Thank you Mr Chairperson,
I speak on behalf of the European Union and a number of countries aligning themselves with this statement, namely:
The Candidate Countries Croatia, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina and Montenegro, as well as Norway, Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine.
I would like to start by welcoming the Bureau and congratulate you in your work of presiding over the Fourth Committee. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General and the Committee on Information for their respective reports.
Managing the flow of information is a core activity of any major organization and an increasingly important task in todays globalized media landscape. This year, climate change and the H1N1 influenza stand out as topics where the UNs message needs to reach a wide audience.
The Department of Public Information has proven its competence in both these areas, not the least in the case of the H1N1 influenza where UN information has been both timely and widespread. Credit should also be given to the Task Force of the United Nations Communications Group, which helped maintain message coherence in communications during the influenza outbreak.
Looking ahead, the reports before us provide a basis for addressing some of the challenges facing DPI. The European Union stands by the three priorities it outlined for the 31st session of the Committee on Information:
First, the EU continues to advocate a further streamlining of the resolution and look forward to the proposal in this spirit to be made by the task force. An improved structure of the resolution would provide the DPI with a clearer starting point for its work. It would also be a way to strengthen the message of the resolution.
Second, efforts should continue to maximize the output of DPIs limited resources. The department operates within a tight budget and that makes it particularly important to ensure efficiency. We encourage DPI to take a new look at what can be done to create synergies between the various UN information centres around the world. In Europe, the UN now operates on the basis of one regional focal point for public information. Where appropriate, this model should be tried also in other parts of the world as a way to create synergies and save costs.
Third, multilingualism is a priority for the EU. It is encouraging that DPI continues to put emphasis on the parity of the official languages. Well aware that resources are limited, the EU reiterates the importance of DPI using multilingualism as a tool of their client-oriented outreach approach. Here, information centres play a key role.
Further more, the EU believes that transforming the UN Chronicle into a genuinely thought provoking UN Affairs journal aiming to be an authoritative voice on the issues of the United Nations agenda and on the values and objectives of the Organization would be a tool for further outreach. Other important steps towards enhanced transparency have been taken, as reflected in the report and the draft resolution to be adopted by the Fourth committee. We welcome the revamping of the top layers of the UN website in all six languages.
A key aspect is to provide access for the press. During the General Assembly ministerial week, demands from the media are usually at a peak. Given the logistical challenges involved, the escorting of journalists within their areas of access functioned relatively smoothly this year. However, the areas to which press officers have access remain limited, which sometimes affects the media coverage and the adequacy of the reporting. We also encourage DPI to be more flexible on the possibility to allow for more than one press conference to take place at the same time during the ministerial week, should it be required. In this respect, The Capital Master Plan must also be taken into account.
Finally, let me briefly comment on the fundamental issues of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The resolution urges all member states to ensure for journalists the free and effective performance of their professional tasks and condemn resolutely all attacks against them. As of today, 31 journalists have been killed this year as a consequence of their profession, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. There is still a risk of reaching last years number of 42 deaths before the end of the year. It is our collective duty to put an end to these killings and to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.
I thank you.