United Nations General Assembly Resolution 43/60
December 6, 1988
The General Assembly,
Recalling its previous resolutions on questions relating to information,
Reaffirming the mandate given to the Committee on Information by the General Assembly in its resolution 34/182 of 18 December 1979,
Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General on questions relating to information,1/
Encouraging the Secretary-General to continue necessary action in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat, with particular emphasis on securing a co-ordinated approach to priority issues before the Organization,
Taking note of the comprehensive report of the Committee on Information,2/ which served as an important basis and stimulated further deliberations,
1. Urges the full implementation of the following recommendations:
(1) All countries, the United Nations system as a whole and all others concerned should co-operate in the establishment of a new world information and communication order, seen as an evolving and continuous process, and based, inter alia, on the free circulation and wider and better balanced dissemination of information, guaranteeing diversity of sources of information and free access to information and, in particular, the urgent need to change the dependent status of the developing countries in the field of information and communication, as the principle of sovereign equality among nations extends also to this field, and intended also to strengthen peace and international understanding, enabling all persons to participate effectively in political, economic, social and cultural life and promoting human rights, understanding and friendship among all nations. The ongoing efforts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which retains the central role in this field, to eliminate gradually the existing imbalances in the field of information and communication and to encourage a free flow and a wider and better balanced dissemination of information in accordance with the relevant resolutions of that organization, adopted by consensus, should be reaffirmed;
(2) Considering the important role that the media worldwide can freely play, particularly under the present situation, it is recommended that:
(b) The United Nations system as a whole should co-operate in a concerted manner, through its information services, in promoting a more comprehensive and realistic image of the activities and potential of the United Nations system in all its endeavours, in accordance with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and General Assembly resolutions, with particular emphasis on the right to self-determination and the elimination of all forms of racism, aggression, foreign domination and occupation, in order to create a climate of confidence, the strengthening of multilateralism and the promotion of the development activities in the United Nations system;
(c) All countries should be urged to extend assistance to journalists for the free and effective performance of their professional tasks and to ensure respect for their physical integrity;
(4) The United Nations system as a whole, particularly the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the developed countries should be urged to co-operate in a concerted manner with the developing countries towards strengthening the information and communication infrastructures in the latter countries and promoting their access to advanced communications technology, in accordance with the priorities attached to such areas by the developing countries, with a view to enabling them to develop their own information and communications policies freely and independently and in the light of their social and cultural values, taking into account the principle of freedom of the press and information. In this regard, support should be provided for the continuation and strengthening of practical training programmes for broadcasters and journalists from developing countries;
(5) Note should be taken with appreciation of regional efforts, especially among the developing countries, as well as co-operation between developed and developing countries to develop further the media infrastructure in the developing countries, especially in the areas of training and dissemination of information, with a view to encouraging a free flow and a wider and better balanced dissemination of information;
(6) Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,3/ which provides that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression and that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, and article 29, which stipulates that these rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations, should be recalled;
(7) The relevant paragraphs of General Assembly resolution 59 (I) of 14 December 1946, in which the Assembly stated, inter alia, that freedom of information is a fundamental human right, must be reiterated;
(8) The primary role that the General Assembly is to play in elaborating, co-ordinating and harmonizing United Nations policies and activities in the field of information having been reaffirmed, the Secretary-General is requested to ensure that the activities of the Department of Public Information, as the focal point of the public information tasks of the United Nations, are strengthened and improved, keeping in view the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the priority areas such as those stated in section III, paragraph 1, of General Assembly resolution 35/201 of 16 December 1980 and other pertinent resolutions of the Assembly and the recommendations of the Committee on Information, so as to ensure an objective and more coherent coverage of, as well as better knowledge about, the United Nations and its work. The Secretary-General is further requested to ensure that the Department of Public Information:
(b) Strengthen its co-operation with the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, with the News Agencies Pool of Non-Aligned Countries, with the Eco-Pool of the News Agencies of Non-Aligned Countries and with the Broadcasting Organization of Non-Aligned Countries, as well as with intergovernmental and regional organizations and with the news agencies of the developing countries. In this regard, the Department of Public Information should monitor, as appropriate, important meetings of the Movement, in particular its summit meetings, as well as those of intergovernmental and regional organizations, as this constitutes a concrete step towards the promotion of a wider and better balanced dissemination of information;
(c) Continue to disseminate information about the United Nations activities in the field of human rights, decolonization and the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and foreign occupation;
(d) Give the widest possible dissemination of information pertaining to acute world economic problems in general and, in particular, to the severe economic difficulties of the least developed countries and the need for strengthening the international economic co-operation aimed at resolving the external debt problems of developing countries;
(e) Do its utmost to disseminate widely and to publicize the United Nations Programme of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development 1986-1990 4/ and the tremendous efforts of the African countries towards recovery and development, as well as the positive response by the international community to alleviate the serious economic situation prevailing in Africa;
(f) Continue adequate coverage of the World Disarmament Campaign;
(g) Disseminate adequately and accurately, in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, information relating to the struggle of the Palestinian people, particularly its current uprising, and of the Arab population in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem, for the attainment and exercise of their inalienable national rights, and report thereon to the Committee on Information at its substantive session in 1989;
(h) Strengthen its activities and the dissemination of information on the policies and practices of apartheid, giving due attention to the unilateral measures and official censorship imposed on the local and international media with regard to all aspects of this issue, and report to the Committee on Information at its substantive session in 1989;
(i) Further intensify its efforts in order to alert world public opinion to the illegal occupation of Namibia and continue to disseminate adequately and accurately, with the full assistance of the United Nations Council for Namibia and the United Nations system as a whole, information relating to the struggle of the oppressed people of Namibia for self-determination, national independence and freedom as well as to the need for the full and speedy implementation of the United Nations plan for the independence of Namibia;
(j) Continue adequate coverage of the United Nations activities pertaining to the situation in the Non-Self-Governing Territories;
(k) Further cover adequately and with impartiality the activities of all United Nations peace-keeping operations, in view of the paramount importance of such operations for the maintenance of international peace and security;
(l) Continue to disseminate information concerning United Nations resolutions on terrorism in all its forms, including General Assembly resolutions 40/61 of 9 December 1985 and 42/159 of 7 December 1987;
(m) Strengthen its information programmes relating to women and their role in society;
(n) Strengthen its coverage of the efforts made by the United Nations system and Member States in their campaign against illicit trafficking of narcotics and drug abuse;
(b) In the context of the review of its role, performance and method of work, continue to explore the feasibility of applying modern technologies for the collection, production, storage, dissemination and distribution of information materials, including the use of satellite facilities, and report to the Committee on Information at its substantive session in 1989 with regard to the effects of the application of such technologies on prevailing arrangements;
(c) Consider expanding the programme of telephone news bulletins that are paid for by its users;
(d) Continue its co-operation with those countries which have expressed readiness to assist the United Nations in resuming the short-wave broadcasts through their respective national networks free of charge and encourage expansion of this type of co-operation with those developed and developing countries with recognized capabilities in this field;
(g) Extend all assistance to educational institutions of Member States and continue to organize seminars for educators and education policy makers;
(h) Guarantee daily coverage of all United Nations meetings through issuance of daily press releases in the working languages, reflecting the views of all delegations with accuracy and objectivity. It should also continue to co-operate closely with and provide assistance to members of the United Nations Correspondents Association, taking into account their needs and requirements, especially in the area of press releases, which provide them with the necessary raw material for adequate reporting, and through press conferences and briefings;
(i) Use the official languages of the United Nations adequately in its documents and audio-visual documentation and make balanced use of the two working languages of the Secretariat;
(j) Ensure timely distribution of its material to subscribers and to United Nations information
(11) The Secretary-General is urged to continue his efforts to secure a sound and stable financial basis for the Department of Public Information to produce its publications on time, particularly Development Forum, The United Nations Yearbook, the UN Chronicle, the Africa Recovery Report and the World Newspaper Supplement, and to ensure that they retain their editorial policy of intellectual independence and reflect adequately the United Nations activities, and to submit a report thereon to the Committee on Information at its 1989 substantive session;
(12) The unique function of the United Nations information centres, recognized as one of the most important means of disseminating information about the United Nations among the peoples of the world, should be enhanced. In this regard, United Nations information centres should intensify direct and systematic communication exchange with local media information and educational institutions and non-governmental organizations recognized by the Economic and Social Council in a mutually beneficial way and arrange for constant evaluation of their activities in this regard. Every effort should be made to establish close co-ordination with other field offices of the United Nations system, particularly those of the United Nations Development Programme, in order to avoid duplication of work, taking into account the functional autonomy of the United Nations information centres. The Department of Public Information should ensure open and unhindered access by all people to all United Nations information centres and to all materials distributed through the centres. It is also urged to accelerate the process of linking the remaining United Nations information centres that have not been linked with electronic mail;
(13) In recognition of the need for co-ordinating information activities of the United Nations system and of the important role that the Joint United Nations Information Committee plays in this regard, the Department of Public Information is encouraged to continue its active participation in the work of that Committee;
(14) It is recognized that the free distribution of materials is necessary in the public information activities of the United Nations. However, as demands increase and whenever it is desirable and possible, the Department of Public Information should actively encourage the sale of its materials;
(15) The Secretary-General is requested to ensure that the reorganization and restructuring of the Department of Public Information strengthen and improve the output of the mandated programmes and activities of the Department, taking into account the need for equitable geographical distribution of posts in the Department;
(16) The Secretary-General is requested to take effective steps to increase in the Department of Public Information the representation of underrepresented developing countries and of other underrepresented groups of countries, especially at the senior levels, in conformity with the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, and to submit a report to the Committee on Information at its substantive session in 1989;
(17) The Secretary-General is requested to ensure full programme delivery by the Caribbean Unit, including implementation of the provisions of General Assembly resolution 38/82 B of 15 December 1983, and to submit a report to the Committee on Information at its substantive session in 1989 on the measures taken in the implementation of the present recommendation;
(18) The Secretary-General is requested to maintain the functions of the Middle East/Arabic Unit as the producer of Arabic television and radio programmes, to strengthen and expand this Unit to enable it to function in an effective manner and to report to the Committee on Information at its substantive session in 1989 on the implementation of the present recommendation;
(19) The United Nations system, particularly the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, should aim at providing all possible support and assistance to the developing countries with due regard to their interests and needs in the field of information and to action already taken within the United Nations system, including, in particular:
(b) Creation of conditions that will gradually enable the developing countries to produce, by using their own resources, the communications technology suited to their national needs, as well as the necessary programme material, specifically for radio and television broadcasting;
(c) Assistance in establishing and promoting telecommunication links at subregional, regional and interregional levels, especially among developing countries;
2. Requests that the provisions of the present resolution relating to the activities of the Department of Public Information be implemented within existing resources, taking into account the priorities set by the General Assembly;
3. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Committee on Information at its substantive session in 1989 on the implementation of the present resolution;
4. Also requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its forty-fourth session on the implementation of the present resolution;
5. Takes note with appreciation of the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee for Programme and Co-ordination 6/ and requests the Secretary-General to submit a detailed report to the Committee on Information at its eleventh session on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 41/213 of 19 December 1986, bearing in mind resolution 42/211 of 21 December 1987;
6. Requests the Committee on Information to report to the General Assembly at its forty-fourth session;
7. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its forty-fourth session the item entitled "Questions relating to information".
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2/ Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-Third Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/43/21).
3/ Resolution 217 A (III).
4/ Resolution S-13/2, annex.
5/ See United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Records of the General Conference, Twenty-first Session, vol. I, Resolutions, sect. III, resolution 4/21.
RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 43/60 A: 128-8-16
In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Byelorussia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Democratic Kampuchea, Democratic Yemen, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, German Democratic Republic, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, USSR, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Belgium, Canada, Federal Republic of Germany, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States.
Abstaining: Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey.
Absent: Albania, Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Suriname.
Source: The United Nations.