I congratulate you, Ambassador Cristian Espinosa Canizares (of Ecuador) and members of the Bureau on your election. You can count on my delegation’s full support.
I also take this opportunity to thank the outgoing Chair, my dear brother, Ambassador Omar Hilale for his excellent leadership in steering the last session.
My delegation aligns itself with the statement delivered by Guinea on behalf of G-77 and China.
I also thank USG Melissa Fleming for her comprehensive presentation; and commend her and her entire team for their excellent work during this unprecedented time of COVID-19 pandemic.
We take note of the reports submitted by the Secretary General on the work of the Department of Global Communications in the three interrelated areas, namely, strategic communications services; outreach and knowledge services; and news services.
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 remarkable 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. The launching of dedicated website for COVID-19 was also commendable.
Fear, uncertainty, and the proliferation of fake news, in many instances, undermined national and global responses to the pandemic; fuelled conspiracy theories; and provided opportunities for those who seek to exploit this unprecedented time to promote hatred and deepen social divisions.
This ‘infodemic’ is not only a challenge to combat the pandemic, but it is also a global challenge that puts the security and development of many countries/societies at risk. We commend DGC’s initiative for building trust and combating misinformation through its “verified” campaign to dispel rumours and fake news and work towards spreading accurate information and messages of hope.
Despite the ill effects of misinformation, the value of strategic communication cannot be underestimated. We have experienced this in Bangladesh. The COVID-19 vaccine uptake was low at the initial stages of its roll out in our country. However, with media campaign and continuous awareness raising activities by the relevant authorities in Bangladesh, we have already vaccinated around 11 million people. While doing so, we have maintained fairness and given priority to those who needed it most.
We appreciate DGC’s #Only Together campaign underscoring the need for global solidarity to ensure fair and equitable access of Covid-19 vaccines in all countries. We also appreciate the other communications campaigns, in particular, on the Global Ceasefire appeal by the UNSG, which was very timely.
We thank the DGC for partnering with us this year and in past years in observing the International Mother Language Day on 21st February, which promotes respect for pluralism, diversity, tolerance and the value of multi-lingualism, especially at a time when numerous small languages are on the verge of extinction.
We recognize the efforts of (UN Information Centre) UNIC Bangladesh in promoting ethnic languages,and welcome in this regard its publication of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Chakma language. There’s certainly more that UNIC can do. We wish 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.
We request the DGC to take measures for promoting Bangla and other widely spoken languages in its news service including UN Radio, television, social media platforms and other outreach endeavors.
Allow me now to make a few recommendations relating to DGC’s work and how to strengthen that:
First, there has never been a greater need for accurate and science-based information. We would, therefore, call upon the DGC to collaborate more with the scientific and intellectual community. They also need to collaborate further with social organizations and social media platform to fightany‘infodemics’ in the future, especially in crisis situations.
Second, we would urge DGC to further intensify the ‘verified campaign’ and promote it locally with the help of UN country offices. Business community and multi-stakeholder participation should be encouraged to give new life to this campaign. In the same vein, we strongly support further expansion of the #OnlyTogether campaign in our global efforts to ensure equitable access to vaccines.
Third, with the proliferation of new digital platforms, the world is experiencing further digital divide. We therefore urge DGC to expand its digital outreach to different audiences through the innovative use of digital platforms.
Fourth, we would like to see increased attention in the areas of gender equality and women empowerment in DGC’s strategic communications efforts. 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.
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 in coordination with relevant UN departments and field missions.
Finally, while acknowledging DGC’s support to the observance of the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime through multilingual social media materials, we would like to see DSG reaching out to a wider audience globally and mobilize public opinion to prevent genocide.
We feel that presenting to the world the lessons of past genocides and the forgotten genocides like the genocide in Bangladesh in 1971, would strengthen the international community’s resolve to ‘never again’ have a repeat of such heinous crimes.
In conclusion, Mr. Chair, I wish to assure you of my delegation’s full support to the work of the Committee under your leadership.
I thank you.