Mr. Chair, distinguished delegates,
Italy would like to align itself to the Statement delivered by the European Union on behalf of its Member States and would like to add some additional remarks in its national capacity.
Italy is honored to join the board of the Committee on Information for 2023-2024 and looks forward to constructively engaging with the Chair Mr. Aamir Khan of Pakistan and the other newly elected Board members, to whom we express our congratulations. I would also like to thank the Mission of Ecuador for its leadership of the Committee on Information in 2021 and 2022, and to warmly welcome Estonia as new member of the Committee
. We stand ready to further strengthen our support to the DGC’s and the Committee’s work, that is becoming more and more critical in these times of polluted media ecosystem and increasing threats to citizens’ trust in institutions as well as challenges to the work of the UN itself.
First of all, we strongly commend the DGC’s visionary work over the last few years, under the steadfast leadership of the USG Fleming, to make the UN stand out as a reliable source of information for the citizens around the globe, while engaging them through a multi-stakeholder approach. This approach is also at the core of Italy’s communication strategy on topics such as women’s rights, particularly throughout our current Vice-Presidency of UN Women’s executive board, youth empowerment, through the Youth 4 Climate format, which is engaging more and more young environmental leaders both online and offline, the involvement of the private sector to achieve the 2030 Agenda, which we are spotlighting in a dedicated Podcast entitled “CommITtedEnterprises”. Just to mention a few.
In the broader UN communication activity, we particularly appreciated the compassionate coverage of the war in Ukraine, of the crisis in Afghanistan and of the devastating effects of the draught in Somalia, just to mention some, but also some vital campaigns such as “Verified” to educate the global audience not to be a victim of, or accidentally spread, misinformation and disinformation online. The DGC’s partnership with Google and Youtube was also a landmark initiative to disseminate scientific-based information and data on crucial topics such as climate change.
With the rich multilateral agenda ahead of us this year, an effective and multilingual communication will be crucial to reach a global audience in the run-up to high level events such as the SDG Summit in September. We hope that a similar outreach activity can lay the groundwork for other important meetings such as the High-level Pledging Event to Support the Humanitarian Response in the Horn of Africa on 24 May, the Stocktaking moment of the UN Food System Summit from 24 to 26 July, and the Fourth International Conference on SIDS to take place in 2024.
We support the ongoing work to develop a Code of Conduct for information integrity on digital platforms and look forward to its recommendations for a responsible behavior of all stakeholders, including states, civil society and the private sector. Italy, together with the European Union, is determined to counter information manipulation and interference, including disinformation.
As first troop-contributor to the UN Peacekeeping in the Western group, we are alarmed that 70% of UN peacekeepers said mis- and disinformation had a severe, critical or moderate impact on their work in 2022, while 75% said it impacted their safety and security. Their safety is essential for the safety of the local populations where the peace operation is displaced, and ultimately for the very successful outcome of the peace operation itself. This is one more reason to redouble our efforts.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the World Press Freedom Day and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Regrettably, media freedom, safety of journalists and freedom of expression are increasingly under attack. We remain gravely concerned by the growing number of journalists and media workers killed, wounded or detained in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
In this context Italy is determined to staunchly work, both within the Committee on Information and in the other relevant multilateral coalitions and formats, including the Group of Friends on the Safety of Journalists, to place press freedom, as well as independent, pluralistic and diverse media, front and center to the enjoyment of all other human rights, everywhere.
Finally, we appreciate and encourage the efforts of the DGC to disseminate information also in the non-official languages, and commend the work done by the UN Information Centre competent for Italy.
To conclude, please count on Italy’s strong support and engagement for a successful session of the Committee on Information. We thank the G77 and China, in particular the Cuban delegation as coordinator, for the zero draft of the resolutions under the item “Questions relating to information” and we look forward to a fruitful negotiation to agree on an ambitious, forward-looking and consensual text for the two annual resolutions that we are all called to adopt.