STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY AMBASSADOR GERARDO PEñALVER PORTAL, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, DURING THE INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON THE CODE OF CONDUCT FOR INFORMATION INTEGRITY ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS TO THE MEMBERS OF COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION (New York, 27 September 2023)
The Group of 77 and China expresses its appreciation to the honorable Under-Secretary-General, Ms. Melissa Fleming and to the Secretariat of the Committee on Information to have arranged this meeting to update and exchange opinions with members of the Committee on the recent activities of the Department of Global Communication regarding the code of conduct for information integrity on digital platforms.
The Group appreciates the Department to continue its work on developing a global code of conduct to promote integrity on public information and looks forward to actively engaging in an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process for its preparation.
The Group believes this briefing is important to keep Member States appraised, but insufficient to ensure that the process of discussion and drafting of the code is Member States driven through the intergovernmental process. We consider that the role of Member States should be more relevant in this matter.
In the opinion of the G 77, it should be emphasized that if the code of conduct does not go through member states driven consultations, it should not be included within the scope of Summit of Future.
After these general points, I would like to point out some specific aspects about this issue:
1. The Group considers that the code of conduct should be guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and human rights, including freedom of expression and access to information, as well as the principles of independence, pluralism and diversity of the media.
2. As stated in the Policy Brief, the promotion of information integrity must be fully grounded in the pertinent international norms and standards, including human rights law and the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention in domestic affairs.
3. The policy brief requires, when referring to human rights a holistic approach among all generations of rights, including the right to development. When referring to freedom of speech, the balance of article 19 of the ICCPR shall be saved.
4. In order for digital platforms to be truly effective, they must be supported by a digital ecosystem that is inclusive, equitable, and accessible. Such an ecosystem provides a platform that facilitates equitable, open, and transparent participation of all countries in multilateral international networks, taking into account their linguistic and cultural differences. There is no doubt that all stakeholders must play an indispensable role; however, the leading role of Member States in decision-making.
5. It is imperative that the code of conduct rejects all forms of digital colonialism and unilateralism, and adheres to fundamental values such as human rights, dignity, cultural diversity, development, justice, equality, non-discrimination, freedom, and security. It should emphasize the negative impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures and signifies that they violate all kinds of human rights, the logic of universal connectivity and the universality of the Internet, leading to fragmentation and the deepening of the digital and knowledge divide.
6. In addition to being inclusive, the digital space should also be safe. All stakeholders, including the private sector, and entities in the ICT environment, should adhere to principles, norms, rules, and regulations in order to act responsibly and be held accountable for their actions.
7. As we develop the Code of Conduct for Information Integrity on Digital Platforms, it is important to emphasize the crucial role that developing countries play. Our belief is that only by respecting each country's right to select its own digital development model and to determine its own policies for connectivity and access, as well as establishing a management model for access based on its domestic laws and its culture can we reach an inclusive and safe digital environment. The Group also believes that it is imperative to take action to significantly reduce the growing digital divide if we want to build an inclusive information society. Inclusion should be at the center of the development of the code to truly achieve the principle of leaving no one behind. Furthermore, the transfer of technology and knowledge to developing countries is crucial for protecting their right to development and supporting their efforts in achieving sustainable development, as well as promoting global access to digital resources and equal distribution.
Finally, the Group reiterates that it stands ready to continue engaging with a constructive spirit in the follow-up process to the Code of conduct, a common framework that respects the particularities of each country and society, ensuring standards in accordance applicable international law.
On behalf of the Group of 77 and China, I thank you once again for your briefing and we look forward to a constructive engagement during our future work on this issue.
I thank you.