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25th Session (2003)

General Debate: Bangladesh

Statement by H.E. Mr. M. Mustafizur Rahman, Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations (29 April 2003)

Mr. Chairman,

It would be redundant of me to say that the Bangladesh delegation has every confidence in your leadership. Therefore, could I begin by expressing my delegations profound appreciation to Under Secretary General Mr. Shashi Tharoor for his introductory statement made yesterday. In his statement, he has provided us an overview of the activities and accomplishments of the Department of Public Information in the context of ongoing reforms in the United Nations.

Mr. Chairman,

The Bangladesh delegation associates itself with the statement made yesterday by the distinguished representative of Morocco on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. I shall, therefore, limit myself to some remarks on issues that we consider to be of particular importance.

Mr. Chairman,

The DPI has been going through phases of reform and restructuring since many years. The Secretary-General in his recent reports on reorientation of DPI made further proposals to improve its delivery in the field of public information and communications. We commend the progress already achieved since commencement of the reorientation exercise. Revitalization of the Department through restructuring has been a positive step. We hope the newly created Divisions will be able to devise and disseminate United Nations messages by developing communications strategies, in close collaboration with the substantive departments, the United Nations funds and programmes and its subsidiary organs.

We applaud the DPI for the good work done in running and re-designing the UN web site. The web site has become a very cost-effective medium to disseminate information about the activities of the United Nations to the far corners of the world. It has been of immeasurable benefit to all of us. We noted with satisfaction the successful expansion of the electronic mail-based United Nations News Service in two official languages. We emphasize that extra care needs to be taken to ensure that news-breaking stories and news alerts are accurate, impartial and free of any bias. The central objective of the news services should be the delivery, in real time, of authentic, objective and unbiased news and information to the audiences worldwide. The DPI should explore full potential of all available channels of communications - both new and traditional - so that they can meet the varied and growing demands of its users.

The DPI must continue to upgrade its technological capacity. But it should not forsake traditional means of disseminating information. It is now clear that UN radio and TV broadcasts meet the needs of their huge but diverse clientele. We are happy to know that 133 million people listen to United Nations radio at least once a week in the six official languages and Portuguese through the broadcasting facilities over 125 major national, regional and international partner stations. We are indeed impressed by the success of the live Radio project. We strongly support the proposal of the Secretary-General that the pilot project be made an integral part of the Department's activities.

Mr. Chairman,

United Nations peacekeeping operations have assumed paramount importance against the backdrop of an international era beset with conflicts. In the complex UN peace operations, the information component has a vital role to play in forging proper understanding of the objective of the mission and its capabilities. We appreciate the significant activities undertaken by the Department in this area. The Department of Public Information should continue its efforts to strengthen its capacity through development of a coherent information strategy with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. As a major troop contributing country, we would like to see our contribution recognized and adequately reflected in local and regional media.

Mr. Chairman,

Bangladesh firmly believes that the UN Information Centers scattered around the globe are the real interface of the United Nations with the global community. These serve as UN window to the outside world by disseminating knowledge and information on its activities. We carefully noted suggested guidelines and criteria for the regionalization of information centers as proposed by the Secretary General in his report. A great care must be taken in the entire process and an objective assessment should be made about the need and capacity of such centers to deliver mandated programmes and activities. In our view, it should be applied in a flexible manner and in countries where operating costs are very high and mediums of communication are sufficiently developed. In other areas, proposals for establishing regional hubs should be considered on a case-by-case basis and with prudence. It should also take into account the views of member states directly concerned.

Mr. Chairman,

We appreciate efforts of DPI in ensuring multilingualism in all its activities. These efforts should be extended to other popular and widely spoken non-official languages. We all know that information has the strongest impact if it is disseminated in local languages. Information Centers are trying to meet the demand. But they are limited by resource constraints. Dhaka Center is a case in point. It is running a very good website in local language Bangla catering information requirements of 250 million Bangla speaking people in and outside Bangladesh. This should be maintained and enriched with adequate technical and material resources.

We recognize that the pursuance of true multilingualism means promotion, protection and preservation of diversity of languages and cultures globally. Multilingualism by its very nature promotes unity in diversity and strengthens international understanding. In this connection, my delegation would like to remind the Committee that the General Conference of the UNESCO at our initiative in 1999 proclaimed 21 February as the "International Mother Language Day". The UN General Assembly welcomed the decision at its 56th Session, which was reflected in the resolution on multilingualism A/RES/56/262. The day is observed in many countries of the world with due importance. We recommend to DPI to pay attention to the issue of mother language and take initiative to observe the day in the United Nations in consonance with its effort to promote multilingualism. By doing so the United Nations will show respect to more than 6 thousand languages spoken today across the globe.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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