Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the United Nations International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East, delivered by Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, in Astana, Kazakhstan today:
I am pleased to convey my greetings to all those taking part in this United Nations International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East. I am grateful to the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan for hosting this event.
For nearly a quarter of a century, this annual Seminar has served as an important opportunity to enhance dialogue and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians. In parallel, it has provided an opportunity to review and examine key media dynamics as they relate to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wider, ever-evolving situation in the Middle East.
This year’s event occurs just weeks after the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day. This year’s theme, “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, & Media Safety in the Digital Age”, emphasized the importance of ensuring a free and pluralistic media everywhere against the backdrop of a fast-paced and changing digital world.
Today and tomorrow, you will exchange views on the ongoing and emerging challenges of peacemaking in the Middle East. You will deliberate on the challenges facing the media in covering the Israeli-Palestinian story and explore the role of social media in reporting news. And you will review the role of media in the midst of conflict, including during the last war in Gaza.
The United Nations system will spare no effort in supporting the quest for peace. The occupation that started in 1967 must end. But this can only happen through a negotiated solution. I have repeatedly called on all parties to resume peace talks and fulfil the aspirations of their people — the aspirations of Palestinians for an independent, sovereign and viable State and the aspirations of Israelis to live in a secure and safe State.
The media has an important role to play. With your support and engagement, we can work together to let journalism thrive and continue to promote peace, understanding and mutual acceptance. Please accept my best wishes for a successful seminar!