General Assembly General Assembly

Statement by

S. Srinivas Prasad


General Debate on Committee on Information 
(40th Session)

02 May 2018 

Mr. Chairman, 
At the outset, we would like to thank the Chairman of the Committee of Information for providing excellent guidance and leadership to the Committee during the year.   India also expresses appreciation for the detailed report on the work of the Committee presented by Department of Public Information and especially to Ms. Alison Smale, Under Secretary General for Global Communications for the informal briefing provided by her to members on 28.03.2018. It is heartening to note that the reports of the Secretary General on the activities of the Department are extensive and detailed providing a wealth of information.

Mr. Chairman ,

2.    The idea of United Nations represents the collective efforts of entire humanity to jointly address common global challenges and to build sustainable peace and prosperity for all peoples.  It aims for a certain unity of purpose despite the seeming diversity among nations. 

    Genuine multilingualism promotes this unity in diversity and international understanding by recognizing the importance of communicating to the peoples of the world  in their languages to bring common goals and ideals closer to the people.

    The United Nations, since the time of its inception more than seven decades ago, has placed emphasis on genuine multilingualism as a basis to promote and strengthen multilateral engagement on global issues.  The UNGA Resolution 13 (1) adopted at its first session on 1st February 1946 states that “The United Nations cannot achieve its purposes unless the people of the world are fully informed of its aims and activities”.

    It was in this spirit that the Department of Public Information (DPI) was tasked to work on enhancing the UN’s outreach in a range of widely-spoken languages, in addition to those recognized as the UN official languages.  The DPI has done commendable work in bringing the UN’s work closer to people around the world through its outreach activities. The Programme of Work of the DPI continues to reflect the above purpose.   

    However, in recent times, the declining financial resources have presented a serious constraint on the ability of the DPI to carry out its mandated tasks especially in non-official languages.   DPI, therefore, needs to look at innovative ways to raise resources beyond the regular budgetary allocations, including through voluntary contributions to continue and expand its global outreach activities, especially in the widely-spoken non-official languages.

    Such activities have become even more essential today than seven decades ago with the growing understanding of the interconnectedness of challenges as reflected in the adoption over the last few years of the comprehensive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the concepts relating to building and sustaining peace. 

3.    Coming to specific areas of work, the emphasis of the Department on continuing with its extensive communications campaign on the SDGs and Climate Change is necessary and welcome.   The efforts of the Department in creating the media zones to spark conversations about sustainable development, as well as the promotion of the dedicated social media accounts is a good initiative.   Climate change will remain the defining global issue in the coming decades and hence India continues to lay great emphasis on its commitment towards the Paris Agreement.  India’s initiative in building an International Solar Alliance, which has been signed by 63 countries is an illustration of this.  Therefore, we welcome and urge the DPI’s continued efforts in this field.    

4.    The close cooperation of DPI with DPKO, is important and needs to be maintained.   India especially appreciates the DPI’s launch of the multi-lingual multi-media campaign entitled ‘service and sacrifice’ focusing on individual countries which highlights the contributions of peace keepers from troop and police contributing countries.  This is timely given the importance of troop and police contributing countries in an environment which has become challenging in recent times. 

    We also appreciate the partnership with the DPKO and DFS in building a redesigned peace keeping website for an improved user experience. Provision of the Mission details in fact sheet updates incorporating figures and statistics in the six official languages is important. DPI may also consider the benefits of developing such updates in the languages of the troop contributing countries to provide more information about their contributions to peace keeping and foster greater involvement.     

5.    India supports the DPI’s work with regard to promotion of counter terrorism. India is opposed to all forms of terrorism and believes that effective cooperation among countries is necessary to combat the threat.   It is timely indeed that the DPI coordinated the production of the documentary ‘Surviving Terrorism: Victim’s voices’ on the survivors of the Norway terror attack of 2011.   Civilians affected by terrorism is the untold story and we hope that the DPI will pick up more such stories from terrorist violence affected countries.   

6.    India expresses continued support to the UN Academic Impact initiative and is pleased to see that membership of institutions from South Asia has seen an increasing trend.  Appreciating the DPI’s initiative of highlighting the contributions of Universities to the SDGs, we urge a greater thrust towards working with Universities in Asia.  

It is heartening to note that motivated by the response, there has been an expansion in the number of languages in which UN guided tours are offered.  This not only contributes to greater awareness of the UN but also brings in additional revenues.   The guided tour has been very popular with Indian tourists to New York and as highlighted by us last year, we would urge the addition of a guided tour in Hindige to facilitate Indian tourists.   

    We are happy to note that the Department has facilitated the on location filming of a Bollywood film ‘Padman’ at the UN Hqrs in November 2017.   This makes it the second movie after ‘Half Girlfriend’ to use the UN as a backdrop of its story.   The film ‘Padman’ based on menstrual hygiene is a film that promotes an issue relating to SDG no. 4.  

    We would like to conclude by assuring India’s full support to the DPI and its endeavor to project the work of the UN.