STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY AMBASSADOR MUNIR AKRAM, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PAKISTAN TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE FOURTH COMMITTEE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON AGENDA ITEM 50: "QUESTIONS RELATED TO INFORMATION" (New York, 19 October 2022)

Mr. Chair,

On behalf of the Group of 77 and China I thank the Department of Global Communication [USG Ms. Melissa Fleming] for the comprehensive presentation on the report of the SG on Questions relating to information.

2. We commend the Department for its continued efforts in raising awareness of the work and activities of the United Nations globally.

3. The Group assures you, Ms. Fleming, and your team of our full support and cooperation in your endeavors to advance the activities of the Department.

4. We also commend Ambassador Cristian Espinosa of Ecuador for his able Chairmanship of the 44th session of the Committee on Information (COI), which led to a successful conclusion and an outcome document adopted by consensus.

5. The 44th session of the COI was an essential platform to discuss how the United Nations might enhance its methods for communicating the message of the Organization to the world, particularly in the current context when we are grappling with multiple challenges and crisis.

Mr. Chair,

6. We commend the Department's global strategic communications response to a broad range of new and ongoing challenges, such as (COVID-19) pandemic, climate change and proliferating conflicts.

7. The crises added a new dimension to the Organization's efforts to combat misinformation and disinformation and foster international solidarity. In this regard, the Department's work built on existing efforts such as, the Verified campaign, originally focused on COVID-19, by expanding its reach to other issues such as climate change and hate speech deserves appreciation.

8. The group also commends the Department of Global Communication's 'efforts to support the United Nations agenda on issues such as sustainable development, peace and security, and human rights.

Mr. Chair,

9. While supporting the activities of the Department, the Group would like to make the following observations and recommendations:

First, the impacts of climate change are wreaking chaos with increasing frequency and fury, all around the globe as evidenced for instance by the massive flood disaster in Pakistan. Many other regions have been affected by this crisis.

The efforts of the United Nations to shine a spotlight on the climate crisis and offer solutions must remain a continuing focus for communication of the Department. An information tools must be used effectively to raise awareness.

As the world has entered a climate emergency, a key communications priority for the Department must be to highlight the challenges of climate change.

The Department, in cooperation with the countries concerned, and with the relevant organizations and bodies of the United Nations system, must continue to take appropriate measures to enhance world public awareness about, inter alia, reinforcing multilateralism, unprecedented humanitarian crises and needs in the world, in particular strategic coordination in humanitarian relief, especially in natural disasters and other emerging crises due to climate change.

Second, The United Nations remains the indispensable foundation of a peaceful and just world. Its messages must be heard in a clear and effective manner. The information provided by the United Nations needs to be accurate, reliable and impartial. Similarly, the Department of Global Communications should avoid the editorialization of breaking news stories and news alerts.

The Department of Global Communications, guided by the UN resolutions, is leading by example in adhering to the highest standard of accuracy, integrity, and accountability as well as full compliance with the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

In this regard, taking note of the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, and of the United Nations Guidance Note on Addressing and Countering COVID-19-related Hate Speech, the Group encourages the Department of Global Communications to establish and further strengthen partnerships with new and traditional media to address hate speech narratives and to promote tolerance, non-discrimination, pluralism and freedom of opinion and expression.

Also, the Group wishes to highlight the DGC's activities in order to bring the information to the attention of the public of the United Nations in their languages and in a creative way, in order to assure that the key messages are spread in an equitable basis and targeting all peoples.

Third, the growing trend of "fake news" and disinformation on online platforms including on social media, which is exacerbating social discord, competing nationalisms, discrimination, and hate speech and has contributed to rising racism, xenophobia, negative stereotyping, and related intolerance.

This has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the extreme reliance on ICTs, yielding phenomena from fake cures to anti-vaccine conspiracies. This phenomenon of disinformation has a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights, often constitutes interference in the internal affairs of states, erodes international cooperation and could pose a threat to international peace and security.

The Group takes note of the report of the Secretary-General pursuant to resolution 76/227 noting that countering the different manifestation of disinformation requires addressing underlying societal tensions, fostering respect for human rights, online and offline, and supporting a plural civic space and media Landscape.

We strongly urge the DGC to intensify its support for the efforts of the United Nations System to fight against disinformation. We also reiterate our call for increased focus on the dissemination of factual, timely, targeted, clear, accessible, multilingual, and science-based information on all platforms. At the same time, we urge the promotion of messages of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and interfaith and cultural harmony among all religions, ethnicities, and nations

Fourth, the Group expresses serious concern at attacks and violence against journalists and media workers and associated personnel. Impunity for attacks against journalists remains one of the greatest challenges to the safety of journalists. Ensuring accountability for crimes committed against journalists is a key element in preventing future attacks.

In this regard, we strongly condemn the killing of Palestinian-American Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and stress the need to ensure accountability. The Group welcomes the decision of the UN to honor her bravery and legacy by renaming the training program for Palestinian Broadcasters and journalists after her name.

Fifth, as we enter the decade of action for the implementation of the SDGs amidst the pandemic, we reiterate the importance of the existing multilateral framework for achieving the SDGs by 2030. The Group hopes that the Department of Global Communications will be able to pay particular attention to the promotion of sustained economic growth and sustainable development in accordance with the relevant resolutions and commitments.

Sixth, the Group of G77 and China attaches immense importance to leveraging digital technologies for enabling socio-economic development and facilitating more effective and efficient governance and public service delivery. At the same time, the Group is deeply concerned about digital disparities which are emerging as a new form of inequality between and among states.

We encourage the relevant organizations to take steps to secure greater Internet connectivity, especially in developing countries and rectify the imbalances of the present development of information and communication technology to make the world of media more just, equitable, and impartial.

We should seek an equitable international information technology regime which bridges the digital divide and enables developing countries to "leapfrog" into the global digital economy of the future.

This is essential for the global transition to modern and efficient national economies and effective international cooperation, including an inclusive digital economy and connectivity, as well as to outline shared principles for a digital future for all to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
 
Seventh, the Group stresses the importance of mainstreaming multilingualism in all of the Organization's activities. This is an essential pillar for mutual understanding which would help to ensure inclusivity, diversity, and tolerance.

We encourage the Department of Global Communications to mobilize adequate resources, including by exploring innovative financing options as well as voluntary contributions to promote multilingualism to maximize its outreach at the grassroots level.

General Assembly resolution 76/268 recognizes that multilingualism promotes unity in diversity and international understanding. The Group fully supports its integration into the activities of the United Nations. While noting that some progress has been made, the Group continues to be concerned at the disparity in the use of all official languages in United Nations public information materials and platforms, including various social media campaigns.

In addition, we also encourage the United Nations Information Centres and Country Offices to disseminate information about the work of the United Nations in local languages. This will not only help overcome the language barrier faced by a large portion of the world population, but also enable them to participate in the discourse on global issues."

The Group highlights that the United Nations must overcome the culture of translations and progress in favor of the production of content in different languages, according to the recently adopted Resolution on Multilingualism.

Eighth, we also welcome the promotional campaigns of the DGC, showcasing troop/police-contributing countries and encourage the Department to develop more effective and integrated communications strategies to highlight their contributions in an effective manner.
 
Finally, we urge the DGC to continue to support and strengthen the UN information centers and carry out the rationalization process of such centers in consultation with all concerned Member States, the countries served by those information centers and other interested countries in the region.
 
9. In Conclusion the group once again commends Department's efforts to communicate effectively on the wide range of unfolding crises, as well as key challenges such as climate change, that has reinforced the importance of the Organization as a source of accurate, trusted,and unbiased information for the global public good.

10. Looking ahead, the Group extends assurances of its full support to strengthen the Organization's work and purposes and to engage with people worldwide and mobilize them for action.

I thank you.