Committee on Information
5th Meeting (PM)
COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION DISCUSSES UN WEB SITE LANGUAGE PARITY,
INFORMATION SUPPORT FOR PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS
The Committee on Information this afternoon heard presentations by Secretariat officials of the reports of the Secretary-General on the issues before it, including the development of the United Nations Web site in the six official languages of the Organization, and the role of the Department of Public Information (DPI) in United Nations peacekeeping.
Speakers in the general debate, which concluded this morning, had addressed key issues of the report on reorienting the communication and public information activities of the Organization, which underpinned the current session. At its opening on Monday, Interim Head of the Department, Shashi Tharoor, presented the emerging strategic directions for repositioning DPI. Earlier today, he responded to the many points raised by delegations during the general debate. He took the floor again this evening to provide further clarification. (For details of the morning meeting, please see Press Release PI/1415.)
Presenting the report on the enrichment of the Web site (document A/AC.198/2002/6), the Chief of the Information Technology Section, Mahbub Ahmad, said that the total number of accesses to the Web site was 145.6 million for
the month of March: Spanish, 11.15 million; French, 8.28 million; Russian,
2.13 million; Arab, 1.87 million; and Chinese, 1.6 million.
He noted that the Secretary-General had outlined two possible actions in the report for achieving language parity. The more cost-effective recommended action was to allow the Web sites to develop independently in each language based on the resource capacity of the relevant departments. Given the level of available resources for translation, he cautioned that full parity among the official languages would not be achieved for some time to come.
The representative of Egypt expressed concern that the recommended option, whereby author departments would provide the materials in the official languages to the extent possible, was really just a continuation of the current situation, in which disparity, and not parity, existed between the English site and other language sites. If the first option was feasible, namely, to replicate all materials from the English Web site onto the other sites, then he advocated seeking ways to implement it.
The report on the role of DPI in United Nations peacekeeping was presented by the Director of the Public Affairs Division of DPI, Thérèse Gastaut. She
explained that DPI was in charge of planning and promotional activities, while the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) was responsible for the management of the information component. Both Departments were working in tandem to coordinate media coverage of peacekeeping operations. The DPI had provided support to the information activities of peacekeeping operations, but, without additional funds, it could not do more than what was presently being done, she said.
The relevance of public information activities in awareness-raising concerning peace-building and peacekeeping operations was emphasized by the representative of Ghana, who endorsed the need for extra resources to ensure that that function was improved.
Asked by the representative of Belgium whether the resources for the proposals for enhancement would come from the regular budget or from someplace else, Ms. Gastaut said that the supplementary resources were not part of the regular budget. The two additional recommended posts would come from the Support Account for Peacekeeping Operations.
She also presented the reports on public information activities for the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations (2001), and on the activities of the Joint United Nations Information Committee in 2001.
The Officer-in-Charge of the Information Centres Service, Yousef Hamdan, introduced the report on the integration of United Nations information centres with field offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Also participating in this afternoon’s discussion were the representatives of the United Republic of Tanzania, China, Syria and Iran, as well as Ukraine who made a statement as part of the general debate.
The Committee will meet again on a date to be announced.
The Committee on Information met this afternoon to consider the reports before it, which would be presented by members of the Secretariat. It was also expected to hear comments by delegations on the reports.
In addition to the report of the Secretary-General on reorientation of the Department of Public Information (DPI) (document A/AC.198/2002/2), the Committee had before it reports on: the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations (2001); the integration of United Nations information centres (UNICs) with field offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the role of DPI in United Nations peacekeeping; continued development, maintenance and enrichment of the United Nations Web site in the six official languages; and activities of the Joint United Nations Information Committee in 2001.
The report on the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations (2001) (document A/AC.198/2002/3) describes activities carried out by DPI to promote the Year and publicize the findings of the Group of Eminent Persons appointed by the Secretary-General for the Year. In designing a promotional campaign, the Department considered the observance of the Year an opportunity to emphasize the role of dialogue as a means to remove threats to peace and strengthen interaction among civilizations.
The report states that initial efforts of the Department were focused on developing the key messages of the Year in a way that made them both clear and accessible to people from different countries and cultures. A series of promotional products, such as brochures, posters, public service announcements and a press kit, was developed and widely distributed.
The work of the Group of Eminent Persons for the Year, appointed by the Secretary-General to prepare a book on the issue of dialogue, was considered crucial by the Department in promoting the Year and generating greater international debate on redefining diversity as an opportunity, rather than a threat. Among other things, an executive summary of the Group’s publication, entitled “Crossing the Divide”, was issued in the six official languages in advance of the plenary meetings of the fifty-sixth session of the Assembly dedicated to the Year.
The report states that the Department mobilized all available resources to publicize the plenary meetings and raise global awareness about the challenges presented by the Year. Among other things, the plenary meetings were broadcast live by United Nations television and webcast in real time through the United Nations Web site, and press releases covering each session of the two-day plenary were issued in English and French.
The report on integration of United Nations information centres with field offices of the United Nations Development Programme: continued implementation of the views of host governments (document A/AC.198/2002/4) states that DPI has continued to implement the views of Member States hosting UNICs integrated with the field offices of UNDP to further strengthen the efficient implementation of public information activities. Presently, there is no pending proposal to integrate any additional United Nations information centre.
Should any such request be received, states the report, the Department would review it jointly with UNDP and the government of the host country concerned, prior to submitting it to the Committee for its consideration. Building on their 20-year working relationship, the Department and UNDP continue to look for ways and means of rationalizing the use of the limited resources at their disposal, to improve the delivery of public information programmes, and strengthen the unified image of the United Nations worldwide.
According to the report on the role of the Department of Public Information in United Nations peacekeeping (document A/AC.198/2002/5), DPI has continued to provide planning and operational support to information components of peacekeeping operations, to the extent possible. Enhancing this capacity would enable the Department to contribute more effectively to mission planning and support and to efforts undertaken by mission information components to build and sustain public and governmental support for peacekeeping operations.
Concerning the need for adequate resources, the report argues that Assembly approval of additional resources for the Department would enable DPI to enhance its capacity to backstop public information activities in peacekeeping operations and maintain its mandated promotional activities in the area of peace and security. Meanwhile, despite the Assembly's endorsement of the information support functions of DPI, the number of staff dedicated to public information in United Nations peacekeeping has remained at the same level.
The report says that, for this reason, and as a follow-up to the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), the Secretary-General’s report to the Assembly on requirements for funding, under the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period
1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003, will include a provision for additional resources for DPI for the purpose of backstopping peacekeeping operations.
The Assembly has reiterated on numerous occasions that it attaches priority to effective public information programmes in peacekeeping operations. They should be carefully identified and implemented according to the specific needs of the missions concerned, and adequate resources should be allocated. In the same vein, the Assembly stressed in its resolution 56/64 B that DPI should continue its efforts to strengthen its capacity to contribute significantly to the functioning of information components in United Nations peacekeeping operations.
The Secretary-General states in his report on continued development, maintenance and enrichment of the United Nations Web site in the six official languages (document A/AC.198/2002/6) that the report is being presented to the Committee for its guidance on the policy decisions required for timely implementation. The report presents two possible courses of action for consideration by Member States. No cost estimates are provided, because it is felt that guidance is required from Member States on the principles of parity before proceeding to a detailed costing exercise.
Action 1, according to the report, involves replicating all materials on the English Web site onto the other sites. This action would involve translation of all materials and databases by the respective content-providing offices into all official languages. Each content-providing office would need to determine the level of resources associated with the translation and processing for the Web site. This action would entail extremely high costs, should Member States decide that all current materials should also be translated.
Action 2 would allow the Web sites to develop independently in each language, on the basis of the resource capacities of author departments and offices, states the report. This appears to be the most prudent and cost-effective course of action, in that material would continue to be added on an incremental basis in each of the official languages. All materials that are currently produced, in whatever combination of languages, will be processed and made available on the Web site.
This could be accomplished, continues the report, by having content-providing offices, including DPI, adjust the publication of information materials to assure a steady supply of materials in each of the official languages. Content-providing offices would determine the amount of information to be made available in each of the languages, based on their respective resource capacities for this purpose. It should be noted, however, that most content-providing offices have not been able to create their respective Web sites in the non-working languages of the Secretariat.
The report recommends that Member States approve action 2, with the full understanding that, given the level of resources for translation available in the author departments, full parity among official languages on the United Nations Web site will not be achieved for some time to come.
Also before the Committee is the report on activities of the Joint United Nations Information Committee (JUNIC) in 2001 (document A/AC.198/2002/7), the subsidiary body of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) responsible for coordination in the field of public information. At its twenty-seventh session in July 2001, JUNIC addressed issues relating to the development of web communications, the communications strategies for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, poverty eradication, and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In October 2001, as part of its review, the ACC, now renamed the United Nations System Chief Executive Board for Coordination, decided to do away with permanent subsidiary bodies and, instead, rely on flexible, substance-driven and ad hoc arrangements. Consequently, as of January 2002, inter-agency coordination in the field of public information and communication will take place through a new informal and flexible mechanism, the United Nations Communications Group.
The Communications Group, in addition to the annual meeting, continues to hold weekly meetings at Headquarters with the participation of New York-based representatives of all organizations of the United Nations system, to provide a regular forum for consultation and coordination on communications policy and issues, as well as on joint strategies and programmes. To develop and coordinate the implementation of joint communications strategies on priority issues, often in the lead-up to major conferences and other events, the Group will establish task forces, such as the current one on the World Summit, involving the organizations active in the preparation of the activity concerned.
YURIY KHOMENKO (Ukraine) believed that DPI could play a central role in drawing international attention to issues of global concern, such as the Chernobyl disaster, which continued to affect the lives of millions of people in Ukraine, as well as in Belarus and the Russian Federation. He expressed gratitude to all those who assisted in organizing a number of events at Headquarters and beyond devoted to the anniversary of the accident. He believed DPI would continue to provide objective information on the dimensions of the disaster.
He commended DPI for its continuing efforts to update the United Nations Web site and make it more informative, functional and visually attractive. One example was the recently redesigned UN News Centre page, which served as an excellent source of news on the latest developments around the United Nations system, as well as a gateway to a wide array of links to in-depth resources related to the news of the day. In an era of instant communications, it was hard to underestimate the importance, for the image of the United Nations, of online availability of the news in an easily accessible and user-friendly format.
He also noted that the existence of such a well designed and informative site in all official languages would greatly enhance the Department’s ability to disseminate news about the Organization. While he realized that the Department was very limited by existing resources and continuing mandates, that was an area it should consider as it reviewed and reoriented its activities.
MUHAMMAD YUSSUF (United Republic of Tanzania) was happy to note that the list of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) affiliated with DPI had been reviewed and that those organizations, whose work was not relevant to the work of DPI, had been removed from the list. He wanted to know which specific NGOs had been discussed in that regard.
Also, it was stated that each copy of the Yearbook cost $435 to produce. He requested more clarification on the costs involved, as well as on how much it cost to produce a copy of the UN Chronicle. Concerning the UNICs, he noted that a large number of activities performed by them were not information and communications in nature, and wanted to know why that was the case. He felt that the proposed criteria for the free use of the premises used by UNICs should be adopted.
MAHBUB AHMAD, Chief of the Information Technology Section, presented the report on the continued development, maintenance and enrichment of the United Nations Web site in the six official languages (document A/AC.198/2002/6). That was the fifth in the series of reports on the Web site. The first had been considered during the first part of its twenty-first session in 1999.
He said that the total number of accesses to the Web site was 145.6 million for the month of March: Spanish, 11.15 million; French, 8.28 million; Russian, 2.13 million; Arabic, 1.87 million; and Chinese, 1.6 million. Since a more accurate statistical system had evolved, he would be able to monitor the level of increases for the various language Web sites over the coming months. He would present that information to the Committee in due course.
Two actions had been outlined in the report, as actions 1 and 2, he said. Action 1 involved replicating all materials on the English Web site onto the other sites. One way to overcome the needed infusion of resources was to exempt some areas of translation, such as the treaty series. Option 2, which was being recommended, was to allow the Web sites to develop independently in each language based on the resource capacity of the relevant departments.
He said that most content-providing offices had not been able to create respective Web sites in the non-working languages of the Secretariat, largely due to resource constraints and lack of expertise. Even with the cost-effective action 2, as recommended, it should be understood that, given the level of available resources for translation, full parity among the official languages would not be achieved for some time to come. However, the level of technology was improving rapidly, and more and more automated methods of translation would be available over the next few years, thereby greatly reducing dependence on “manual translation”, and reducing dramatically the translation costs.
The representative of Egypt said that the number of hits on all six language sites had been steadily increasing. In considering the two options, option 2 was really just a continuation of the current situation, whereby author departments would provide the materials. It was a situation in which there was no parity, and in fact disparity between the site in English and other languages would only grow. If author departments did not have the capacity to provide materials in other languages, how would option 2 lead to full parity years down the line? If those were the only two options available, then the option that would lead to parity would be action 1.
The main thrust of the exercise should be to achieve parity, he said. If action 1 was possible, then he suggested that the Committee express its interest in it and ask the Secretariat for ways in which to enrich that proposal.
Also, last year the Committee had requested the Secretary-General to ensure equitable distribution of resources among the six languages on a continuous basis. He had not found any reference to that decision in the present report. He wanted to know what action had been taken in that regard. Were the current human and financial resources being distributed equitably among all the six official languages?
The representative of China stated that the present structure did not ensure parity among the six languages. He wondered whether some adjustment could be made to the structure to ensure parity.
The representative of Syria endorsed the statement just made by the representative of Egypt. He would prefer action 1, although at present he could also consider paragraphs 34 and 35 of that action. In that context, he highlighted the need to ensure that parity existed among the six languages, and that human and financial resources were also equal for all languages.
Mr. Ahmad said that, concerning the equitable distribution of resources among the official languages for the Web site, currently the structure of the management operation had been organized in a way that one unit dealt with the six languages, and a separate entity dealt with design and programming, which cut across the languages and was common to all the languages. During the last redesign phase, it had made more sense to have one design first, which could then be replicated into the other languages, rather than designing each of the sites from scratch, separately. That had allowed him to maximize resources.
Presently, he continued, there was one Professional staff member per language and one General Service member associated with each language. In that sense, there was an equitable distribution of resources among the official languages; however, that was only for the management, programming and design element of the Web site. Content was another story. That had to be created first, in order to be put on the Web site.
He said the Web site was much like a store front, and he could only put on it what had been created. For example, when Member States approved the creation of press releases in English and French for the Web site, that had been accompanied by the infrastructure requirements to produce them in those languages. Now, if Member States desired that press releases should be available in all the other languages, there would need to be a corresponding infrastructure allocation in order to make that happen.
In response to the question made by the representative of China regarding structure, he said there was a structure in place whereby the same amount of human resources had been allocated to each of the languages. But, the question remained whether that was enough. For example, could one Professional staff member handle increasing responsibilities? That question was outlined in annex 1 of the present report.
THÉRÈSE GASTAUT, Director of the Public Affairs Division, presented the report on public information activities for the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations (2001) and highlighted some aspects of the Department’s involvement. The principal role of the Department was to come up with basic information on the subject of the Year, which gave uniformity to the message that was to be put out. Among other things, there was a Web site, posters and brochures on the Year. The UNICs took up where the Organization left off at the national level in promoting the Year.
At Headquarters, she continued, the Department ensured that major events were provided with the broadest publicity and widest coverage possible. Also, a great deal of publicity was given to the plenary meetings of the General Assembly devoted to the Year, held in November 2001. While 2001 was over, the spirit of the Year was still being pursued in promoting the ideals of tolerance and multiculturalism.
The representative of Iran expressed his appreciation to DPI, particularly Mr. Tharoor, for its active role in promoting the Year. The main message of Dialogue among Civilizations was tolerance and peaceful coexistence. Member States during the fifty-sixth session of the Assembly had adopted the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations, which had over 100 co-sponsors. That had showed the importance that all Member States attached to the issue. Dialogue among Civilizations was a long-term process, and the continued active role of DPI was needed.
YOUSEF HAMDAN, Officer-in-Charge of the Information Centres Service, said the report on the integration of the information centres with UNDP (document A/AC.198/2002/4) was in two sections and responded to two separate provisions in the General Assembly resolution of last December.
In 1999, he explained, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to conduct a case-by-case review of integrated centres. In response, the Secretary-General submitted a questionnaire to those Member States that hosted integrated centres. Of 14 such operational centres, seven responded. It was customary that respondents were not normally identified. What was presented were the findings and recommendations of respondents. In conducting his review, the Secretary-General submitted to the twenty-second session of the Committee his report containing the results of that survey.
He said that, among the seven respondents, four countries that were hosting integrated centres added their own views as to what action should be taken in order to enhance the centres’ operation. Following its consideration of that report, the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to take action to implement the views of those four Member States, and the Secretary-General welcomed the views of Member States and took action to implement them. Subsequently, he reported to the Committee in 2001 on the action taken to implement those reviews.
Following a review of that report, the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to take follow-up action in order to continue to implement the views of those four Member States, he said. In response, the Secretary-General had submitted the present report. One Member State had requested that a Director should be appointed, and that request had been met. Another country had asked that the UNIC in that particular country be provided with computer and Internet connections in order to connect to universities there, and that action was being taken. The third Member State asked for enhancement of staffing resources in that centre, and that action was taken. The fourth country requested the same, and action in that regard continued to be taken.
He said the second part of the report was a response to last year’s resolution, which asked the Secretary-General to present to the Committee any proposal on possible further integration of the information centres with UNDP offices in the field. In the report, the Secretary-General informed the Committee that, at present, there were no concrete proposals being considered to further implement integration of the centres. The report further informed the Committee that there had been some confusion among Member States, UNDP and DPI regarding the implementation mechanism of that integration.
To put an end to that confusion, he recalled that DPI and UNDP had held a meeting last September, at which the heads of the two offices decided to establish a working group to settle any questions. It had been made clear to the field offices that, to avoid confusion, the General Assembly had given clear guidelines about that integration exercise in 1993, which had been adopted annually since then. By following them carefully, it was possible to avoid confusion. The report explained that the integration exercise, which began in 1992, had been based on a history of cooperation between DPI and UNDP, which had been formalized in a signed agreement in 1990.
The representative of Ghana said that the raison d’être for the integration policy had been quite clear, and the Committee had looked at that matter at great length. Of course, there was a need for a case-by-case evaluation, taking into consideration the views of the host country, to be sure that its ongoing interests were not adversely affected. As noted in the report, there was a review under way on cooperation between UNDP and UNICs. Could the outcome of that review be shared with the Committee? he asked.
Mr. Hamdan assured him that all reviews had been and would continue to be reported to the Committee in full. He believed that the case-by-case review mentioned in the present report had been conducted and already submitted to the twenty-second session of the Committee (document A/AC.198/2000/3).
Ms. GASTAUT, presenting the report on the role of DPI in United Nations peacekeeping, said the report spoke of DPI’s activities in support of peacekeeping operations, including those undertaken through its Peace and Security Section. She noted that the Section had undertaken those activities while maintaining the same level of resources as in the past. The DPI was in charge of planning and promotional activities, while the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) was in charge of the management of the information component of the peacekeeping operations. Both Departments were working in tandem to coordinate media coverage of peace operations.
The report, she continued, also recalled the initiatives and debates, which took place in relevant United Nations bodies to follow up on the “Brahimi Report”. Proposals had been formulated by the Secretariat to form an administrative structure to provide support to the information components of peacekeeping operations, which would be provided with extra financing. That structure was to be created within DPKO. The ACABQ had recommended that it be created within DPI.
That was why, she added, the Secretary-General had planned to provide extra resources to DPI to allow it to support DPKO, namely, two Professional posts. That was now being studied in the relevant bodies. The DPI could not, until it got more financing, do more than what was being done at present.
The representative of Belgium asked what the structure of coordination was that was to be established between DPI and DPKO to provide better information on peacekeeping operations. Would the resources for the proposals for enhancement come from the regular budget or from somewhere else?
The representative of Egypt noted that both DPI and DPKO had agreed on the division of tasks between them. Yet, DPI did not have enough resources to increase its activities in that field. Within the context of the division of tasks, were there any proposals or suggestions whereby some resources, human or financial, could be transferred from DPKO to DPI to enhance the capacity of DPI to support peacekeeping operations and further support DPKO?
The representative of Ghana emphasized the relevance of public information activities in awareness-raising concerning peace-building and peacekeeping operations. He endorsed the need for extra resources to ensure that that function was improved.
On the strategy of cooperation between the two Departments, Ms. GASTAUT said that there was institutionalized cooperation between them. Under consideration was the possibility of developing more systematic relations between the two Departments to enhance cooperation. The supplementary resources were not part of the regular budget. The two additional posts recommended would come from the Support Account for Peacekeeping Operations.
Regarding the division of tasks mentioned by the representative of Egypt, she said that to do more, more resources must be allocated to both Departments. The ACABQ had felt that those resources could be better used if they were in DPI. So there were funds that should be coming to DPI from the Support Account by July. Supplementary resources would enable DPI to do more in terms of supporting the peacekeeping operations, as well as act in accordance with the recommendations in the Brahimi Report by providing daily support to the peacekeeping operations.
Ms. GASTAUT next introduced the report on the activities of JUNIC (document A/AC.198.2002/7). That Committee had been the subsidiary body of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), which had contained all of the information guidelines for the United Nations funds and programmes. As the report indicated, in October 2001, as part of its reform, the ACC, which was the Committee comprised of all chief executives in the United Nations, decided to change its own name and become the United Nations System Chief Executive Board. Also within the framework of that review, it decided to do away with the permanent subsidiary bodies and replace them with substance-driven and ad hoc arrangements.
She said that, in terms of information, that had not been at all a question of having less coordination, but of having greater coordination and, above all, improved coordination. In paragraphs 11 and 12 of the current report, the new coordination mechanism, which was a new informal body, had been set up as the United Nations Communications Group. It met annually, and there were also weekly meetings at Headquarters, headed by the Chief of DPI. There were also special teams set up to discuss priority issues in the Organization. For example, there was a special team for the International Conference on Financing for Development, and now an ad hoc team for the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
In other words, she added, the Joint Committee no longer existed. The obligation placed on the former Committee to submit reports, therefore, was no longer valid, but the Secretariat would keep the Committee on Information regularly updated on inter-institution cooperation activities on information carried out within the Group.
SHASHI THAROOR, Interim Head of the Department of Public Information, took the floor this afternoon to provide additional responses to questions raised by delegations. He said that on the first question seeking to clarify the costs of the Yearbook, the figure was simply the addition of salaries and related costs, including the production costs of the publication itself, divided by the number of copies printed. That was used in the report to illustrate the point that the
Yearbook would be seen by delegations as having a certain value over and above the unit costs. The United Nations felt that as the authoritative publication on its work, the cost would not be the sole basis for retaining its viability.
On the question of the costs of the Chronicle, that was more difficult to provide because the number of readers varied both by language and audience, he said. Thus, he did not have accurate feedback yet on that figure. In addition, there were the online versions of the Chronicle, which also had its readers. But, the total cost of the venture in all six languages was $1.1 million. The question was whether it was deemed necessary to spend that amount of money to produce that publication. A number of members, particularly from the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, had said that they found it valuable, and he had taken due note of their comments.
He added that, in the last few months, he had tried to enhance the online service, as well as use the capacity of the Chronicle to serve as a feature service of the United Nations, thereby making those articles free of cost for reproduction by newspapers and magazines around the world. Hopefully, a far larger number of readers might choose to reprint the articles. That was how he was seeking to maximize the “bang for the buck”.
On the third question about NGOs, he said the list of those that were still associated with DPI could be found in a directory, which was a public document. If the delegate was interested, he could provide a copy. Regarding the list of NGOs that had been removed as a result of last year’s review, that number was 260, from at least 30 or 40 countries, simply because they had not been active in promoting the goals and purposes of DPI, which was to publicize the work of the United Nations. Normally, the Department did not make such a list public, but he would provide it if asked.
The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania asked a further question about the cost of producing the Yearbook and subsequent sale cost.
Mr. THAROOR said that classic cost calculations did not apply for that publication. The Yearbook served as a reference tool, and something like 80 per cent of each year’s run was actually made free of cost to permanent missions, agencies and United Nations officials. He had not sought to justify its distribution on a cost basis, but since it could not be made available for
free to everyone who wanted it, including for those senior people with direct responsibility or interest in the United Nations system, he had had to determine a price. And, that price had been determined purely on the basis of market considerations. Since only approximately 10 per cent of the copies were sold, the actual unit cost would not be just $435, but several multiples of that figure, and then no one would buy it. The Department was not a commercial enterprise, but an information provider.
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