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, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
I would like to express our appreciation to Jamaica for taking this initiative and to the core-group of 12 countries for their hard work in bringing the draft resolution on Global Media and Information Literacy week to the attention of the General Assembly. We also thank the Missions of Jamaica and Australia which, as co-facilitators of the informal consultations, ensured that all interested parties could engage meaningfully.
The EU supports this text because it addresses a significant challenge of our time. The EU and its Member States are committed to media and information literacy, in our internal policies, but also through EU development assistance in partner countries and by taking part in meaningful activities organised by UNESCO since 2011. Enhancing Media and Information literacy globally is crucial for enabling citizens of all ages to navigate the modern information environment and take informed decisions. In a world where the wealth of sources is unprecedented and exacerbated by online platforms, and where we will always defend freedom of the press, identifying reliable, trustworthy information requires perhaps more skills and judgement than ever before.
By supporting this GA resolution, the EU remains committed to ensuring that all people are equipped with the Media and Information Literacy skills required to participate as well-informed citizens in various aspects of public life.
By bringing this matter to the GA, we recognise the progress achieved so far by many countries, regional organizations and UN entities, and hope to provide guidance for the way forward. We also commit to a genuine inclusivity and comprehensiveness, so that all stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, can contribute to this universal endeavour – a multi-stakeholder approach repeatedly avowed by the Secretary General.
The draft resolution also ensures that the promotion of media and information literacy takes place in accordance with the principles of freedom of opinion and expression, media independence and pluralism. It also provides strong encouragement to fight disinformation and misinformation, an evolving challenge which must be addressed both online and off-line, while upholding freedoms of opinion and expression and media freedom. We regret that difficult compromises had to be made with regard to some of the references to these freedoms.
In this text we recognize the leading role of UNESCO in organizing the Media and Information Literacy week activities, including via greater youth engagement and leadership. But we also particularly address the role of the private sector and social media platforms in this effort to empower all citizens. Social media platforms play an increasingly critical role in addressing the challenge of misinformation/disinformation, including but not limited to the context of COVID-19 and the ‘infodemic’.
The draft resolution is positive, well-balanced, timely and action oriented. Therefore, we invite all UN Member States and all other relevant stakeholders to support its adoption and to engage – both politically and practically – in promoting its effective implementation worldwide.
We also wish to recognize the efforts of UN Secretary General in this area, in particular the Verified campaign announced in April 2020. The work of the Department of Global Communications has been key to fighting disinformation/misinformation, including about the pandemic, while also appealing to our common humanity. We reiterate our support for this crucial work while recalling the importance of multilingualism – a core value of the UN, and an essential condition for the engagement of the UN with all the peoples it serves.
Mr President, you have also addressed the challenge of misinformation/disinformation in the context of COVID-19, including your statement last December on “Responding to Infodemic – Sharing Best Practices” and we support your continued efforts in this regard.