Closing its fortieth session today, the Committee on Information approved two draft resolutions, the second of which emphasized the need to promote multilingualism, bridge the digital divide and maintain the use of traditional media.
The texts were contained in the Committee’s draft report (document A/AC.198/2018/L.3), which will be adopted by the General Assembly. Alison Smale, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, said she looked forward to reading the draft report and considering how best to address the Committee’s requests and expectations.
By the terms of draft B — “United Nations Public Information Policies and Activities” — the General Assembly would underline the Secretariat’s responsibility in mainstreaming multilingualism into all communication activities, within existing resources. It would emphasize the importance of making use of all official United Nations languages, and ensuring their full and equitable treatment in all the Department’s activities.
To bridge the digital divide, the Assembly would request the Department to raise awareness about Internet use. In the field, the Assembly would emphasize the importance of the United Nations information centres in enhancing the Organization’s public image. It would request the Department, through that network, to strengthen cooperation with all other United Nations entities at the country level. In terms of traditional media, the Assembly would welcome the sustained efforts of United Nations Radio, and request that the Department continue building partnerships with local, national and regional broadcasters.
Other areas covered by draft B included the Department’s general activities; strategic communications services; promotional campaigns; role in peacekeeping operations, special political missions and peacebuilding; as well as in strengthening dialogue among civilizations; news services; the United Nations website; library services; outreach services; and final remarks.
By the terms of draft A — “Information in the Service of Humanity” — the General Assembly would urge all countries, and the United Nations system as a whole, to reaffirm their commitment to the principles of press freedom and freedom of information, as well as independence, pluralism and media diversity. Further, it would urge them to recognize the call for “a new world information and communications order, seen as an evolving and continuous process”.
As several delegations took the floor to clarify their positions, Andrea Stanford (United States) disassociated herself from paragraph 49, objecting to a promotional campaign for the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Since the Global Compact did not yet exist, it would be premature to promote such work, she said. Furthermore, the Global Compact was a voluntary framework, and such a campaign could create the impression that the United Nations was working to institutionalize it as a normative one, thereby playing into suspicions that it was attempting to create an international government over migration. She also disassociated her delegation from paragraph 46, saying the International Day of Family Remittances had not yet been decided.
Sofya Simonyan (Armenia) expressed reservations about operative paragraph 65, citing the Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations — held in Baku, Azerbaijan, in April 2016 — as a glaring example of that country’s abuse of international forums to disseminate hate speech against her country.
Habib Mikayilli (Azerbaijan), welcoming operative paragraph 65, said Armenia’s delegate was attempting to challenge that Global Forum, thereby showing disrespect to the Alliance of Civilization’s ideas and principles.
Maria Zaharova (Russian Federation), noting her country’s ongoing preparations for the 2018 International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East, said that, during a side event, participants — including those from the Russian Federation — had been subjected to physical threats. That was unprecedented and out of place, she said, adding that a diplomatic note would be sent to the Secretariat.
Committee Chair Jan Kickert (Austria) clarified that the Committee did not conduct side events, which were organized independently by Member States.
Mariana Betsa (Ukraine) said the side event organized by her delegation was dedicated to eradicating and countering propaganda and “fake news” in the United Nations space. No threats had been made against participants from the Russian delegation, she said, noting that Ukraine would like the topic added to the Organization’s agenda.
Ms. Zaharova (Russian Federation) said she had not named the country that had organized the side event in question. If Ukraine’s delegation recognized itself in her remarks, then people could draw their own conclusions from that.
Hajime Kishimori (Japan), Rapporteur, presented Chapter III of the draft report, containing a summary of the general debate during the fortieth session.