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Source: Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee)
21 October 2008


General Assembly
GA/SPD/407

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Sixty-third General Assembly
Fourth Committee
13th Meeting (PM)
FOURTH COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS CONSENSUS DRAFT RESOLUTION
 
ON WESTERN SAHARA FOR ADOPTION BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Continuing Debate on Information, Speakers Applaud Work of Department
Of Information, Urge Greater Efforts to Advance Cultural, Interfaith Dialogue

Acting on the final decolonization-related text for its current session, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this afternoon approved by consensus a draft resolution that would have the General Assembly welcome the commitment of the parties to the Western Sahara dispute “to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to enter into a more intensive phase of negotiations”.

Following that action, the Committee continued its general debate on questions relating to information, hearing from 16 delegates during the afternoon meeting.  Most commended the work of the United Nations Department of Public Information and its efforts to leverage both traditional and modern information technologies to convey the world body’s message to an increasingly large and more representative group of people. /... Many speakers commended the Department’s special information programme on the question of Palestine -– particularly the training provided to young journalists from that region and the special brochure it had published.

The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, highlighting the role the media could play in promoting a dialogue between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, with a view to advancing the peace process, praised the Department’s initiatives in the field of media development.  But he, like a number of other speakers, lamented that the Secretary-General’s report on information had not included, as it had in the past, a review of the Department’s work in addressing the situation of the Palestinian people.

Sudan’s representative pointed out that Palestinian question had been on the United Nations agenda for six decades, and programmes were needed to increase awareness to help ameliorate this conflict.  He said the Secretariat should play a larger role in promoting understanding between the peoples and the principles of peaceful coexistence.

Also speaking during the general debate on information were the representatives of Syria, Yemen, Bangladesh, Japan, Philippines, Kuwait, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Cuba, Burkina Faso and Peru.

The representatives of the United States and Cuba spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Fourth Committee is expected to continue its general debate and hear from the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information at 3 p.m., Wednesday, 22 October. /... As it continued its general debate on questions relating to information, the Committee had two reports before it:  the report of the Secretary-General on that topic (document A/63/258) and a report on the thirtieth session of the Committee on Information (28 April to 9 May 2008) (document A/62/21 (Supp.)).  (For summaries of those reports, see Press Release GA/SPD/405 of 17 October).

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General Debate on Information

MANAR TALEB (Syria)...

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Still, due attention should nevertheless be paid to certain issues and to the decisions of the General Assembly and its various committees.  In that respect, he said the Department could intensify its work on foreign occupation, on the question of Palestine and on the prevention of interference in the internal affairs of States in ways that sought to divide them.  While those efforts would be undertaken in the midst of other global challenges -- climate change and rising food insecurity, among them -- they remained important.

Indeed, emphasizing the Department’s demonstrated ability to cover those issues, he particularly underlined the attention it had already paid to the question of Palestine, including the training of journalists from the region and the issuance of the brochure on Palestine by the Department’s section on that region.

Turning to the Secretary-General’s report on questions relating to information, he stressed the expansion of United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) in developing countries, which would help build capacity and experience among young journalists from those States.  He also stressed that more efforts were needed to reach parity among the official languages of the United Nations on its website, generally, and Arabic, particularly.  He noted the Department’s positive response to requests in that matter, but urged the Department to make further efforts to reflect the suffering of the Palestinian people and to allocate greater financial resources to its information programme on that region.  Stressing that the process of issuing a pilot copy of the UN Affairs to replace the UN Chronicle had been “shrouded in mystery”, he said his delegation would follow up during the deliberations on that issue.

/... KHALID ALI ( Sudan )...

/...

Turning to other matters, he said the Palestinian question had been on the United Nations agenda for six decades, and improved programmes were needed to increase awareness and training to help ameliorate that conflict.  The Palestinian people were trying to establish an independent State, he said, and, although the Secretary-General’s report used to make note of such activities, this year, those comments had been absent.  The Secretariat should play a larger role in promoting understanding between the peoples and the principles of peaceful coexistence.

MOHAMMED AL HADHRAMI (Yemen) ...He underscored the importance of the Department’s special information project on the issue of Palestine, and expressed regret that the Secretary-General’s report did not touch on that initiative. /... WILLIAM HABIB ( Lebanon)...

/...

Commending the Department’s special programme on Palestine, he underscored the importance of the training provided to young journalists from that region.  Notwithstanding such vital efforts, the Department should step up its efforts in the political arena, particularly on the question of Jerusalem and the danger of ongoing Israeli excavations there.  Full support should be lent to the Palestinian people in their efforts to establish an independent State. /... TALAL A. AL SHATTI (Kuwait)...

Underscoring that journalists must be protected and that acts of aggression against them must be condemned, he also urged the public information administration to continue its efforts to cast light on the Palestinian question. ...

/... YUSSEF KANAAN, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, expressed his delegation’s deep concern and regret over the absence of information on activities and efforts undertaken by the Department of Public Information regarding the question of Palestine, in the report on questions relating to information.  The Special Information Programme undertaken by the Department on the question of Palestine effectively contributed to the creation of an environment that was conducive to dialogue and support of the peace process.

Overall, the Department, especially the Section of Palestine, played an important and vital role, specifically through the organization of annual international media seminars on the Palestinian question and through its development of digital archives of film and video documentaries on the history of the Palestinian question.  The participation of the Department in the field of media development, specifically in terms of a training programme for Palestinian broadcasters and journalists, was particularly important, especially considering the role the media could play in promoting a dialogue between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, with a view to advancing the peace process.

Israeli occupying forces continued to target journalists working to “convey the reality and truth about Israeli practices on the ground”, he said, highlighting a number of cases in which Palestinian journalists had been killed or harassed by Israeli forces.  Grave violations of human rights against Palestinians were not limited to the occupying forces, but extended also to acts of violence and terrorism perpetrated by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians, such as the 18 October attack by settlers on a number of journalists covering the olive harvest of Palestinian farmers.

Palestinian people were deprived of the right of direct access to telecommunications services and information technology because of Israeli occupation.  Thus, achieving development and advancing on the path of knowledge could not be realized without an end to that occupation.  A just and comprehensive peace would guarantee security and stability in the region and would enable Palestinians to exercise their legitimate rights, including their right to use information technology and communications towards the achievement of sustainable development.

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Right of Reply

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Exercising the right to reply, the representative of Cuba...

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Additionally, she said that the United States Government was constantly “maintaining” Israel in its crimes against Palestine, as well as conniving to violate against human rights in Lebanon and Guantanamo... 
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For information media • not an official record

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