8 May 2015
Thirty-seventh Session, 5th Meeting (PM)

As Committee on Information Concludes Session, Under-Secretary-General Stresses Department of Public Information’s Commitment to Multilingualism

Committee Unanimously Approves Draft Texts, Including Support for Communications Capabilities of Developing Countries

Closing its thirty-seventh session this afternoon, the Committee on Information unanimously approved a report relaying two draft resolutions to the General Assembly, with a focus on increased multilingualism and support for the communications capabilities of developing countries.

Also included in the draft resolutions, which together were entitled “Questions relating to information” (document A/AC.198/2015/L.3), was a request for the Secretary-General to evaluate the feasibility of a new United Nations Information Centre, proposed by the Republic of Korea, and a warning to Member States against using information and communications technologies in contravention of international law.

In closing remarks, United Nations Under-Secretary-General Cristina Gallach said that, as in past years, emphasis throughout the session had been given to the principle of multilingualism and linguistic parity in the work of the Department of Public Information.  The Department remained fully committed to that principle and would work to find creative ways to ensure linguistic equity in its products and services, she said.

By the text of the draft resolutions, 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 — in particular by increasing assistance for the development of communications infrastructures and capabilities in developing countries — with due regard for their needs and the priorities attached to such areas by those countries.

Expressing concern that the gap in information and communications technology between the developed and developing countries had continued to widen, the Assembly would stress the importance of the provision of clear, timely, accurate and comprehensive information by the Secretariat to Member States, upon their request, within the framework of existing mandates and procedures.

It would also stress that Member States should abstain from using information and communications technologies in contravention of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations.

The Assembly would request the Department and its network of United Nations Information Centres to pay particular attention to progress in implementing agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, the discussions of the post-2015 development agenda — including on the elaboration of the sustainable development goals — and the outcomes of the major related United Nations summits and conferences.

With regard to multilingualism, the Assembly would request the Department and content-providing offices of the Secretariat to ensure that United Nations publications were produced in all six official languages, as well as in an environmentally friendly and cost-neutral manner.

Reiterating its growing concern that the issuance of daily press releases had not been expanded to all official languages, as requested in previous resolutions and in full respect of the principle of parity of all six official languages, the Assembly would request the Department to design a strategy to deliver daily press releases in all six official languages through creative schemes, in a cost-neutral manner and in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions, at the latest by the thirty-eighth session of the Committee on Information, and to report thereon to the Committee at that session.

The Assembly would further reaffirm its request that the Secretary-General ensure that the Department had the necessary capacity in all the official languages to undertake its activities, and would request that that aspect be included in future programme budget proposals for the Department, bearing in mind the principles of parity, while respecting the workload in each official language.

In that connection, it would also take note of a proposal by the Chair of the Committee to establish a group of friends of the Chair on multilingualism.

On other matters, the Assembly would take note with appreciation of the offer made by the Government of the Republic of Korea to host a new United Nations Information Centre, and would request the Secretary-General to report to the Committee at its thirty-eighth session on the feasibility of the acceptance of such an offer in a cost-effective manner.

Also by the texts, the Assembly would address aspects of the strategic communications services of the Department, including promotional campaigns, communications work in peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and the dialogue among civilizations and the culture of peace.

In the area of news services, it would welcome the sustained efforts of United Nations Radio, which remained among the most effective and far-reaching traditional media available to the Department, and the ongoing efforts of the Department to disseminate programmes directly to broadcasting stations all over the world in the six official languages, with the addition of Portuguese and Kiswahili, as well as other languages where possible.

Noting the uneven development of social media among the official languages of the United Nations, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to report to the Committee at its thirty-eighth session on the strategy of the Department to ensure, by a more balanced use of all six official languages, that social media contributed to raising awareness of and support for the activities of the Organization.

The draft resolutions would also have the Assembly address other areas of the Department’s work, including library services and outreach services.  With regards to the latter, the Assembly would note with concern that many outreach and knowledge services were not yet available in all official languages, and in that regard it would urge the Department, as a matter of priority, to mainstream multilingualism into all such services.

In other business today, the Committee elected, by acclamation, Carla Rivera (El Salvador) as Vice-Chair from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States for the period 2015-2016.

Committee Rapporteur Hossein Maleki (Iran) introduced Chapter III of the draft report (document A/AC.198/2015/L.2), which summarized the general debate of the thirty-seventh session.

For information media. Not an official record.