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        General Assembly
7 March 2003

Original: English

Committee on Information
Twenty-fifth session
28 April-9 May 2003

Reorientation of United Nations activities in the field of public information and communications

Report of the Secretary-General

The present report details the significant progress being made to reposition the Department of Public Information to meet the communications challenges of the Organization with a renewed focus and greater clarity of purpose. It builds upon the previous reorientation report (A/AC.198/2002/2), which offered a preliminary outline of the findings of the comprehensive review of the management and operations of the Department, as well as possible strategic actions to be taken as a result.
The present report details the next phase of the departmental reform and sets out the steps being taken to implement the actions contained in the report of the Secretary-General on strengthening of the United Nations: an agenda for further change (A/57/387 and Corr.1), as they apply to the Department.
The new mission statement for the Department, which will be its guiding precept, as well as its revised operating model and the new organizational structure based upon it, are set out in the report. The key elements of the structure are a Strategic Communications Division, which will devise and disseminate United Nations messages around priority United Nations themes; an Outreach Division to encompass services to delegations, liaison with civil society and activities for the general public; and a News and Media Division that has, among other things, been strengthened by the creation of a new Internet Service, which will enhance the Division’s ability to communicate with media around the world on important news development in the United Nations system. The report further details a new operating concept for the United Nations information centres around regional hubs and the intention to redeploy resources which would be freed as a result to areas of higher priority, including centres in developing countries, the United Nations web site and the systematic evaluation of the impact of the Department’s activities.
The report concludes that the Department of Public Information has worked with a renewed sense of mission under its reformed structure since 1 November 2002. At the same time, the guidance of the Committee on Information is being sought for the next phase of departmental reform, as is its support for the public information section of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005, which reflects the Department’s new priorities.

I. Introduction

1. In paragraph 8 of its resolution 57/130 B of 11 December 2002, the General Assembly encouraged the Secretary-General to continue the reorientation of United Nations activities in the field of public information and communications, including wide-ranging and possibly new and innovative proposals and to report thereon to the Committee on Information at its twenty-fifth session. In paragraph 14, it noted the intention of the Secretary-General to conduct a comprehensive review of the management and operations of the Department of Public Information, taking into account the medium-term plan for the period 2002-2005, and to report thereon at its fifty-seventh session in accordance with its resolution 56/253 of 24 December 2001, and recognized that the comprehensive review of the Department is intended to facilitate the process of reorientation. Furthermore, in paragraph 15, the Assembly requested the Committee on Information to examine thoroughly the comprehensive review once it has been finalized and to submit its recommendations thereon to the Assembly.


III. Repositioning the Department of Public Information


A. Strategic Communications Division


19. Strengthened coordination between the Department of Public Information and other Secretariat departments is essential for the development of an effective United Nations outreach to the world public. The Strategic Communications Division exists primarily to undertake that task and to serve as the interface with the other Secretariat departments. To serve each client office, the Division has identified a focal point in one of the four sections of the Communications Campaign Service, which cover development; Palestine, decolonization and human rights; peace and security; and Africa. It will be the job of the focal point to be knowledgeable on the priority issues and activities of the client office. The Department of Public Information will hold an annual meeting with each client department, at the head of department level, to outline the year’s activities and to decide on communications priorities. The meetings will be preceded by meetings at the working level to elaborate creative briefs for each client office. The focal points, in close collaboration with the client offices, and on the basis of the annual meeting, will identify the target audiences and develop the information programme and media strategy for each priority issue. That will be communicated to the other divisions of the Department of Public Information and to the United Nations system through the United Nations Communications Group.


20. The thematic promotional campaigns will be implemented using all the Department’s assets, including its multimedia outlets (print, radio, television, Internet), outreach to civil society, private sector partnerships and, at the local level, the United Nations information centres. That successful approach was used by the Department during the past few years to promote major United Nations global conferences. A new issue-driven communications strategy for each department, rather than one which is event-driven, is being developed to promote the Organization’s work, building on the experience and success of the global conferences campaigns.

21. In addition, the ongoing activities included in the programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003 will be implemented, including the publication of the quarterly magazine Africa Recovery in English and French, which will now serve as one of the outputs of a new Africa Section, devoted to promoting Africa’s development. Other continuing mandated activities include the annual Palestinian media practitioners training programme, the annual international media seminar on peace in the Middle East, the annual Year in Review publication about United Nations peace operations and the updating of current publications on various thematic issues.



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