5 May 2005

Austria Joins the United Nations Committee on Information

Information Committee Reaffirms UN Must Have “Clear, Effective Voice”

NEW YORK, 4 May (UN Headquarters) -- The United Nations Committee on Information has (see press release PI/1650) reaffirmed the essential role of the world body’s information services as the “public voice” of the UN, which, as the guardian of world peace and justice, must be heard in a clear and effective manner.

Wrapping up its 2005 session yesterday, the Committee approved a two-part draft resolution -- to be forwarded for adoption by the full General Assembly -- that also emphasized the essential role of the Department of Public Information (DPI).

The Committee also approved a draft decision to add Austria to its membership, increasing it to 108 of the UN’s 191 Member States.

Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, said in concluding remarks that the growing partnership between DPI and the Committee constituted a key element in the Department’s renewal.

With the completion of DPI’s reorientation process, it had reached a turn in the road, but a turn in the road was not the end of the road, and the Department must continue its course, he said. As the intense negotiations went on, and the consensus adoption of the Committee’s report had demonstrated, there was deep commitment to upholding DPI’s role as the Organization’s “public voice,” he added.

Under key provisions of the draft, the General Assembly would also reaffirm the central role of the Committee on Information in UN public information policies and activities. The Assembly would also emphasize the importance of the network of UN Information Centres (UNICs) in enhancing the world body’s public image and in disseminating messages on the UN to local populations, especially in developing countries.

Also by the text, the Committee would have the Assembly stress the importance of rationalizing the UNIC network, and, in that regard, request Secretary-General Kofi Annan to continue to make proposals in that direction, including through redeployment of resources where necessary, and to report to the Committee at its next session.

On multilingualism and public information, the resolution would have the Assembly welcome the ongoing efforts by DPI to enhance multilingualism in its activities, and encourage the Department to continue such endeavours. It would emphasize the importance of ensuring the full, equitable treatment of all the official languages of the UN in all the Department’s activities.

With respect to the Department’s general activities, the Committee would have the General Assembly reaffirm that DPI was the focal point for information policies of the UN and the primary news centre for information about the UN, its activities and those of the Secretary-General.

Regarding strategic communications services, the text contained a section on DPI’s role in UN peacekeeping by which the Assembly would commend the efforts of the Secretary-General to strengthen the public information capacity of the Department for the establishment and functioning of the information components of the UN peacekeeping operations and of political and peacebuilding missions.

The Assembly would encourage 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 DPI to continue to provide the necessary support for the dissemination of information pertaining to dialogue among civilizations and the culture of peace.


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