Committee on Information Unanimously Approves Text Calling for Enhancing Multilingualism, Partnerships, Local Outreach as Session Concludes

6 May 2011

Committee on Information Unanimously Approves Text Calling for Enhancing Multilingualism, Partnerships, Local Outreach as Session Concludes

6 May 2011
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on Information

Thirty-third Session

4th Meeting (AM)

Committee on Information Unanimously Approves Text Calling for Enhancing


Multilingualism, Partnerships, Local Outreach as Session Concludes


Draft Resolution Reaffirms that Voice

Of United Nations ‘Must Be Heard in a Clear and Effective Manner’

The Committee on Information today called on the United Nations Department of Public Information to bolster multilingualism, partnerships, efficiency and local outreach in order to heighten awareness of critical international issues.

It also reaffirmed that “the United Nations remains the indispensable foundation of a peaceful and just world and […] its voice must be heard in a clear and effective manner”, as it unanimously approved a two-part draft resolution (document A/AC.198/2011/L.3), as orally revised, at the conclusion of its annual two-week session.

Towards that end, the Committee recommended through part B of the two-part text, entitled “United Nations public information policies and activities”, that the General Assembly request, at its next session, that the Department continue to evaluate its products and activities with the aim of enhancing their effectiveness.

Reaffirming the need to enhance the Department’s technological infrastructure “on a continuous basis” in order to widen its outreach, and to continue to improve the United Nations website in a cost-neutral manner, the Assembly would request that the Secretary-General take full advantage of new developments in information technology in order to further expedite the dissemination of information.  It would also request that the Organization’s Radio and Television Service continue to take full advantage of recent improvements in technological infrastructure.

While taking note of improvements in the multilingual development and enrichment of the United Nations website, the Assembly would nonetheless urge the Office of Information and Communications Technology to further collaborate with the Department in ensuring that not only Latin, but also non-Latin and bidirectional scripts, were fully supported technologically.

The Assembly would, by other terms, emphasize the importance of eliminating the disparity between the use of English and the five other official United Nations languages, request that appropriate resources be made available for that purpose, and that all documents be made accessible on the website in all the official languages without delay.

Also by the text, the Assembly would reiterate its concern that the Department’s daily press releases were not yet issued in all six languages, as requested in previous resolutions and in full respect of the principle of parity among the Organization’s official languages.

Further, the Assembly would emphasize that the Department should maintain and improve its activities in areas of special interest to developing countries and other nations with special needs, in order to help bridge the public information and communications gap between the developed and developing worlds.

The Committee also recommended that the Assembly request the Department to help raise international awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communications technology could bring to societies and economies, and of ways to bridge the digital divide, including by commemorating World Information Society Day on 17 May.

Regarding traditional means of communication, the Assembly would, by other terms, welcome the continued initiative of United Nations Radio, which remained among the Department’s most effective and far-reaching media, to make more frequently updated reports and features on the Organization’s activities available to broadcasters in all six official languages.

Bearing in mind that information in local languages had the strongest impact in mobilizing support for the Organization’s work at the local level, the Assembly would, by the text, encourage the network of United Nations information centres to continue to develop web pages in local languages with a view to “reaching the widest possible spectrum of audiences and extending the United Nations message to all the corners of the world”.  It welcomed the Department’s ongoing efforts to disseminate programmes directly to broadcasting stations around the world in the six official languages, with the addition of Portuguese and Kiswahili, as well as other languages where possible.

Taking noting of the strengthening of the Cairo, Mexico City and Pretoria information centres, and encouraging the Secretary-General to explore the strengthening of others, especially in Africa, the Assembly would reiterate its request to the Secretary-General, in coordination with the Government of Angola, to take the steps needed to promptly set up a United Nations information centre in Luanda, first called for in resolution 64/243 of 24 December 2009.

By other terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the role of the strategic communications services in devising and disseminating United Nations messages through communications strategies, and express appreciation for the Department’s promotional campaigns on a host of issues, from disarmament to dialogue between civilizations to the prevention of genocide to human rights, including the rights of women and children, persons with disabilities and migrant workers.

In addition, the text requested that the Department and its network of information centres take appropriate measures to raise awareness of, and disseminate information on, the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.

Regarding priority topics to be addressed by public information efforts, the draft requested that, in line with priorities set forth in Assembly resolution 65/244 of 24 December 2010, particular attention be paid to peace and security, human rights, poverty eradication, the global food crisis, conflict prevention, sustainable development, the HIV/AIDS epidemic and combating terrorism, with a special focus on Africa’s needs.  In addition, it called for a special focus on achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and on the impact of climate change and the world economic crisis on sustainable development.

The Assembly would request that the Department continue cooperating with the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support to raise awareness of the new realities, far-reaching successes and challenges faced by peacekeeping operations, especially multidimensional and complex ones, and to continue to cooperate in implementing an effective outreach programme to explain the Organization’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, while informing the public of the outcome of all such cases involving peacekeeping personnel, including those in which allegations are found to be legally unproven.

By part A of the text, titled “Information in the service of humanity”, the Assembly, deeply concerned with the consequences of the disparities between developed and developing countries, would urge all countries, as well as the United Nations system, to step up assistance to improve the communications infrastructure and capabilities of developing countries.

Further by the draft, the Assembly would urge the United Nations system and Member States to ensure for journalists the free and effective performance of their professional tasks, and to condemn resolutely all attacks against them, while providing support to strengthen training programmes for broadcasters and journalists in developing countries.

In other business today, the Committee adopted the draft report of its session, which contained the draft resolutions approved, as well as sections on organizational questions and the general debate.

The Committee also elected, by acclamation, Moses Sayela Walubita ( Zambia) as Committee Vice-Chairperson for 2011 and 2012.

Expressing his appreciation for today’s consensus action, the representative of the European Union delegation said: “Our work is done and the Department of Public Information has its work cut out for it.”  He stressed that a clear, concise resolution was a common interest, pointing out that, while the just-concluded session had made progress in that regard, the streamlining process should be continued next year.

Committee Chair Eduardo Ulibarri ( Costa Rica) said in closing remarks that, although the session had had its “ups and downs”, good faith and consensus had always been present.  Describing the Department of Public Information as “strong, efficient and creative”, he said those characteristics meant that the voice of the United Nations could be heard with increasing strength around the world.

Other speakers today were representatives of Algeria, Venezuela, Iran, Burkina Faso, Myanmar and the Russian Federation.

An observer for Palestine also commented on the draft resolution.

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