By an IPS Correspondent
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 28 2017 (IPS/G77)
Underlining the key role to be played by digital technology in helping implement the UN’s 2030 development agenda, the Group of 77 has said it recognizes the importance of information and communications technologies (ICTs), including social media, and their positive potential to significantly amplify the UN’s messages to the widest possible audiences and to enhance greater interaction with the United Nations, in particular among the global youth population.
However, it cautioned, that the use of traditional media, including television and radio broadcast as well as print, must continue, since they still remain the primary means of public communications in many developing countries.
Speaking on behalf of the G77, joined by China, Ambassador Horacio Sevilla Borja of Ecuador and chair of the G77, told the UN Committee on Information the Group would encourage the Department of Public Information (DPI) to continue to promote, through its public campaigns, key decisions and agreements reached by the international community.
These, he pointed out, include agreements on sustainable development, decolonization, the New Urban Agenda, dialogue among civilizations and the culture of peace, the initiative on a world against violence and violent extremism, peacekeeping, disarmament, poverty eradication and climate change.
“The importance of the Department’s work cannot be stressed enough, amid increasing calls for the United Nations to better communicate to and connect with the global public, in order to be better understood and remain relevant,” he added.
Ambassador Borja said the General Assembly resolution 69/324 recognizes that multilingualism promotes unity in diversity and international understanding.
The Group fully supports its integration into all activities of the United Nations.
“While we recognize that there has been progress in this issue, 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,” he noted.
“In this regard, we encourage the Department to reinforce its efforts to continue narrowing the gap among the official languages on United Nations websites and, as a matter of priority, we reiterate the request to design a strategy to deliver daily press releases in all six official languages, in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions.”
In addition, the Group also reiterated its full support for the work of UN Information Centers (UNICs) worldwide in disseminating 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. We therefore encourage the Department to continue supporting them and strengthening their structure regarding both staffing and equipment.”
The G77 chair also warned against the misuse of information technologies. Despite their numerous benefits, information and communications technologies, including social media, can pose a risk of misuse and abuse.
Inaccurate and distorted information can have a negative impact on nations and their citizens.
The Group strongly rejects such practices and reiterates “our position that the use of such technologies should be fully compatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law, in particular the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of States, and internationally recognized rules of civil coexistence among States.”
The use of information and communications technologies with declared or covert purposes to subvert the legal and political order of States is a violation of the recognized international norms in this field, whose effects could generate tensions and conflicts which could also affect international peace and security, he declared.
Meanwhile, the Group also said the Question of Palestine and the Middle East peace process deserve special attention.
The Group underscores the importance of the Special Information Program on the Question of Palestine in raising international awareness on this important issue and in supporting the political process to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.
“We commend the Department’s efforts in this regard, including the annual training program for Palestinian journalists, aimed at strengthening skills and capacities of young Palestinian journalists, and call for their continuation and enhancement.”
The G77 also emphasized the importance of the continued implementation by DPI of the ongoing Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalists’ Fellowship Programme for broadcasters and journalists from developing countries as mandated by the General Assembly, and requests the Department to consider how best to maximize the benefits derived from the Programme by extending, inter alia, its duration and the number of its participants.
“We also emphasize the importance of the educational outreach activities of the United Nations and this regard commends “the United Nations Academic Impact” (UNAI) for its engagement with the global academic, research and scientific communities in realizing the objectives of the Organization.”
The Group encourages promoting this initiative, by inviting more institutions of higher education in all regions, especially from developing countries, to contribute actively to, and support the common principles and purposes of the Organization.