STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY AMBASSADOR GERARDO PEñALVER PORTAL, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF CUBA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE FOURTH COMMITTEE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON AGENDA ITEM 53: "QUESTIONS RELATED TO INFORMATION" (New York, 17 October 2023)
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.
We commend the Department for its continued efforts in raising awareness of the work and activities of the United Nations globally.
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.
We also commend Ambassador Aamir Khan of Pakistan for his able Chairmanship of the 45th session of the Committee on Information (COI), which led to a successful conclusion and an outcome document adopted by consensus.
The 45th 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.
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.
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.
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.
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, sand and dust storms, hurricanes, among others occurrences in many places of the world.
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. 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, 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, nondiscrimination, pluralism and freedom of opinion and expression.
The Group also encourages the Department to support the efforts of Member States and the United Nations System to eliminate all forms of discrimination, xenophobia, stigmatization, and hate speech targeting migrants and diasporas, as well as stereotyping and misleading narratives that generate negative perceptions of migration and migrants, bearing in mind their role as agents of sustainable development and as right holders.
Also, the Group wishes to highlight that the DGC's should bring the information to the attention of the public of all Nations in their languages and in a creative way, in order to assure that the key messages are spread and can reach 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, islamophobia, negative stereotyping, and related intolerance.
The Group expresses great concern at the increasing amount of disinformation and misinformation directed against United Nations peacekeeping operations, and encourages the Department to support their efforts to provide accurate content, including in local languages and in coordination with national authorities, to help to strengthen the understanding of their mandates, manage expectations and garner trust and support.
The Group takes note of the report of the Secretary-General pursuant to resolution 76/227 noting that countering the different manifestations 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 professionals 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.
Fifth, as we stand at the critical halfway point of our collective journey to achieve the SDGs by 2030, 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, while respecting countries´ sovereignty, 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.
Ninth, The Group also appreciates the Department to continuing its work on developing a global code of conduct for Information Integrity on Digital Platforms, which could serve as an important reference for Member States for their respective practices in this field, based on their individual national conditions. The Department began a desk review of threats to information integrity across the world, as well as of the applicable regulatory efforts occurring at the national and regional levels. The Group also highly recognizes, the intensified exchanges of views developed by the Department, with Member States and relevant stakeholders in the field of information integrity, including think tanks, academia, media institutions and the United Nations system.
Tenth, The Group takes note with interest of the Policy Briefs on specific initiatives such as the Policy Brief 8: Information Integrity on Digital Platforms in view of the preparatory work of the Summit of the Future. The Group believes these documents would serve as important inputs, among others, for the preparatory process leading up to the Summit in 2024, keeping in mind that Member States will make the final decision on the intergovernmentally agreed elements to be included in its outcome, the "Pact of the Future".
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.
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.
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.