(submitted in writing)
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries 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 thank Under-Secretary-General Melissa Fleming and the entire Department of Global Communications for their updates to the information provided in the reports submitted to the Committee on Information, including a summary of activities undertaken by the Department from 1 February to 30 June 2020, through its three sub-programmes: strategic communications services, news services and outreach and knowledge services.
We also congratulate Under-Secretary-General Fleming and her team for the launch of the 2020 Global Communications Strategy that has, by necessity and in real time, been shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent reforms introduced to make communications outreach more agile, the increasing engagement with all stakeholders, including civil society, and the focus on young people as a priority audience, have all proven especially important during the pandemic. Moreover, the global communication proactive approach, strategically intensified in the support of the Organisation’s challenging priorities during the crisis, has proven its effectiveness in harnessing a strong sense of responsibility in contributing to a sustainable global health environment. This challenging time has required not only to provide timely, accurate and reliable information, but to do so in a way that fosters compassion and solidarity among the world’s citizens.
We warmly welcome the steps taken by the Department to tackle the wave of misinformation and disinformation that has accompanied the crisis – including in the context of the “Verified” campaign.
This concern is shared by countries across all continents, as demonstrated by the success of the Cross-Regional Statement on the Infodemic, endorsed by 132 signatories, including all 27 EU Member States and the European Union, in June this year.
The fact that the #TakeCareBeforeYouShare campaign reached well over 400 million people, with the participation of New York based missions, but also capitals, is very encouraging and bodes well for future such campaigns. We also further encourage the partnerships with social media platforms, which have a major responsibility in protecting citizens from disinformation while upholding the freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of the press.
We also strongly support the Department’s choice to give priority to the SDGs, climate change and gender equality, while supporting the Secretary-General’s broader transformative agenda and his appeals and policy briefs related to COVID-19. The 75th Anniversary of the UN offers a unique opportunity to show how the Organisation is making the world a better place for all. You can count on the European Union and its Member States’ continued support across the board, from the call for a global ceasefire to international efforts on making a vaccine available for all. However, a core value of the Organisation, multilingualism, has been negatively affected during the pandemic, both within the work of UN bodies and in the public communications. For the transparency of a balanced multilateral system which enjoys the trust of our citizens, we call for the full and equitable treatment of all the official languages of the United Nations in all the activities of the Organisation. We look forward to further efforts to address this concern shared by a majority of Member States.
We thank the Secretariat for the updated information on the three Secretary-General’s reports submitted previously to the Committee on Information.
The coverage of sustainable development and climate change as strategic communications priorities, especially the advocacy for accelerated action on the SDGs at global, national and local levels, has been successful in highlighting the need for increased international ambition. Like other UN priorities, it mirrors the EU’s policy agenda at home, especially in the context of the European Green Deal. As we are endeavouring to ‘build back better and greener’, we see many potential synergies in 2020 and beyond, as shown during the recent High-Level Segment, from the Biodiversity Summit to the SDG Moment and the discussion on Financing for Development. The other focus this year - and rightly so - on women's rights during the high-level meeting on the Beijing Declaration stressed the immense challenges still ahead, which require determined action.
To do so efficiently, the Department of Global Communications must continue its efforts to ensure multilingualism. This is not just a fundamental value of the UN, but the very condition of the transmission of our messages to all citizens – these messages save life when they provide health guidance; they are essential for the outreach to the local populations where UN peacekeeping missions are deployed; they are instrumental for the ownership of national commitments regarding the SDGs or the Paris Agreement, to name just a few. While we recognise the unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic in this respect, we encourage continued efforts to improve the respect of multilingualism across the UN system.
Concerning the tools of communication, we welcome the exponential growth in users experienced by the UN website following its timely revamping. The growth in the UN’s major social media platforms is also encouraging, and we encourage the Department to increase the impact of these services in an equitable manner in all official languages, and other languages in which such services are available. UN initiatives in the digital arena more broadly will be instrumental in bridging the digital gap in a way that is human-centred and respects human rights, good governance, and accountability.
The EU and its Member States strongly support the efforts of the Department of Global Communications in tackling these challenges and look forward to further partnering with you to promote a strong multilateralism and the many aspects of our shared agenda.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.