Speakers in Fourth Committee Hail Efforts of Department of Public Information to Expand Audience, Effectively Spread Message on United Nations Priorities

20 October 2010
GA/SPD/460

Speakers in Fourth Committee Hail Efforts of Department of Public Information to Expand Audience, Effectively Spread Message on United Nations Priorities

20 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/SPD/460
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

12th Meeting (PM)


Speakers in Fourth Committee Hail Efforts of Department of Public Information


to Expand Audience, Effectively Spread Message on United Nations Priorities


Continuing Information Debate, Speakers Cite Merits of Social Networking

Trends, but Call for Balance with Conventional Radio, Television, Print Media


While extending its network beyond traditional means of communication to reach new geographic and demographics audiences, the Department of Public Information (DPI) should also strengthen existing channels such as radio and the United Nations Information Centres, and continue striving to achieve language parity, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today.


Speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the representative of Thailand said the Department continued to provide accurate, impartial, timely and essential information on diverse topics of interest under its thematic issues, including United Nations peacekeeping operations, the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, sustainable development, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, human rights, and UN Women.


He commended the Department’s efforts to broaden the horizons of young people and to raise their awareness of international affairs, and he noted that the second annual Global Model United Nations conference, hosted in Malaysia in August 2010, had provided an opportunity for university students from all over the world to interact and learn about achieving peace and development through an alliance of civilizations.  Additionally, enhancing information access through new media platforms such as online media and social networking was particularly desirable.


Along those lines, Singapore’s representative said that new technologies and communications infrastructures were changing in ways that interacted with each other at a “breathless” pace.  Surveys conducted around the world had shown that consumers were spending more time online, not only on e-mails and work, but increasingly on social media and blogs.


She went on to say that social networking alone, through sites like Facebook and Twitter, had attracted a worldwide audience of over 830.9 million unique visitors.  Additionally, as the prices of smartphone technology fell, the number of users would only continue to grow.  Harnessing such new technologies would enable the United Nations and its Public Information Department to optimize outreach and engage people around the world in a confluence of conventional and new media.


Speaking on the importance of maintaining conventional channels of information, Chile’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that radio, television and the written press must continue to be employed, since they were heavily used - and relied upon – in developing countries.  The United Nations Information Centres were also vital key in helping others understand the work of the United Nations, and he welcomed the establishment of the new centre in Luanda, Angola, which was important for the needs of Portuguese-speaking countries.


Syria’s representative also said it was necessary to continue supporting the regional Information Centres, which played a central role in disseminating the Organization’s message of tolerance.  At the same time, he said that “imbalances” in the treatment of those Centres must be redressed:  those in developing countries did not receive cutting edge technology, which was sorely needed to improve their dissemination of information.


Along with several other delegations, that representative also expressed concern over the quality of the Department’s Arabic language output.  He was particularly concerned by problems with the United Nations Arab radio station, because that station was the only way that the Organization’s activities were disseminated to many Arabic-speaking villages.  Delegates also called for the strengthening of the Arabic components of the United Nations website.


Thailand’s representative further argued that the digital age held rich promise to help uplift living conditions of people and spread education to all corners of the world.  In that regard, the United Nations had a critical role to play in bridging the digital divide between the information-rich and the information-poor.


Also speaking were the representatives of Brazil, Sudan, Egypt, Israel, Libya, South Africa, Pakistan, Japan, India, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Mexico and Myanmar.


The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine also spoke.


Background


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to continue its consideration of questions relating to information. Delegations began their discussion on the matter yesterday.  [For more information please see Press Release GA/SPD/459.]


Statements


JAKKRIT SRIVALI (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said his delegation highly appreciated the efforts of the Department of Public Information in providing accurate, impartial, timely and essential information on diverse topics under its thematic issues, including United Nations peacekeeping operations, the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, sustainable development, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), human rights and UN Women.  As for peacekeeping, he noted that ASEAN Member States contributed nearly 3,500 peacekeepers serving in 14 United Nations missions, and recognized the Information Department’s cooperative and supportive role in such operations.


He welcomed the Department’s initiatives to expand the geography and demographics of its target audiences, as well as extending its network beyond traditional means of communications.  He also commended the Department’s efforts to broaden the horizons of young people, and raise their awareness about international affairs.  The second annual Global Model United Nations conference, hosted by Malaysia in August 2010, provided an opportunity for university students from all over the world to interact and learn about achieving peace and development through an alliance of civilizations.


Noting the Department’s key priority of enhancing information access to the general public regardless of gender, race, nationality or physical conditions, he welcomed the Department’s assistance to offices in posting web pages accessible by persons with disabilities.  Additionally, enhancing information access through new media platforms such as online media and social networking was particularly desirable.  He further said that strengthened cooperation between ASEAN and the United Nations in various fields, including communications and public information, would benefit both organizations.


IHAB HAMED ( Syria) said that the goal of the Department of Public Information was to improve the image of the Organization, and promote its message of peace.  Both those aims required cooperation between States and Governments, as well as more outreach and dissemination of a culture of peace.  His delegation took note of the Secretary-General’s report on the Department’s work and highlighted the efforts of the Department to strengthen its website.  However, he noted that there needed to be equal amounts of resources given to all the United Nations official languages. 


In that regard, the Arabic language website needed to be strengthened, and he was also concerned by problems with the United Nations Arab radio station, as it was the only way that the Organization’s activities were disseminated to the Arabic-speaking villages.  He urged the Information Department to do more for the suffering of the Palestinian people, which was due to Israeli human rights violations.  On other matters, he said it was necessary to continue support of the regional United Nations Information Centres which played a central role in disseminating messages of tolerance.  At the same time, “imbalances” in the treatment of those Centres must be redressed:  those in developing countries did not receive cutting edge technology, which was sorely needed to improve their dissemination of information.  The right to information must be upheld, and must not be used to attack others’ civilizations or beliefs.


PIRAGIBE DOS SANTOS TARRAGÔ ( Brazil) who aligned his delegation’s statement with those made by Yemen on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, as well as Chile for the Rio Group, added several comments in its national capacity.  The activities of the Department must take into account the linguistic diversity of peoples everywhere.  In order to ensure the most effective delivery of information, it was necessary to have the United Nations message spread out in as many languages as possible, which would serve to increase awareness and improve accountability of the United Nations programmes and activities.  He reiterated support of the United Nations Information Centre in Rio de Janeiro, which had been disseminating information on the activities of the United Nations family for more than six decades.  In addition, the General Assembly’s decision to establish a Centre in Luanda responded to a longstanding aspiration to address the special needs of Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa.


The Information Department and Member States were encouraged to work together to explore creative ways to ensure the necessary support and progressive strengthening of the network of the Information Centres, services and components of the United Nations, and he noted that several countries hosted Information Centres rent and maintenance-free.  Encouraging all States to follow that practice, he noted that some countries, including in the developed world, did not do so.  He was strongly convinced of the importance of promoting both traditional and new media. However, for the world’s poorest, traditional means of communication was still the most used and most important vehicles.  The importance of providing information for prompt reaction to disasters was underscored, and he recalled the role both forms had played in the aftermath to the earthquake in Haiti.


ABUZIED SHAMSELDIM AHMED MOHAMED ( Sudan) commended the Department of Public Information for its work on disseminating information on issues of common interest to the United Nations community.  He said that in light of present challenges and developments, it was necessary to call on the Department to intensify its efforts to get rid of misinformation used by others to interfere in the internal affairs of countries.  All information disseminated by the Department should reflect the viewpoints of countries, in accordance with the principles and objectives of the Charter of the United Nations.  He expressed hope that the Committee on Information would pay particular attention to efforts made by developing countries, and would work to narrow the digital gap between the North and the South.  The Department should also facilitate the acquisition of communication technology by developing countries.


He further said that more attention should be paid to the issue of Palestine and peace in the Middle East.  Other important issues deserved more attention, particularly relating to disarmament, and the Department should work to reveal the full impact and risk of lethal weapons used in modern wars and which represented a violation of international humanitarian law and relevant international treaties.  That was in addition to the threat those weapons posed to humanity and the environment.  Attention should also be given to development in Africa, and on creating parity between the United Nations six official languages.  Referring to the high-level consultative meeting on Sudan, he said his delegation had expressed its commitment to free referendums to determine the future of Sudan.  He was also pleased to note the new strategy to settle the issue of Darfur, which enjoyed the support of regional and international actors, and he pledged to have a peaceful settlement of that issue.


MOHAMED SELIM (Egypt), aligning his statement with that made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the role of the Department during the last year had been an important one in addressing such issues as were of particular interest to his delegation, namely Palestine, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Millennium Development Goals and UN Women, among others.


Noting the increasing volume of the United Nations work, he said the Department should continue to deepen international cooperation and bridge the information gap between the North and South, in order to establish an information system that was more just.  He said the Department should continue to develop the Organization’s message so it could promote the culture of peace and tolerance.  It should also increase the use of United Nations Information Centres to spread the news of the United Nations.


He further said that while radio interest had decreased, it was still more practical in reaching remote and rural areas where other forms of electronic media were not available.  More attention should therefore be given to such broadcasting, especially in Arabic, in order to bring the message o the United Nations to the world. The Arabic component of the United Nations website also needed to be improved.


OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile) speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that he recognized the valuable activities of the Information Department as reflected in the Secretary-General’s report, and stressed that those activities would also help others understand the work of the Organization.  He called on the United Nations to maintain impartiality in the messages it conveyed.  Noting the responsible handling of communications following natural disasters, especially in his region, he urged the Department to continue promoting coherence in its communication activities.  The Rio Group supported electronic communication and websites, but expressed concern over the digital divide and considered that traditional media such as radio, television and the written press must continue to be employed, since they were used in developing countries.


He urged continued relationships between the Information Department and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Services.  The Rio Group considered the United Nations Information Centres key in helping others understand the work of the United Nations.  The Rio Group welcomed the establishment of the Centre in Luanda, Angola, which was important for the needs of Portuguese-speaking countries.  The liberties of people must include the right to disclose and have unrestricted access to information.


Parity between the United Nations official languages should be achieved, he said, noting that there was a gap between English and the other languages due to budget constraints. It was essential that the information be disseminated in as many languages as possible, and he welcomed that persons with disabilities could now have access to the United Nations website.  He invited efforts to improve the information machinery, which would bring the voice of the Organization to the world, and which would lead to stronger backing of United Nations activities.


GILAD COHEN ( Israel) noted the importance of the work being carried out by the Information department’s Holocaust Outreach Programme in promoting Holocaust remembrance through innovative educational programmes and partnerships with both Governments and civil society.  He said the universal message of the Programme should be enhanced and that its activities to reach younger audiences were particularly commendable.  Among those were videoconferences in Latin America and Asia, as well as a Twitter campaign that had brought young people from all over the world together around the memory of Anne Frank.  Also noteworthy was the Programme’s publication of a journal composed of discussion papers aimed at encouraging scholarship and learning about the Holocaust to help prevent genocide.  Every effort must be made to strengthen the Programme’s message.


Moving on, he said Israel had been closely engaged with the Department in raising awareness about global issues, one of which was autism.  This year, on International Autism Day, Israel had hosted an event at Headquarters highlighting the Israeli film “Mabul” about one family’s struggle to care for its autistic son.  On the other hand, he called the Department’s Special Information Programme on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict disappointing.  It continued to present a “one-sided and distorted” picture of the facts on the ground.  In principle, an information programme on the subject was acceptable.  His country would not, however, cooperate with the programme while its mandate continued to remain one-sided and biased against Israel.


EZZIDIN Y.A. BELKHEIR ( Libya) said the department of Information should hold workshops with local media in different States to explain the negative impacts on attacks on symbols of holy nations.  He added that the Department should consider giving a code of conduct for journalists, which should emanate from an essential morality between individuals and which required respect for what others believed in.  The Department was required to inquire into the veracity of information given to the public, but was also required to provide input to mass media, in order to close the digital divide as far as possible, which would allow developing countries to catch up.


He stressed that Libya and the African continent believed in the need to close the digital divide, and in addition, the Libya-Africa Investment Company had launched a satellite, which had beneficial effects for Africa, as it created a link between hospitals and universities in Africa.  The United Nations discourse on communication should be consistent with international affairs, with regards to communicating on issues of environment, United Nations reform and sustainable development.  In addition, the Information Department should continue to disseminate information on its mandate.  It should broadcast images on the plight of Palestinian people; the messages should be impartially broadcast, and be considered in light of the impact on peace and security.  Finally, he asked why the Department had ignored the origin of the conflict in Palestine and its cause, which was occupation.


CHONG WAN YIENG ( Singapore) said that new technologies and communications infrastructures were changing in ways that interacted with each other at a “breathless” pace.  Surveys conducted around the world had shown that consumers were spending more time online, not only on e-mails and work, but increasingly on social media and blogs.  Social networking alone had attracted a worldwide audience of over 830.9 million unique visitors, and that audience continued to grow.  Such gains were aided by the rapid spread of smartphone technology.  As the prices of such devises fell, the number of users would only continue to grow.


She stressed that social networking infrastructures like Facebook were surely just the beginning of the digital revolution, and expected many more exciting new media infrastructures to come.  Harnessing such new technologies would enable the United Nations and the Department of Public Information to optimize outreach and engage people around the world in a confluence of conventional and new media.  With 5.6 million wireless broadband subscriptions and a 140.7 percent mobile penetration rate in Singapore, more Singaporeans, particularly the young “digital natives”, were turning to multiple online sources for information.


The digital age held rich promise to help uplift living conditions of people and spread education to all corners of the world.  The United Nations had a critical role to play in bridging the digital divide between the information-rich and the information-poor.  It was commendable that the Department had organized two recent forums on the emerging role of social media, and on how Member States and the Department could benefit from it. The sharing of best practices was a good start, but the United Nations should redouble its efforts to ensure that all Member States had access to and could benefit from that new exciting world.


MALIBONGUE MCAKUVANA ( South Africa) addressed the Committee on several issues, including Nelson Mandela Day and other historical events, climate change and sustainable development, the Millennium Development Goals and United Nations media and information services.  On 18 July of this year, the world had marked the first Nelson Mandela International Day as declared by the United Nations, and States had organized a series of events honouring the former South African leader and Nobel Laureate.  In addition, important work had also been done in commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi during the International Day of Non-Violence.  Such events had a tremendous impact on humanity’s quest for a better future, he said, and encouraged the United Nations to “continue on this positive path.”


Continuing, he said that much needed to be done in terms of raising awareness on combating the effects of climate change and promoting sustainable development for all.  In that regard, he was pleased with the system-wide communications strategies towards raising awareness on those issues. He called on the United Nations and its Public Information Department to focus more on raising awareness on the plight of the poor as part of its many other awareness-raising campaigns.  To the poor, especially in the developing world, information was a matter of survival, and as such, the United Nations must widely distribute its radio and print services and keep remote communities informed about local and international matters.  In conclusion, he valued the contribution the United Nations continued to make in efforts to disseminate important information to those who may not have access to it.


MIAN JAHANGIR IQBAL ( Pakistan) thanked the Department for its great work in projecting the heavy human and material toll taken on his country after recent unprecedented floods displaced over 20 million people.  Briefings by the Spokesperson’s Office on the situation had also helped create awareness of the magnitude of the disaster.  Stressing that information and communication were best used to bridge different cultures and religions, he said the Department’s most important task was to reach the widest possible audiences to project United Nations ideals and maintain coherence in the overall message.


Hailing the Department’s coverage of United Nations reform, among other issues, he expressed confidence that it would use all available tools to maximize the impact of its message.  He strongly urged that United Nations Information Centres be strengthened in developing countries, and that adequate resources be allocated to ensure their effective functioning.  To secure rent-free premises for those Centres, it was important to keep in mind the economic conditions in the host countries.  He welcomed the publication of information materials and translation of important documents into languages other than the United Nations official languages, as well as creating websites in local languages.


Finally, he stressed that freedom of expression was a universal right to be promoted and protected; it should not be abused.  The Committee had a central role in ensuring that public information policies were created with a view to forging respect among peoples.   Pakistan also called for strengthening training programmes for the media from developing nations, notably by providing training facilities under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) international programme for the development of communications.   Pakistan was committed to freedom of expression and free media.


KATSUHIDE ARIYOSHI, Minister of Japan, commended the work of the Department of Public Information and the United Nations Information Centres, which were located in 63 countries around the globe.  He noted that during the first half of 2010, Japan had hosted a number of international events, including a visit, in August, by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.  In addition to meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs to discuss various global issues, the Secretary-General visited Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where he had attended the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony for the first time.  His visit, which coincided with the sixty-fifth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, had sent a strong message to the international community and marked new momentum toward the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons.  Further, it helped to strengthen the relationship between Japan and the United Nations. 


To that end, he said the Information Centre in Tokyo would continue to work in close cooperation with the Department to ensure accountability and strengthen its strategic public relations activities.  He expressed his appreciation to Department’s News and Media division, in particular, the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, for its assistance to the Japanese delegation during the recent high-level Millennium Development Goals meetings that were held at United Nations Headquarters, and reiterated Japan’s continued support for the Department’s work.


SHASHI THAROOR ( India) said as the former head of the Department of Public Information for nearly six years, he was very happy for the opportunity to address issues related to information.  The dissemination of information and the promotion of awareness were fundamental to the success of the Organization, and it must develop innovative forms of communication to reach the widest possible audiences.  India’s landmark act on the “Right to Information,” in which the Government had to answer any citizen request for information within 30 days, was transforming governance in the country.  The Department should similarly make it a priority to be an effective tool for connecting the United Nations and the people of the world.  It was certainly necessary to respond to the pressroom, he said, but it was essential to reach out to information-starved corners of Africa, Asia and Latin America.


The Department produced information in roughly 80 local languages, but needed to expand to even more languages.  More websites in local languages — as well as greater use of new media — would also help create interest in the United Nations and its work; United Nations Information Centres needed adequate budgets so they could pursue further initiatives.  The Department was doing a good job with its resources to focus on peace and security, development and human rights, but it needed to highlight other large issues, notably the Millennium Development Goals, disarmament, climate change, humanitarian efforts and peacekeeping.  The Department could also help maintain public support for peacekeeping through facilitating journalist seminars on operations, and bringing more attention from the world, particularly troop contributing countries.


EDUARDO ULIBARRI ( Costa Rica) endorsed the statement made by the representative of Chile on behalf of the Rio Group.  He noted that flows of communication were important as vehicles of social, political and cultural rights.  Information also facilitated knowledge and promoted open debate, which were features of democracy and the rule of law. H e drew attention to the work of the Department and its participation in peacebuilding and peacemaking efforts, and said in conflict situations, it was crucial to encourage the media from simply being information sources on a given conflict, but to report on those who sought solutions.


That was not an easy task, he continued, but said that it could happen through education and good flows of communication.  The United Nations was efficient in using new media, but that should go hand in hand with other tasks, in terms of closing the digital divide.  Freedom of expression was a basic right and was enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  That Declaration reflected the freedom to seek and communicate information; however, he stressed that such freedom required some type of regulation and standards.


JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO ( Venezuela) said that his delegation was of the view that all countries should have equal access to information technology.  All invasions of the past had been preceded by a media war, as the public was fed “colossal lies” by major media outlets.  That trend had been seen in the case of assertions by media of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  He noted Noam Chomsky’s idea of social control which resulted in the distraction of the public from real social problems.  Today, urban violence was a problem, but people’s critical senses had been erased, and certain a type of conduct was being encouraged by the media.  Such suggestions achieved “control and enslavement,” and, according to Chomsky, individuals could only blame themselves, instead of individuals who rebelled against the system.


Without action, there could be no revolution or change, he continued, underscoring that Venezuela faced a campaign of aggression launched by the international media, which sought to destroy it and derail revolutionary changes launched in the home of Simón Bolivar.  Media was harmful if it reinforced neo-colonialism.  It manipulated the people by creating “hyper realities” as weapons against Venezuela’s participatory democracy.  Venezuela commended all efforts by developing countries to establish their own sovereign networks of communications. He noted Telesur, which gave voice to those in the South; and La Radio Del Sur, which nurtured the collective soul.  In Venezuela, freedom of expression was unrestricted.  However, those who spoke must comply with rules and the Constitution.  In conclusion, in the context of the Bólivarian revolution, the level of alternative media had increased, and thus was contributing to dialogue.


MARÍA GUADALUPE SÁNCHEZ SALAZAR ( Mexico) said that the work of the Department in disseminating information was important to the international community.  She also acknowledged the Department’s broad efforts to disseminate details on the Millennium Development Goals, especially the events surrounding the Assembly’s recent high-level plenary.  She went on to note that while one of the aspects highlighted in the report of the Secretary-General was on the importance of using social media to disseminate the work of the United Nations, there was a growing digital divide between countries in the global North and South.


She urged the Department to continue its use of traditional media, and to increase its use of local languages.  Parity of languages was of concern, as there was a huge gap, and much of the Organization’s website was in English.  The Department should redouble its efforts in spearheading efforts to disseminate the messages on the environment and upcoming meetings related to climate change.  She encouraged greater coherence in regard to the United Nations Information Centres, and noted the Centre in Mexico and its activities.  She encouraged the Department to continue its work and digitalization of documents of various bodies within the United Nations.


U NAY WIN ( Myanmar) said that in an era of interconnectedness, the influence and smooth flow of information was vitally important.  New communication technologies, such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, were important to help the global audience learn about the role of the United Nations.  In addition, the effectiveness of information helped the United Nations’ activities to be more equitable, and Myanmar valued the Department’s efforts regarding activities to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, international peace and security, human rights, women and children, peacekeeping, the question of Palestine and climate change.  While serving to achieve those important goals, Myanmar urged the Department to maintain objectivity.  At the same time, he welcomed the continuous efforts to modernize new programmes and systems.


In light of increased Internet-based communications, vast new opportunities for economic growth and social development were opened up, as well as the developments of those technologies, which posed challenges, and risks that could lead to the further widening of disparities between developed and developing countries.  He was aware of the endeavours to strengthen the communications capacity of the United Nations Information Centres at the national and regional levels, and applauded the initiative of United Nations Radio to enhance its live radio broadcasting service by making more frequently updated reports in all six official languages.  In conclusion, Myanmar attached the important role the Department played in promoting the United Nations’ purposes, public awareness and outreach activities.


RAHMA AL-SHAMISI ( United Arab Emirates) said that modern technology represented the most effective means of communicating the social and economic changes in today’s world.  He considered that ensuring the balanced and free flow of information was an essential factor in disseminating the principles of the culture of peace, especially in the developing world, which could hardly access the modern technological tools.  Developed countries and economic institutions had a special responsibility to double assistance to developing countries to help them obtain technological and communication tools.


He emphasized the importance of consolidating the information services in Arabic, so that they would be on equal footing with the other five languages of the United Nations.  Believing in the importance of the role of information in enriching the knowledge of people, the United Nations should consolidate its effective participation in the programmes and means of national development.  The United Arab Emirates was itself pursuing effective plans in that field to enable society to catch up with technological developments in the world.  That and other such measures would connect the various civilizations and human cultures in the world, taking into account the inherited traditions and values of cultures, including Islam.  He said attention should also be given to the suffering of the Palestinian people in the occupied territory, including Jerusalem, such as the murder of scores of innocent people.  Such occurrences should be shown to the world.


YUSSEF F. KANAAN, Observer of Palestine, said that based on the Organization’s permanent responsibility on the Question of Palestine, his delegation emphasized the importance of the information programme on that important issue.  That programme increased awareness and support for the rights of the Palestinian people and the efforts made to achieve a peaceful, just settlement of the issue.  He thanked Portugal for hosting a seminar regarding the important role that the media played in disseminating information on the Middle East question.  He hoped the increase in the Department’s tasks would not impact its implementation of its programme regarding Palestine, and that it would receive sufficient funding to carry out its obligations.  He went on to note that the issue of Palestine had previously appeared clearly on the first page of the United Nations website.  But after the site’s redesign, the link for Palestine was no longer there, and it had been renamed “The situation in the Middle East”.  He hoped the Department would consider reinstituting Palestine on the home page of the United Nations website.


Continuing, he said Israeli Occupying Forces continued to target journalists trying to convey the bitter daily reality of the practices of Israelis, including their use of rubberized bullets and tear gas against journalists who were covering protests and peaceful demonstrations in Palestine.  In that respect, he recalled the journalist and Turkish official who were shot dead last May during Israel’s attack against the Freedom Flotilla that had been carrying aid to the Gaza Strip.  He called for protection of journalists and an end to Israeli interference in their work.  He also stressed that Israel should be held accountable for the war crimes against the Palestinians and journalists.


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