Dichiarazione della UE alla 43ma Session della Committee on Information dell’ONU: Dibattito Generale —
26 April 2021, New York
Mr. Chair, Madam Under-Secretary-General, distinguished colleagues,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.
Let me start by thanking you for convening this General Debate and all the staff of the Secretariat who make it possible for us to return, in a safe manner, to in-person meetings.
I wish to thank USG Fleming and the Department of Global Communications for their continued commitment to modernizing and strengthening the UN’s communication. One year after the launch of the first-ever Global Communications Strategy for the United Nations, we have noted with appreciation the Department’s increasing agility in deploying campaigns across the UN agenda, talking to new audiences, asserting the voice of the Organization – and thus while adapting to unprecedented, and very challenging, working conditions.
We praise your continued engagement on all UN pillars during the pandemic, in line with the dedicated calls and reports by the Secretary General: the broad human rights and gender equality agenda, climate and environment action, the realization of the SDGs and peace and security – which have all been faced by new challenges. The Department’s coordination of the crisis communications of the UN system, and the dedicated website on COVID-19, have been crucial in global efforts to save lives.
The Verified campaign is a model of its kind to fight disinformation/misinformation while appealing to our common humanity. The EU and its Member States have actively participated in its successive phases, including the most recent one, #OnlyTogether, which brought a welcome positive narrative based on the hope that Covid-19 vaccines and their global and equitable access are the game changer that will help our societies recover from the pandemic.
The work of the DGC on the virus has been key to help provide accurate information and dissipate the concerns among the population about the safety of vaccines. Our communication efforts should also promote multilateral solutions that aim to treat Covid-19 vaccination as a global public good. The European Union, in addition to being the leading exporter of vaccines, has been leading in setting up the COVAX facility, contributing with 2.5 billion EUR from Team Europe, and welcomes its continued delivery of vaccines on all continents as the manifestation of vaccine solidarity and of the notion that ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe’. The DGC should also continue to underline the importance of long-term development efforts – also in the health sector – which make it possible to distribute vaccines, for Covid-19 or other diseases.
All EU Member States have cosponsored the resolution proclaiming a Global Media and Information Literacy week, which was recently adopted by the General Assembly, because we are convinced that further international efforts are needed to empower citizens and improve their ability to operate in the information environment, as well as to counter misinformation and disinformation. Covid-19 has shown how disinformation and misinformation on the virus itself can kill, but let us not forget that every day disinformation is also used to mislead, to violate human rights, including the right to privacy and to freedom of expression, and to incite violence, hatred, discrimination or hostility, both online and off line. We look forward to continue to work with the DGC on this important issue, including in the framework of the Global Media and Information Literacy week, while promoting the freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of the press. We also further encourage the partnerships with social media platforms, which have a major responsibility in informing and protecting citizens.
The EU and its Member States also welcome the commitments made by the General Assembly in its Omnibus resolution on Covid-19 adopted in September 2020 that fall within the realm of this Committee. I wish to stress particularly the importance of ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms, including freedom of opinion and expression; the recognition of the fundamental contribution of journalists and media workers – including in countering the spread of disinformation and misinformation – and the need to protect their safety.
Covid-19 has reaffirmed the importance of communicating to citizens everywhere in the world. The work of all UN information Centres, including the Regional Information Centres, is more important than ever in complementing the activities deployed from UN Headquarters.
In communicating to citizens, multilingualism is not just a core value of the UN, it is a necessary condition for promoting its work to the global audience – the peoples of the United Nations – and thus for the transparency of the multilateral system and the trust of all our citizens. While noting the efforts deployed to recover from the major disruption caused by the pandemic, we wish to recall the responsibility of the DGC to ensure a fully equitable treatment of all official UN languages in all the activities of the Organisation and pursue efforts to disseminate information in the other languages used by the Department. All opportunities should be seized to uphold multilingualism as a strength of this Organisation, and to reflect our linguistic diversity, including within the DGC’s personnel through recruitment and training.
Turning to specific communication tools, we note with satisfaction the continued increase of the number of visitors on the UN website as well as their deeper engagement, which indicates a growing interest for the content created.
The recalibration of the DGC’s social media strategy in the context of the pandemic, including the focus on the Verified initiative, also produced results – with the significant expansion of all flagship social media accounts across platforms and languages, which we warmly welcome. The principles of digital storytelling and the emphasis on “solutions” journalism are also bringing positive results. We congratulate the DGC on these successes and support its ongoing reforms.
We are committed to cooperate with the UN initiatives in the digital arena – not least to address the digital divide. The EU promotes a human-centric, multi-stakeholder approach including civil society and the private sector, where human rights, including the right to privacy, democracy, good governance, accountability and the rule of law are protected offline and online.
In the framework of the Global Communication strategy, the DGC’s willingness to motivate and empower people – and in particular our next generation – to speak up and take action is very welcome. The UN’s 75th Anniversary is a unique opportunity to show how the Organisation is making the world a better place for all citizens. We welcome the inclusive and participatory approach adopted by the Secretary General’s team in conducting the Global Consultation leading up to the adoption of the UN75 Declaration, as well as the follow-up process to our ‘Common Agenda’ with its dedicated youth and civil society tracks. These approaches have been exemplary in ensuring that all voices and ideas are heard, and demonstrating the benefits of a truly inclusive and networked multilateralism as advocated by the Secretary-General.
The EU and its Member States are not only leading supporters of the UN system, but they also share the same agenda. You can count on our continued support moving forward.
Thank you for your attention.
Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States at the 43rd Session of the United Nations Committee on Information General Debate