General Assembly General Assembly

43rd SESSION OF COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION

 

GENERAL DEBATE

 

26 April 2021

 

INDIA STATEMENT

By

Mr. A. Amarnath, Counsellor

 

I thank you, Chairperson, for giving me the floor. Let me begin by congratulating you and Vice-Chairs from Malta and Philippines for the unanimous election to the Bureau. We wish you good luck and convey my delegation’s full support to you and the Bureau for the success of the 43rd session of the Committee on Information. We extend a warm welcome to our Latvian friends, who have joined the Committee this year. I would also like to use this opportunity to commend the efforts of Ambassador Omar Hilale of Morocco, whose leadership was instrumental in the successful completion of the 42nd session of the Committee, which was convened under the challenging circumstances of the pandemic.

 

2. I thank Under Secretary General Melissa Fleming for her briefing to the Committee. As she has mentioned, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest challenge the world has confronted in recent decades. There has never been a greater need for accurate and reliable information. Misinformation has spread rapidly, like the virus itself, and people around the world have been looking for a trusted information source that provides scientific and fact-based information.

 

3. I am happy that the UN system, and DGC in particular, have shouldered this critical responsibility. Through the coordinated communications response by the UN Communications Group Crisis Team, which is co-chaired by the DGC, the UN has earned the trust of global citizens as a reliable source of COVID-related information. More than 2 million unique visits to the UN’s dedicated COVID-19 website and the triple-fold increase in visitors to the UN News website testifies this.

 

4. We commend the DGC for launching the ‘Verified’ initiative and also ensuring the content presented on COVID-19 UN portal is relevant and up-to-date. The innovative use of social media by the Department to promote and amplify the ‘Verified’ initiative is also commendable. The significant contribution of United Nations Information Centers in this campaign cannot be overlooked and merits appreciation.

 

5. The General Assembly proclaimed recently, by consensus, October 24-31 as ‘Global Media and information Literacy week’ to address concerns about the exponential spread and proliferation of disinformation and misinformation through imparting media literacy skills. We encourage DGC to work with Member States, other UN and international organizations, and new and traditional media companies in holding educational and public awareness activities to tackle the issue of disinformation and misinformation.

 

6. Our appreciation also extends for DGC’s ‘OnlyTogether’ campaign, which we have supported and participated. This social-media campaign has helped reiterate the message across the world that COVID-19 vaccination is a global public good and  affordable, equitable and fair access to vaccines for all is an immutable requirement.

 

7. While DGC has actively encouraged further sharing of vaccines doses from all countries, we urge the Department to also suitably highlight the efforts of Member States, international organizations, and vaccine producers, who have already done so, especially with those who need it most. India, despite the severe constraints and within our own limited resources, has tried to ‘walk the talk’ on vaccine equity. We have shared vaccines with more than 80 countries and provided life-saving drugs, medicines and protective equipment to over 150 countries. Our efforts underscore that we will not defeat the pandemic unless all of us, everywhere, come out of it safely.

 

8. In recent months, the customary conversations between people, here at the UN, and around the world are incomplete without questions like – Which vaccine did you take?  Is it trustworthy? Are there any side effects? Dissemination of scientific and fact-based answers to the above questions are key to enhance the ‘trustworthiness’ of the vaccines among the people. As member states ramp up their vaccination programs globally, we urge the DGC to give due focus to vaccine safety, in its global communications, to shore up public confidence on vaccines. Without this, our common goal of vaccinating the entire humanity cannot be achieved.

 

Chairperson,

9. We take note of the extensive work done by the Department to promote multilingualism in its content and communication. We have been partnering with the Department, since 2018, in evolving a unique model to mainstream and consolidate news and multimedia content in Hindi in the News portal and social media. Over the years, we have seen the interest in such content grow exponentially and, as indicated in the Secretary-General’s report, the Hindi edition of UN News has seen its brand grow among audiences. Similarly, within a short period of its commencement, UN’s Hindi social media accounts have also witnessed a massive following. Having seen the success first hand, we encourage DGC to look at similar innovative ways to expand its content it other non-official languages as well.

 

10. Our partnership with DGC in commemorating the International Day of Yoga last year was instrumental in promoting the message of Yoga to fight social isolation and depression during the pandemic and highlight Yoga’s significant role in the psycho-social care of COVID-19 patients in quarantine and isolation. We value this co-operation.

 

11. We welcome the important role played by the UN Academic Impact in creating a vibrant and diverse network of students, academics, scientists, researchers, think-tanks and universities, where new ideas, inventions and solutions to the many global challenges we face are emerging. I am happy to note that the organization has been embraced multilingualism by organizing webinars in various languages with partner institutions around the globe. Given the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and girls, together with UN Academic Impact, we have inaugurated a ‘high-level’ Dialogue on gender equality in memory of late Dr. Hansa Mehta, an Indian activist and scholar, who made a significant contribution to the gender-balance of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We hope to continue this partnership with UNAI in the coming years as well, and use the dialogue as a platform to raise awareness on gender issues.

 

Chairperson,

12. Let me conclude by assuring you and the Department of Global Communication of India’s continued support to the Department's activities and initiatives.

 

I thank you.

 

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