UN Committee on Information calls for greater emphasis on multilingualism

6 May 2011
General Assembly

The United Nations body tasked with examining the Organization’s public information policies and promoting a just, effective global information and communications order called on the Department of Public Information (DPI) today to bolster multilingualism, efficiency and local outreach to heighten awareness of critical international issues.

In a resolution unanimously adopted on the last day of its two-week session, the 113-member Committee on Information reaffirmed that the UN voice “must be heard in a clear and effective manner” and reach the “widest possible spectrum of audiences” in all corners of the world.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the internationally agreed series of social and economic targets, and the impact of climate change and the global economic crisis on sustainable development must remain the focus of communications campaigns, the resolution said.

The committee called for sufficient resources to make DPI truly multilingual, with documents and web pages available in all of the Organization’s six official languages to gain parity with English. The other official languages are Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.

The committee also asked DPI to work more closely with the Office of Information and Communications Technology to ensure that non-Latin and bidirectional scripts were fully supported technologically.

UN Information Centres (UNICs) around the world, many of which faced budgetary constraints, should be strengthened, especially in Africa, according to the committee. It called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to work with Angola to finally set up a UNIC in Luanda, as instructed by the General Assembly in December 2009.

In the text, the committee also expressed concerns over the consequences of the digital and communications gap between the developed and developing world. To rectify that, it urged countries and the UN to help developing nations improve communications infrastructure and expand Internet use, saying the move would benefit societies and economies.


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