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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

14 October 2016, New York – European Union Statement delivered by the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations at the United Nations General Assembly 71st Session Fourth Committee on Agenda Item 53: Questions relating to information

– Check against delivery –

Mr Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

First, we would like to express our sincere condolences to the Mission and people of Thailand for the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol.

Monsieur le président,

Permettez-moi de commencer par saluer chaleureusement Mme Cristina Gallach, et son équipe, et de la remercier pour ses remarques liminaires. Nous tenons également à remercier le Rapporteur pour la présentation du rapport du Secrétaire général. L’Union européenne et ses États membres soutiennent les efforts constants du Département de l’information en vue de transmettre les idéaux et les travaux de l’Organisation des Nations Unies à une audience aussi large que possible, dans autant de langues que possible et au travers d’un grand nombre de media. La capacité du Département de l’information à innover et sa grande disponibilité ont été mis en lumière en particulier au cours de la semaine ministérielle, durant laquelle il a continuellement informé le grand public au sujet du marathon d’événements de haut niveau qui se sont déroulés à cette occasion, par une variété de medias et dans diverses langues.

Monsieur le président,

Nous avons lu avec grand intérêt le rapport de cette année sur les questions relatives à l’information du Secrétaire général et nous saluons les efforts continus du Secrétaire général pour intégrer les activités liées aux services de communication stratégique, d’information, de sensibilisation du public et de la connaissance. Nous espérons voir cette approche intégrée en matière de sensibilisation du public aux questions prioritaires pour l’Organisation se poursuivre, ce qui assurera que toutes les parties de la société prennent part aux travaux de l’ONU. Nous soutenons une approche ascendante qui fasse la part aux acteurs non gouvernementaux, comme les universitaires, les instituts de recherche, les fondations, ainsi que les partenariats public-privés. Nous soutenons également une coordination et un soutien accrus entre les centres d’information régionaux, de nature à faciliter une approche de la sensibilisation plus horizontale et plus locale, et améliorer son efficacité et  son efficience dans un contexte contraint en matière de ressources. Ces mécanismes de sensibilisation sont essentiels pour la promotion de la démocratie, de la liberté, de l’égalité, des droits de l’homme et de la tolérance, ainsi que du respect mutuel et de la compréhension entre les cultures et les civilisations. Toutes ces valeurs sont des valeurs fondamentales à la fois des nations Unies et de l’Union européenne, ce qui explique notre engagement au soutien des Nations Unies dans l’ensemble de ses entreprises de sensibilisation et de communication.

Mr Chairman,

In the last few days, have witnessed the conclusion of the selection- and appointment procedure of the new Secretary-General, in an innovative process of improved transparency and accountability. This has provided an opportunity to showcase the UN through a variety of media outlets, capturing the engagement of worldwide audiences and bolstering the image of the UN as a whole.

The Secretary-General Designate António Guterres will take the head of the UN at a critical time, when the global community faces many challenges: climate change and the implementation of the Paris Agreement; the large movement of refugees and migrants; the fight against terrorism; the ongoing crisis in Syria; the infringement of human rights and gender equality; and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, among others. The UN has an important role to play in tackling each of these tasks, and public diplomacy is a crucial aspect of this. Communicating information to the right audience, at the right time and in the right way – back and forth – is essential for the UN to take action and achieve many of its goals. In order to reach broader audiences all around the world, the Secretariat must engage all stakeholders in the most appropriate way for each of them, taking account of various levels of accessibility and availability of resources, and seeking to improve the existing platforms. As communication is a multi-directional, reciprocal process, an efficient evaluation scheme is necessary, along with a clear communication strategy that is responsive to feedback and audience-oriented. We welcome, therefore, the recognition of the changing media landscape and the renewed emphasis on the use of digital platforms and social media, facilitated by the use of more comprehensive social media analysis tools, as well as the tailoring of products to accommodate different viewer habits and connectivity restraints.

Social media reach has continued to grow across all languages. Multilingualism is a core value of the United Nations, and is essential for accountability and transparency, and for promoting global ownership of its actions and values. The mainstreaming of multilingualism into the Secretariat’s communication and information activities is important for the EU and its Member States, where 24 official languages and many more regional and minority languages are in constant use. The Secretary General makes reference in his report to the continued publication and dissemination of information in as many as 63 different languages across different platforms, and we support continued advances in this regard, within existing resources.

The outreach efforts of DPI campaigns on thematic issues and key events are invaluable for informing and engaging stakeholders at all levels, from NGOs and civil society organisations to the wider public. We commend the Department’s work in keeping the public informed about the UN’s responses to crises around the world, from the migration challenge to climate change, the prevention of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis to peacekeeping and peacebuilding. The human rights agenda should also continue to feature high on the list of priorities for the Department. As we have emphasised before, the full spectrum of human rights issues merits consistent, year-round attention. We also support the newly-devised communication strategy with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Field Support, and other UN entities, on combating sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations personnel. This is an important aspect of maintaining the image of the UN and all its departments, through thorough transparency and accountability.

The continued diversification of media and information outlets in this fast-moving digital age is also key to the further engagement of young people. Soundcloud, podcasts, webcasting, Flickr, digitized resources – all platforms used, above all, by youth – tie in with the continued efforts of educational outreach initiatives and the UN Academic Impact initiative, to engage and empower the next generation of social innovators and world leaders.

A pesar de la importancia de estas nuevas formas de comunicación, vale la pena recordar que los gobiernos, los parlamentos, la investigación académica sobre asuntos de la ONU, la sociedad civil vinculada a la ONU y el público en general también necesitan un acceso fiable, completo, de fácil uso y asequible a documentos y publicaciones oficiales de la ONU. Los nuevos métodos de edición digital ofrecen grandes oportunidades en este sentido, lo que complementa y fortalece la importante red de bibliotecas depositarias de las Naciones Unidas en todo el mundo.

On top of this, the implementation of environmentally-friendly printing policies is another element of the DPI’s involvement in working towards improving overall Sustainability, ensuring the planet remains a safe home to the next generation. The DPI and the UN information centres had a key role in promoting the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, and we are all looking ahead now to the work of the DPI during COP22 in Marrakech in November this year. As always, the European Union and its Member States stand ready to support you in your vital public diplomacy work, ensuring that the efforts towards the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the communication to the public of all progress made, continue – with enthusiasm, efficiency and innovation.

Thank you.


*The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

  • Ref: EUUN16-135EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: Fourth Committee - Special Political and Decolonization Committee
  • Date: 14/10/2016

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