62nd Session of the General Assembly
QUESTIONS RELATING TO INFORMATION
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Jorge de Lemos Godinho
Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations
on behalf of the European Union
New York, October 18th 2007
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia*, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
The EU would like to thank Under Secretary-General Kiyotaka Akasaka for introducing the updated Report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Department of Public Information. These reports provide member states with a good overview of the work, progress and challenges faced by DPI and highlight some of the key activities of this department.
The Department of Public Information plays a crucial role towards our shared objective of providing a focused information service of high quality to the United Nations family, media outlets all over the world and interested citizens. The EU commends the department for its efforts in developing a more strategic approach to promote global awareness and a greater understanding of the work of the UN. This is essential as DPI’s work can generate support for UN action on Peacekeeping, Climate Change, The Millennium Development Goals or Human Rights, among so many others. We would like to put a special emphasis on the role of information and communication activities in peacekeeping operations, as well as in conflict-prevention, other crisis management and peacebuilding activities.
The EU supports the adoption of a more strategic and efficient approach to the work of DPI, focused on setting well-defined communications goals, identifying target audiences, assigning roles to various actors and re-disseminations and also finding ways to measure the impact of those activities. In this regard, the EU would welcome more information on the results of the assessments and evaluations.
The EU recognizes the growing role of the internet as a source of news for audiences around the world. Therefore, we welcome the adjustments made in the UN website, the major portal of information on the Organization, providing a user-friendly gateway that includes accessibility for persons with disabilities, a range of news and information in various languages and in multiple forms and also a greater efficiency in the management of multilingual web content. The EU commends the movement towards the goal of language parity on the UN website, within existing resources. Significant progress has been made in those areas, but more needs to be done. There is a continuing need to develop UN information on the internet, taking advantage of new technologies as they appear, and in a way that heightens the interest especially of young people in the United Nations.
We also need to ensure that the UN message reaches those without access to the new forms of technology, in particular countries in Africa as well as other developing countries. In this context, we stress the need to continue to rely on traditional means of communication, particularly radio and print to disseminate key United Nations messages and thus ensuring that everyone is included.
In order to spread the message of the United Nations to every corner of the world in a precise, effective and impartial manner, the UN information centers are the fundamental players on delivering the UN message.
We call upon the department to continue to rationalize the work of the information centres so as to enhance the Organization’s outreach. In this context, the EU notes with appreciation examples of increased cooperation between centres described in the report, especially the role of the UNRIC in creating and redesigning websites in sub-Saharan Africa. It encourages further efforts on that path.
The EU is pleased to see further developments on the new strategic directions for United Nations libraries. The Personal Knowledge Management programme, the library’s ongoing training programmes and the One United Nations initiative are the result of the new direction set, that allows for a greater offer of extended information on a wide range of topics, not only for delegates at the UN but also for anyone around the world.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 47 journalists have already been killed in 2007, including the recent odious killing of the Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai from APF News in Myanmar and the journalist from The Washington Post, Salih Saif Aldin, killed last Sunday in Baghdad. 3 journalists have disappeared while doing their work and 11 media workers have been also killed. The growing number of journalists being killed or taken hostage is also extremely alarming. While paying tribute to all journalists who lost their lives, and strongly condemning these acts, we would like to call attention to Security Council Resolution 1738 on the safety and security of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel, including its OP 9 where the Security Council states that such violence against journalists may constitute a threat to international peace and security, and reaffirms its readiness to consider such situations and, where necessary, to adopt appropriate steps.
The EU repudiates all attempts to control or influence the media with the aim of suppressing information and opinions and in this regard, Mr. Chairman, I would like to reiterate the EU commitment to freedom of expression and our fundamental belief that the freedom of press is essential for all societies.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman
* Croatia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.