Language Parity, Implications of New, Traditional Technologies, Platforms on Freedom of Information Dominate Debate in Committee on Information

27 April 2010
PI/1931

Language Parity, Implications of New, Traditional Technologies, Platforms on Freedom of Information Dominate Debate in Committee on Information

27 April 2010
General Assembly
PI/1931
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on Information

Thirty-second Session

2nd Meeting (PM)

Language Parity, Implications of New, Traditional Technologies, Platforms

on Freedom of Information Dominate Debate in Committee on Information

Equality of languages on the United Nations website and the implications of freedom of information were dominant themes in the Committee on Information this afternoon, as it continued the general debate of its thirty-second session.

Welcoming increased outreach by the Department of Public Information to more communities through a mix of new and traditional technologies, most speakers today welcomed the new United Nations Information Centre being established in Luanda, Angola, so that Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa could be better served.

The representatives of Mexico, Peru and Argentina welcomed efforts to create parity among the Organization’s official languages –- Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish –- while realizing the enormity of the task.   They noted, however, that the gap between materials available in Spanish and English on the website could increase greatly if efforts were not stepped up to create more content in Spanish.

In achieving that parity, Argentina’s representative warned against prioritizing speed over accuracy through the use of translation technology or external translation contractors, expressing concerns over frequent mistakes.  For such reasons, he called for more dialogue with Member States on how to close the language gap in a way that preserved the quality of communications.

At the same time, he commended increased efforts, through radio and other traditional media, to provide widespread services in Spanish, Portuguese and indigenous languages, as well as the translation of important United Nations documents into those languages.

As part of the mandate of the Committee on Information is dedicated to promoting freedom of information and freedom of the press, speakers today recognized those freedoms as part of basic human rights.

Pakistan’s representative, however, agreeing with the universal importance of those freedoms and portraying his country’s media as “vibrant”, cautioned that press freedom should not be abused to create misunderstanding among cultures.  In that regard, United Nations public information should aim at forging greater harmony and respect among peoples.

The representatives of Iran, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Venezuela and Sudan, in addition, expressed deep concern over supposedly free flow of information that was dominated by certain industrialized countries because of their technological capabilities.

Iran’s representative maintained that a code of conduct should be designed to regulate information flows, saying that media could be misused as a tool for expansionist policies and the promotion of certain cultures to the detriment of others.

Freedom of information must be exercised with full responsibility and within a national and international framework, he said, or else powerful nations would use their monopolies to undermine others.  The Public Information Department should assist developing nations to stand against what he called the resulting distortion of the flow of information.

Many speakers today also called for greater support to the network of United Nations Information Centres and the bolstering of a range of programmes on issues ranging from disarmament to human rights.  Japan’s representative emphasized that efficiency must be increased and the Information Centres held accountable for their effectiveness, including the one in Tokyo, so that the best use could be made of existing funds.

Also speaking today were the representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jamaica, Senegal, Bangladesh, Algeria, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and India.

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

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 28 April, to continue its general debate.

Background

The Committee on Information, the intergovernmental body charged with reviewing progress in the field of United Nations public information, continued the general debate of its thirty-second annual session this afternoon.  (For more information, please see Press Release PI/1928 of 23 April.)

Statements

AMJAD HUSSAIN SIAL (Pakistan), supporting the statement made yesterday by Yemen on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, commended the efficient coverage by the Department of Public Information of issues of international importance, such as climate change, human rights and United Nations reform, with which his country had been very engaged, and expressed confidence that the Department would continue to use all available tools to maximize the impact of its outreach activities.  Noting that Pakistan was the largest troop-contributing country, he said peacekeeping was challenging but also had success stories, which should be shared with the world.

He underscored the need to allocate adequate resources to ensure effective functioning and strengthening of the United Nations Information Centres in developing countries.  He also expressed appreciation for efforts to achieve parity among official languages, while cognizant of the enormity of that task.  He encouraged the Public Information Department to continue to support the Centres’ efforts to translate material and create websites in local languages.  Avowing that freedom of expression was a universal right to be protected and promoted, as it was in his country, which had a “vibrant” media, he cautioned that it should not be abused to create misunderstanding among cultures.  United Nations public information should aim at forging greater harmony and respect among peoples.

MARÍA GUADALUPE SÁNCHEZ SALAZAR (Mexico), supporting the statement of Chile on behalf of the Rio Group, welcomed the establishment of evaluation systems that helped monitor the results of communication programmes.  In that regard, cooperation was particularly important with United Nations partners to avoid duplication of efforts.  She appreciated the projects organized by the Information Centre in Mexico City in coordination with the Government to reach out to young people in her country, through social media and other means.  She emphasized the importance of language parity, noting that the Spanish site came in fifth in visits to the United Nations website.  Awareness-raising in disarmament had been greatly amplified by the non-governmental organization conference held in Mexico last year.  She pledged her country’s continued support for the Public Information Department’s activities and encouraged the continuation of innovative initiatives, such as “Academic Impact”, as well as the digitalization of documents.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), also supporting the statement made by Yemen on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, commended the Department’s public-awareness-raising activities concerning the work of the United Nations, from attainment of the Millennium Development Goals to the cultivation of respect for cultural values.  He especially appreciated efforts to address the negative consequences of criminal acts such as occupation, aggression and gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws, saying that there was still a lot to do in that regard, including more extensive awareness-raising of the situation of the Palestinian population, which had been living under occupation and siege for many years.

Supporting the continued advance of communication technologies, he maintained, however, that a code of conduct should be designed to regulate information flows, because media could be misused as a tool for expansionist policies and the promotion of certain cultures to the detriment of others.  Freedom of information must be exercised with full responsibility and within a national and international framework, or else powerful nations would use their monopolies to undermine others.  The Department of Public Information should assist developing nations to stand against such a distortion of the flow of information.

He also supported continued efforts by the Department to strengthen its work, not only in all official languages, but also in local languages, particularly those like Persian, which were regarded as the root of great civilizations.  He pledged his country’s continued support to the United Nations in the field of public information.

PEDRO NÚÑEZ MOSQUERA (Cuba) said that the Secretary-General’s reports gave detailed and clear information about the diversity of United Nations tasks.  The Information Centres, which provided information on key issues, deserved particular attention.  He supported General Assembly resolution 64/243, which had authorized creation of the Centre in Luanda, expressing hope that the Secretary-General would do everything possible to bring about its creation and that the new Centre would expand dissemination on pressing issues to Portuguese-speaking African countries.  The development of information and communications technology was uneven.  There was a widening gap in access to those new technologies, with the developing world falling behind.  There were more and more people connected to the Internet, which had had 1.8 billion users by the end of 2009, but in Africa, only 4 per cent of the population had access, while in other regions more than 70 per cent of population had access.  News continued to be transmitted by powerful, main centres of information that frequently imposed lies and inaccurate versions of history.

Hr urged more rational use and social ownership of information technology.  The United Nations played a fundamental role in achieving the “decolonization” of information.  Radio should be further developed as a means to inform the many illiterate people in the South.  Cuba remained the object of constant radio and television aggression by the United States.  That country’s illegal transmissions in Cuba violated international law and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) rules, and falsified and distorted information, inciting hatred and doubt among Cubans about the Cuban revolution.  Cuba had denounced the United States illegal transmissions in different forums, including in ITU, whose meeting in March had reiterated its stance that the transmissions created prejudicial interference; the board had urged the United States to stop them.

Many United States broadcasters lent their services to organizations with well-known terrorist elements, he said.  The United States Congress annually approved more than $30 million for that type of activity against Cuba.  He reiterated Cuba’s condemnation of that aggression.  Cuba was a sovereign country determining for itself the type of information it wished to receive; it was not for the United States Government to make that decision.

KHALID ALI (Sudan) stressed the Department of Public Information’s importance in generating public awareness about the work of the Organization.  He called for more modern communications resources to be dedicated to spreading information about disarmament, sustainable development, the Millennium Development Goals, the promotion of a culture of peace and tolerance, and the fight against illness and disease.  Greater efforts were needed to close the digital divide and to make greater use of traditional media like radio.  There must be stronger partnerships between the United Nations and national institutions.  He supported the General Assembly resolution to create an Information Centre in Angola, and he called on the Department to make the new Centre a reality as soon as possible.

He urged the Department to expand programmes in Africa, including for poverty reduction and HIV/AIDS prevention, and to increase the role of education to address poverty.  There must be parity among United Nations languages on the Organization’s website, for which greater resources were needed for the Arabic-language site.  Efforts must be stepped up to raise awareness about Palestinian issues.  The Palestinian journalists’ programme should be strengthened, as part of efforts to help the Palestinian people achieve their legitimate aspirations.  Sudan’s elections were a major step forward towards peace and democracy.  Women’s important role in peacebuilding had been recognized and was a shining example for developing countries.  He hailed the Department for its commitment to protect the neutrality of the United Nations.

LAMBERT MENDE OMALANGA, Minister of Communication and Media of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said his country subscribed fully to the principles of transparency and free information, and therefore valued the collaboration between the Committee and Department.  In its post-conflict situation, however, his country must not manipulate information or perpetrate other abuses.  The nefarious role of media in Rwanda’s conflict, which had had a disastrous effect both in Rwanda and his country, showed that media must be used responsibly.  In addition, it was important that countries take ownership of the information campaigns in their countries.  New technologies were a way to reach many people for democratic purposes, but those could also be misused for online harassment or promulgating inter-ethnic conflict.

He said access to information in his country tended to be open, but was often limited by the constrained logistics resources of news organizations.  Journalists were opinion leaders, and had to act responsibly; a balance should be found between rights and security.  The devastation of the eastern part of his country had been ignored by much of the world press until the Congolese Army had started to take a more active role in re-establishing stability, at which point that Army was itself blamed for the mayhem, which had actually been caused by criminal armed gangs.

Some misinformation on renewed fighting in the east might have actually been issued by United Nations sources, he said.  Despite that, United Nations public information in his country, such as Radio Okapi, provided excellent services.  Evaluations must be made, however, of how well all programmes responded to the need to promote democratic values and well-being in his country, which was not always the case.

GONZALO GUTIÉRREZ (Peru) said that freedoms of information and the press went together with the protection of all human rights.  He reiterated the condemnation of violence against journalists.  The spirit of a new information order, with a free global flow of information, should be promoted, including a reduction in the difference between developed and developing countries in information technology.  The Department of Public Information should be given enough resources to help make the United Nations a model of transparency, through continually updating its tools and closely coordinating with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and other departments.

He supported the programmes of the Information Centre in Lima, Peru, including those targeted at youth, as well as the programmes that raised awareness of Peruvian peacekeepers, including those who participated in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).  He expressed concern over the continuing gap between materials available in English and other languages on the United Nations website.  In other areas, he underlined the importance of a well-run library system and the conservation of United Nations documents.

ANGELLA HAMILTON-BROWN (Jamaica) said that, in recent years, the Department had used popular social networking Internet sites to educate young people about the Organization’s aims and activities.  She supported the expansion of traditional face-to-face interaction between the United Nations and young people, particularly through student conferences and the decision to make the Model United Nations conference an annual event.  Hopefully, that would encourage the wide participation of students from developed and developing countries.  The Department should help close the digital divide by implementing the World Summit on the Information Society outcome.  There had been some progress towards creating a global information society, such as the increasing use of cellular phones in developing countries, but bridging the digital divide remained slow and uneven.  According to the Measuring the Information Society 2010 publication of ITU, Internet penetration had been 64 per cent in developed countries by the end of 2009, but just 18 per cent in developing ones.  While the digital divide was shrinking, it was still significant.

She said more must be done to close that gap, especially considering the potential of information and communications technology to help countries achieve development objectives.  She supported the Department’s initiative to engage with Committee members and the wider United Nations membership to examine the use of new media and the decline of the newspaper industry in developed countries.  She encouraged the Department to include “bridging the digital divide” among the topics of its seminar series in the coming months.  Such seminars could significantly contribute to the sharing best practices on innovative measures by Member States and international organizations to improve the spread and use of information and communications technology.

Since 2007, the Department had been a key partner in the initiative led by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the African Union to build a permanent memorial at Headquarters to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, she noted.  That project, which was scheduled for completion in 2010, should be continued.  She reiterated her call for more attention to raising awareness about the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their negative impact on society and development prospects.

PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) attached great importance to information on the United Nations.  Information was at the heart of the United Nations strategic management, as it disseminated the Organization’s noble goals.  The dizzying revolution of information and communications technology had greatly contributed to understanding of United Nations endeavours, but, in most developing countries, radio, television and print were often seen as luxury goods.  It was necessary to strike a balance between traditional and new communications media so as not to accentuate disparities between the North and South.  In Africa, vast segments of society drew no benefit from the rise in new technologies.  That was why the Digital Solidarity Fund, the main instrument for closing the North-South digital divide, should have greater visibility.  He supported the Department’s role in prioritizing African issues, particularly the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). 

Swift dissemination of information on United Nations activities had helped break down barriers across the world and raise awareness among local populations about peace, development and human rights, he said.  The Department must continue to promote those principles and to ensure that information was distributed in an accurate, impartial and balanced manner.  He called for strengthening the network of Information Centres to mobilize public opinion in the regions where they operated.  Every effort must be made to ensure parity among the United Nations official languages.  Efforts were also needed to improve the quality of public information services, including the United Nations website, notably its news portal.  He supported departmental efforts to implement the special information programme on Palestine, and he called on all delegations to support and help expand it.  He paid tribute to information professionals for their role in making the United Nations voice audible and comprehensible to all.

SHARKE CHAMAN KHAN (Bangladesh) noted close cooperation between the Public Information Department and the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support in projecting the work of United Nations peacekeepers.  A major troop-contributing county, Bangladesh saw the importance of publicizing the United Nations role in peacekeeping and peacebuilding worldwide and, in the past, it had urged the Public Information Department to do more in that regard, focusing on stories with a national angle.  The Department still had much to do.  She supported the proposal for language days at the United Nations, expressing hope that they would help showcase the use of all languages, and not just the Organization’s six official ones.   Mother languages must be promoted and protected worldwide.  She called for the Department’s greater involvement in observing International Mother Language Day annually, and for the Committee to incorporate into its draft resolution a call for the Department to observe it in a befitting manner.  The Information Centre in Dhaka had played a pioneering role in promoting the Bangla language on its website and through various print products.  It had also helped to create a network of libraries for university students.

She said her Government had encouraged the Department to look for local partners to issue the revamped UN Chronicle in non-official United Nations languages.  The Bangladesh Mission would actively support the United Nations search for partners for a Bangla language version of the magazine.  The United Nations should cater more to the some 250 million Bangla speakers worldwide.  The Department must also help to spotlight the plight of developing countries affected by climate change –- of which Bangladesh was perhaps hardest hit -- to stir the conscience of the world’s powerbrokers.  Since the Copenhagen summit, the Department’s efforts concerning climate change had cooled off.  It should redouble its efforts, particularly by highlighting the challenges faced by resource-constrained countries.  By procuring video footage from local sources of United Nations system partners, UNifeed should spread the word about the impending crisis small island countries and coastal States would face in the absence of concrete global action to counter climate change.

DJAMEL MOKTEFI (Algeria), supporting the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said he supported the work of the Department in raising awareness on issues of international concern, calling for balance in all information campaigns.  He welcomed efforts to improve the United Nations website and to utilize social networking tools, as well as stepped-up efforts to achieve parity for all official languages on the Organization’s website.  He emphasized the need to integrate all media into the message of the United Nations, stressing harmony and transparency.  He also called for a special observation concerning of the rights of colonial peoples.

In addition, he called for more educational programmes on the principles of the United Nations, including on development issues.  He called for more resources in support of the Information Centres, including for the production of domestic programming that could be of use internationally.  He welcomed in particular the establishment of the new Centre in Luanda to better service Portuguese speakers.

KATSUHIDE ARIYOSHI (Japan) expressed the hope that the Department would continue to work to enhance its effectiveness in providing timely, accurate, impartial, comprehensive and coherent information.  He welcomed the assistance it had extended during two recent visits to Headquarters by Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, accompanied by a considerable number of Japanese journalists.  He expressed appreciation for the Department’s attempts to balance new technologies with traditional communication tools.

He said he hoped, in addition, that the Department would continue to increase the efficiency of its activities by coordinating with other United Nations units and creating partnerships with civil society, within existing resources, in light of the importance of financial discipline.  The Information Centre in Tokyo, in particular, must ensure its accountability and sound management.  He expressed appreciation for the cooperation extended by united of the Department in the Centre’s activities and in setting up the exhibit “Against Nuclear Arms” with the Governments of Japan and Kazakhstan, and he pledged Japan’s continued support for the Department’s activities.

CARLOS SORRETA (Philippines) supported the Department’s steps to raise public awareness about nuclear disarmament and its launch of a multimedia platform involving traditional and new media to popularize disarmament issues and reach a wider audience.  The “We Must Disarm” campaign had a crucial role in raising public awareness about the dangers of nuclear weapons.  The Philippines, to assume the presidency of the 2010 Review Conference of States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, would count on the Department for media support for the event.  The Philippines had mobilized the greatest number of people -– 36.1 million Filipinos –- to participate in the “Stand up and Take Action for the Millennium Development Goals” campaign.

He noted the Department’s important role in propagating a culture of dialogue among civilizations and in promoting religious and cultural understanding through the mass media.  Since the interfaith initiative had been launched in 2005, the Philippines had repeatedly asked the Department to help disseminate information about the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace.  Today, the Philippines reiterated that request by seeking closer interaction between the Department and that of Economic and Social Affairs, the United Nations focal point on interreligious and intercultural matters.

He also called on the Public Information Department to expand publicity about the contribution of United Nations peacekeeping personnel to peacekeeping overall.  That must be sustained and improved to more effectively project to the public, particularly in troop-contributing countries, peacekeepers’ important role in keeping the peace in conflict areas overseas.  In the past year, the Department had worked closely with various peacekeeping missions to target audiences in more than 30 troop-contributing countries.  The Philippines had developed a close working relationship with the Department, on whose support it relied to disseminate information on the activities of the Filipino military and personnel in peacekeeping missions.

SIRIPORN CHAIMONGKOL (Thailand) encouraged the Department to keep the world informed about the United Nations and how it related to their lives.  The research and studies produced by the United Nations and its bodies should reach as wide an audience as possible.  He commended the work of the Information Centres and last year’s decision to establish one for Portuguese-speaking Africans in Luanda.  She hoped that the new Centre would complement the work of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) and other United Nations offices in the region.  She noted the Department’s initiative this year to use key international days, in cooperation with the European Union, to promote such significant themes as universal human rights, the rights of women and children, freedom of the press, as well as such key global issues as food, poverty and the environment.  She urged the Department to explore the possibility of extending those cost-effective thematic campaigns to other regional and subregional groups, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

She supported both traditional methods of transmitting information and knowledge and the Department’s efforts to explore innovative communication means.  She encouraged it to continue initiatives to raise awareness among youth about international affairs in general and the United Nations in particular.  New media, including computer games and online social networking tools, should be used to the fullest.  Thailand, a State party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, strongly believed that persons with disabilities should not be deprived of information and communications.  She commended the Department for its continuing efforts to ensure that the United Nations website was accessible to all, and asked that it further explore cost-effective ways to make more materials available to persons with disabilities.

GERARDO DÍAZ BARTOLOMÉ (Argentina), supporting the statement made by Yemen on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, supported the Department’s work, praising its “magnificent application and use of new technologies”, as well as its utilization of more traditional media.  He reiterated satisfaction, in particular, for the role of the Information Centre in Argentina, such as its liaison programmes for journalists, which included the seminar for journalists on the effort to combat violence against women.  In that vein, he underlined the importance of language parity, noting that the number of Spanish documents on the website was lower than that in English and that no progress had been made in disseminating press releases in all six official languages.

In achieving necessary parity, he warned against prioritizing speed over accuracy through the use of translation technology or external contractors, expressing concerns over frequent mistakes.  He welcomed more meetings in which Member States could discuss language-related concerns, including that guided tours in Spanish still failed to have a regular, pre-established schedule, despite the number of Spanish-speaking tourists who daily visited Headquarters.  He commended efforts, however, in radio and other traditional media, to provide widespread services in Spanish, Portuguese and indigenous languages, as well as the translation of important United Nations documents into those languages.

MOHAMAD HERY SARIPUDIN (Indonesia), also supporting the statement made by Yemen on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, reiterated appreciation for the Department’s work, while encouraging it to better use its capabilities to deepen international cooperation in the domain of media, sensitizing global mass media about the need to project a culture of peace, values of tolerance and combating prejudice.  He also called on the Department to continue its media programme on the Palestinian issue, including such meetings as the one hosted by Indonesia in June 2009 in support of the Palestinian people.

As a troop-contributing country, he emphasized the vital nature of the dissemination of information in peacekeeping, and he welcomed increased cooperation between the Department and other United Nations departments for that purpose.  He also welcomed the use of new, as well as traditional, media in as many languages as possible, and he encouraged greater distribution of materials in non-officials languages through the Information Centres.  Calling those hubs a “critical link” in communication, he said he looked forward to continuing Indonesia’s support to the Department’s wider objectives, along with the new director of the Jakarta Centre.

JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO (Venezuela) said it was crucial to overcome imbalances in the use of information and communications technology between developed and developing countries.  All countries must have equal access to those technologies.  The regional television network Telesur, founded by Venezuela and its neighbours, had helped to overcome such imbalances between the North and the South.  It was an expression of solidarity and cooperation among countries in the South.  It supported processes of change occurring worldwide, defended the sovereignty and self-determination of nations and promoted collective creativity.  In the same spirit of solidarity and brotherhood, the Radio Sur network had been created to objectively broadcast the political, social and cultural developments of people in the South.  Telesur and Radio Sur were communications alternatives to the big monopolies and communication and information disseminators that defended the interests of national and international elites.  They served as a communications launching pad for creating a multipolar world.

He described the media as a public good that must serve the people.  In Venezuela, the right of all citizens to freely express their views and seek, receive and impart information was scrupulously respected.  Public criticism, freedom of expression and discussion of ideas was being promoted in an unprecedented way.  But the Bolivarian revolution had been subjected to a systematic campaign of imperialist aggression, by powerful media owned by large multinational corporations, which tried to erode the credibility of Venezuela’s successful model of democratic change, oriented towards socialism.  The Bolivarian Government had never shut down any media, even though some had actively participated in the coup d’état that had overthrown President Hugo Chavez for a few hours.  Venezuela had a new law that guaranteed all Venezuelans access to communication and information and which promoted their involvement in management of that information.

MANJEEV SINGH PURI (India) recalled the volume of output of the News and Media Division between July 2009 and January 2010, saying that was a quantum leap over previous years.  While such improvements were occurring, press briefings remained off limits to United Nations delegates.  While delegates could make statements on the working of the Public Information Department at Headquarters, they could not sit in on press conferences as silent observers.  The Committee’s focus must be on making the Department’s work as pertinent and accessible as possible to the largest number of users, making it an effective channel for information between the United Nations and population at large.  To achieve that, the widest possible range of technologies must be harnessed.  The Department’s end product must be dispensed through a wide spectrum of media channels, including both the latest technologies and cost-effective traditional media, such as radio and print.  The latter were very important for the developing world.

He lauded the Department for producing information in some 80 local languages and United Nations Radio for producing programmes in Bengali, Hindi and Urdu, among other languages.  He called for the further promotion of multilingualism and for parity among the six official United Nations languages on the Organization’s website.  The goal should be to strengthen, and not weaken, the Information Centres, he said, adding that “hub and spoke models may appeal in certain managerial contexts, but they make little sense in a people-intensive sector such as the media”.  He encouraged the Department to work closely with host countries in those efforts, and said adequate budgetary resources must be made available to strengthen public outreach and ensure the Information Centre network’s effective functioning.  He called on the Departments of Public Information, Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support to work closely to highlight United Nations peacekeeping success stories and to provide accurate, impartial and timely information on peacekeepers’ regular activities.

YUN YONG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), supporting the statement made by Yemen on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that advanced communications technology, which could be used as a basis to improve the common prosperity of mankind, was still confined to a few developed countries, allowing certain of them to continue to abuse those technologies in pursuit of their own sinister purposes.  He described what he called a black propaganda campaign of certain countries against his own, which he said was a clear violation of the United Nations Charter.

He said international information activities should, on the other hand, be directed to promoting and enhancing the mutual respect, harmony, friendship and cooperation among States.  In any case, using information to interfere in others’ internal affairs and instigating the overthrow of the Governments and political systems of other sovereign States should not be tolerated.  The Committee should have as its primary task the establishment of a new and fair international communications order based on respect and sovereignty, non-interference in others’ internal affairs, impartiality and objectivity.

Rights of Reply

The representative of the United States, responding to the statement by Cuba’s representative, said her Government took its international obligations seriously, including its obligations under ITU conventions.  It also supported the free flow of information.  United States policy had been to broadcast information to Cuban people out of concern for their welfare in the belief that they did not have access to information.  Last year, the United States Government had taken steps to increase cooperation with Cuba, expanding the ability of Cubans in the United States to visit family in Cuba and authorizing United States businesses to negotiate agreements with Cuba.  It had done that out of conscience and because it promoted the free flow of information.

Responding, the representative of Cuba said the United States aggression against Cuba was well known.  It was not a simple violation of international norms.  It was more than that.  It was a Government policy designed to try to destabilize the constitutional order in Cuba.  Every day, more than 25 United States stations, among them, three owned by the United States Government, broadcast more than 200 hours of subversive programming against Cuba.  The Cuban Government’s objection to that was, above all, a matter of sovereignty and dignity.  It would never passively accept that aggressive act.

Recent efforts by the United States to facilitate Internet access to citizens of some countries, including Cuba, was not a measure of flexibility as such access would only be allowed for personal use, she said.  If the United States Government really wanted to help, it would lift its economic blockade against Cuba.  Easing travel for United States citizens to Cuba was a minimum measure.

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