|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on Information’s Thirty-Third Session to be Held
at Headquarters, 27 April - 6 May
The thirty-third annual session of the Committee on Information, the intergovernmental body charged with reviewing progress in the field of United Nations public information, will be held at Headquarters from 27 April to 6 May.
During the two-week session, delegations are expected to undertake a wide-ranging review of the Department of Public Information and its three subprogrammes — the News and Media, Outreach and Strategic Communications Divisions.
The Secretary-General observes, in his report on strategic communications services, that the United Nations has delivered its messages to targeted audiences cost-effectively by prioritizing its thematic campaigns and enhancing cooperation with United Nations partners.
“In the past year, the Department of Public Information has made important advances,” he states. Increasingly, it has drawn on social media tools such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Flickr, as well as other innovative communications technologies, to convey the United Nations story to varied audiences around the world, while still making use of traditional means such as radio, television and print, particularly in areas with limited Internet access.
Moreover, he continues, through innovative strategic partnerships within and outside the United Nations system, the network of information centres located in 57 countries has demonstrated its valuable role as the “public face and voice” of the Organization, tailoring overall communications strategies to meet the needs of local communities in more than 150 languages.
Similarly, in his report on news services, the Secretary-General notes that by expanding the use of multimedia, web-based and mobile platforms, the Department was able to reach a more diverse and younger audience. The number of pick-ups of the daily feed provided by UNifeed, an inter-agency platform that enables broadcasters to download breaking video news and features in broadcast-quality PAL and NTSC via the Internet, almost doubled in 2010.
With language parity remaining a key goal in all its activities, the Department continues its efforts to make the United Nations website a truly multilingual source of information, according to the report. The daily news-related videos featured on the main page are now posted with captions in all six official languages. In 2010, the United Nations launched YouTube channels in Spanish and French, and set up a Chinese-language channel on key new websites in China.
Finally, in his report on outreach services, the Secretary-General says the Department has progressively transformed its outreach role. The “ideas and energy” generated by collective efforts and partnerships with global civil society and individual constituents have reflected and supported “the intergovernmental processes of change and betterment” that are crucial to fully realizing the Organization’s mission.
He goes on to note that in the past year, the Department has consolidated its mandate among traditional audiences in the general public and civil society, especially young people, while launching “Academic Impact”, a global university “network of ideas and imagination”, to promote United Nations priorities. By the end of 2010, more than 540 institutions of higher education and research in 96 countries had joined it.
Established in 1978, the Committee on Information examines United Nations public information policies and activities in light of evolving international relations, and evaluates the Organization’s progress in the information and communications field. The 113-member Committee is also mandated to promote a more effective global information and communications order to strengthen peace and understanding.
According to the Secretary-General’s two-part report on activities of the Department of Public Information: strategic communications services (document A/AC.198/2011/2), the strategic communications services are responsible for helping to fulfil the United Nations substantive goals by strategically communicating the Organization’s activities and concerns to achieve the greatest public impact. To do that, the services devise and implement communications strategies on priority issues and provide communications support for key United Nations events and initiatives.
The first part of the report covers the Department’s communications campaigns, which support the three pillars of the world body’s work — development, human rights and peace and security. In the area of peacekeeping, the Department, working with peacekeeping missions, has disseminated 27 press releases in 14 troop- and police-contributing countries, and has begun a comprehensive redesign of its English-language peacekeeping website, launched earlier this year.
According to the report, following the outbreak of the cholera epidemic in Haiti in October 2010, the Department helped organize videoconference briefings with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and kept its website “live” by creating a page dedicated to the epidemic. In connection with the election in Côte d’Ivoire, the Department guided the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) in crisis-management communications and set up a webpage to cover unfolding developments.
Other thematic communications strategies detailed in the report focus on ending violence against women; the Millennium Development Goals, including the September 2010 Millennium Development Goals Summit; climate change and sustainable development; the International Year of Youth; follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society; the question of Palestine; decolonization; human rights; the outreach programme on the Rwanda genocide and the United Nations; and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
The second part of the report highlights the work of the 57 United Nations information centres that adapt the Organization’s overall communications priorities to local strategies for audiences in their own languages.
It states that, because of the decrease in resources available for regular upkeep of information centre premises, the Department has been having them share premises with other members of the United Nations country teams. It has relocated four centres to joint premises since 2010.
The Secretary-General’s report on activities of the Department of Public Information: news services (document A/AC.198/2011/3) outlines key advances in promoting the work of the United Nations through print, radio, television and webcast, as well as audio and visual products.
It says that United Nations Radio continues to harness new technologies for news delivery. Africa, which remains a major programming focus, receives content via email links or MP3 files, which are used to transmit programming in English, Kiswahili, Spanish and French. United Nations Radio now has 21,000 social media followers, a 275 per cent increase over the second half of 2010.
The report says United Nations Television continues to provide live coverage of meetings and other events at Headquarters, produce varied news and feature-style programming and generate video material for a growing number of web and mobile platforms. To ensure uninterrupted service during the Headquarters renovations relating to the Capital Master Plan, the Department is setting up a new media asset management system.
According to the report, the Department continues to focus on expanding live streaming and on-demand video on the Internet so as to help audiences worldwide follow proceedings in real time. In 2010, the United Nations webcast had an average of 1 million video views per month. Last September, an enhanced site was launched with new database-driven features and better quality video, which has enabled visitors to share United Nations videos using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Use of the United Nations Channel on YouTube has increased steadily to more than 10,000 subscribers.
The report states that the United Nations News Centre, long one of the most popular portals on the Organization’s website, produced more than 8,000 news stories.
In the area of press release distribution, the Department’s Meetings Coverage Section produced 2,482 releases — 13,155 pages in English and French — including year-end roundups of Security Council and General Assembly coverage. That output, available in hard copy at Headquarters and distributed worldwide via the Internet and the United Nations information centres, also included 414 releases covering the sixty-fifth regular session of the General Assembly, 313 on meetings and statements of the Security Council; more than 1,150 statements, remarks and messages by the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General, as well as materials from other United Nations offices and departments; and nearly 600 summaries of press briefings by the Secretary-General’s Spokesperson and other press conferences held at Headquarters.
Also covered in the report are other services, such as support to the media, placement of op-ed articles, as well as the growth and improved presentation of the United Nations website to include better use of statistics, multilingualism and access for persons with disabilities.
Finally, the Secretary-General’s report on activities of the Department of Public Information: outreach services (document A/AC.198/2011/4) states that the mission of the Outreach Division is “to engage and educate people and their communities worldwide to encourage support for the ideals and activities of the United Nations”. It details efforts geared towards students, teachers and civil society, and notes the expanded use of social media platforms to enlarge the Division’s constituency and further broaden global ownership of the United Nations.
It highlights several initiatives in 2010, including the annual DPI/NGO Conference on “Advance global health: achieve the Millennium Development Goals”, held in Melbourne, Australia, which attracted 1,700 non-governmental organization representatives; the second Global Model United Nations Conference, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in August 2010; the annual United Nations student conference on human rights, which produced student recommendations on how to fight discrimination and protect children’s rights; and the “UN4U” project, which conveyed the United Nations story to 504 education institutions and more than 85,000 students around the world.
As part of the Department’s celebrity advocacy efforts, the report says, eight Goodwill Ambassadors and Messengers of Peace participated in a media campaign using Twitter and Facebook to promote last September’s Millennium Development Goals Summit. Actor and filmmaker Edward Norton was chosen as the Organization’s Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity.
The report goes on to note the launch of the United Nations Visitors Centre website in October, aimed at providing visitors with information on guided tours, exhibitions and lectures. On the United Nations YouTube channel, the Secretary-General, Goodwill Ambassadors and Messengers of Peace asked citizens around the globe how to make the world “a better, safer place” in videos that were viewed more than 56,000 times. A unique partnership was started to allow people in developing countries without access to adequate technology or a video camera to prepare and upload video messages at participating United Nations information centres.
According to the report, activities designed to build on past successes include the Department’s invitation, for the thirtieth consecutive year, to young journalists from developing countries to participate in the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalists’ Fellowship Programme. The Department also lent its support to the International Conference on Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial, held in Ireland in November.
As for library services, the report says that in 2010 the Dag Hammarskjöld Library began a complete review of the United Nations Depository Library Programme to ensure that materials were received in the most useful format for readers, and strongly encouraged depository libraries to use electronic resources and online access. United Nations libraries continued to work together on such issues as common indexing policies, digitization operations and United Nations information centres. The 2010 launch of the online Yearbook of the United Nations bolstered research use of that outreach tool.
In the area of multilingualism, the report states, the Department established “Language Days at the United Nations” for each of the Organization’s six official languages. They featured language information fairs, book sales, film screenings, lectures and other events.
The report notes that the Capital Master Plan has affected the Department’s outreach services due to the lack of dedicated access to infrastructure facilities catering to visitors, non-governmental organizations and student groups. Efforts are being made to reroute guided tours and find alternative briefing venues.
* *** *