2005.10.13: Item 33: Questions Relating to Information

Counsellor Choi Hong-ghi at Fourth Committee of the General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

1. Since this is my delegation’s first opportunity to take the floor, allow me to express my sincere congratulations on your election as Chairman of this Committee. I am confident that under your able leadership, this session will have a successful outcome, and I assure you and your Bureau of my delegation’s full support and cooperation.

2. I also thank your predecessor, Ambassador Swe of Myanmar and his Bureau for their service to the Committee last session. And I thank the Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information, Mr. Shashi Tharoor, for his comprehensive introductory statement.

3. I would like to take this opportunity to express my delegation’s heartfelt condolences and sympathy to the Governments and people of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan for the tragic loss of lives and destruction caused by last Saturday’s earthquake.

Mr. Chairman,

4. The Republic of Korea attaches great importance to the work of the Department of Public Information (DPI). At a time when the United Nations needs to enhance its visibility in the international community and among ordinary citizens the world over, the DPI has an essential role to play. In this regard, we commend the DPI for enhancing public information by adopting a client-based approach. We look forward to further progress in this direction.

5. We also welcome the significant improvements that have been made to the UN website through the use of the latest technology. In our increasingly information-driven societies, the UN website has become one of the most significant sources of public information on the UN and its activities and greatly contributes to the timely dissemination of information. As such, it is to the credit of the DPI that the number of people using the website has continued to increase.

6. We appreciate the DPI’s active role in drawing the attention of the international community and news media to the UN reform process and the High-level Summit in September. We expect that the DPI will continue its useful work in this regard by highlighting the Summit Outcome Document and focusing attention on the ongoing progress of the anniversary 60th session of the General Assembly towards implementing the reforms contained in it.

7. Another key area of the DPI’s work that we wish to highlight is outreach activity. To have a real impact on the international community, the UN must strengthen its outreach efforts towards the private sector and civil society, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs). As our leaders acknowledged during the September Summit, the private sector and civil society can contribute substantially to the promotion and implementation of development and human rights programmes. In this regard, the Annual DPI/NGO Conference has provided a valuable and timely forum.

8. My delegation wishes to emphasize that the DPI must enhance its outreach activity and information dissemination for countries that do not use the official UN languages, particularly in consideration of the growing information gap between such countries and those that happen to use one of the six official languages. The populations of many of the States that support the UN most strongly, as well as of many States where UN operations are most needed, simply do not speak one of the official languages. These citizens must not be excluded from the global conversation on this account. The DPI’s work in publicizing the Secretary-General’s report In larger freedom, translating the executive summary into numerous languages beyond the official six, is both a step in the right direction and a sign of how much remains to be done. The valuable work of United Nations information centres in providing localized Web content should also be enhanced.

9. As we enter the final year of the three-year collaboration between the DPI and the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to establish internal mechanisms for self-evaluation through the Annual Programme Impact Review, the importance of evaluation cannot be overemphasized. In September our leaders made it abundantly clear that the UN system as a whole needs greatly increased evaluation and oversight, and this certainly extends to the DPI. We are thus encouraged that the Department managed to meet the demands of an average of 80 percent of its target audiences in terms of usefulness, relevance and quality. We believe that this culture of evaluation should be encouraged and periodically renewed.

10. Finally, the Dag Hammarskjold Library provides essential support to the UN Secretariat and to the Missions of Member States. We welcome the reform effort of the Library community and commend the progress so far.

Mr. Chairman,

11. Let me close by stressing once again the great importance of the DPI, especially as we strive to make the UN more transparent and accessible. The Republic of Korea pledges its continuing support for the DPI in its efforts to communicate the goals and actions of the UN to the wider world.

Thank you.