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Thirty-ninth Session,
4th Meeting (AM)

Committee on Information Approves Two-Part ‘Omnibus’ Draft Resolution Highlighting Multilingualism, Digital Divide, Traditional Media, as Session Concludes

Acting without a vote today, the Committee on Information closed its thirty-ninth session by approving a two-part draft resolution, the second of which emphasized the need to promote multilingualism, bridge the digital divide between developed and developing countries, and maintain the use of traditional media, among other topics.

By the terms of draft B — “United Nations Public Information Policies and Activities” — the General Assembly would reiterate its request that the Department of Public Information and the Secretariat’s content-providing offices ensure the production of United Nations publications in all six of the Organization’s official languages, and in an environmentally friendly and cost-neutral manner.

Also by the text, the Assembly would reiterate its growing concern that daily press releases were not issued in all six official languages with full respect for the principle of parity among the six official languages, as requested in previous resolutions.  It would request that the Department design a strategy to deliver them in all six official languages.  The Assembly would, by further terms, welcome the Department’s ongoing efforts to enhance multilingualism, while stressing the importance of ensuring that new public documents published in all six official languages.

By other terms, the Assembly would request that the Department help to raise international awareness of ways to bridge the digital divide, including by commemorating World Telecommunication and Information Society Day on 17 May.  The Department would be requested to raise awareness of the importance of implementing the outcome documents of the World Summit on the Information Society, and of the economic and social possibilities that use of the Internet and other information and communications could bring.

In the area of news services, the Assembly would stress that the central objective was timely delivery of accurate, objective and balanced news and information emanating from the United Nations system in all mass media, including print, radio and television, as well as the Internet and social media platforms.  The Assembly would welcome the sustained efforts of United Nations Radio, which remained one of the most far-reaching traditional media available, and request that the Department continue to build partnerships with all broadcasters so as to extend the United Nations message.

The Assembly would, by other terms, emphasize the importance of the network of United Nations information centres in enhancing the Organization’s public image, disseminating messages about it to local populations, especially in developing countries, bearing in mind that information in local languages had the strongest impact.  It would, further by the text, stress the importance of rationalizing the network of United Nations information centres.  It would also reaffirm that such rationalization must be carried out on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with all Member States in which they were located.

Further by the text, the Assembly would reaffirm that the United Nations website was an essential tool for Member States and the general public, media, non-governmental; organizations and educational institutions.  In that regard, it would reiterate the continuing need to strengthen departmental efforts to regularly maintain, update and improve it.

According to the text, the Assembly would request that the Secretariat continue to ensure the Department’s active involvement in all stages of planning peacekeeping operations and special political missions through interdepartmental consultations and coordination.  It would also request that the Departments of Public Information, Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, as well as the Peacebuilding Support Office continue their cooperation in raising awareness of new realities, successes and challenges.

According to draft resolution A — “Information in the Service of Humanity” — the General Assembly would urge United Nations system entities to help reduce disparities in information flows by increasing assistance for the development of information infrastructure and capabilities in developing countries; ensure for journalists the free and effective performance of their professional tasks and condemn resolutely all attacks against them; support the continuation and strengthening of practical training programmes for broadcasters and journalists from public, private and other media in developing countries; and to enhance regional efforts and cooperation among developing countries, as well as between developed and developing countries to strengthen communications capacities and improve media infrastructure and technology in developing countries.

The draft report containing the two draft resolutions — titled “questions relating to information” — covers other areas of the Department, among them strategic communications services, outreach services, promotional campaigns, library services and the Department’s role in strengthening dialogue among civilizations.

Fernando Luque Márquez (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that, although he had joined the consensus in the spirit of flexibility, the Group had hoped that the Department would cover all the summits, conferences and high-level meetings decided by the General Assembly on an equal basis.

Jitu Sardar (United States) said the Department had a role to play in advancing the mission of the United Nations, and its activities must be grounded in the principles of transparency, free expression and openness, which could not be one-sided in scope.  The United States supported the proposal to include Holocaust Remembrance Day in the draft resolution, bearing in mind that such a unique tragedy in human history should never be repeated.  Noting the text’s reference to “illicit financial flows” as an area that the Department would address, he pointed out that the term still lacked an internally agreed definition.  The United States delegation appreciated efforts to ensure that the Department operated within existing resources because cost-saving was in the best interests of the United Nations, he said.

Hajime Kishimori (Japan), Rapporteur, presented Chapter III of the draft report, containing a summary of the general debate during the thirty-ninth session.

For information media. Not an official record.