STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MS. MEGAYLA AUSTIN, CHARGE D'AFFAIRES OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AT THE 42ND SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION (New York, 2 September 2020)
1. I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
2. At the outset, allow me to thank you and members of the Bureau for ensuring that this important Segment can be held virtually, in spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We consider this 42nd meeting an essential platform to discuss how the united Nations can enhance its methods for communicating the message of the Organization to the world, particularly in the current context when we are grappling with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis.
3. We would also like to express our appreciation to the team of the Department of Global Communications for the work it has been doing particularly in this challenging period. Please be assured of the Group's full support and cooperation in your endeavors to advance the activities of the Department.
4. We continue to follow closely the Department's work and activities and welcome the continued focus on the UN's priority goals and issues and their impact on nations and people around the world. The Group also commends the DGC for its continued efforts to adapt to the virtual modalities in covering, interpreting, and disseminating the information about the United Nations during the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
5. As we celebrate 75 years of our organization's existence, it is especially important that there is no breakdown in promoting global awareness and understanding of the work of the United Nations.
6. The 42nd session of the Committee on Information is being convened at a time when the international community is compelled to take concerted action to address a number of complex and evolving challenges related to sustainable development, the environment, climate change, peacekeeping and many other vital issues. These challenges are further compounded by the unprecedented circumstances occasioned by the COVID-19 crisis but the United Nations has to rise to these challenges and demonstrate to the world that multilateralism remains the answer to the world's problems.
7. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a proliferation of misinformation and disinformation leading to what some have termed an "infodemic". This disturbing trend has intensified the need for the dissemination of reliable, authentic, accurate and science-based information in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that the DGC remains well positioned to counter the inaccurate reporting and distorted information that is being bandied about by providing credible information from authoritative sources within the UN system.
8. On this note, the Group expresses its appreciation to the DGC for its outreach efforts and communication campaigns. We especially take note of the DGC's new communications campaigns, helping to counter the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation in this regard as reflected in the United Nations' COVID-19 Communication Response initiative and in particular the Verified campaign announced by the Secretary-General in April 2020.
9. We welcome the first Global Communication Strategy and commend the DGC's efforts in its preparation. As the Group communicated in its Note, while the Strategy provides a useful framework for highlighting the important work of the United Nations in addressing the various issues that characterize the world today, it proposes to go a step further by delivering these messages in a way that would inspire action by its target audience. Greater positive involvement across the globe in the various issues that the United Nations prioritizes, can increase the impact of the Organization's efforts, therefore the focus on inspiring action is both timely and relevant.
10. As we reflect on the work of the DGC particularly at the current juncture, we underscore the paramount importance of multilingualism - universally considered as one of the main promoters of unity and international understanding. Multilingualism connects people to the United Nations and provides us with the opportunity to reach wider audiences and to engage them on our vision of what it takes to build back better, thus maximizing the reach of the Organization's message to culturally and linguistically diverse audiences in all corners of the world.
11. Even as we extend the UN's message to all corners of the world, it is equally important for the dialogue among us, Member States, to be facilitated in a manner that excludes none. We underscore here that the Department must continue its efforts to ensure that multilingualism is fully respected in our interactions and that the relevant systems are in place to facilitate this even while we are operating in virtual settings for the most part and
12. We highlight the important contribution of the United Nations Information Centres and their joint work with the Department of Development, local offices, and resident coordinators to develop content targeted to the local populations and their governments. We support the objective of not only engaging these target audiences with the work of the organization but also providing them with platforms to engage in actions around issues that interest them.
13. We reiterate our support for the work carried out by the United Nations Information Centers in disseminating information about the work and activities of the United Nations, as well as raising awareness of challenges the world community is currently facing in the local languages. We reiterate the call for the DGC to continue supporting the United Nations Information Centers and strengthening them, both in terms of staffing and equipment.
14. We underscore the need to reach out to different audiences through the innovative use of digital platforms that facilitate access by the public to initiatives and communications that have a positive impact on their lives. We therefore encourage the Department to further its digital outreach in addition to the traditional methods of distributing and disseminating information. We also encourage the comprehensive production of content in a multilingual manner that will communicate the work of the organization through online campaigns, hashtags, and labels.
15. The importance of modern communication technologies available to the global public is undeniable. While the virtual mode of communication has been adopted largely across the world, we must be mindful of the fact that digital disparities are still looming large. Half of the world is still not connected. It is therefore important to address the information and communication gaps between all countries and we urge the Department to promote and facilitate international cooperation aimed at the development of media, information and communication facilities and technologies in all countries, particularly focusing on capacity building of developing countries.
16. We underscore the importance of ensuring that the use of such technologies should be fully compatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, in particular the principles of sovereignty, the non-interference in internal matters, and the internationally-recognized rules of civil coexistence and friendly relations among States.
17. We strongly encourage the DGC to continue to promote the relevant milestone conferences, decisions, resolutions, and agreements that have been reached. In that regard, the Group places special emphasis on developments related to, inter alia, sustainable development, climate change, counterterrorism, peacekeeping, gender equality, and free flow of information.
18. We also urge the Department of Global Communications to intensify its support the efforts of the United Nations system to eradicate all forms of hatred, intolerance, and discrimination including based on religion or belief, harassment, racism, hate speech, xenophobia and related intolerance particularly in the response to global crisis emanating from pandemics such as COVID-19.
19. We would also like to reiterate the Group's expectation that the Department of Global Communications will cover on an equal basis all Summits, International Conferences, and High-Level Meetings mandated by the General Assembly, including the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.
20. The Group, while recognizing some progress on the issue, remains deeply concerned by the disparities existing between developed and developing countries in the use of all official languages in UN global communications materials. We reaffirm our commitment to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and to the principles of freedom of the press and freedom of information, as well as to those of the independence, pluralism, and diversity of the media, and the consequences of every kind arising from those disparities that affect the capability of the public, private or other media and individuals to disseminate information and communicate effectively.
21. Finally, the Group takes this opportunity to assure you of our full and continued support as well as its unwavering commitment to working constructively with you and our partners to achieve a fruitful outcome to our discussions.
I thank you.