STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY AMBASSADOR AHMED TIDIANE SAKHO OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF GUINEA TO THE UNITED NATIONS AT THE INFORMAL AND BRAINSTORMING MEETING WITH THE UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS FOR GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS (New York, 17 March 2021)
The Group of 77 and China expresses its appreciation to USG to have arranged this meeting to update members of the Committee on the recent activities of the DGC. The interactive nature of the brainstorming will enable the Group to share with the USG on the recent development and to make sure that it is in line with the briefing.
The Group welcomes recent activities carried out by the Department of Global Communications (DGC) ahead of the COI session. We believe that actions taken as they are going to be outlined, should go a step further by addressing various issues that constitute real concerns across the globe.
The Group supports the activities and efforts of the DGC in particular the ones dealing with:
- fighting misinformation through the effort "verified" initiative raising the issue;
- broaden the initiative to the issue of disinformation.
- the current pandemic situation with a focus on COVID-19 vaccine equitable and affordable distribution, including through the "OnlyTogether" campaign;
The Group would like to highlight its key priorities and provide the following observations and recommendations on the overall operations of the DGC:
1. The DGC should continue communication and information dissemination to amplify the work of the Organization. A crucial element in "getting our public to care" is communicating with them in their own language. It is necessary to move from a culture of translation to a truly multilingual culture given that we are operating in a multilingual environment.
2. The creation of "labs" to manage campaigns on priority themes is a valuable initiative. To ensure the maximum effectiveness of these labs, the Department is encouraged to integrate native speakers of the six official and other languages that will be used in the operationalization of the labs. Native speakers should be involved at every stage of the labs, including conception and design.
3. The activities for unifying and optimizing the UN brand across all of the Organization's websites are important steps in the right direction. It is equally important to ensure that webpages are updated in a timely manner, reflecting new decisions and relevant documentation in the six official languages, and other languages, as applicable, as this is crucial not only for the public that follows the UN news in its various formats but also for the internal work of the Missions, particularly in their communications with their capitals. This will also enable the public to keep abreast with the work of the Organization. It can be accepted, but only if the proposal of the followers is incorporated into the forms of the UN media, together with the internal work of the Missions, as originally stated in the paragraph.
4. The DGC should take into account of the perspectives of marginalized groups when communicating messages on issues affecting them. The trend is often to present only the perspectives of opinion- leaders but the DGC should aim to present more balanced messaging. It is important to give a voice to the invisible, thereby giving them visibility and helping them to connect with the work of the Organization.
5. The DGC's efforts to portray the UN as a platform to "point out what is going right, what is possible, and how the United Nations and its Member States are making a difference." should be considered as a form of branding. It would be useful to further define this brand, particularly in the context of the three priority themes outlined by the Secretary-General as part of our promotion of the Decade of Action as well as in the current evolving situation regarding the global pandemic.
6. In addition to highlighting the work of the UN entities and intergovernmental bodies in the area of human rights, the DGC should also consider highlighting the many collaborative activities between Member States and UN Agencies which receive little media coverage but bring concrete and positive impact on the ground. The media coverage should be extended to the problems that impede the full respect of human rights for all.
7. The DGC should consider concrete initiatives for communicating messages to and about people with disabilities. Strategic activities and materials specifically tailored to this vulnerable group will promote increased awareness and sensitivity.
8. The DGC should always be balanced in the messages communicated on any given issue particularly in this "post-truth" era. Consequently, in the spirit of transparency and impartiality, the DGC is encouraged to consider the points of view of all concerned when developing those messages.
9. Another key issue that deserves DGC's attention is the digital divide between developed and developing countries. Crises, such as the one we are currently experiencing, highlight how business continuity is often possible in the developed world because of access to digital resources while countries without the means face significant interruptions.