Delegates in Committee on Information Stress Need for Better Coordination, New Technology in Getting United Nations Message out

5 May 2009
PI/1879

Delegates in Committee on Information Stress Need for Better Coordination, New Technology in Getting United Nations Message out

5 May 2009
General Assembly
PI/1879
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on Information

Thirty-first Session

2nd & 3rd Meetings (AM & PM)

delegates in committee on information stress need for better coordination,

new technology in getting United Nations message out

 

As the Committee on Information continued its general debate today, many speakers urged the Department of Public Information (DPI) to get the United Nations message out more effectively through better coordination and use of new technology, while others prioritized broader outreach through the wider use of a broader range of languages, more accessible media and a stronger network of information centres worldwide.

In that vein, the representative of the United States encouraged DPI to identify ways to improve coordination, efficiency and integration of its activities throughout the entire United Nations system, in order to achieve “the greatest public impact with the greatest efficiency” within current resources.

On the other hand, the representative of Brazil, noting that none of the 22 United Nations information centres in Africa operated in a Portuguese-speaking country, focused his remarks on his country’s support for Angola’s offer of rent-free premises for establishing such a centre.  To allow the widest possible coverage of information centres and save on costs at the same time, all States hosting United Nations information centres were strongly encouraged to consider providing similar rent-free arrangements.

Also with an eye on budget constraints, Japan’s representative voiced support for DPI’s proposal to transform its flagship publication, the UN Chronicle, into UN Affairs, providing the change could be accomplished within existing resources.  The publication should be produced in all six official United Nations languages.

Taking a different perspective on the transformation of the UN Chronicle, Algeria’s representative commented that the current publication’s shortcomings were due to a failure to adapt to readers’ current tastes.  The focus should be placed on efforts to strengthen the magazine so it could provide in-depth analysis of issues before the Organization, whether or not the name was changed.

Many speakers also underlined the importance of the keeping DPI-generated information neutral, while some maintained that the Department should play a part in correcting imbalances in the world informational landscape.  In that vein, the representative of the Russian Federation called for more attention to the sixty-fourth anniversary of the “Great Victory” in the Second World War, warning that his country would oppose attempts to rewrite history so as to suit political trends.  The Department’s outreach activities must not distort the war’s outcome.

Iran’s representative said it expected DPI to address the imbalance resulting when the lack of resources hobbled independent media from countering their “wealthy and monopolized” counterparts, which had blurred the image of the United Nations and certain cultures.

Similarly, Cuba’s representative said it was of crucial importance to change a situation in which the developing world lacked both access to new information technology and, therefore, a large portion of the information flow, as well as control over the content of information disseminated.

Switzerland’s representative cautioned that efforts by the United Nations Communications Group to formulate guidelines for crisis coverage should not aim for “unifying or restricting the message”, as it worked to get more information about crises out in a timely fashion.

Among many delegates affirming the importance of World Press Freedom Day, the representative of the United States recalled the affirmation in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that everyone had a right to full freedom of expression, and “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

Also speaking today were representatives of Croatia, Belarus, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Jamaica, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Cape Verde and Trinidad and Tobago.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the United States and Cuba.

The Committee on Information will meet again at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 7 May.

Background

The Committee on Information, the intergovernmental body charged with reviewing progress in the field of United Nations public information met this morning to continue the general debate of its thirty-first annual session.  (For more background information, please see Press Release PI/1876 of 30 April.)

Statements

MLADEN CVRLJE, United Nations Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Croatia, associating himself with the European Union, said that, in his country, information was a guaranteed and fundamental human right, which presupposed the educative role of the media.  Croatia had passed a law on the rights of national minorities and ethnic groups, and information could play a substantial role in helping the fulfilment of those rights.

Concerned about the more than 100 million children out of school, he said the global community should enhance efforts to facilitate education through information.  Investing more energy in information, as outlined in the strategic approach of the Department of Public Information (DPI), would allow greater access to education for women and children.  Journalists had given their lives in the service of information, and Croatia joined in the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day.

Emphasizing the need to do more in tackling the digital divide, which was widest in developing countries, with gaps in the level of information and communications technology (ICT) and lack of general information, he said it could be overcome by creating centres of excellence at all levels of education, with the goal of putting into practice “innovative environments”.  Information should be used to harness information and communications technology fully.

In closing, he called attention to the possibility of exploring further partnerships between the United Nations and the private sector to enhance the visibility of the Organization’s activities.  Invaluable information was already being provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Millennium Goals Monitor and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Atlas of Our Changing Environment, among others.

IGOR YEVDOKIMOV ( Russian Federation), commending yesterday’s “brilliant” demonstration of the Department’s work, said 2008 had, indeed, become an important stage for reforming the United Nations information system, in which DPI continued to play a key role.  The Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General had become more dynamic and better at meeting the requirements of correspondents and end-users.  The Russian Federation was ready for constructive cooperation in efforts to implement the transformation of the UN Chronicle magazine into UN Affairs, notably to ensure the principle of parity of all official languages.  It also expected that DPI would pursue the adaptation of the Organization’s communication structure to current realities.

Commending DPI’s focus on development, human rights and peace and security as its principal information and communications priorities, he said coverage of the Organization’s role in addressing the world financial crisis should be approved.  On the global food crisis, a Russian initiative, the first Global Grain Summit, would be held on 6-7 June in St. Petersburg.  In addition, the Russian Government had put forward a proposal to create a Consultative Council of Religious Leaders and hoped there would be discussion on those efforts.

Noting the growing proportion of DPI materials on climate change, human rights, development and peacekeeping, he called for more attention to the sixty-fourth anniversary of the “Great Victory” in the Second World War, warning that his country would oppose attempts to falsify or rewrite history to suit political trends.  The Department’s outreach activities must not distort the war’s outcome.  In other areas, the Russian Federation noted DPI’s efforts to popularize United Nations activities among the young.  The Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations had hosted the Tenth Model UN.

He noted with satisfaction the Department’s progress in implementing the principle of multilingualism on the United Nations website, but called for more to be done on the sites of other entities of the Organization.  The Russian Federation was satisfied with efforts to modernize United Nations Radio and United Nations Television, and approved of the ongoing optimization of DPI’s regional offices, as well as its related focus on use of state-of-the-art information technology, of which the United Nations Information Centre in Moscow was a good example.  The Russian Federation also approved of efforts to develop partnerships with non-governmental organizations, and the development of a regional dimension to United Nations communications activities.

AMIR HOSSEIN HOSSEINI ( Iran) stressed the Committee should help DPI formulate an effective and efficient United Nations information policy that would ensure greater understanding and respect among peoples of various societies, cultures and religions.  The Department should always commit itself to reach out to the widest possible audiences and to provide accurate, relevant, impartial, balanced and timely information on the Organization’s work.  Its efforts in addressing such important issues as United Nations reform, the Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development, dialogue among civilizations and the culture of peace were commendable.

He said it was also important for DPI to help the international community better understand emerging issues such as the global economic crisis, the Influenza A (H1N1) outbreak and the food crisis.  It was to be hoped, in addition, that the Department would come up with proposals to narrow the digital divide.  The DPI was also expected to address the imbalance resulting when lack of resources hobbled independent media from countering their “wealthy and monopolized” counterparts, which had blurred the image of the United Nations and certain cultures.

Turning to the network of United Nations information centres, he stressed the importance of close coordination with host countries, providing them with adequate resources and technologies, and paying careful attention to the character and needs of different regions.  Iran affirmed its support for greater multilingualism and language parity in all activities, including enrichment of the United Nations website in the six official languages and by making more materials available in local languages.

ABELARDO MORENO ( Cuba) said it was of crucial importance to change a situation in which the developing world lacked both access to new information technology and, therefore, a large portion of the information flow, as well as control over the content of information disseminated.  The United Nations had a key role to play in enabling the rational use and more social appropriation of information technology.  In particular, United Nations information centres worldwide must play a more active role in the dissemination of balanced information and take the needs of their audiences into consideration.  Among other measures, the use of radio to inform the vast illiterate populations of the South should continue.

Cuba continued to be the object of constant radio and television aggression from the United States, which distorted facts and encouraged destructive hate, he said.  Each week, there were more than 1,955 hours of such programming directed against Cuba through 31 different frequencies, with 20 out of 25 stations aiming their signals directly at the country.  Several such stations belonged to, or provided services for, organizations linked to well-known terrorists who were living and acting against Cuba from the territory of the United States with the full consent of the authorities.  Cuba reiterated its condemnation of those illegal actions and demanded their definitive cessation.

SIMON PIDOUX ( Switzerland) stressed that a new information era was dawning due to economic stresses and technological changes, and it was encouraging that DPI has recognized those changes, as the public would rely increasingly on quality information issued directly by the United Nations regarding the Organization’s concerns.  Switzerland also emphasized the importance of World Press Freedom Day as an opportunity to recall the critical need for freedom of expression.

He urged DPI, in view of the current economic crisis, to continue its efforts towards rationalization and efficiency, and called for a pragmatic approach that would account for regional specificities and place a premium on results as opposed to ideological rigidity.  There was a need for continued openness to the use of new information technology, including further improvements in use of the Internet.  In that light, Switzerland commended the creation of the Member State portal “DeleGate”.

Expressing appreciation for the provision by the United Nations information centres of day-to-day information on worldwide issues such as the Millennium Development Goals, he said, however, that the gauge of the Organization’s information performance was the handling of the “big humanitarian dramas” such as Gaza and Darfur.  In that regard, Switzerland welcomed the efforts of the United Nations Communications Group to formulate guidelines for crisis communications, supporting the goal of effectiveness, but not “unifying or restricting the message”.  The upcoming sixtieth anniversary of the Geneva Conventions and the first annual Global Model UN Conference, organized by DPI in Geneva, would provide two more opportunities for the Department to continue its fine job.

MIKIO MORI ( Japan) expressed the hope that DPI would continue to enhance its effectiveness and accountability in actively performing public relations for the United Nations.  Supporting the central themes laid out in the Secretary-General’s reports, Japan found it crucial for the Department to identify priority issues and strategically communicate the role of the United Nations in regard to them.  In that light, it was critically important to mobilize the interest of the global community in upcoming conferences on the world economic crisis and climate change.

He also expressed the hope that DPI would continue to enhance efficiency through greater coordination within its units, networking with other United Nations components and other organizations, within existing resources.  In that context, Japan supported the idea of converting the UN Chronicle magazine into UN Affairs, on condition that it would be accomplished within existing resources.  In addition, DPI should continue to publicise, in an efficient way, the key issues of achieving the Millennium Development Goals; fighting terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and infectious diseases; and disarmament and peacebuilding.  Those were all issues in which Japan was integrally involved.

MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, reiterated the call for the promotion of DPI’s role by allowing it to carry out its work using the six official languages and ensuring that those visiting the United Nations website would be “infused” with the spirit of such a balance.  In that context, Algeria called for better media coverage in Arabic.  Despite substantial progress in the field of information and communications technology, which had contributed to a rapprochement between peoples and cultures, there would be a continued need for the written press in promoting United Nations products and goals.

Algeria attached great importance to the quality requirements of DPI with regard to event coverage, he said.  Staff should work in an objective and candid manner in terms of information dissemination.  Algeria backed DPI efforts to develop new ways to strengthen the role of the United Nations.  Such efforts should focus on a clear concept of disseminating the Organization’s services to all sections of society in all six official languages.  Algeria commended DPI for providing information on a draft of a new publication to replace the UN Chronicle.  At the same time, any shortcomings were due to the fact that it had not adapted to readers’ tastes, and the focus should be placed on efforts to modernize it.  There was no incongruity in continued publication of the UN Chronicle and providing in-depth analysis of the Organization’s issues.

ANDREI POPOV ( Belarus) said due importance should be paid to United Nations information outreach.  In alignment with the Rio Group, Belarus expected United Nations information services to tackle the General Assembly thematic debate on human trafficking and similar major meetings creatively and in a multifaceted manner.  It was particularly interested in DPI’s stepped-up use of innovative approaches and working methods, including through information and communications technology, and increased work with youth.  Belarus also shared the Rio Group’s view that traditional communication channels should retain their importance in the future, and that DPI must come up with a “judicious balance”.

To incorporate multilingualism into United Nations events, it was important not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”, he said, noting progress in enhancing DPI’s Russian web service.  Belarus expected that level of work to be preserved, and advocated a balanced allocation among all official languages for website maintenance.  A tragic period in the history of Belarus had forced it to focus on mitigating the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.  Belarus requested the Secretary-General to play a mobilizing role in coordinating the interests of United Nations structures.

EILEEN MERRITT ( United States) encouraged DPI to identify ways to improve the coordination, efficiency and integration of its activities throughout the entire United Nations system, so as to achieve “the greatest public impact with the greatest efficiency”.  The Committee had a duty to help the Department work within current resources without undermining its mandate.  Streamlining the Committee’s draft resolution in a holistic manner would go a long way towards that goal.

Calling attention to World Press Freedom Day, she pointed out that freedom of the press was enshrined in the Constitution of the United States and stressed that a free press was fundamental for true democracy.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirmed the right of everyone to full freedom of expression, including “the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

PIRAGIBE TARRAGÔ (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, as well as the Rio Group, said DPI’s activities must take into account the linguistic diversity of the world’s peoples.  Its global seminar on that issue, held last year by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), was a valuable opportunity to further that debate.  Brazil commended the Portuguese Unit of UN Radio, despite its limited resources, for having added the highest partners in 2008 -- more than 80 -– clear evidence of the demand for information in Portuguese-speaking countries.

Reiterating his country’s continuing support to the United Nations Information Centre in Rio de Janeiro, he said it educated and raised public awareness of the fundamental role of the United Nations in promoting multilateral solutions to current challenges.  However, it was regrettable that, despite the offer by the Government of Angola to host and provide rent- and maintenance-free premises for an information centre in Luanda, no progress had been made towards creating such a centre, which would address the special needs of Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa.

Resolution 63/100 B gave the Secretary-General a clear mandate to report to the Committee on the measures necessary to accommodate those needs, and Brazil looked forward to such a report, he said.  None of the 22 United Nations information centres in Africa operated in a Portuguese-speaking country.  Several Member States hosting information centres, Brazil included, already offered rent- and maintenance-free premises for their operations, while other States, including developed countries, did not.  Brazil strongly encouraged all States hosting United Nations information centres to consider such offers, which would allow DPI to concentrate its limited funds on outreach and public information activities.

He said his country appreciated DPI’s work in the Special Information Programme on the question of Palestine, and considered sensitization of public opinion important for fostering a grass-roots peace initiative in the Middle East.  Digitization efforts should be combined with continuing measures to ensure the durable preservation of documents, photographs and audio-visual records, and he urged increased support for such digitization and preservation activities.

SHAFQAT JALIL (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said he appreciated the promotion of such issues as United Nations reform, climate change, genocide prevention, the Alliance of Civilizations, the Millennium Development Goals, peacekeeping operations, and counter-terrorism.  The reform issue was complex, and DPI should strive to provide a balance of various views.  Consistent messaging could contribute to a better understanding of the work of the United Nations in various fields, and to the creation of an enabling environment.  There was no dearth of talented and capable personnel in the Department.  Moreover, information should not be misused to create misunderstanding.

The Committee had a role in examining United Nations public information policies, he said, calling for a policy that respected peoples’ rights.  The work of the United Nations information centres was of paramount importance, and Pakistan’s commitment to strengthening them was resolute.  The Government of Pakistan also hoped the Secretariat did not suffer for want of funds or resources.   Vibrant media were a fundamental guarantor of freedoms and rights, and Pakistan welcomed DPI’s efforts to create awareness of peacekeeping challenges while underscoring its close cooperation with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support.

The representative of the United States, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said, in response to the statement of Cuba, that her country’s broadcasts were legitimate and legal, before going on to describe measures that the United States was taking to lift restrictions on interactions between the peoples of the United States and Cuba.  It was also pursuing greater communication between communities in both countries, taking into account freedom of expression and freedom of opinion.

A representative of Cuba maintained the exercise of aggression through broadcasts by the United States was aimed at undermining her country’s constitutional situation.  Thousands of hours were broadcast to Cuba, much of it from Government outlets, and they had drawn condemnation at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).  The people of Cuba were not affected by the propaganda, but it was a matter of national sovereignty and dignity.  Measures to lift restrictions, such as those described by the representative of the United States, were welcome even though they were minimal and provided for neither the necessary lifting of the commercial blockade nor a change in migration policies.

SHABBIR AHMAD CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that, like most developing countries, his own had been hit by the global recession and was working with United Nations bodies to face that challenge.  In that context, DPI had a part to play in publicizing the Organization’s role in harnessing support for “braving the odds”.  Bangladesh had followed the ongoing debates on climate change and was interested to learn how other small developing countries were confronting that challenge.  The DPI should make greater efforts to highlight the effects of global warming by producing user-friendly publicity materials that could be broadcast over national media.  The Government of Bangladesh stood ready to extend its support to such an initiative.  The DPI could also help developing countries through community radio, which could be of invaluable use in early preparedness for cyclones and other national emergencies.  With its vast experience in international radio programming, the Department could help Bangladesh make the best use of its radio services.

He said that the United Nations Information Centre in Dhaka, without a full-time director for almost 25 years, made the best use of its meagre resources, having helped to promote the Millennium Development Goals and the country’s role in United Nations peacekeeping.  As a major troop-contributing country, Bangladesh wished to see the role of troop contributors better highlighted in DPI’s multi-media work.  There was a need to restore the image of United Nations peacekeeping missions, and Bangladesh was keen to support the Department’s promotion of International Mother Language Day.  While pleased with the efforts of UNESCO to publicize that day, Bangladesh regretted that DPI had done little in that regard.

HILARIO G. DAVIDE (Philippines), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, welcomed DPI’s key advances in promoting the work of the United Nations work thorough its strategic communications services.  The Philippine delegation had taken note of the Secretary-General’s report on efforts to support the Organization’s substantive goals by devising communications strategies on priority issues, particularly its efforts to publicize key messages through coordinated communications campaigns directed at target audiences.  Increasing cooperation between the United Nations information centres and country teams deserved praise, as did the United Nations Communications Group for effectively serving as the unifying platform in developing common communications strategies.

He said his country was pleased with DPI’s work to promote better understanding of various issues, and urged an expansion of thematic communications campaigns for the Millennium Development Goals, financing for development, human rights and climate change.  The Department’s work in commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was commendable, as were efforts to promote the Dialogue among Civilizations.  Effective dissemination of information was crucial to the success of any peacekeeping operation, and the Philippines hailed DPI’s efforts to address sexual exploitation in United Nations field missions, notably its work with the Conduct and Discipline Unit of the Department of Field Support.  The Philippine Mission had worked with DPI to disseminate information on its peacekeepers, a partnership that must be strengthened.

RAYMOND WOLFE ( Jamaica), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Rio Group and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the best way to mark World Press Freedom Day would be to use information and communications tools to eliminate hatred, intolerance and poverty in order to create a better society.  The DPI was to be commended on its success over the past year in obtaining increased global media coverage of critical events on the United Nations agenda.  Increased traffic to the website and the News Centre showed that the Organization was now recognized as a credible source of up-to-date and comprehensive information on topical issues in international relations.

Applauding the creative use of modern technology, he stressed, however, that the use of more traditional technologies, as well as bridging the digital divide, was critical to audiences in developing countries.  Similarly, the flagship UN Chronicle, if it was transformed into UN Affairs, must be targeted at all audiences and at all levels of the international community.  It was to be hoped that all programmes directed at young people would engage youth in all parts of the globe.  Regarding the important commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Jamaica called for adequate funding for annual commemorations of the event, as well as all other activities under DPI’s mandate.

MARTY NATALEGAWA (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said there was no doubt that, in the past year, DPI had successfully fulfilled its mandate to provide accurate, impartial, comprehensive, timely and relevant information to the widest possible global audience.  Indonesia encouraged the Department to keep finding creative ways to employ its professionalism, including the growing use of partner radio stations and the social networking tools of the Internet.  There was also a need for strengthened efforts to raise public awareness of the Millennium Development Goals, the battle against HIV/AIDS, terrorism, and other critical issues, as well as their impact on development.

Challenging the Department to help combat prejudice and division among nations, peoples and religions while moving the world towards peace and tolerance, he called, in particular, for the continuation of media programmes on the Palestinian question, noting that his country would host the next Asia-Pacific Meeting and Public Forum in Support of the Palestinian People in June.  Additionally, Indonesia encouraged an increase in the multilingual capabilities of the United Nations information centres.  The centres were crucial, particularly in the developing world, and they must be strengthened by making adequate funding available.  Indonesia commended, in particular, the work being undertaken by the Jakarta Information Centre.  Finally, as a troop-contributing country, Indonesia greatly valued the growing cooperation between DPI and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

DON PRAMUDWINAI ( Thailand), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, commended DPI’s support of the three United Nations pillars:  peace and security, development and human rights.  The Department should continue to focus on those themes, as well as urgent issues, such as the financial crisis and the Influenza A H1N1 outbreak.  Thailand encouraged DPI to continue working with the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support as it was important for Member States and the public to receive up-to-date information on United Nations peacekeeping.  Thailand also supported implementation of the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, and was pleased to learn of DPI’s work with the Conduct and Discipline Unit on a web-based database of such cases.

The use of blogs, YouTube and Facebook was encouraging as such efforts would help raise awareness of the United Nations among young people, he said, noting with satisfaction the progress made in ensuring that the United Nations website was accessible to persons with disabilities.  The newly launched website of an integrated system for civil society organizations system was a “breeze of fresh air” to the world of database and information coordination.  Hopefully, DPI would further promote the use of such important databases and enhance cooperation with civil society.  While new media had become convenient means of communications, the United Nations should maintain the use of traditional forms of media for those lacking access to electronic media.

YU TONG LIU (China), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that, over the years, DPI had told the United Nations story through various means, such as press releases, and had communicated a spirit of peace and cooperation.  Today, the Organization was playing an important role in resolving challenges -- climate change, disease outbreak and the spread of terrorism among them -- and DPI should work harder to publicize its role, notably by engaging in various forms of cooperation with Member States and further promoting United Nations ideals.

In light of the global financial crisis, he called for greater emphasis on development, noting that the downturn had hit developing countries hardest, creating difficulties for their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  The United Nations was duty-bound to protect their interests, and DPI should highlight their difficulties to international media and public opinion alike.  It should also call on the global community to fulfil aid commitments.

More assistance should be given to poor countries in the area of press and communications, he said, adding that DPI should expand its cooperation with developing-country media, provide more human resources and technical assistance for disseminating information, and help narrow the gap in information flows among countries and regions.  Finally, DPI should remain committed to providing accurate, impartial and balanced information.  The United Nations should explicitly oppose bias and redress the unhealthy practice among some media of quoting “wanton” exaggeration and falsification out of context.  News media should be encouraged to honour their professional ethics.

YUN YONG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said it was important to address misuse of information and communications technology on the part of certain countries in pursuit of sinister political purposes, instead of making it available to advance the common prosperity of humankind.  Priority should be given to formulating ways to establish a new and fair international information and communications order.  In that light, the United States programme “Free Radio Asia”, which targeted the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and other Asian countries, was a clear violation of the principles of respect for sovereignty, equality and non-interference in the internal affairs of others.

He said that, as the gap between developed and developing countries widened with each passing day, it was necessary to enhance the information and communications technology capabilities of developing countries and increase their participation in information activities.  To that end, the United Nations, other international organizations and developed countries should pursue the transfer of advanced technology, the training of journalists and investment in information and communication technology.  In the meantime, DPI should continue to observe more strictly the guiding principles of objectivity, impartiality and accuracy.

ANNA SAPINHO PIRES (Cape Verde), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, emphasized that DPI had a great role to play in closing the digital divide between developed and developing countries, by providing the necessary tools and granting a voice of hope for those most in need.  In enhancing the image of the United Nations around the world, DPI was encouraged to continue exploring the means of delivery to reach an expanding audience.  The Department should also continue to focus on the Organization’s main themes, while reaffirming the principles of freedom of expression and diversity in the media, themes that were important for any society on the path of democracy, equality, freedom and good governance.

She requested United Nations Radio to continue strengthening ties with its current partner stations to ensure they received materials through traditional means.  In addition, United Nations information centres were key to the Organization’s efforts to reach people around the world in their own languages.  While Cape Verde commended the Western European Centre for supplying information to Portuguese-speaking countries, the urgent and specific needs of African Portuguese-speaking countries were not being met.  It, therefore, called for the Angola Information Centre to become reality.  Cape Verde also supported the continuity of programmes of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library and recommended that it build more partnerships with universities, study centres and national libraries in developing countries.  The “UN4U” initiative should be replicated in developing countries, as well.

CHERRY ANN MILLARD WHITE (Trinidad and Tobago), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said DPI played a critical role in disseminating information to a growing audience on the work of the United Nations in such major areas as poverty eradication, conflict prevention, sustainable development, human rights and Africa’s needs.  The Government of Trinidad and Tobago was pleased that the Committee continued to discharge fully its oversight role on the vital work of DPI.

While the Internet would be a primary driver of communications in coming years, the most relevant media for people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean were traditional, including print and radio, she said, welcoming DPI’s efforts to disseminate programmes directly to broadcasting stations.  Through the United Nations Information Centre for the Caribbean in Port of Spain, Trinidad serviced the information needs of 19 English- and Dutch-speaking States in the region.  It continued to underwrite the rental cost of the Centre’s office space.

Among other efforts, she said, staff had undertaken a programme of visits to various capitals in the subregion, with a view to placing the United Nations story on the agenda of subregional media.  The Centre had also launched the “GEO-4” report through its media cluster, which, however, operated with a small staff and limited resources, and was stretched to capacity in serving more than 2.8 million square kilometres.  The DPI needed to continuously review the allocation of staff and financial resources to centres in developing countries, while providing necessary budgetary resources.  Finally, she acknowledged the support of DPI in commemorating the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.