27 April 2010
Ambassador Eshagh Al Habib, Deputy Permanent Representative
of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
at the General Debate of the 32nd Session of the United Nations Committee on Information
(New York- 27 April 2010)
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
At the outset, I would like to join previous speakers in expressing my confidence in your able leadership to guide the work of this session of the Committee on Information and to deliver constructive outcomes.
I would also like to thank Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Mr. Akasaka for his comprehensive and useful statement.
My delegation associates itself with the statements made by the distinguished Permanent Representative of Yemen on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
The General Assembly resolution 34/182 stresses the primary role of the Assembly in elaborating, coordinating and harmonizing United Nations policies and activities in the field of information towards the establishment of a new, more just and more effective world information and communication order. This resolution also entrusts the Committee on Information with the duty, inter alia, to promote the establishment of a new, more just and more effective world information and communication order intended to strengthen peace and international understanding and based on the free circulation and wider and better-balanced dissemination of information. In this regard, realization of the goals asserted in the resolution, mainly lies on the close collaboration between the COI and DPI.
My delegation commends the promotional and public awareness raising activities of the Department of Public Information concerning the work of the United Nations on important issues such as UN reform, attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development, the dialogue among civilizations and culture of peace, respect for religious, cultural and historical values. We, especially, appreciate the DPI’s efforts in addressing negative consequences of criminal acts such as occupation, aggression and other forms of gross violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws, although we believe that there is still a lot to do in this regard.
In this context, I would like to refer to the escalating catastrophic humanitarian situation of the innocent Palestinian civilian population who have been under occupation and siege for many years and is struggling for life under absolute worst living conditions. It is incumbent upon DPI to embark on more extensive public awareness rising activities on this issue with a view to shed more light on the negative impacts of the occupation on humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Beyond any doubt, in this age of information technology, the power of information and media bears no merit and importance than ever before. With the rapid advances in information and communication technologies, more effective and easier access to news of events through the use of various old and new technologies has become an established practice of different societies. Information is a dynamic force for cross-cultural understanding, education and broader participation by people in the decisions affecting their lives. We emphasize on the continuation of the implementation of a new world information and communications order. At the same time, we believe that a code of conduct has to be designed to regulate the flow of information, bearing in mind the advances made in satellite broadcasting and the new media including the internet.
Media is not only a means for information sharing. Unfortunately, it is also a very effective and powerful tool for the advancement of expansionist policies and promotion of certain cultures to the detriment of other nations with different social and cultural backgrounds. It is widely abused for the advancement of political and military hegemony and materialization of aggressive and interventionist policies through distortion of the realities, manipulating the public and inducing them to support recycled or new big lies under the pretext of democracy and freedom of information.
A key issue to address in this regard, is that freedom of information and press should not, in any way, be considered as unlimited. It must be exercised with full responsibility and within national and international legislative framework. This freedom should not be exercised in such a way as to undermine cultural and moral values, distort and misrepresent facts, vilify others or demonstrate a bias towards nations with different ideas or civilization background. It is regrettable to see that today the mainstream media is an instrument subordinated to the political and economic circles of power.
These powers secretly finance and use the media to manipulate the world’s public opinion and prepare the ground to undermine the stability and welfare of other societies. They use their powerful media machine to misrepresent good as evil, evil as good, democracy as tyranny, tyranny as democracy, freedom as limitation, limitation as freedom, resistance against foreign manipulation as political and social closeness, and the struggle against terror and occupation as terrorism. They use it to spread lies and illusions against others. Violation of national sovereignty of many Member States by radio and television transmissions or the internet serves as a clear example of such practices.
We all know that facing this phenomenon is central. Many countries are victims of this monopolized media, and United Nations, especially DPI as its voice, should assist them to stand against disastrous operations of mainstream news media sources.
The disparities and imbalances between developing and developed countries in communications infrastructure is one of the principal factors which has caused distortion in the flow of information. Developing world is lagging behind in the production and dissemination of information and has left in the side-line of the field. We continue to believe that the gains of the information age should be made accessible to all members of the international community, and the developing world should be able to enhance its infrastructure to play a more active role in the field of information and communication technologies and to enjoy a self-sustained and independent media.
My delegation should not fail to commend DPI for its efforts in the field of multilingualism. We have always supported the Department’s endeavors to ensure multilingualism in all its activities. In this regard, I would encourage the Department to continue to diversify its efforts to encompass not only all the six official languages of the United Nations, but also those local languages which are widely regarded as the root of great cultures and civilizations, including Persian language, which is a unique source of integrity and solidarity among many nations.
DPI’s intention to increase its audiences by expanding its outreach through the use of new communication technologies and media, particularly the internet, with a view to expand the United Nations outreach in a cost-effective manner, to disseminate information worldwide, and to connect directly to people requires our admiration. However, we are of the view that the Committee would be in a better position to evaluate the work of the Department in this regard, if relevant reports on the work of DPI in this regard could encompass comprehensive information, inter alia, on the Department’s reaction to the questions and queries made in direct contacts.
We commend the United Nations Information Centers (UNICs) for their valuable efforts in mobilizing public opinion and playing an important role in conveying the UN messages to the people in their host countries. We also take note of the report of the Secretary-General on UNICs contained in document A/AC.198/2010/2 in which he has mentioned that UNICs are now able to reach wider segments of the public in the countries where they are located, through producing information material in more local languages including Persian. We reiterate the importance of dissemination of information in local languages and encourage DPI to allocate more resources and technical facilities to it.
In conclusion, I would like to assure you and the distinguished members of the Committee of my delegation’s support to the work of the UN in the field of information.