18 October 2005
Fourth Committee, Acting by Consensus, Approves Two Draft Resolutions, Draft Decision as It Concludes Debate on Information Questions
NEW YORK, 14 October (UN Headquarters) -- Reaffirming that the United Nations remained the indispensable foundation of a peaceful and just world, and that its voice must be heard in a clear and effective manner, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) emphasized this morning the essential role of the Department of Public Information (DPI), as it approved, without a vote, two draft resolutions and a draft decision at the conclusion of its general debate on questions relating to information.
By the terms of a draft resolution entitled "United Nations public information policies and activities", the Committee recommended that the General Assembly reaffirm that the DPI was the focal point for United Nations information policies and the primary news centre for information about the Organization, its activities and those of the Secretary-General. The Assembly would stress the importance of a coherent and results-oriented approach by United Nations entities involved in public information activities and the provision of resources for their implementation. The Assembly would also note with appreciation the Department's continued efforts in issuing daily press releases, and request it to continue providing that invaluable service both to Member States and media representatives.
Further by that draft, the Assembly would emphasize the importance of the network of United Nations information centres in enhancing the public image of the United Nations and in disseminating messages on the Organization to local populations, especially in developing countries. It would stress the importance of rationalizing the network, and reaffirm that such rationalization must be carried out in consultation, on a case-by-case basis, with all Member States concerned.
The Committee would also have the Assembly welcome the ongoing efforts by the DPI to enhance multilingualism in its activities, and encourage it to continue its endeavours in that regard. It would emphasize the importance of ensuring the full and equitable treatment of all official United Nations languages in all activities of the DPI.
A section of the text on the DPI's role in United Nations peacekeeping would have the Assembly commend the Secretary-General's efforts to strengthen the Department's public information capacity for the establishment and functioning of the information components of the Organization's peacekeeping operations and of political and peacebuilding missions. The Assembly would encourage the DPI and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to continue their cooperation in raising awareness of the new realities, successes and challenges faced by peacekeeping operations.
The draft also contained a section on traditional means of communication, by which the General Assembly would stress that radio remained the most cost-effective and far-reaching traditional form of media available to the Department and an important instrument in United Nations activities, including development and peacekeeping. The Assembly also would encourage the Secretary-General to achieve parity in the six official languages in United Nations production.
Also by the text, the General Assembly would reaffirm that the United Nations website remained a very useful tool for the media, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, Member States and the general public, and, in that regard, reiterate its appreciation for the DPI's efforts in creating and maintaining it.
By further terms, the Assembly would acknowledge that the Department's outreach services continued to work towards promoting the awareness of the role and work of the United Nations on priority issues. It would welcome the movement towards educational outreach and the orientation of both print and online editions of the UN Chronicle and, to that end, encourage it to continue to develop co-publishing partnerships.
Regarding library services, the Assembly would reiterate the need to enable the provision of hard copies of library materials to Member States, and note the Secretary-General's efforts to enrich, on a multilingual basis, the stock of books and journals in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, including publications on peace and security and development-related issues, in order to ensure that it remained a broadly accessible reservoir for information about the United Nations and its activities.
By terms of the second draft resolution, 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 by increasing assistance for the development of communication infrastructure and capabilities in developing countries. The Assembly would also urge those countries and other entities, among other things, to ensure for journalists the free and effective performance of their professional tasks and condemn resolutely all attacks against them.
The Committee recommended, by terms of the draft decision, that the Assembly increase the membership of the Committee on Information from 107 to 108 by appointing Austria as a Committee member.
Prior to the Committee's action on those texts, it heard statements by the representatives of the United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union and associated countries), Japan, Botswana (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community), Cuba, Switzerland, India, Mongolia, Israel, Bahrain, Ukraine, Togo, Yemen, Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of the Caribbean Community) and the United States.
Cuba's representative also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday, 17 October, to take up international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
The Fourth Committee (Special, Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue its consideration of questions relating to information.
It was also expected to take action on related texts contained in document A/60/21.
WILLIAM LONGHURST (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that supplying information on United Nations activities globally and publicizing the Organization's considerable achievements was crucial in bolstering support for its mission among all peoples. That was also the case when the United Nations sought to improve its effectiveness, redress previous shortcomings and embark on ambitious reforms such as those established at the World Summit last month.
The rationalization of the network of United Nations information centres around the world was becoming a regular feature of discussions in the Committee on Information and in the Fourth Committee, he continued. The European Union reiterated its strong view that the network was in serious need of overhaul and had leant its full support to the Secretary-General's proposals for creating regional hubs, beginning in Western Europe in 2002. The decision to support that plan had forced a number of European countries to take the tough decision to close offices in their capitals. The European Union therefore expected that full efforts would be made to see that initiative through and to create a global network that more effectively addressed the needs of customers.
Regrettably, there were once again references in the Secretary-General's report to "fresh budget cuts" in the context of public information, put forward as an explanation for lack of progress, he said. That misrepresented the true position. Although the General Assembly had not approved the full increase requested, the Department of Public Information (DPI) had in fact been awarded a budget increase of 7.5 per cent for the present biennium compared to the previous one. The United Nations membership contributed significant financial support for public information, both through the regular budget and through the information components of peacekeeping missions, which were financed separately. The European Union felt it had more than upheld its commitment to supporting public information in the United Nations.
JIRO KODERA (Japan) said United Nations reform had been the most important issue at the 2005 World Summit and the DPI had taken the lead in striving for it. Concrete results must be produced in the area of management reform in the Secretariat, and in that light, it was to be hoped that efforts to reform the DPI would continue to yield substantive results. The report of the Independent Inquiry Committee on the oil-for-food programme had formulated critical questions about the management and oversight capabilities of the United Nations. With the world media watching, misconduct and corruption within the United Nations had the inevitable effect of undermining the Organization's credibility in the eyes of the world. Steps to restore that credibility fully should be presented as part of outreach efforts.
He said the Government of Japan was making great efforts to ensure that the United Nations information centre in Tokyo would not absorb a large proportion of the Department's resources and had contributed $350,000 to its activities in 2005. As 2006 would mark the fiftieth anniversary of Japan's entry into the United Nations, it was vitally important to take that opportunity to enhance people's interest in the Organization's activities. In July, Japan had donated more than 30,000 digitized documents to the United Nations, and appreciated the fact that the Department had developed programmes through which it could reach out to the world more efficiently by utilizing new technologies in its libraries.
From March through September, the "Expo 2005 Aiichi, Japan" had been held under the theme "Nature's Wisdom" and more than 22 million people had visited that exposition, he said. Issues relating to health and HIV/AIDS had been discussed, among other important international issues, and many activities had been organized to address those issues, as well as the role of the United Nations in tackling them. Japan would continue to work in cooperation with the Organization and Member States to strengthen and improve the Department's activities.
LESEDI N. THEMA (Botswana), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said that one of the most effective tools in fighting the scourges of the modern world was publicity and information.
For example, had the international community been armed from the outset with facts as to the source, spreading mechanisms, symptoms and prevention of HIV/AIDS, perhaps it would not have reached such pandemic proportions. There was a clear need for effective communication, especially in developing countries where ignorance came at a high premium. To that end, the SADC countries would like to see events similar to the Global Media Aid Initiative, held in France earlier this year, being held in their own region.
The rationalization and regionalization of the United Nations information centres continued to deserve attention, he continued. In light of the special needs of Africa it was important for them to maintain a physical presence on the ground. In the SADC region, for instance, many rural communities were detached from the amenities of city life and without the wherewithal to access the type of advanced communication technology that would be disseminated by remote control from one regional information centre. For that reason, the rationalization process should pool the resources of existing centres to achieve broader coverage. In such centres, a good blend of traditional communication technology and current technology would be more effective and practical.
He urged the establishment of an additional information centre in Luanda to serve not only the two Portuguese-speaking nations in the SADC community, but also the other three on the continent. That was not just an issue of linguistics, but also of development. The United Nations could not afford to marginalize some of the world's most downtrodden communities by denying them access to information that could very well serve to save and enrich their lives.
RODRIGO MALMIERCA (Cuba), endorsing the statement on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said technological breakthroughs did not always benefit the majority. The neoliberal globalization process did not promote access to technology for all, but rather, exacerbated inequity and disparity between the industrialized and the developing countries. With deep concern, Cuba saw how the technology gap separating the North from the South was growing.
At this very moment, millions of children did not have schools and millions of adults were illiterate. What use was a computer to them? Unfortunately, information had become merchandise, manipulated by those who had access to money through increasingly monopolized corporations.
He said the countries of the South had invested high hopes in the World Summit on the Information Society and expected concrete outcomes and practical solutions that would allow developing countries to become effectively integrated into the information society. The developed world had a responsibility to allocate stable and predictable financial resources for facilitating access to information technology, and the United Nations had a crucial role to play in that regard. Moreover, the Organization, through its information centres, should play an important role in spreading information in a just and balanced way. The underdeveloped world presented a different reality and should therefore be treated in a different manner within the United Nations information system, particularly through the use of radio broadcasts.
Denouncing once again the radio and television aggression to which Cuba was subjected daily by the United States, in utter disregard of General Assembly resolutions, he said the United States Government devoted millions of dollars yearly to support those illegal broadcasts with the sole aim of encouraging illegal immigration, inciting civil disobedience and distorting the Cuban reality. The "obsessive and sick" United States policy to destroy the Cuban revolution had driven it to use various technical means, such as invading legal broadcast bands. The most striking and dangerous case had been the use of an EC-130 military aircraft of the armed forces as a platform to broadcast TV signals to Cuba in violation of its national sovereignty and in outright interference with Cuba's internal affairs. The practice was an escalation of the "hostile and genocidal" blockade policy.
RUEDI CHRISTEN (Switzerland) said that the compromise reached with regard to the regionalization and rationalization of United Nations information centres remained unsatisfactory. It neither provided the assistance required for the DPI to improve the way in which it worked nor accomplished the many tasks before it. The Department should find ways to adapt and enhance its communication work, while taking regional specificities into account.
Switzerland was in favour of efforts being taken to modernize the libraries in New York and Geneva, and found the idea behind the phrase "from collections to connections" to be very relevant, he said. Promoting a culture of service provision and adapting to new technologies was very much in line with Swiss beliefs and it was important that modernization be part of a gradual and ongoing process.
He said that Switzerland, as a country with four national languages, was in favour of multilingualism at the United Nations. A pragmatic approach should be taken, and the DPI should strive for as great a usage as possible in all the officially recognized United Nations languages.
PRASANNA KUMAR PATASANI (India), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said that the DPI, while forging ahead in the post-Summit era, must make a concerted effort to meet the concerns and special needs of the developing countries in the field of information and communications technology, as the digital divide continued to be vast. Traditional media, including radio and print, were particularly relevant to developing countries in disseminating the main message of the United Nations. India encouraged the DPI to do more in highlighting issues at the core of social and economic development, such as HIV/AIDS prevention, human rights, the question of Palestine, decolonization and the special needs of Africa.
He said the role of the information centres was critical, both in enhancing the public image of the United Nations and in disseminating the Organization's message to local populations, especially in developing countries. While initially disappointed that the project to regionalize the centres, as initially conceived, could not succeed, India strongly supported a more systematic and effective flow of information and expanded outreach activities. It was heartening to learn that efforts to forge regional synergies continued and India supported further innovation in that regard.
As a leading troop-contributing country, India attached great significance to the relationship between the DPI and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, he said. Impressed by the progress made, India urged the two Departments, nevertheless, to implement a comprehensive and effective communications strategy, with particular emphasis on the successes of peacekeeping and the role of peacekeepers.
The United Nations website was a remarkable success story, he said, as were the webcasts, where the use of all official languages was being actively pursued. The outreach services, particularly educational outreach, had continued to contribute towards promoting an awareness of the work of the United Nations. The United Nations Chronicle deserved a special mention in that regard. India also welcomed efforts by the DPI to strengthen its role as a focal point for two-way interaction with civil society, as well as the new emphasis on a culture of performance evaluation within the Department. There were many challenges for the United Nations in the post-Summit process, and the challenge for the DPI was to make the Organization's voice heard loud and clear. In doing so, it would need to improvise, modernize and re-invent constantly.
BAATAR CHOISUREN (Mongolia) said that the widening digital divide prevented many peoples in the developing world from making the most of the immense opportunities offered by modern technology. Global news coverage continued to be controlled mostly by the private media, which provided information services that catered to the needs and interests of its target audiences in the North. Moreover, the enormous volume of information generated on a daily basis presented a challenge to smaller nations like Mongolia as their voices might be drowned out in an information ocean.
The story of the United Nations was the story of the international community, he continued. Mongolia, therefore, attached great importance to the work of the DPI as the Organization's public voice as it represented all countries, big and small alike. Bringing objective information on global matters and raising awareness on issues whose coverage was, more often than not, commercially unattractive had been the duty of the DPI and Mongolia commended the Department for its commitment to that task. Against today's ever-changing information landscape and technological progress, the DPI would have to adapt and evolve continually. The three year reform and reorientation process may be over, but change should continue.
He said that the Mongolian Government strove to make its contribution in order to bring the United Nations story to its people. For example, a national conference had been held on the implementation and follow-up to the 2005 World Summit Outcome; a documentary entitled "Mongolia and the United Nations" had been produced and there were United Nations classes and open days at secondary schools and universities.
RAN GIDOR (Israel) commended the DPI's initiatives in the dissemination of public information and the improvement of communications, the design and maintenance of the United Nations website and the modernization of the United Nations library system. Notwithstanding those positive developments, however, United Nations mechanisms, including the DPI, were not immune to the cynical exploitation that continued to encumber many of the Organization's noble goals.
The Israeli delegation was disappointed that their country was still singled out by the DPI in various seminars and publications. The time had come to abolish the Special Information Programme on the Question of Palestine. Today the people of the Middle East found themselves facing a window of opportunity in the struggle for peace, and the United Nations should avoid being the purveyor of anachronistic and unhelpful agendas. Only through an honest presentation of information could the DPI maintain credibility as an objective international body.
All too often States in the Middle East exploited the political situation as a means to suppress their press and divert attention from the real issues affecting their citizenry, he said. The Fourth Committee, supported by the DPI, should have no qualms about commending the protections given to a free press in some parts of the world, while condemning the oppressive controls imposed on it in others. It was also an appropriate time to urge the Department to use its will, resources and energy to foster the former and combat the latter. The more free information was, the more free people were.
Not all Governments used information to further the interests of their own subjects, or indeed, those of the international community, he said. Recent terrorist atrocities, not only in Israel, but also in Madrid, London, Istanbul and other parts of the world, had demonstrated time and time that as long as Government-supported media and educational establishments continued to incite youth towards hatred, the ideals of harmony on which the United Nations was founded could not be realized. In an age of terrorism, the international community simply could not afford to allow Governments to fan the flames of intolerance. More must be done to ensure that information technology was used to bridge gaps and not to create divisions, to build peace and not to incite hatred.
FAISAL AL-ZAYANI (Bahrain), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said the DPI was the voice used by the United Nations to address the public and should be heard in all parts of the world to achieve a positive image of the Organization. The success achieved in the current year was due to the approach that the DPI had taken by establishing a culture based on continuous assessment and self-evaluation. Among the activities carried out were the global communications strategies for publicizing the Secretary-General's report, In larger freedom, and the 2005 World Summit, in which the United Nations information centres had played a vital role. The thirteenth annual seminar for media on Peace in the Middle East held in Cairo, Egypt, was another example. The DPI could also play a role in promoting human rights, which must be given the utmost priority.
He called on the Department to work towards narrowing the digital divide between developed and developing countries so that it would not widen as a result of the tremendous progress in technology. The Secretary-General had called for a new international communication and information order, which should be based on the free flow of information. The United Nations information centres had a very important role to play in developing countries, many of which required modern communication technologies. However, traditional mass media were still the main source upon which the public in many developing countries depended. Those means of communication should not be disregarded.
Regarding the important role of United Nations information centres in developing countries, he said they should not be closed or integrated with other offices of the United Nations unless the views of the host countries had been taken into account. The DPI had been successful in all its activities and Bahrain thanked the Department for its activities undertaken regarding the question of Palestine. It was to be hoped that it would continue its activities in that regard until a solution to that question had been found.
YURII ONISCHENKO (Ukraine) said his country attached great importance to the DPI, which played an active role in drawing the attention of the international community to issues on the global agenda. The DPI should also play a central role in promoting a positive public image of the United Nations. The coverage of the 2005 World Summit in September was a perfect example of that. Ukraine supported the steps taken to achieve structural reform in the DPI and, the United Nations information centres were very important in maintaining direct contact between the United Nations and local communities. For example, the information component of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Ukraine was effective, both in terms of presenting a unified image of the United Nations and in enhancing information activities in major areas of the Organization's work.
Expressing appreciation of the improvements made to the United Nations website through the use of the latest technology, he noted with satisfaction initiatives to integrate new information and communication technologies into the Organization's communications infrastructure and to modernize the library. Ukraine was confident that the DPI would continue to play its unique role as the voice of the United Nations and stood ready to extend its continuous support to the Department.
M'BALEMBOU PATO (Togo) said that much had been done in the area of public information, particularly with regard to the introduction of information and communications technologies. But although 180,000 people had watched the World Summit live through webcasts, it must be borne in mind that a considerable number of people were without access to the United Nations web site. Limited by language and poverty, many of them lived in developing countries and did not know what went on beyond their national borders.
Noting that the United Nations information centre in Lome covered activities in Togo, as well as Benin, he said the centres must take into account the peculiarities of each country and region. The Lome centre used local languages, in the publication of documents. While the Internet was now the main communication tool, radio remained the best way to reach people who could not read or write. The Lome information centre also ran radio programmes in local languages and worked closely with the Governments of Benin and Togo, and had a library enhanced by a digital text centre. Because of all that, the Lome centre remained the ideal place in Togo to find information on the United Nations and the Government was working tirelessly for its proper functioning.
ISMAIL M. ALMAABRI (Yemen) said his delegation shared the view of many other delegations that the United Nations should increase public awareness of its activities. The DPI should be a tool to push forward the dialogue among civilizations and the culture of peace. Regarding the rationalization of United Nations information centres, it was important to keep up the centre in Sanaa, which undertook an increasingly important role in increasing awareness in Yemen of United Nations activities and informing the Secretary-General of annual events in the area, including the development of democracy and freedom of the press. Yemen hoped that the DPI would take the necessary measures to revitalize the Sanaa Centre by appointing a director who was capable of undertaking the role entrusted to him.
Expressing appreciation for the more equitable balance in the official languages of the United Nations, he also suggested the establishment of training programmes for journalists from developing. An exchange of experience between developing and developed countries could also be facilitated in order to bridge the digital divide that was growing wider every day. Yemen hoped that the World Summit for the Information Society taking place later this year would help in that regard.
PHILIP SEALY (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and aligning himself with the Group of 77, said it was through the DPI's efforts in its contacts with media and civil society non-governmental organizations that world public opinion was shaped regarding the United Nations and the global issues it dealt with. In discharging those responsibilities, the Organization must of necessity fully involve the United Nations information centres. Those centres, however, continued to operate on very limited budgets, which barely enabled them to carry out their essential tasks, the more so where a centre was considered to have regional responsibilities. That was the situation of the centre in Port-of-Spain. Adequate human and financial resources must be provided to enable United Nations information centres to carry out their functions effectively. Trinidad and Tobago had decided to assume the financial responsibility for the rental of the current information centre office.
If the DPI's work was considered vital to achieving the purposes and principles of the United Nations, Member States must be prepared to fund its activities out of the regular budget to an extent commensurate with those activities, he said. CARICOM hoped that the Secretary-General's request for funding for the DPI was adequate to enable its network of information centres worldwide to be effectively staffed and financed. Despite its limited budget, the Port-of-Spain centre had been able to carry out its activities, discharging its mandate in a manner that was testimony to the leadership and abilities of its current Acting Director. Development remained the highest priority for the countries of the South and for them, it was therefore also a priority that the DPI should reflect that fact.
The DPI's work in relation to peacekeeping operations was also of vital importance, he continued. The vital role of peacekeeping was not always well known or properly understood by the people in whose territory United Nations peacekeepers were stationed. The DPI should work even more closely with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in order to ensure that the public information components of peacekeeping operations were effective, well prepared and properly equipped. However, despite the introduction of information and communication technologies in the DPI's work around the world, radio and print were still, to a large extent, the only means by which global developments were made known to people. Resources should continue to be made available for United Nations Caribbean Radio.
WILLIAM MARSH (United States) commended all of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library's knowledge workers for their efforts to position the library as one of the Secretariat's central information management units. The United States delegation looked forward to the provision of direct support services aimed at helping staff and delegations to carry out their duties, especially in an information environment in which all participants were faced with information overload. The United States delegation was also pleased that the library had been given the important responsibility of revamping the United Nations Intranet and was confident that they would succeed in that endeavour.
Commending the DPI for its continuing endeavours to increase the effectiveness of the United Nations information centre system, he said the overall goal remained to help fulfil the substantive purposes of the United Nations by strategically communicating the Organization's activities and concerns in order to achieve the greatest public impact. The United States delegation was not convinced that the regionalization/rationalization process would have continued to move forward to the extent necessary to effect real change, even if the United Nations information centre budget had not been cut.
Responding to the Under-Secretary-General's comment on Wednesday that the DPI was "the stepchild of the Organization", he pointed out that the decision to reduce the budgetary allocation to the United Nations information centres had been willingly agreed upon by all participants in the negotiations. While the DPI, like other departments, had been subject to intergovernmental review in the context of the budget process, its budget had, in fact, steadily increased over the past three biennia. In any event, for a variety of reasons the information centre system continued to need further rationalization.
In response to the statement by Cuba's representative, he said the United States took its obligations seriously, particularly with regard to the International Telecommunications Union. For 46 years the Cuban people had been denied the right to choose their own representatives and the Cuban Government was opposed to free broadcasting in case Cubans received uncensored information. The Castro regime continued to deny the Cuban people their fundamental human rights. They deserved a government that was committed to democracy. It was regrettable that in a forum devoted to information a delegate should be required to resort to such fallacious invective about the United States.
The Committee then approved for adoption by the General Assembly two draft resolutions and one draft decision contained in the report of the Committee on Information (document A/60/21).
By the terms of draft resolution A contained in that report and entitled "Information in the service of humanity", the General 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 communication infrastructure and capabilities in developing countries, with due regard to their needs and the priorities attached to such areas by those countries to develop their own information and communication policies freely and independently, and increase the participation of media and individuals in the communication process.
Those countries and other entities would be urged also to ensure for journalists the free and effective performance of their professional tasks and condemn resolutely all attacks against them; to provide support for the continuation and strengthening of practical training programmes for broadcasters and journalists from public, private and other media in developing countries; to enhance regional efforts and cooperation among developing countries, as well as cooperation between developed and developing countries, to strengthen communication capacities and to improve the media infrastructure and communication technology in the developing countries, especially in the areas of training and dissemination of information; and to aim at, in addition to bilateral cooperation, providing all possible support and assistance to the developing countries and their media, with due regard to their needs in the field of information and to action already adopted within the United Nations system.
By the terms of the orally amended draft resolution B, entitled "United Nations public information policies and activities", the Assembly would reaffirm that the United Nations remained the indispensable foundation of a peaceful and just world and that its voice must be heard in a clear and effective manner, emphasizing the essential role of the DPI in that regard. The Assembly would also reaffirm the central role of the Committee on Information in United Nations public information policies and activities.
Further by the text, the Assembly would emphasize the importance of the network of United Nations information centres in enhancing the public image of the United Nations and in disseminating messages on the Organization to local populations, especially in developing countries. It would stress the importance of rationalizing the network of the United Nations information centres, and, in that regard, request the Secretary-General to continue to make proposals in that direction, including through the redeployment of resources where necessary.
The Assembly would, by other terms, reaffirm that rationalization of the United Nations information centres network must be carried out in consultation, on a case-by-case basis, with all concerned Member States in which existing information centres were located, the countries served by them, as well as other interested countries in the region, taking into consideration the distinctive characteristics of each region.
Also by the draft, the Assembly would welcome the ongoing efforts by the DPI to enhance multilingualism in its activities, and encourage the Department to continue its endeavours in that regard. It would emphasize the importance of ensuring the full, equitable treatment of all the official languages of the United Nations in all activities of the Department.
With respect to the Department's general activities, the Committee would have the General Assembly reaffirm that the DPI was the focal point for information policies of the United Nations and the primary news centre for information about the Organization, its activities and those of the Secretary-General. The Assembly would stress the importance of a coherent and results-oriented approach by United Nations entities involved in public information activities and the provision of resources for their implementation.
The Assembly would also note with appreciation the continued efforts of the DPI in issuing daily press releases and request the Department to continue providing that invaluable service to both Member States and representatives of the media, while considering possible means of improving their production process and streamlining their format, structure and length, keeping in mind the views of Member States.
Also contained in the text was a section on the DPI's role in United Nations peacekeeping by which the Assembly would commend the efforts of the Secretary-General to strengthen the department's public information capacity for the establishment and functioning of the information components of United Nations peacekeeping operations and of political and peacebuilding missions.
The Assembly would encourage the DPI and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to continue their cooperation in raising awareness of the new realities, successes and challenges faced by peacekeeping operations. It would also encourage the DPI to continue to provide the necessary support for the dissemination of information pertaining to dialogue among civilizations and the culture of peace.
A section on traditional means of communication would have the General Assembly stress that radio remained the most cost-effective and far-reaching traditional media available to the Department and an important instrument in United Nations activities, including development and peacekeeping, with a view to achieving a broad client base around the world. The Assembly would also encourage the Secretary-General to achieve parity in the six official languages in United Nations production.
Also by the draft, the Assembly would reaffirm that the United Nations website remained a very useful tool for the media, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, Member States and the general public, and, in that regard, reiterate its appreciation for the DPI's efforts in creating and maintaining it.
The Assembly would, by other terms, recognize the Department's efforts to implement the basic accessibility requirements for persons with disabilities to the United Nations website, and call upon the DPI to continue to work towards compliance with all levels of accessibility requirements on all pages of the website, with the aim of ensuring its accessibility by persons with different kinds of disabilities.
Regarding library services, the General Assembly would call upon the DPI to continue to lead the Steering Committee for the Modernization and Integrated Management of United Nations Libraries, and encourage its member libraries to coordinate closely and to establish time frames for the fulfilment of its programme work. It would take note of the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on the review of the operations and management of United Nations libraries and request the Steering Committee to continue to pursue new strategies for their work.
Also by the text, the Assembly would reiterate the need to enable the provision of hard copies of library materials to Member States, and note the Secretary-General's efforts to enrich, on a multilingual basis, the stock of books and journals in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, including publications on peace and security and development-related issues, in order to ensue that it remained a broadly accessible reservoir for information about the United Nations and its activities.
By further terms of the text, the Assembly would acknowledge that the outreach services implemented by the DPI continued to work towards promoting the awareness of the role and work of the United Nations on priority issues. It would welcome the movement towards educational outreach and the orientation of the UN Chronicle, both print and online editions, and, to that end, encourage it to continue to develop co-publishing partnerships.
The Committee would have the Assembly note the importance of the Department's continued implementation of the ongoing programme for broadcasters and journalists from developing countries and countries with economies in transition, and encourage it to consider how best to maximize its benefits by reviewing its duration and the number of its participants.
Further by the text, the Assembly would reaffirm the important role of guided tours in reaching out to the general public, including children and students at all levels. It would welcome the Department's efforts in organizing exhibitions on important United Nations-related issues at Headquarters and other United Nations offices as a useful tool for reaching out to the general public. The Assembly would request the DPI to strengthen its role as a focal point for two-way interaction with civil society relating to the Organization's priorities and concerns.
By the terms of the draft decision, the Assembly would increase the membership of the Committee on Information from 107 to 108, appointing Austria as a Committee member.
Rights of Reply
The representative of Cuba, referring to the statement by the United States delegate said that her country's statement had not mentioned two channels aimed at Cuba, but 16, 14 of which were linked to well-known terrorist elements operating on United States territory with impunity. That radio and TV aggression served only to demonstrate the total contempt in which the United States held international relations. Cuba had not asked for the broadcasts and did not need them because its people were well informed and had the necessary education to discern between what was true and what was a lie, what was right and wrong. "We have the revolution we want, we are defending it conscientiously and it is a thousand times better than what the United States wants to impose on us", she added.
What the United States was doing constituted a flagrant interference in Cuba's domestic affairs, she continued. The United States Government, which had the least moral authority and the lowest credibility in the world, was trying to manipulate the issue of human rights to accuse Cuba. The United States delegation was once again wielding the argument of dissidents, who were actually mercenaries paid by the United States Government. Cuba would go on denouncing, whenever it was appropriate, the genocidal blockade and aggression by the United States against Cuba.
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