Committee on Information Reaffirms Role of Department of Public Information to Promote Informed Understanding of United Nations among World’s People

4 May 2012

Committee on Information Reaffirms Role of Department of Public Information to Promote Informed Understanding of United Nations among World’s People

4 May 2012
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on Information

Thirty-fourth Session

6th Meeting* (PM)

Committee on Information Reaffirms Role of Department of Public Information

to Promote Informed Understanding of United Nations among World’s People

Concluding Session, Committee Approves Resolution Calling for Expanded Use

Of New Technology, Multilingualism, Partnerships, Especially in Developing Nations

Concluding its annual two-week session, the Committee on Information today reaffirmed the 1946 resolution establishing the Department of Public Information to promote an informed understanding of the work and purposes of the United Nations among the peoples of the world and, towards that goal, called on the Department to expand multilingualism, partnerships, efficiency, communications infrastructure and the use of new technology, especially in developing countries.

Unanimously approving a two-part draft resolution (document A/AC.198/2012/L.3), as orally revised, the Committee recommended that the General Assembly reaffirm that the voice of the United Nations — the “indispensible foundation of a peaceful and just world” — must be heard clearly and effectively.

In that context, the Committee recommended, through part B of the two-part text, entitled “United Nations public information policies and activities”, that the Assembly reaffirmthe central role of the Committee in UnitedNations public information policies and activities.  The Assembly would decide that recommendations relating to the Department’s work would originate in, and be considered by, the Committee.

Reiterating its concern that the issuance of daily press releases had not been expanded to all the Organization’s six official languages, as requested in previous resolutions and in full respect of the principle of language parity, the Assembly would ask the Department to design a strategy to produce press releases in all six through creative schemes and within existing resources, and to report thereon to the Committee at its thirty-fifth session.

The Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to continue efforts to ensure that publications and other information services of the Secretariat — including the United Nations website and the United Nations News Service — contained comprehensive, balanced, objective and equitable information in all official languages, and that they maintained editorial independence, impartiality, accuracy and full consistency with its resolutions and decisions.

The text would also have the Assembly encourage the public information Department and the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management to consult on ways to merge their publishing activities and to report thereon to the Committee at its thirty-fifth session.  Reaffirming, in that respect, the importance of more effective coordination between the Department and the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, the Assembly would also ask the Secretary-General to ensure consistency in the Organization’s messages.

By other terms, the Assembly would ask the Secretariat to continue to ensure the Department’s involvement from the planning stage of future peacekeeping operations through interdepartmental consultations, in particular with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support.  It would ask those three departments to continue cooperating in order to raise awareness about the new realities, far-reaching successes and challenges faced by peacekeeping operations, as well as welcome their respective efforts to develop and implement a comprehensive communications strategy on current peacekeeping challenges.

Furthermore, the Assembly would express its concern over the widening gap in information and communications technology between developed and developing countries, and that vast segments of the population in developing countries were not benefitting from available technologies.  Underlining the need to rectify those imbalances, the Assembly would stress the importance of taking into account the special needs and requirements of developing countries in those fields.

In that respect, it would ask the Department to help raise awareness of the importance of implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society’s outcome documents and of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies could bring to societies and economies.  The Department would also be requested to raise awareness of ways to bridge the digital divide, including by commemorating World Information Society Day on 17 May.

Encouraging the Secretary-General to explore the strengthening of United Nations Information Centres, especially in Africa, the Assembly would reiterate its request to the Secretary-General to take, in coordination with the Government of Angola, the necessary steps to promptly establish the Centre in Luanda, as first call for in resolution 64/243 of 24 December 2009.

Also by the terms of part B of the resolution, the Assembly would make a series of recommendations in areas including news services, traditional means of communication, the United Nations website, library services and outreach services.

By the terms of draft resolution A, entitled, “Information in the service of humanity”, the Assembly would urge all countries, organizations of the United Nations system and all others concerned to cooperate and interact, with a view to reducing existing disparities in information flows at all levels by increasing assistance for the development of communications infrastructures and capabilities of developing countries, with due regard for their needs and priorities.

Among other recommendations, the Assembly urged those parties to ensure the free and effective performance of journalists, to condemn resolutely all attacks against them, and to enhance regional efforts and cooperation among developing countries, as well as between developed and developing countries, to strengthen communications capacities and improve the media infrastructure and communications technologies of developing countries, especially in the areas of training and information dissemination.

Finally, it would ask the Secretary-General to report to the Committee at its thirty-fifth session and to the Assembly at its sixty-eighth session on the Department’s activities and implementation of all recommendations in the resolution.  The Committee, for its part, was requested to report to the Assembly at its sixty-eighth session.

In a draft decision, also approved today, the Committee asked the Assembly to decide to increase the Committee’s membership from 113 to 114, and to appoint Oman as a member.

In other business today, the Committee adopted the draft report of its session, which was introduced by Committee Rapporteur Mohammad Reza Sahraei ( Iran) and which contained the draft resolutions approved, as well as sections on organizational questions and the general debate.

Before adopting the draft report, Mexico’s representative expressed concern that chapter III of the document did not include language about cooperation between the United Nations and civil society.

A representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine regretted that the draft report did not accurately reflect delegates’ comments during the session in support of the Special Information Programme on the Question of Palestine.

After the report’s adoption, Algeria’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, welcomed the document and stressed that a strategy should be designed for the Department to achieve full parity in all the six official languages, including of daily press releases and content on the website.  Among other things, he noted that information in local languages had the strongest impact on local populations and that traditional media remained the primary means of communication in many developing countries.

The European Union’s representative also welcomed what he believed was a good text.  It was very important that the text was adopted by consensus, reflecting the Committee’s unity on issues.

Cuba’s representative supported the Group of 77 and China’s input into the draft, which defended the interests of developing countries.  Pointing to the inclusion of the phrase “within the use of existing resources” in the drafts, she said the Committee should not make decisions on administrative and budgetary matters.  Such matters were the responsibility of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).  It was not among the Secretariat’s functions to participate in those proceedings.  She expressed the need to promote multilingualism, establish a balance between traditional and modern media, and promote technology development in developing countries.

Venezuela’s representative stressed the need to promote and guarantee civil society’s participation in the United Nations, in line with the Charter and United Nations rules.  She noted that article 62 of Venezuela’s Constitution guaranteed civil society’s right to be involved in public affairs.

In a closing statement, Maher Nasser, Acting Head of the Department, said that the partnership between the Committee and the Department of Public Information served as a “cornerstone” of the Department’s work.  Through consultations and dialogue, he said, they would further strengthen that bond.

Also taking the floor, Vice-Chairman Gheorghe Leuca ( Moldova) said that the text have been the result of intense negotiations among delegations.

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*     The 4th and 5th Meetings were not covered.

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