Reforms by Newly Named Department of Global Communication Aim at Outreach ‘for Impact’, Under-Secretary-General Tells Committee on Information
The newly named Department of Global Communications is instilling a culture of collaboration and innovation and undertaking measures to create broader public engagement needed to tackle global challenges, the Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications told the Committee on Information today as it opened its forty-first session.
“We communicate globally when we unite resources and talent to conceive, create and conduct campaigns around key issues on the UN agenda,” said Alison Smale in her first address to the Committee after the Department’s renaming. An example of this shift can be seen in its climate communications where an artificial intelligence bot - developed and launched by the Department and external partners – has enabled individuals around the world to log and share more than 110,000 climate actions undertaken. “This is communications for impact,” she stressed.
She also emphasized that the renaming of the Department – from “Public Information” to “Global Communications” - reaffirms the Organization’s commitment to ensure what the General Assembly and the Committees have emphasized every year – that “a culture of communications and transparency should permeate all levels of the Organization as a means of fully informing the peoples of the world of the aims and activities of the United Nations”.
Outlining reforms under way, she said the Department has employed a data-driven approach to measure and evaluate the impact of outputs and a grid calendar system to inform and shape strategic planning on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Recalling that next year, the United Nations will mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of its founding, she said that the Department has begun preparations to develop global events and initiatives aimed at rekindling inspiration and motivation and reaffirming a common commitment to tackle the great challenges of the world today and build “the future we need”.
Omar Hilale (Morocco), elected as Chair of the Committee for 2019 and 2020, said that in this age of globalization, the need for reliable, neutral and objective information is more vital than ever, particularly with regards to the United Nations, whose legitimacy and credibility must be preserved. Multilingualism remains a priority for Committee members and the Department, he stressed, welcoming steps taken to reduce inequalities in the treatment of the six official languages.
Existing practices must be strengthened, including through partnerships, he also emphasized, highlighting an agreement with a Moroccan university to translate public texts into Arabic. However, the Department’s activities have been challenged by financial constraints being instituted throughout the United Nations system. Because the Committee has a responsibility to present to the global public concise and extensive information about the Organization’s work, it is critical that the Department’s allocated budget not be reduced. At the same time, it is also crucial the Department be modernized and do better with fewer financial and human resources.
In the ensuing general debate, many delegations emphasized that multilingualism is one of the core values of the United Nations that contributes to achievement of the Organization’s goals.
The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that while recognizing some progress, he remained concerned at the continuing disparity in the use of all official languages in United Nations public information materials. It was unacceptable that lingual discrepancies continue to be observed in the press releases of the different United Nations meetings, in all Committees and in the titles of press releases. “We disapprove of this unfairness and request to avoid future misinformation in this regard,” he declared.
The representative of the European Union delegation, noting that the European Union has 24 official languages, with twice as many regional and minority languages in constant use, he welcomed the Department’s efforts to mainstream multilingualism in all the Secretariat’s communication and information activities in the most cost-efficient and effective manner possible.
Bolivia’s delegate, speaking for the Group of Friends of Spanish-speaking Countries, recalled that Spanish is the second most spoken language and the second most consulted language in terms of the web content of the Organization. He expressed concern about the disparity in the use of official languages, especially the gap between English and the five other languages.
The representative of International Organization of la Francophonie also warned against monolingualism, noting that too many events are prepared and promoted in one language, while many meetings are based on documents available only in English. With the number of French speakers in the world today reaching 300 million and growing, her organization is working with the Secretariat on a study to better integrate multilingualism into the work of the United Nations.
Cabo Verde’s delegate, speaking for the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, highlighted the Department’s multilingual multimedia production, which has increased outreach to larger audiences in more places. With almost 300 million people speaking the Portuguese language, he acknowledged the work being done to reach new Lusophone audiences, as seen by a 30 per cent increase in subscriptions to the Portuguese United Nations News channel on YouTube.
Bangladesh’s delegate pointed out that Bangla, spoken by about 250 million people, is now the seventh most popular language, making it a major claimant to be one of the United Nations official languages. To that end, his country’s Prime Minister has placed her proposal on the matter to the United Nations.
While many delegations applauded the Department’s increased effort to reach new audiences via social media platforms, the representative of Nepal emphasized that radio, television and print remain the primary source of information in remote corners of least-developed countries. The Organization must use the right mix of traditional and new media when disseminating information about its activities and principles, he said, suggesting that the Department consider making United Nations material available through toll-free telephone numbers.
In other business, the Committee elected Amal Mudallali (Lebanon), nominated by the Group of Asia-Pacific States, and Oleg Nikolenko (Ukraine), nominated by the Group of Eastern European States, as Vice-Chairs to the Committee for 2019 and 2020. Mr. Nikolenko was also elected as Rapporteur. The Committee postponed the consideration of the two other Vice-Chair posts as the Committee has not received nominations from the Group of West European and Other States and the Group of Latin American and the Caribbean States.
The Committee also approved its work programme for its forty-first session. The outgoing Chair, Jan Kickert (Austria) made his final remarks.
Also speaking today were representatives of Japan, Algeria, Philippines, Lebanon, China, Portugal, Egypt, Argentina, Cuba, Jamaica, India, Uruguay, Pakistan, Brazil, Republic of Korea and Spain.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 30 April, to continue its general debate.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco), Chair of the Committee on Information, said that in this age of globalization, the need for reliable, neutral and objective information is more vital than ever, particularly with regards to the United Nations, whose legitimacy and credibility must be preserved. Welcoming the efforts being made by the Department of Global Communications in such areas as the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change and peacekeeping, he said the Organization’s seventy-fifth anniversary will be a perfect opportunity to highlight its priorities going forward. Welcoming the Department’s reforms, he emphasized the importance of strategic communications and new technologies.
Multilingualism remains a priority for Committee members and the Department, he stressed, welcoming steps taken to reduce inequalities in the treatment of the six official languages while at the same time striving to reach as broad an audience as possible through local languages. Existing practices must be strengthened, including through partnerships, he said, highlighting an agreement with a Moroccan university to translate public texts into Arabic.
Turning to funding the Department’s activities in a time of financial constraints throughout the United Nations, he said the Committee has a responsibility to present to the global public concise and extensive information about the Organization’s work. Therefore, it is critical that the Department’s allocated budget not be reduced. At the same time, it is also crucial the Department be modernized and do better with fewer financial and human resources. Delegations should reflect on new ways to fund the Department’s growing activities, such as voluntary contributions and partnerships with think tanks and press organs, among others.
ALISON SMALE, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, underscored that the newly named Department reaffirms the Organization’s commitment to ensure what the General Assembly and the Committees have emphasized every year – that “a culture of communications and transparency should permeate all levels of the Organization as a means of fully informing the peoples of the world of the aims and activities of the United Nations”. That goal helps create a broad-based global support for the Organization. The Department is undertaking reforms to deliver modern, agile and global communications every day. At a time when resources are constrained the world over, this staff-led process is working to change the collective culture and mindset as much, if not more, as it does the structure or policies, she explained.
She went on to outline reforms under way, including a data-driven approach to measure and evaluate the impact of outputs and a grid calendar system to inform and shape strategic planning on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. The Department is also undertaking transformative projects, such as revamping the United Nations website and increasing social and interactive content. Along with that, it is redesigning the relationship between its team at Headquarters and those in the field by fully integrating the United Nations Information Centres around the world into the work of the Department and the United Nations presence at the country level. Above all, the Department is looking to increase its collaboration and innovation, shifting to a culture where silos are broken and where it works horizontally in order to more quickly and effectively identify problems and brainstorm practical solutions.
“We communicate globally when we unite resources and talent to conceive, create and conduct campaigns around key issues on the UN agenda,” she emphasized. For example, in preparation for the Climate Action Summit in September the Department is ramping up a multi-pronged, coordinated effort that harnesses all the tools, assets and partners at its disposal. It is also doing things differently, with public engagement and mobilization representing a core element of its climate communications. Through an artificial intelligence bot that was developed and launched by the Department and external partners, individuals around the world have logged and shared more than 110,000 climate actions undertaken. “This is communications for impact,” she stressed. In February, the Department also launched the second phase of the Service and Sacrifice campaign to highlight the contributions of individual countries to United Nations peacekeeping.
The Department is also communicating globally through its factual, timely, high-quality, multilingual digital news and feature content for all platforms, including social media, she continued. A case in point was the Department’s news and video coverage of the Cyclone Idai crisis in southern Africa last month, which was widely picked up by media amplifiers, including Globo, BBC, The New York Times and newspapers across the Lusophone world. Social media is increasingly important to digital output, allowing the Department to connect with audiences worldwide, particularly with young people. Its Giphy channel now reaches almost 80 million views with the help of targeted, shareable content.
Further outlining measures undertaken, she said that the Department is building durable alliances with national and international media outlets, with the SDG [Sustainable Development Goal] Media Compact growing to nearly 50 active partners in the news and entertainment business committed to promoting the Goals. In another recent partnership, Glamour Magazine posted the United Nations video feature What Does a Free Woman Look Like? on the magazine’s highly popular social media platforms. The Department is also communicating globally through a wide alley of campaigns and services, including the Dag Hammarskjold Library’s new version for Member States on the Record, activities around the observance of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade and of World Autism Awareness Day, as well as enhanced accessibility for persons with disabilities to conferences and meetings of the United Nations system.
The Department is finding new ways to expand its global audience reach and create fresh content that builds support for the United Nations and its work, she noted. It continues to put strong emphasis on engaging youth, with the first one-day Model United Nations Youth Summit held last month and the recently launched SDG Book Club, which encourages children to read a curated list of books from around the world related to each of the 17 Goals in all six official languages of the Organization.
As part of the United Nations development reform, nearly 50 United Nations Information Centres have been integrated with resident coordinator offices, she said. This brings about a new dynamic for the Department to have a truly global reach through 131 of those offices, enabling country teams and resident coordinators to take advantage of the communications expertise, tools, platforms, guidance, messaging and outreach networks that the Department offers.
Next year, the United Nations marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of its founding, she said. The Department has begun preparations to develop global events and initiatives that will rekindle inspiration and motivation and reaffirms a common commitment to tackle the great challenges of the world today and to build “the future we need”. Dubai EXPO and Tokyo Olympics are also opportunities to showcase the Organization’s work. As well, the annual International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East, part of the Department’s Question of Palestine mandate, will take place in Turkey this June. “We communicate globally when we reach out to the peoples of the world to celebrate their Organization,” she stated. This, in turn, allows everyone to be curious and critical of the United Nations record, as well as to be resourceful and creative about its future.
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the Department’s reform efforts are of special importance in light of the common challenges faced by the international community. Underlining the Organization’s role in attempting to surmount those challenges, he took note of the Department’s new communications campaigns, including the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), as well as the campaign in the lead-up to the climate summit in September, “A race we can win. A race we must win.” Multilingualism, as a main promotor of unity and international understanding, has been addressed by successive General Assembly resolutions. However, while recognizing some progress, he said he remained concern at the continuing disparity in the use of all official languages in United Nations public information materials.
He went on to say that it was unacceptable that lingual discrepancies continue to be observed in the press releases of the different United Nations meetings, in all Committees and in the titles of press releases. “We disapprove of this unfairness and request to avoid future misinformation in this regard,” he declared. Highlighting the importance of local languages, he also expressed full support for the work of the United Nations Information Centres in disseminating information in local languages. The Question of Palestine continues to deserve special attention, he emphasized, adding that the Department’s reform process should take into account the priorities set out by the Committee as the main subsidiary body mandated to make recommendations relating to the Department’s work.
GERARDUS VAN DEN AKKER, European Union delegation, noting that the work of the United Nations is not well-known enough, stressed that the Committee has a collective responsibility to do something about it, especially in the run-up to the seventy-fifth anniversary. The Department should also share success stories, as personal accounts can testify to the Organization’s work. As well, there should be a focus on dialogue and engagement – moving away from a traditional “tell and sell” model to a more participatory and inclusive approach of fostering two-way communication and engagement. Strategic alliances with civil society, academia, foundations, the private sector and cultural institutions can serve as influential multipliers for the Organization’s messages, which will give extra responsibility to the reformed country teams dealing with local actors on the ground. In addition, the United Nations Communications Group should look at possible ways to improve the Organization’s branding. Currently, system-wide management of United Nations branding is missing, but a more harmonious and logical visual identity could help avoid the ongoing dilution of its brand.
He went on to suggest that fewer acronyms in the Organization’s communications be used, thus making materials more digestible for the widest possible audience. Noting that the European Union has 24 official languages, with twice as many regional and minority languages in constant use, he welcomed the Department’s efforts to mainstream multilingualism in all the Secretariat’s communication and information activities in the most cost-efficient and effective manner possible. On freedom of opinion and expression, which the bloc regards as relevant to the Committee’s work, he underscored the collective responsibility of delegations to ensure that journalists can do their work. “Attacks on media workers are attacks on the cornerstones of our societies and target human rights and fundamental freedoms and values that are at the heart of the United Nations,” he said, welcoming the Secretariat’s efforts to bring to light World Press Freedom Day and the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
EDUARDO FERNANDO LEÓN PEÑARANDA (Bolivia), speaking for the Group of Friends of Spanish-speaking Countries, said that the Group, made up of 20 Spanish-speaking countries on three continents, is working to improve multilingualism at the United Nations. That aim is at the heart of the Organization’s strategic management and is in line with the purposes enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Language is a crucial part of culture. Spanish is the second most spoken language and the second most consulted language in terms of the web content of the Organization, he said, pointing out that UN News Spanish’s Twitter account has more than 1 million followers.
He voiced his concern about the disparity in the use of official languages, especially the disparity between English and the five other languages. Streamlining the United Nations Information Centres must be done on a case-by-case basis. Also expressing concern that the financial challenges might have negative impacts on the Department’s services in Spanish, he emphasized that it is important for the Department to devise a strategy to reallocate resources to multilingualism.
PATRICIA HERDT, International Organization of la Francophonie, noting that the number of French-speakers in the world today is 300 million and growing, said her organization is working with the Secretariat on a study to better integrate multilingualism into the work of the United Nations. The aim is to move away from monolingualism, including by establishing clear linguistic requirements in job profiles. There is also an urgent need to address the production of content in all six official languages. While English-language content is routinely translated, the production of content in other languages cannot be neglected. Messages and platforms must be developed in different languages. She also called for better respect of minimal standards for multilingualism on United Nations websites. Too many events are prepared and promoted in one language, while many meetings are based on documents available only in English. At a time of reform, Member States must all take ownership of the benefits and advantages of multilingualism and not disregard the costs of monolingualism.
JOSÉ LUIS FIALHO ROCHA (Cabo Verde), speaking for the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, highlighted the Department’s multilingual multimedia production, as well as ongoing reforms which has increased outreach to larger audiences in more places. The role of United Nations Information Centres in engaging local audiences in both official and local languages deserves equal attention. Noting that almost 300 million people speak the Portuguese language, he acknowledged the work being done to reach new Lusophone audiences, as seen by a 30 per cent increase in subscriptions to the Portuguese United Nations News channel on YouTube. He also pointed to the establishment of new partnerships with both traditional and new media. In a fast-changing world, it is necessary to ensure that United Nations stories, through traditional and digital platforms, reach people in the languages they understand.
YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan), emphasizing the importance of the Department’s field-centric approach, said that with the reform of the Organization’s resident coordinator system, he expected United Nations Information Centres to develop closer collaboration with resident coordinators and country teams. He lauded the tireless work of the Information Centre in Tokyo, highlighting its partnership with Sanrio – the company that owns the Hello Kitty brand - to use that character to promote the Sustainable Development Goals. He also pointed to a letter of intent signed in November 2018 between the United Nations and the organizing committee of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo aimed at promoting the contribution of sports to sustainable development.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77, expressed appreciation to the Service and Sacrifice campaign that celebrates the contributions of troop- and police-contributing countries. The importance of timely and strategic communication cannot be overemphasized, he stressed, urging the Department to act pre-emptively especially when there is an ill-motivated media campaign, such as the case in the lead-up to the adoption of the Global Compact on Migration. The Department can enhance its engagement in creating awareness across the United Nations system and the wider public by highlighting the important opportunities and risks of the fourth Industrial Revolution. Bangladesh hosts 1.2 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals, he pointed out, calling for the Department to remain focused on this crisis. He also noted that Bangla, spoken by about 250 million people, is now the seventh most popular language, making it a major claimant to be one of the United Nations official languages. To that end, his country’s Prime Minister has placed her proposal on the matter to the United Nations.
MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that today billions of people are free in Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Asia, thanks to decolonization. Today, those people can speak their mind in this room; they even have the right to deny this right to others. However, they should not forget that most of them are former colonies and that often the United Nations was instrumental in helping them gain their independence. In 2020, the third decade on the eradication of colonialism will come to a close. The Department and the Special Committee on Decolonization will have to state what they have done. He expressed his deep regrets that the right to self-determination remains inaccessible to the Palestinian people, as well as to all peoples of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories. Warning against selectivity, double standards and politicization, he called on the Secretariat and all Member States to avoid those practices. In addition, despite repeated calls, United Nations press releases continue to have discrepancies, in particular those related to the work of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization). He urged the Secretariat to reflect faithfully the spirit and the letter of any debate or statements delivered by Member States.
KIRA CHRISTIANNE DANGANAN AZUCENA (Philippines), describing the Department of Global Communications as a responsible messenger of the United Nations, called for the Department to work with the 63 United Nations Information Centres, using not only the Organization’s six official languages, but other languages as well when appropriate. She added her support for the work of the Committee and the Department to connect the Organization’s efforts with the international community in promoting peace and security, development and human rights. While this year’s Committee session will again be a platform for Member States to ventilate bilateral issues, including political skirmishes, she cited Kofi Annan, stating that she felt optimistic that negotiations will be “liberating”.
AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon), describing herself as a “recovering journalist”, said that, in an era where anyone with a cell phone can transform lives or wreak havoc at any moment, the United Nations must do a good job to stay relevant and be understood in fulfilling its mandate. “I have good news for you - the United Nations is doing well now telling people what it is about and what it is doing,” she stated. However, through their use of new media, the young generation is moving away fast. In its information efforts, the United Nations must know its audience, aim to inspire and remain credible, she stressed, adding that it can also demonstrate that it can be an antidote to rising isolationist tendencies. Describing a free press as a source of strength for nations, she urged the Organization to champion freedom of the press and freedom of expression everywhere in the world “because peace and coexistence depend on it”.
MA YUANCHUN (China), associating herself with the Group of 77, welcomed the Department’s remarkable achievements, including wider engagement with the academia, youth, civil society and other stakeholders, as well as strategic communications on sustainable development, human rights, climate change and peacekeeping, among others. The Chinese media widely covered the recent visit by the United Nations Secretary-General and his speech at a meeting on the Road and Belt Initiative where he highlighted China’s role in multilateralism. She expressed hope that the Department upholds the core value of the Organization, especially multilingualism, and addresses the disparity of use between English and the other five official languages, including Chinese. She also called on the Department to pay more attention to the need to recruit more staff from developing countries and re-evaluate the geographical distribution of United Nations Information Centres.
FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, underlined the importance of reaching out to youth, while bearing in mind that access to Internet in some parts of the world remains limited. The global outreach and universality of the Portuguese language is an important asset to the preservation and promotion of multilingualism, he said, commending the Portuguese unit of United Nations News and strongly encouraging the Department to further expand the use of the Portuguese language. He went on to highlight the accomplishments of United Nations Information Centres, including those in Western Europe and Rio de Janeiro, among others.
AMRIT BAHADUR RAI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, commended the Department for enlarging its basket of languages and encouraged it to publish material in the Nepali language, including media content on Nepal’s contribution to United Nations peacekeeping operations. He also asked that the Department come up with phase two of its Service and Sacrifice multimedia campaign. Designated repositories for the Organization’s publications, such as the central library of Tribhuvan University in Nepal, should be modernized to intensify their outreach activities. Emphasizing that radio, television and print remain the primary source of information in remote corners of least-developed countries, he said the Organization must use the right mix of traditional and new media when disseminating information about its activities and principles. He urged the Department to consider making United Nations material available free of charge through toll-free telephone numbers. He also acknowledged the work of the United Nations Information Centre in Kathmandu, including its support for the first expedition of women journalists to Mount Everest and emblazoning the Sustainable Development Goals on aircraft flown by Yeti Airlines.
TAREK AHMED MAHFOUZ AHMED MAHFOUZ (Egypt), associating himself with the Group of 77, encouraged the Department to focus on the topics that have priority, including sustainable development, human rights, peace and security, the Question of Palestine and issues related to the Middle East. Multilingualism is the important pillar of the United Nations; it promotes cultural diversity around the world and enhances the performance of the Organization. He expressed concern over the inequality in use of official languages in United Nations documents and publications. He also warned against the risk of using information and communications technology to disseminate incorrect information to undermine the sovereignty of States.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with Group of 77 and the Group of Friends of Spanish-speaking Countries, urged the Department to adapt to the changing circumstances in which information is produced and used. Welcoming the renaming of the Department, he said it was time to rethink its communications strategies holistically. The Department must maximize the potential of new tools and new partners, including Member States, media and the civil society. It should also move away from translating English to other official languages towards a genuine multilingual culture. With Spanish being the second most consulted language on the United Nations web pages, the Department should consider allocating more resources to the Spanish language, including the recruitment of Spanish-speaking staff. He also noted the contributions of UN News/Spanish, and the United Nations Information Centre in Buenos Aires. United Nations press releases are the only means to ensure transparency, accountability and the preservation of institutional memory. However, they are published in only two of the six official languages. He urged redoubling of efforts to increase audiovisual recording of meetings and proceedings in all six languages.
HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba), associating himself with the Group of 77, expressed concern that nuclear disarmament is not among the Department’s priority campaign topics. Lauding the launch of new websites that use the six official languages, he expressed hope that the practice will continue. However, the publication of press releases in only French and English relegates the other official languages. Reforms should not lead to the elimination of those communication instruments which have stood the test of time. He also voiced his total rejection of illegal radio and television programming from the Government of the United States that is aimed at overthrowing his country’s constitutional order. The use of information technology must be in line with international law and the Charter of the United Nations and respect national sovereignty, he added.
DIEDRE NICHOLE MILLS (Jamaica), associating herself with the Group of 77, said technological advances have provided a unique opportunity for the Organization to expand its reach. Nonetheless, traditional media must remain a priority, given the digital divide within and between countries. While encouraging the Department’s efforts to assess the impact of its work, she acknowledged that in some instances that could be difficult. She added she was interested in how the work of United Nations Information Centres is taken into account in the restructuring of the Organization’s development system. The Department’s work in marking such milestones, including the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, help to reinforce the centrality of multilateralism and the ongoing importance of partnerships, she said.
DEEPAK MISRA (India) said declining financial resources are seriously limiting the Department’s ability to fulfil its mandate, especially through non-official languages. It, therefore, must look at innovative ways to raise resources beyond the regular budgetary allocations, including through voluntary contributions. Emphasizing the need for close cooperation between the Department and the Department of Peace Operations, he expressed appreciation for the Service and Sacrifice campaign for highlighting the work of personnel from troop- and police-contributing countries. He also welcomed the growing number of languages in which guided tours are offered at the United Nations and urged that Hindi be added for the benefit of Indian tourists.
BEATRIZ NÚÑEZ RIVAS (Uruguay), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Friends of Spanish-speaking Countries, highlighted the Department’s role in preserving peace and tackling global challenges. It must disseminate timely, accurate, and balanced information. Multilingualism is a core element within the Organization, she said, encouraging the Department to continue its efforts to achieve equality in all six official languages, particularly with press releases and the archives, which must be available in all six languages. However, the Department must be equipped with necessary resources to meet the need of multilingualism. While stressing the importance of innovation, such as using social network and information and communications technology, she said that traditional media like radio, television and print media continue to play an important role in mass communication.
MUHAMMAD ZULQARNAIN (Pakistan) encouraged the Department to focus more on projects that highlight the United Nations findings, including climate change, as many narratives are self-serving. He also encouraged the Department to continue to promote the important milestone conferences, decisions, resolutions and various other international agreements and voiced his support for the Department’s new outreach efforts and communication initiatives that focus on localized engagement. Multilingualism is one of the core values of the United Nations that contributes to achievement of the Organization’s goals. The Charter rightly considers multilingualism as a means of promoting, protecting and preserving the diversity of languages and cultures globally, as well as of improving the efficiency, performance and transparency of the Organization.
ANDRÉ DUNHAM MACIEL SIAINES DE CASTRO (Brazil) encouraged the Department to disseminate the Organization’s ideals and activities in as many languages as possible, bearing in mind varying levels of digital development. While voicing support for using the internet to reach millions of people, he said attention still needs to be given to traditional media such as radio. Global information campaigns must be adapted to different local contexts. The Department should reinforce its multilingual approach, including in Portuguese which is the most spoken language in the Southern Hemisphere, he said, commending the work of the Portuguese unit of United Nations News, particularly its coverage of Cyclone Idai.
HONG JIN UM (Republic of Korea) said the constraints faced by the United Nations need to be communicated to the public, alongside more of its success stories. Strategic communications campaigns will enhance public knowledge of the work of the United Nations while laying a solid foundation for achieving its mandates. New ways must be found to make full use of United Nations Information Centres to support resident coordinators and country teams. Regardless of the methods used, reforms should focus on satisfying strategic communication needs, he said, adding that an emphasis on education can help secure both sustainable peace and sustainable development.
DANIEL PRADA JIMÉNEZ DE CISNEROS (Spain), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Spanish-speaking Countries, encouraged the Department to deepen its work in multilingualism. It should also look into the process of content being created and disseminated in order to meet the needs of recipients of information. He expressed support for the reform the Department is undertaking, as it offers an opportunity focused less on processes but more on content and audience. Towards this end, the Department should work closely with regional groups. He also requested more information on the status of the Global Media Compact. Underscoring that social media is worthwhile to explore as it attracts more young people, he welcomed many campaigns, including for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among others.