


In a second consensus vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution by which the General Assembly would urge all countries, the United Nations system and all others concerned to reduce existing disparities in information flows by increasing assistance for communication infrastructures and capabilities in developing countries.


That text, on “Information in the service of humanity”, would also have the Assembly urge all concerned to ensure that journalists had the opportunity to freely and effectively perform their professional tasks, and condemn all attacks against them.  Further by that text, the Assembly would seek all possible support and assistance for:  the development of human and technical resources indispensable for improvement of information and communication systems in developing countries; the creation of conditions enabling developing countries to have communication technology suited to their needs; the establishment and promotion of telecommunication links at the subregional, regional and interregional levels; and the facilitation of access for developing countries to advanced communication technology available on the open market.


Acting again without a vote, the Committee approved a draft decision by which the General Assembly would decide to increase the membership of the Committee on Information from 99 to 102, appointing Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Switzerland as members.


In other action this afternoon, the Committee endorsed the recommendations contained in the report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination.


Also today, Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information, responded to issues raised by delegates during their three-day general debate, saying that the Department of Public Information not only needed a good plan and sound leadership, but also the political and material support of Member States.


Statements in the general debate were made by representatives of Nigeria, Ukraine, Sudan, Pakistan, Nepal, United Republic of Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Mongolia.


The representatives of Cuba and the United States spoke in exercise of the right of reply.


Also making a statement was a representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.  Portugal’s representative spoke on behalf of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Informatics.


The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday,

30 October, to begin considering the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).


Background


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to conclude its general debate on questions relating to information.  (For background information, see Press Release GA/SPD/271 of 27 October 2003.)  It was also expected to take action on two related draft resolutions and a draft decision contained in the report on the twenty-fifth session of the Committee on Information (document A/58/21).


By terms of part A of the resolution, entitled “Information in the service of humanity”, the Assembly would urge all countries, the United Nations system and all others concerned to cooperate and interact to reduce existing disparities in information flows, by increasing assistance for communication infrastructures and capabilities in developing countries.  This should be done with due regard to the needs and priorities of those countries, and in order to enable them to develop their own information and communication policies.


The Assembly would also urge all concerned to ensure that journalists have the opportunity to freely and effectively perform their professional tasks, and condemn all attacks against them.  They would also be urged to provide support for the strengthening of practical training programmes for broadcasters and journalists in developing countries.  Regional efforts and cooperation among developing countries and between developed and developing countries would be sought, to strengthen communication capabilities and to improve the media infrastructure and communication technology, especially in training and information dissemination.


Among other things, the Assembly would seek all possible support and assistance for:  the development of human and technical resources indispensable for improvement of information and communication systems in developing countries; the creation of conditions that will enable developing countries to have communication technology suited to their needs; establishing and promoting telecommunication links at the subregional, regional and interregional levels; and the facilitation of developing countries’ access to advanced communication technology available on the open market.


By part B of the text, on United Nations public information policies and activities, the Assembly would reaffirm that the United Nations remains the indispensable foundation of a peaceful and just world, that its voice must be heard in a clear and effective manner, and emphasized the essential role of the Department of Information in that context.


Regarding the subject of the United Nations messages, the Assembly would reaffirm the central role of the Committee on Information in United Nations public information policies and activities, including the restructuring process of the Department, and the prioritization of its activities.  It would welcome the continued constructive interaction between the Department and Committee members.


Further, the Assembly would request the Department, following the priorities laid down by the General Assembly in the Medium-Term Plan and using the Millennium Declaration as its guide, to pay particular attention to such major issues as the eradication of poverty, conflict prevention, sustainable development, human rights, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, combating terrorism, and the needs of the African continent.


The Assembly would further request the Department to pay attention to all major issues addressed in the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals in carrying out its activities.


Concerning the Department’s general activities, the Assembly would welcome the steps taken towards its restructuring, and encourage the Secretary-General to continue the reorientation exercise and efforts in improving the Department’s efficiency and productivity, including wide-ranging and, possibly, new innovative proposals, taking into account the broad principles and directions contained in the present resolution.


The Assembly would welcome the progress achieved since the commencement of the reorientation exercise in enhancing the Department’s performance and effectiveness.  It would also welcome the decision to implement an annual programme impact review making self-evaluation a part of the daily work of all programme managers, with a view to institutionalizing performance management.


It would encourage the Secretary-General to strengthen the coordination between the Department and other departments, including the designation of focal points to work with substantive departments to identify and target audiences and develop information programmes and media strategy for priority issues, and emphasize that public information capacities and activities in other departments should function under the Department’s guidance.


Under a further provision, the Assembly would appreciate the Department’s continued efforts in issuing daily press releases, and request it to continue providing that invaluable service to both Member States and media representatives, while considering possible means of improving their production process and streamlining their format, structure and length, keeping in mind the views of Member States and the fact that other departments might be providing similar or overlapping services in that regard.


It would also acknowledge the mission statement proposed in the Secretary-General’s report on the reorientation, which reads, as follows:  “The Department of Public Information’s mission is to help fulfil the substantive purposes of the United Nations by strategically communicating the activities and concerns of the Organization to achieve the greatest public impact.”


By further terms of the text, the Assembly would welcome the Department’s new operating model, as described in the reorientation report, which, among other things, recognizes that content generation emanates from the other departments and offices of the Secretariat and organizations of the United Nations system, while content coordination and refinement, as well as content presentation and distribution, are the primary responsibility of the Department, working in close cooperation with the media, Member States and civil society partners.


On multilingualism and public information, the Assembly would welcome the Department’s ongoing efforts in that regard, and emphasize the importance of ensuring the full, equitable treatment of all the official languages of the United Nations in all departmental activities.


Towards bridging the digital divide, the Assembly would welcome the Department’s contribution to publicize the Secretary-General’s efforts to close the digital divide as a means of spurring economic growth and as a response to the continuing gulf between developed and developing countries, and, in that context, request it to further enhance its role in that regard.


The Assembly would also welcome initiatives undertaken by the Department for the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva in December 2003 and in Tunis in 2005.  It would commend the Secretary-General for the establishment of the United Nations Information Technology Service, the Health InterNetwork, and the Information and Communications Technology Task Force, with a view to bridging the digital divide and as a response to the continuing gulf between developed and developing countries.


Noting the Secretary-General’s report on programmatic aspects of the proposed programme budget for 2004-2005 for the Department, the Assembly would welcome the new subprogramme structure that includes:  strategic communications services; news services; library services; and outreach services.


Concerning United Nations information centres, the Assembly would emphasize that the centres, or regional hubs, as applicable, as the Department’s “field voice”, should promote public awareness and mobilize support for the work of the United Nations at the local level, bearing in mind that information in the local languages has the strongest impact on the local populations.  It would welcome ongoing efforts to review the allocation of both staff and financial resources to the centres, with a view to possibly transferring resources from the centres in developed countries to those in developing countries, emphasizing the needs of the least developed countries, and to any other activities of high priority, such as multilingualism on the Web site and evaluation of services.


Regarding promotional campaigns, the Assembly would stress the need for the renewed emphasis in support of Africa’s development, in particular, by the Department to promote awareness in the international community of the nature of the critical economic and social situation in Africa and of the priorities of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).


With respect to news services, the text would have the Assembly stress that the central objective of the news services, implemented by the News and Media Division, is the timely delivery of accurate, objective and balanced news and information emanating from the United Nations system in all four mass media -– print, radio, television, and Internet –- to the media and other audiences worldwide with the overall emphasis on multilingualism.


Concerning traditional means of communication, the Assembly would note, with satisfaction, the success of the pilot project on the development of an international radio broadcasting capacity for the United Nations and endorse the Secretary-General’s proposal that the pilot project be made an integral part of the Department’s activities.  The Assembly would also note the Department’s efforts to disseminate programmes directly to broadcasting stations all over the world in the six official languages, plus Portuguese, as well as, where possible, in other languages.  In that regard, it would stress the need for impartiality and objectivity concerning information activities.


By other terms, the Assembly would reiterate its appreciation for efforts in creating a high-quality, user-friendly and cost-effective Web site, and encourage it to continue to take the necessary measures to ensure accessibility to it by persons with disabilities.  It would note with concern, however, that the multilingual development and enrichment of the Web site has been slower than expected, owing to, among other factors, a lack of resources.


Regarding library services, the Assembly would welcome the creation of the Steering Committee on the Modernization and Integrated Management of United Nations Libraries to develop and implement strategy to achieve a more modern, efficient and accessible system.  In recognition of the importance of the depository libraries in disseminating knowledge about United Nations activities, it would urge the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, in its capacity as the focal point, to take necessary initiatives towards strengthening such libraries by way of providing regional training and other assistance.


By a draft decision, the Assembly would decide to increase the membership of the Committee on Information from 99 to 102 and to appoint Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Switzerland as members.


Statements


CHARLES A. ONONYE (Nigeria) said that if the United Nations must be revitalized to meet the requirements of the Millennium Declaration, there must be a corresponding effort to sufficiently strengthen the Department of Public Information with appropriate resources to enable it to cope with the increase in its responsibilities.  Nigeria called attention to the widening digital divide and urged support and increased assistance from developed countries to ensure that developing countries could benefit from innovations in information technology.


He praised the improvement in the quality of services provided by the Department since the implementation of its new operating structure, saying that the United Nations should have a greater involvement in the implementation of information technology policies and programmes of Member States through more effective liaison with local authorities.


YURIY KHOMENKO (Ukraine), expressing support for the Department’s efforts to focus on the effectiveness of its programme activities, re-setting its priorities and eliminating duplication and fragmentation in its functions, commended its continuing efforts to update the United Nations Web site and make it more informative, functional and visually attractive.


He underlined the important role played by the Department in consolidating peacekeeping and peace-building, and encouraged it to continue its activities in providing information on the scope of the consequences of the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster.  Also, Ukraine attached great importance to the protection of journalists, especially those working in conflict zones, an issue that should be included on the future agenda of the Committee on Information.


KHALID MOHAMMED OSMAN (Sudan) said that the equal treatment of languages in public information activities would strengthen the confidence of the world’s peoples in the United Nations.  In addition, the Sudan stressed the need to focus, among the Department’s other activities, on the fight against poverty.  Rich countries must be encouraged to assist the poor in their development, and the Department must play an active role in encouraging humanitarian assistance for peoples affected by disaster, conflict and war.


Regarding the proposal to regionalize the United Nations information centres, he stressed the need for consultation with the countries of the concerned regions.  The Sudan also emphasized the need to modernize United Nations library services so that they could play a more important role in raising awareness about the Organization.


MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan), noting the continuing disparities and imbalances in the flow of information, said developing countries remained constrained by a paucity of resources, lack of professional training and absence of proper infrastructure.  The root causes of that imbalance in the flow of information needed to be clearly identified and addressed, in order to bridge the existing chasm.


He said the United Nations information centres served as vehicles of a two-way feedback by gauging the responses to the Organization’s work in the countries where they were located, while also acting as a platform for the local people to avail themselves of information about the United Nations.  In that context, the concept of regional hubs for information centres ran counter to the purpose of providing information about the United Nations at people’s doorsteps.


The critically important functions of the information centres could not be performed by remote control, he noted.  Curtailing the functions of the information centres at the present time, when they were most needed, would send out the wrong message, and the initiative should not be pursued without a clear mandate from the Committee on Information.


NARAYAN DEV PANT (Nepal) said that the Department’s new organizational structure would provide the needed impetus to implement its news, library, outreach and strategic communications programmes.  The Department had also been making efforts to support peacekeeping and peace-building.  Particularly praiseworthy were its outreach programmes, which aimed at reaching larger segments of society through traditional means of communications.  In the least developed countries, traditional media such as radio and print had a significant impact.  In that regard, Nepal commended the Department’s live radio project.


Regarding the regionalization of United Nations information centres, he welcomed ongoing consultations on the proposal and requested the Department to ensure that the resources released as a result of the measure were transferred to activities in the developing countries.  In addition, it was hoped that the project to prepare an inventory of the small and field libraries was completed as planned.  Depository libraries should also be included in that project.  Noting that strong partnerships with the media and civil society would facilitate the Department’s work in reaching a wider range of people, he also stressed the need to address the ever-growing digital gap between rich and poor countries.


LIBERATA MULAMULA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that, while a great deal had been done in implementing the reform measures aimed at improving the efficient and effective delivery of public information programmes to targeted audiences, a lot more needed to be done. 


Tanzania attached great importance to the work of the United Nations information centres, which were the Department’s field voices, she said.  The information centre in Dar-es-Salaam had, despite perpetual resource constraints, translated United Nations information materials into the national language, Kiswahili, for the benefit of local audiences.  In that regard, the United Nations should “put its money where its mouth is”, she said, stressing that, without strengthening information centres, the Department’s outreach programmes would be an exercise in futility, especially in the developing world. 


SAÏDOU ZONGO (Burkina Faso) said that access to information and communication technologies remained a challenge for developing countries like his own, while computers and Internet access were mostly a luxury accessible only to affluent people.  Consequently, the further development of traditional communication channels was necessary.


Burkina Faso attached extreme importance to the United Nations Information Centre in Ouagadougou, he said.  Regionalization plans for information centres must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis so as to take into account the functions of each information centre and the specific needs of each country and each region.  Pending a narrowing of the digital divide, the United Nations information centres should continue to be strengthened.


CHOISUREN BAATAR (Mongolia) said that by focusing its activities on the objectives of the Millennium Declaration and operating under a new organizational structure, the Department had proved its ability to deliver effective and targeted information.  Its operating model and new priorities enabled it to effectively carry out its mandate.  The public information challenges facing the United Nations had become a real test for the Department’s capacity to adapt to new circumstances, and Mongolia commended its response to the Iraq crisis.


In the restructuring of the information centres, he said priority should be given to the special needs of the developing world.  Until the digital divide was addressed, traditional media such as radio remained the most cost-effective and universal means of communications in many poor countries.  Broadcasts in local languages would increase the impact of radio.  Every effort must be made to bridge the digital divide between developed and developing countries, and Mongolia hoped that the World Summit on Information Society would help ensure that developing countries benefited from the global information and technology revolution.


Suggesting that the Department could learn from the best practices of other international organizations, he said the International Committee of the Red Cross, for example, issued an annual review of its activities in a short television documentary.  A short but dynamic presentation of United Nations activities and achievements could become one means of increasing the impact of the Organization’s information products.  Also, a monthly briefing on United Nations activities by United Nations offices, in cooperation with local media and civil society, could increase the Organization’s ability to increase the impact of its voice, especially at the grass-roots level.


YUSSEF F. KANAAN, Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the world was witnessing an astronomical leap in new information and communication technology, which was growing at an alarming speed.  Modern media had assumed increasing responsibility in shaping societal values, cultures, structures and future directions.  Several areas required the Department’s attention, including human rights, the issue of dialogue among civilizations and training programmes for broadcasters and journalists from developing countries.  The Department was to be commended for renaming its annual training programme for young journalists in honour of Reham Al-Farra, one the United Nations staff members killed in the terrorist bombing of the Organization’s Baghdad headquarters. 


He said that as the Israeli Government continued its inhumane military campaign against the Palestinian people, committing war crimes and destroying the peace process, it was imperative that the United Nations shoulder its responsibility regarding the question of Palestine, including in the field of information.  He commended the Department for implementing its special programme to enhance public awareness on the question of Palestine, including its convening, in 2002 and 2003, of the International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian people. 


Right of Reply


The representative of Cuba, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, called attention to an aggressive statement by the United States representative yesterday and said the Cuban delegation was not trying to politicize the Committee to information.  Rather, it was the delegation of the United States that was doing so.  Why had the United States representative thought that Cuba had been obliged to denounce Radio Marti and not the hundreds of other stations that could be heard in Cuba, such as United Nations Radio?  The matter concerning Radio Marti was not a question of fear on the part of the Cuban Government, and the Cuban delegation was surprised at the reaction of the United States delegation to Cuba’s call for a new information order.  If the United States representative had paid attention to what had been said by other delegations, he would have realized that others had already made that call.


The representative of the United States said, in response, that the Cuban delegate had just exercised a right that Cuban citizens were denied by their own Government, namely, the right of reply.  The Castro dictatorship had oppressed the Cuban people for almost 50 years.


The representative of Cuba responded by saying that the fact that the United States delegate had left the room before hearing his reply demonstrated a lack of respect, not only for the Cuban delegation, but also for the entire Committee.  How could one speak of dialogue when one left the room before hearing his reply?


The Committee then heard from the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Informatics.


SEBASTIÃO COELHO (Portugal), speaking for the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Informatics, said that over the last few years, the group had addressed connectivity between Member States and the Secretariat, playing a useful role in improving information and communications technologies services by providing maintenance for personal computers used by delegates, broadening the availability of official documents via the Internet, increasing access to specialized databases and providing training programmes.


He introduced a booklet entitled “Internet Services for Delegates”, a publication covering various information technology services designed to enable delegates to take full advantage of the Internet tools and resources at their disposal.  The Working Group was currently working on a software programme that would allow delegates to download practical data such as the daily journal into their personal digital assistants (PDAs).

Response by Under-Secretary-General


SHASHI THAROOR, Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information, responded to the contributions and concerns raised by delegates, saying that if the Department was to become the public voice of the United Nations, it not only needed a good plan and sound leadership, but also the political and material support of Member States.  The Department would continue to be guided by the recommendations of the Committee on Information, and while it had excellent relations with that body, it would not rest on its laurels.


Several delegates had described the World Summit on the Information Society as an opportunity to generate practical measures to address the digital divide, he noted, adding that some Member States were concerned that the Summit, rather than reaffirming press freedom, could actually curb that fundamental right.  The Department had been working at many levels to press for the reaffirmation of established international norms on the freedom of expression at the Summit, including article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The free exchange of information played an increasingly important role in aiding development and reducing poverty, and any attempt to curb those freedoms would alienate a key partner, namely, the media.  The Department, along with the Information and Communications Technology Task Force, had been instrumental in transforming the Information Summit from an event focused on new information technologies to a much broader meeting with development at the heart of the Summit process.


He said the Middle East question remained one of the highest priorities for the United Nations and the Department had established a focal point for Arab-language media to strengthen the United Nations information capacity in the Arab world.  Its international media seminar on peace in the Middle East, held in Spain last week, had brought together journalists and policy makers from Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  The Department’s annual training programme for Palestinian media practitioners would take place in November and would offer five weeks of hands-on training on audio-visual production and reporting to 10 Palestinian journalists.


Regarding the proposal to produce an annual documentary on United Nations activities, he said the Department did, in fact, produce a year-end review documentary that was distributed to television stations worldwide.  On multilingualism, he noted that the United Nations News Centre provided

up-to-the-minute information in all six official languages and that the “United Nation Works” Web site was also available in the six languages, as were significant parts of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library’s Web site.  Furthermore, in addition to its radio broadcasts in the six languages, as well as Portuguese and Kiswahili, United Nations Radio maintained Web pages in the latter two languages.  Television programmes were regularly produced in the six official languages, and the United Nations Chronicle was issued in all official languages through innovative and cost-saving co-publishing arrangements.  Guided tours were offered in 20 different languages, while the United Nations information centres produced print outputs in 28 languages, radio programmes in seven languages, television broadcasts in 14 languages and Web sites in 31 languages.


While the Department would like to make more information available in the six official languages, the greatest obstacle remained the shortage of resources, he said.  Financing the translation of parliamentary documents in the six languages was accepted as a matter of course, but the same was not true of translating United Nations publications.  While an enormous amount had been achieved within existing resources, the Department was rapidly approaching the “boundaries of the impossible”.  The Department would, nevertheless, continue to seek innovative solutions and partnerships with a view to achieving greater linguistic parity.


Regarding the percentage of users of the United Nations Web site from developing countries, he said the origin of those reading the site could be identified if they used an Internet provider whose portal had a country designation.  At present, only some 43 per cent of the hits used country-specific portals.  Of those accesses, about 24 per cent came from developing countries.  It was likely, however, that many more developing-country users accessed the site from Internet providers based in another country.


Concerning the needs of Africa, he said the Department was implementing a multimedia, global programme designed to build and strengthen support for NEPAD.  It was also working with the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa and the NEPAD Secretariat to develop a comprehensive global strategy -– to be implemented by all United Nations partners working to promote development in Africa -– aimed at generating support for NEPAD at all levels.  Over the past year, the Department had helped promote understanding of NEPAD’s core issues, including through articles in the Africa Recovery magazine and Web site.  In addition, some 80 per cent of United Nations Radio’s coverage was on issues relating to Africa and a large percentage of the News Centre stories highlighted African issues.


Turning to the question of regionalizing United Nations information centres, he said the Department intended to pursue the regional approach in consultation with the Member States concerned, using its experience from the Brussels hub and taking into account the special circumstances prevailing in developing countries, and specifically in each region.  Consultations would begin early in the new year and the views of Member States would be used to guide the application of the hub approach in other regions.


The Department also intended to redeploy resources released as a result of the closure of the nine centres in Western Europe, in strengthening the capacity of information centres in those cities that were regional hubs, he said.  Three D-1 posts from Western Europe would be moved to reinforce key centres in those regions of developing countries where there was currently no D-1 post.  However, economizing resources was not the principle motive for new approach, he stressed.  Rather, the Department was concerned about the effectiveness of having a large number of thinly resourced information centres, which might not be able to achieve the desired impact.  While the modest resources with which the information centres were expected to work were a cause for concern, there was little hope of increasing them.


Regarding the proposal that the Dag Hammarskjöld Library assume a strong leadership position in the newly established Steering Committee for the Modernization and Integrated Management of United Nations Libraries, he said it currently participated in all seven subcommittees and chaired three of them.  The Dag Hammarskjöld Library and the Department were seeking to leverage the collective talents of the United Nations libraries to improve services for all, including a common Internet gateway and improved document delivery.  There was no intention to minimize the role of the Geneva Library, but rather to ensure that the strengths of each library served the interests of all.


On the United Nations Chronicle, he noted that colleges and universities were the publication’s target audience.  The Chronicle had been revamped in the last two years and featured an online edition.  Discussions with universities on its educational profile had been encouraging and those involved in its preparation would welcome ideas on how to channel the publication more formally into their curricula.


JORGE BALLESTERO (Costa Rica) said that finding documents in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library was difficult and the process needed streamlining.  Calling on the Department of Public Information to improve the archiving and collection process, he asked what steps were being taken to facilitate access to United Nations documents in general.


IBRAHIM ASSAF (Lebanon) asked whether United Nations TV was available outside Manhattan through Time Warner Cable.  If it was not available, what measures was the Department taking to remedy that situation?


Under-Secretary-General Mr. THAROOR told the representative of Costa Rica that he would instruct the Head Librarian to meet with him individually to address the problems he had mentioned.


Responding to the representative of Lebanon, he said the United Nations TV channel was visible only in some parts of Manhattan through Time Warner but not outside that area.  The reason was that Time Warner carried the feed as a free service on a non-commercial channel.  To obtain the service beyond that area would cost resources that were not available.  However, United Nations TV made material available to a wide variety of broadcasters, he added.


The Committee then approved, without a vote, the two draft resolutions and draft decision before it.


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For information media. Not an official record.