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17 October 2008 - questions relating to information (item 32) - Statement by Mr. Jean Pierre Lacroix

63th session of the United Nations
General Assembly - Fourth Committee
Statement on behalf of the European Union on Speech delivered by Mr. Jean Pierre Lacroix, Minister Counsellor, Deputy Permanent Representative

Mr. President,

I am honoured to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and the EFTA country, Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia align themselves with this declaration. I would first like to thank you, Mr. Under-Secretary-General, for your speech and your report. As the European Union has emphasized over the past several years, we need activity reports with figures and comments, which clearly assess the results obtained, set out the difficulties encountered and put a range of options on the table. In short, we need strategic reports. This is the only way we can operate in order to provide you with the clear-cut mandate you require. In this regard, we have noted progress and encourage you to continue your efforts in this vein.

Mr. President, The European Union has set three priorities for the thirtieth session of the Committee on Information: enhance the effectiveness of the Department of Public Information within a limited budgetary framework, make additional efforts towards multilingualism and simplify the resolution. We have made noticeable progress in these three areas and that the draft resolution adopted by the Committee on Information has been significantly improved. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all delegations for their flexibility and spirit of compromise, which helped move us forward. Mr. President, Although much has been accomplished, much remains to be done. Aside from adopting this resolution, the European Union will continue to work by setting itself the same three priorities. In particular, the European Union will spare no effort to help you, Mr. Under-Secretary-General, to improve the efficiency of your department, especially with regard to the network of UN Information Centres. On this point, I would like to reiterate that the Brussels regional centre serves as a model for us and could serve as a model for other regional centres.

The European Union will also do its utmost to practically implement multilingualism, to which we are all committed, and upon which, Mr. Under Secretary-General, I know you and your department place great importance. Here too, much remains to be done, especially in spreading the message of the United Nations to the world in at least the six official languages of the organisation. In those times of crises, it is critical that the UN strengthen its political influence, develop partnerships with civil society, and be more actively involved in the international exchange of ideas. Transforming the "UN Chronicle" into the genuinely thought-provoking "UN Affairs" journal aiming to be an authoritative voice on the issues of the United Nations agenda and on the values and objectives of the Organization will be a tool to achieve these goals. Mr. President, As it did at the thirtieth session of the Committee on Information in May, the European Union would like to recall that the first part of our resolution reaffirms our commitment to the principles of freedom of the press and freedom of information, as well as to those of the independence, pluralism and diversity of the media, and urges all States to ensure that journalists can work freely and effectively. Unfortunately, there has been no improvement in the situation since that session. There is no doubt that we all have to make progress, but we must also all be aware of and honour the formal and public commitments that we make, both inside and outside this organization. Finally, each year we firmly condemn all attacks on journalists. This is another area in which there has been no improvement. When I spoke to you on 28 April, I stated that nine journalists had been killed since the beginning of the year. Since then, another 23 have lost their lives. And although so far this year’s death toll is lower than last (86 died in 2007), it is still much too high, and it is our collective responsibility to work to put a stop to these killings. Thank you very much./.

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