Ambassador Raymond Wolfe
Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations
at the General Debate Segment of the 31st Session of the Committee on Information
at the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
May 5, 2009
Allow me, at the outset, to congratulate you and other Members of the Bureau on your election. My delegation has every confidence in your ability to conduct the business of this Committee in an efficient and effective manner.
My delegation aligns itself with the statement delivered by the Distinguished Permanent Representative of Sudan on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and Mexico on behalf of the Rio Group.
My delegation thanks the Secretary–General for the timely production and dissemination of the reports on the activities of the Department of Public Information in its three main areas of activity: strategic communication services, news services, and outreach services, contained in documents A/AC.198/2009/2, 3 & 4.
My delegation also takes this opportunity to express its gratitude to the Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information, Mr. Kiyotaka Akasaka, and other staff members of the DPI for the extremely useful and informative interactive briefing session which is not only an important feature of the annual sessions of the COI, but also evidence of the open and collaborative relationship between this Committee and the DPI.
On 3rd May the international community celebrated World Press Freedom Day. Freedom of information and freedom of the press are essential to breaking the barriers that exist between peoples of different societies. I can think of no better way to honour those Journalists who have paid the ultimate price, than by using the tools of the information and communication age, to eliminate hatred, intolerance and poverty, and create a better society for present and future generations.
The task of the DPI, to provide accurate, impartial, timely, comprehensive and relevant information on the activities of the Organisation is a critical one. The DPI should be commended for their successes over the past year, which have been realized through increased global media coverage of critical events on the UN’s agenda including financing for development, climate change and the discussions on the global food and financial and economic crisis, issues related to Africa, violence against women, as well as the Millennium Development Goals, to name a few.
Indeed, the increased traffic to the UN website and the UN News Centre is a testament to the fact that through the hard work of the DPI, the Organisation is now globally recognized as a credible source of up-to-date and comprehensive information on topical issues in international relations.
One particular achievement of importance for my delegation, for which we believe the DPI deserves special commendation, is its efforts to make the UN website more accessible to persons with disabilities. We thank the DPI for leading this effort, and offer our unwavering support for future efforts in this important area.
While we applaud the efforts of the DPI in its creative use of modern technology to ‘spread the word’, so to speak, about the UN, we must not lose sight of the fact that, for many developing countries, full access to these forms of technology is not yet a reality, and as such, traditional means of communication remain an important tool. In fact, traditional means of communication are more critical today, in the context of the global economic and financial crisis, which has threatened developmental gains made in previous years, including the provision of full access to modern technology to facilitate rapid communication, educate the local population, and facilitate development within various sectors of the economy, at affordable costs.
Among the issues that will be deliberated by this Committee during this Session is that of the replacement of UN Chronicle by UN Affairs. The UN is unique in its ability to reach out to and harness the intellectual capacities of world leaders, politicians, academics, civil society leaders etc. In taking our decision let us never lose sight of the fact that, as the flagship publication of the Organisation, representing all 192 Members States, this publication must reach all audiences at all levels of the community, and should not be targeted at any one particular segment of the global readership, to the exclusion of others.
Throughout the reporting period, the DPI undertook a number of important outreach activities, in particular, the commemoration of the 60th Anniversaries of UN Peacekeeping Operations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These are indeed critical milestones and we sincerely thank the DPI and its network of UN Information Centres for the wide-reaching campaigns to inform and educate persons across the globe.
My delegation has taken note of the planned outreach activities geared toward educating young people about the work of the United Nations. We look forward to the staging of the Global Model UN Conference, to be held in August 2009, and the launch of the programme ‘Academic Impact’. We hope that these and other initiatives targeting the youth population will engage young people in all parts of the globe.
These planned activities, coupled with the Department’s utilisation of media such as YouTube, and social networking internet sites which attract a large number of young people, are critical to not only educating the younger generation about the purposes and activities of the UN, but also to stimulate discussions and generate new ideas, about many of the problems facing the global community.
One area of the DPI’s outreach activity, of particular importance to Jamaica, the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the African Union, is the now annual commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade and the victims of slavery, on March 25th as well as the initiative to erect, at United Nations Headquarters, a permanent memorial in acknowledgement of the tragedy and in consideration of the legacy of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.
It will be recalled that General Assembly resolutions 62/122 and 63/5 have requested the Secretariat to “establish a programme of educational outreach to mobilize, inter alia, educational institutions and civil society on the subject of remembering the transatlantic slave trade and slavery, in order to educate future generations about the causes, consequences and lessons of the transatlantic slave trade and to communicate the dangers of racism and prejudice.” Over the past two years, this has been done with the assistance of DPI.
My delegation supports the call made by previous speakers for sufficient resources to be made available to the DPI for the discharge of its mandate, and in particular, for adequate resources to effectively undertake the annual commemorative activities to honour the memory of the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.
As we work toward implementation of the aforementioned resolutions, I take this opportunity to put on record the resolve of Jamaica, as well as its fellow CARICOM and AU partners, to enhance collaboration between our two regions and the DPI on the outreach programme on Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, in accordance with aforementioned resolutions. We look forward to continued collaboration with the DPI in recognition of a tragic chapter of our shared history.
Let me close by once again expressing the sincere thanks of the Government of Jamaica to all Staff Members of the DPI in particular those located in the field for their continuous hard work and dedication, in the context of ever diminishing resources. My delegation is committed to continue to support your efforts to inform and educate the global populace about the important range of activities carried out by this Organisation.
I thank you.