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        General Assembly
24 February 2004

Original: English

Committee on Information
Twenty-sixth session
26 April-7 May 2004

Continuing reorientation of United Nations activities in the field of public information and communications

Report of the Secretary-General

The present report, prepared in response to General Assembly resolution 58/101 B of 9 December 2003, details the steps taken between March 2003 and February 2004 towards the continuing reorientation of the Department of Public Information. As a result of the implementation of the 2002 reform proposals of the Secretary-General (see A/57/387 and Corr.1), the Department now has a new mission statement, a new organizational structure and a new operating model. A new client-oriented focus, greater system-wide coordination and a culture of evaluation lie at the heart of the new strategic direction it has taken.

The Department has introduced the concept of the Secretariat departments as “clients”, which identify their own priorities, and the Department of Public Information as “service provider”, working along clear guidelines given by its clients. Formal arrangements have been established with 24 clients. The Department has also redoubled its efforts to bring the members of the United Nations system, including the network of United Nations information centres, within a common communications framework. The third element, a culture of evaluation, is now an integral part of the work of the Department. As an initial step in the three-year project between the Department and the Office of Internal Oversight Services, the first annual programme impact review was completed in January 2004. This reorientation report, which incorporates the initial set of data collected as part of the review process, presents the preliminary efforts by each of the Department’s divisions to assess results.

The report concludes that, as a result of its continuing process of reorientation, the Department has been able to enhance public information and bring the United Nations “closer to the people”. The Department will continue to evaluate its performance and adapt its work programme to fulfil the substantive purposes of the Organization.


I. Introduction

1. In paragraph 12 of its resolution 58/101 B of 9 December 2003, the General Assembly welcomed the steps taken towards restructuring the Department of Public Information and encouraged the Secretary-General to continue the reorientation exercise and efforts to improve the efficiency and productivity of the Department, including wide-ranging and innovative proposals, and to report thereon to the Committee on Information at its twenty-sixth session.


IV. Communications campaigns: speaking with one voice


27. The Department has also made concerted efforts to reach out to the public and to the media in the Arab world. An innovation of particular importance has been the designation in the Department of a focal point for Arab media. Relevant press materials have been translated into Arabic and distributed by the focal point in a timely manner to some 300 media outlets in the Middle East and beyond and to the network of United Nations information centres in the region. In forging links with the Arab media, special emphasis has been placed on direct contacts via telephone and e-mail to provide information on questions relating to the United Nations and the Middle East. The Department has also continued its work within the framework of its special information programme on the Question of Palestine. In October 2003, the Department organized an international media seminar in Seville, Spain, with the theme “Towards a two-State solution”. The seminar provided a forum for over 150 media representatives and international experts to discuss, among other things, the role of the media in the conflict, and the role of culture, literature and education in facilitating a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, and the role of civil society in achieving peace. The twelfth seminar in this series is scheduled to take place in Beijing in June 2004.



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