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Committee on Information’s (CoI) 41st (Opening) Session

Monday, 29 April 2019
MR. ANGELITO A. NAYAN First Secretary Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations
Conference Room 1, UNHQ


Mr. Chairman, Under-Secretary-General Smale, Excellencies, good afternoon.

Information is power. The nineteenth century witnessed Western powers become increasingly dominant, not only in raw military power which they generously applied; but in the constituents of that power: frenzied economic activity and advanced cultural practices enhanced by their judicious use of information. Information may not always be true; but, if categorized as information, it may as well be true; because friend and foe acknowledge it as fact.

Information as cause, measure and product of power made a tremendous impact on the modern world. Information fell into discredit with fascist, communist, and anti-communist propaganda. The birth of the United Nations restored the credibility of information as fact—and as the only rational basis for communication and cooperation.

Thirty four (34) years after the UN was created, the Committee on Information was established “to continue to examine United Nations public information policies and activities…in light of the imperatives …of the new international economic order and of a new world information and communication order…” But the social media’s anonymity and irresponsibility have made all “facts” suspect.

Since 1979, what is now called the Department of Global Communications has launched strategies, implemented, and evaluated programs and activities with varying degrees of success and reception, covering a wide range of issues from social and economic development, climate change, human rights and the Question of Palestine; to decolonization, UN peace operations, counter-terrorism, migrants and refugees.

We commend the Department’s championing of multilingualism. An instance is the multilingual multimedia campaign launched jointly with the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) to enhance public recognition of the contributions of peacekeepers from troop- and police-contributing countries.

We also highlight the Department’s innovative “Global Media Compact” initiative, aimed at “leveraging the power and influence of the media to create awareness and inspire action. A Philippine daily newspaper, the Daily Tribune, is one of the founding Compact members. It’s publisher and editor, Ninez Cacho Olivares, was a fierce fighter for freedom under the Marcos dictatorship.

Mr. Chairman,

Today, the Philippines reiterates the following positions:

1.    The Philippines supports the UN Department of Global Communications (DGC) as a “responsible messenger” of the UN, providing accurate, dependable, factual and reliable information.

2.    The Philippines supports calls for the DGC to work with the 59 operating UN Information Centers or UNICs, not only to use the six (6) official languages but other languages when appropriate, to reach the widest spectrum of audiences.

3.    The Philippines supports the work of the Committee on Information and the DGC to connect UN work with the international community in promoting the three pillars of peace and security, development, and human rights. 

We anticipate that this year’s session will again be a platform for Member States to ventilate bilateral issues, including political skirmishes. But we remain optimistic that the upcoming negotiations of the Committee on Information will be “liberating,” to borrow the words of Kofi Annan.”[1]

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  END


[1] Kofi Annan: “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating;” World Bank Conference, 23 June 1997.