Statement by H.E. Rabab Fatima, Ambassador & Permanent Representative of Bangladesh at the 42th session of the Committee on Information on 02 September, 2020

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, I congratulate and commend you for so skillfully steering the work of the Committee during this challenging period. I thank USG Fleming for her comprehensive presentation.

We take note of the comprehensive reports submitted by the Secretary General on the work of the Department of Global Communications in the three interrelated areas: outreach and knowledge services; strategic communications services; and news services.

We are encouraged to see the Department engaging with a wide group of stakeholders, such as, youth, civil society, academia, the creative community including the celebrities, and others in an effort to bring UN and its core agenda closer to the people. DGC’s decision to participate in some of the major global congregations, such as, World Expo 2020 or the Frankfurt Book Fair is commendable.

We particularly appreciate DGC’s cooperation with SG’s Envoy on Youth, who has been actively promoting the ‘Youth 2030’ Strategy in target countries. Bangladesh, as one of the 10 countries identified for implementation of the Youth 2030 strategy, has been working closely with the Youth Envoy.

Mr. Chair,

We welcome the overarching primacy of climate action and SDGs in the work of the DGC. The innovative means of educating people on these issues, such as, leveraging popular cartoon characters like Hello Kitty, or Angry Birds, the Act Now campaign for climate action, introducing ‘SDG pledging trees,’ to the visitors, deserve special commendation. We support DGC’s strategic communications initiative to promote the five Sustainable Development Goal-related summits under the overall theme of “Action for people and planet: 1 week, 5 summits, 17 Goals”.

We would like to see DGC expand its outreach initiatives globally, especially among the vulnerable and left out communities including the youth living in remote areas. Stronger coordination with the respective governments through the respective UN country teams could be an effective means for such outreach.

We take note of DGC’s efforts to promote multilingualism. We thank the DGC for partnering with us in observing the International Mother Language Day on 21st February, which promotes respect for pluralism, diversity, tolerance and the value of multi-lingual education, especially at a time when numerous small languages are on the verge of extinction. We recognize the efforts of UNIC Bangladesh in promoting ethnic languages, and welcome in this regard its publication of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Chakma language. However, we would like to see UNIC expanding its work and outreach in more areas, and work with the national stakeholders in effectively localizing UN’s core priorities in the country settings.  There’s certainly more that UNIC can do.

Mr. Chair,

 Covid-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of effective messaging in countering a global crisis of such unprecedented scale and magnitude. We are aware of the work of DGC in coordination with relevant UN entities in circulating key messages in the fight against Covid-19, especially the policy briefs issued by the Secretary General to highlight the various impacts of the pandemic and ways to deal with that.

In Bangladesh, awareness campaigns have resulted in a reasonably low rate of Covid cases despite initial apprehensions. The low prevalence of infections among the Rohingya population living in densely populated camps in Cox’s Bazaar, has been yet another success, achieved primarily through information campaigns, conducted using mostly the traditional communications tools, such as, posters, megaphones etc.

Mr. Chair,

 Allow me now to make a few recommendations relating to DGC’s work and how to strengthen that:

Firstly, in the context of COVID-19 pandemic, DGC needs to extend, in coordination with WHO and other relevant entities, its campaign for effective dissemination of scientific knowledge, best practices, and information regarding new diagnostics, drugs, vaccines, and relevant guidelines to tackle the pandemic.

Second, we would urge DGC to play a catalytic role in propagating the significance of global solidarity in tackling the socio economic impacts of the pandemic and generate unified campaigns calling for effective international cooperation, with particular focus to the needs of the most vulnerable and affected people and countries. Good practices from around the world can be disseminated widely.

Thirdly, we would like to see increased attention in the areas of gender equality and women empowerment in DGC’s strategic communications efforts, and this would be particularly relevant in the context of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the 20th anniversary of the WPS agenda. The coordination between the DGC and other relevant UN entities in promoting women’s contribution in peacekeeping and peacebuilding needs to be augmented as well.

Fourth, we encourage the DGC to promote the ‘Culture of Peace and Non-violence’ as part of its outreach to children, youth and the larger public audience through sustained awareness raising to build resilience against  racism, xenophobia, hate speech, and other forms of intolerance.  And this bears particular relevance and urgency, in the context of the pandemic, when we are seeing a rise in various manifestations of intolerance.

Fifth, we request DGC to develop more effective and integrated communications strategies to highlight the contributions of individual troop and police contributing countries in an equitable manner, as well as to combating the anti-UN propaganda, in coordination with relevant UN Departments and Field Missions.

Sixth, we also encourage the department to continue its support to the UN’s information campaign efforts on issues like, elimination of nuclear weapons and other disarmament issues, prevention of conflict with special attention to addressing the root causes, promotion of human rights and humanitarian principles, and preventing forced displacement and mass atrocity crimes etc, with the active and greater engagement of people from cross sections of the society.

Finally, while acknowledging DGC’s focus on the theme of UN’s 75th anniversary, ‘The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism’, we would like to see DGC reaching out to a wider audience globally, and mobilize public opinion for multilateralism, with a view to restoring trust between the UN and the people, by engaging all stakeholders, including the youth.

In conclusion, Mr. Chair, I wish to assure you of my delegation’s full cooperation in the Committee’s work under your leadership.

I thank you.