Press Releases

    PI/1415
    25 April 2002

    DELEGATIONS SAY REORIENTATION PROCESS SHOULD
    NOT SEEK TO REDUCE INFORMATION DEPARTMENT’S
    ACTIVITIES, FUNDING

    Committee on Information Concludes General Debate

    NEW YORK, 24 April (UN Headquarters) -- The reorientation process in the Department of Public Information (DPI) should not seek to reduce either the Department’s activities or its funding because maintaining a strong DPI was a priority, the Committee on Information was told this morning as it concluded its general exchange of views.

    The Committee, the principal legislative body mandated to make recommendations to the General Assembly on the work of DPI, is meeting amid a comprehensive review of DPI intended to complete its reorientation.

    The proposals aimed at eliminating certain activities within the Department were both surprising and even alienating, continued the representative of Benin. Everyone must avoid "falling into the trap" of reviewing those matters from a strictly financial viewpoint. Although not opposed to the proposed new vision for the Department, he wondered whether that approach excluded outright certain Member States, in particular, the least developed countries. Reorientation, therefore, should take into account such disparities.

    Above all, stated Monaco’s representative, the diversity and cultural wealth of nations must be taken into account during DPI’s reorientation. Regrettably, revitalizing the Department had been delayed owing to budgetary restrictions. To continue to promote the Organization’s activities, its voice must be strong, convincing and reflect the diversity of the peoples it was trying to reach.

    Through its reorientation, said the representative of Azerbaijan, DPI should maintain and improve its activities in the areas of special concern to developing countries and countries in transition. Such activities should contribute to closing the gap between the developing and developed countries in the field of public information and communications.

    The United Nations, said the representative of Guyana, must continue to examine its public information policies and activities so as to ensure that people all over the world obtained the most accurate and reliable information about the Organization and its activities. In the current climate, where hatred and distrust had led to terrorism of the kind witnessed on 11 September 2001, it was more important than ever that the United Nations inform people about its work.

    The more informed and educated they were, the less likely they would be to align with groups that bred hatred and distrust, opting instead for peace and development.

    Also this morning, the Interim Head of DPI, Shashi Tharoor, provided detailed responses to comments made in the course of the debate, the full text of which would be made available this afternoon. Many delegations had commended DPI’s new focus on performance management as an important tool to measure and prioritize activities, with a view to evaluating their public impact and ensuring that a tool was in place to better judge the Department’s direction. That would be strengthened and developed in the months to come. It was also heartening to hear that a transformed Department was essential to advance the Millennium Development Goals and that a clear connection should be established between achieving those goals and the Department’s programmes.

    While it was clear that the Secretary-General’s report on reorientation had been received and addressed by the Committee in a constructive spirit, a difference of perception had emerged on the part of Member States, a difference he hoped to bridge as the reorientation unfolded. He looked forward to the outcome of the Committee’s deliberations, which he hoped would provide guidance towards bringing the reorientation process to a successful outcome. The outcome of the Committee would be very important in terms of the recommendations he would make to the Secretary-General.

    Statements were also made by the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Yemen, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, United Republic of Tanzania and Ghana.

    The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today to consider the reports submitted by the Secretary-General.

    Background

    The Committee on Information met this morning to conclude its general debate for its twenty-fourth session. Also, the Interim Head of the Department of Public Information (DPI), Shashi Tharoor, is expected to reply to questions raised by delegations in the course of the debate.

    The Committee, the principal legislative body mandated to make recommendations to the General Assembly on the work of DPI, is meeting amid a comprehensive review of DPI intended to complete its reorientation.

    For further background, see Press Release PI/1410, issued on 19 April.

    Statements

    YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said that through its reorientation, as one of its primary tasks, DPI should maintain and improve its activities in the areas of special concern to developing countries and countries in transition. Such activities should contribute to closing the gap between the developing and developed countries in the field of public information and communications. Enhanced communications should be an important element in the reform and revitalization of the United Nations in a new information age.

    He particularly commended DPI for developing and maintaining a very useful United Nations Web site, which was a major communications tool for providing information to millions around the world. At the same time, DPI should use reliable sources of information and even double-check items before publicizing them. In that regard, he informed the Committee of the fact that subtitles of photos posted on the Web site referred to the Nagorny-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan as part of Armenia -- for example, UN/DPI photo #187639. That particular page had been removed from the Web site as a result of direct contacts with the Secretariat. The Nagorny-Karabakh region was an inalienable part of Azerbaijan, a fact reconfirmed by several Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

    DPI personnel should be careful in choosing information sources while constructing and updating the Web site to avoid such incidents, he added. That incident demanded a serious and thorough analysis of United Nations information policy and activity, with a view to prevent the use of unreliable sources of information and dissemination of insinuations through the United Nations system, which infringed on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a Member State.

    KIM CHANG GUK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that information activities should not be abused as a tool for infringement on sovereignty and interference in the internal affairs of others. Some countries took advantage of globalization to impose their own ideas and values on others. Those countries were abusing mass media, as a means for intervening in internal affairs. The attempts to create disorder and instigate anti-government forces in other countries through mass media should also be put to an end. The establishment of a new and just international information order should be the main objective of global information activities in the new century.

    Presently, he said, the rapid development of information and communications technologies were remarkably conducive to promoting the well-being of humankind. The benefits, however, were confined to only a few countries, whereas the majority of developing countries still remained at the margin of the public information field. It was, therefore, imperative for the United Nations to provide the developing countries with more opportunities to participate in international information and communications. Meanwhile, the developing countries should enhance their own information capacity. International assistance, such as technology transfer, training of experts and financial investment should be supported.

    In addition, he said, continued attention should be given to strengthening United Nations activities in the field of public information and communications. It was important to ensure impartiality and objectivity in United Nations public information activities, and to create a better environment for addressing the economic and social problems of the developing countries in a way that increased coverage and dissemination of the issues with which they were most concerned.

    JACQUES LOUIS BOISSON (Monaco) said that the current session was a very special one, as his delegation was, for the first time, participating in it as a member. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of 11 September, he wished to address his most sincere congratulations to DPI for its contribution in eliminating threats to peace and promoting greater tolerance by widely distributing high-quality information. He reiterated his country’s commitment to the shared values of personal dignity and freedom of expression. He consequently condemned the use of violence against journalists, whose calling was to "break the silence and combat any incitement to hatred". In times of crisis, information was an invaluable tool for fighting ignorance and violence.

    He said that globalization had led to unprecedented technological innovations. Unfortunately, however, the fruits of the information revolution were not always equally distributed among continents and Member States, and sometimes even contributed to marginalizing the most disadvantaged. Thus, he supported efforts to reorient DPI’s activities. That challenge was linked, on the one hand, to budgetary constraints and, on the other hand, to its mandates.

    The Department was meeting the needs of States in numerous ways, he said. For a modest delegation like his own, the press releases published regularly in English and French were an irreplaceable working tool. They made it possible to be up to date in all areas of the Organization’s work. Their reduction or elimination would be unacceptable. Above all, the diversity and cultural wealth of nations must be taken into account during DPI’s reorientation. Regrettably, advances aimed at revitalizing the Department had been delayed, owing the budgetary restrictions. In order to continue to promote the activities of the United Nations, its voice must be strong, convincing and reflect the diversity of the peoples it was trying to reach.

    KOREEN SIMON (Guyana) associated herself with the statement made on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). As the international political, social and economic environment continued to evolve, the United Nations must continue to examine its public information policies and activities, so as to ensure that people worldwide obtained the most accurate and reliable information about the Organization and its activities. In the current climate, where hatred and distrust had led to terrorism of the kind witnessed on 11 September, it was more important than ever that the United Nations inform and educate people worldwide about its work. If people were informed and educated, they would be less likely to align with groups that bred hatred and distrust, opting instead for peace and development.

    She said that the United Nations could educate and inform through its Web sites and more traditional media. Developing a Web site dedicated to the issue of Palestine was one example of how it could present balanced information to the public about situations in areas of conflict. A single portal for the Web sites would offer uniformity of content and be characteristic of the Web site of a major organization with global outreach. With the emergence of new challenges in the area of information dissemination, DPI must be reoriented to better equip it to provide the required expertise. The Secretary-General’s focus on communication in the context of reorientation was central to addressing those challenges.

    United Nations’ activities in all areas must have the widest possible outreach, if people everywhere were to understand the purposes of its work and lend support to its programmes, she said. There must be closer coordination in the field of public information, both within the United Nations system and within the Secretariat. Greater coordination would maximize outreach and avoid duplication, and the Joint United Nations Committee had a key role in achieving that aim. The DPI must ensure that it communicated its message in a manner that was easily understood by all. Achieving that made it necessary for the Department to be included in the planning and decision-making processes of substantive departments and offices.

    In the context of the technological revolution, she said the United Nations should not be left behind. It was unfortunate, therefore, that cuts in the programme budget for upgrading equipment in 2002-2003 would affect its ability to carry out its information programmes. Adequate resources must be provided to enable the Department to fully implement current and future programmes. Moreover, information and communications technology played an important role in the creation of a global knowledge-based economy and contributed to accelerated growth and poverty eradication in developing countries. Challenges included bridging the digital divide. In that regard, the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force could play a role. Forthcoming meetings, including the World Summit on the Information Society, should provide opportunities to further explore ways of bridging that divide.

    She commended the United Nations information centres (UNICs), which kept people everywhere informed about the work of the Organization. Those provided a necessary service at the local and regional level. The Centre in Port of Spain, which served the Caribbean, was an important link between the United Nations and media outlets in the region and the public, and should be provided with sufficient resources to meet the needs of the region. The Web site of the Port of Spain office was not yet operational. Hopefully, it would soon become so and reach viewers in the Caribbean with Internet access. Also, the importance of traditional means of information dissemination, such as radio and television, must not be ignored, since they served people in developing countries who did not have access to modern technology.

    JOEL WASSI ADECHI (Benin) said he fully supported the statement made on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China. The reorientation report had illuminated the various approaches advocated in the reform process of DPI and highlighted the gaps between functions and mandates. Its recommendations were extremely useful. Reorienting DPI had been an ongoing pursuit. It was true that information technology was undergoing rapid change, but one year ago the Committee was promised reallocations and changes within the Department, aimed at making it more successful. He, therefore, was expecting proposals on the ways and means to make DPI more effective through a restructuring and strengthening of its services.

    He said that improvements had been made since last year, namely, with respect to the electronic dissemination of information and United Nations radio. But, the proposals aimed at eliminating certain activities within the Department were both surprising, and even alienating. The training of journalists in developing countries, as one example, should be continued. The relevant General Assembly resolution adopted last December had underscored that the reorientation process should uphold and improve those activities that held particular interest for developing countries and those with special needs. Hence, it was urgent to emphasize that the reorientation process should not seek to reduce either the Department’s activities or its funding, because maintaining a strong DPI was a priority.

    Everyone must avoid "falling into the trap" of reviewing those matters from a strictly financial viewpoint, he said. Although he was not opposed to the proposed new vision for the Department, he wondered whether that approach excluded outright certain Member States, in particular, the least developed countries, which were marked by poorly organized institutions, and limited civil society and media outreach. It was dangerous to put all regions of the world at the same level when considering communications needs. Reorientation, therefore, should take into account such disparities. In that context, the daily press releases should be maintained in their current form, since they were one of the working instruments that were very difficult to quantify. He supported, however, a fusion of the press releases and traditional publications.

    ABDUL-DAYEM M.S. MUBAREZ (Yemen) said that international relations over the past years had changed, particularly in the wake of 11 September and its consequences. The events of 11 September served to underscore the need to step up efforts to establish a true culture of peace and democracy. It was a shame that the media was denying the mandate entrusted to it -- to promote coexistence among peoples. It was, on the contrary, inciting hatred and violence. The Israeli Government, which claimed to be the only democratic State in the Middle East, was conducting a media campaign to justify the massacre of the Palestinian people. That underscored the need for DPI to disseminate information.

    There were many tasks entrusted by the General Assembly to the Department, he said. There must not be any reticence in implementing the tasks entrusted to it. With regard to the enrichment of the United Nations Web site in the six official languages, he supported the first option presented in the Secretary-General’s report, thereby having all documents presented in all six official languages simultaneously.

    TATANG B. RAZAK (Indonesia) said that the role of UNICs in developing countries, such as Indonesia, was undeniably important, particularly when access to technology eluded the majority of the population. The review process, therefore, should be implemented towards strengthening and expanding their role, so as to effectively disseminate information about the Organization, especially in the areas of economic and social development. In addition, the disbursement of resources to UNICs must accord consideration to its locations in developing countries or those with special needs. It would also be useful for UNICs to develop their own Web pages, as the "field voice" of the Department. That should be done in local languages, including Bahasa Indonesia, as the language spoken in a number of countries in the South-East Asian region.

    He was also gratified with the taped Bahasa Indonesia radio programme relayed across the country to more than 210 million people. It would be desirable to ensure the timely dispatch of the taped programme. He underscored the importance of radio as a cost-effective and far-reaching form of traditional media and was particularly relevant in places where other means of communication were not well developed. He hoped that the pilot project on the development of radio broadcasting capacity for the United Nations was continued, as radio had proved to be an effective method of communication to the peoples of the world.

    MADINA B. JARBUSSYNOVA (Kazakhstan) said that reorientation of United Nations activities in the field of public information and communications was key at the present session, and an integral part of the whole reform process. The Secretary-General’s report reflected a rather complicated situation in the Department with respect to its numerous mandates and directives. But, despite the fact that it continued to face critical deficiencies, it was actively responding to the call by the General Assembly to improve its activities and strengthen its communication function within the United Nations. The role of DPI in the twenty-first century should not be underestimated, since the Organization was repositioning itself for even greater relevance as an indispensable global institution.

    She hoped the reorientation activities in the field would contribute significantly to bridging the gap between developed and developing countries. Concerning the Web sites, after English, the level of usage was highest in the Spanish and French languages. The usage of the sites in Arabic, Chinese and Russian was the lowest, as the number of documents available in those languages was quite few. The DPI should reorganize the management structure for the language Web sites, so that all sites could be developed in a balanced way. In particular, there should be no disparity in staffing for the six languages. While she appreciated the increasing use of modern technology, DPI should seek to achieve a balance between advanced technology and traditional means of communication. Similarly, disseminating radio broadcasts in all languages helped improve access to information by all nations.

    She said she shared the view expressed by other delegations that the daily press releases -- those unofficial United Nations documents -- were invaluable to the countries that did not have large missions and were unable to attend all meetings. The reorientation exercise must not affect the current level of services provided to Member States. Overall, the Department’s work must be more focused on poverty eradication, advancement of women, children’s issues, education and other social concerns. The creation of the multilingual "UN Action against Terrorism" page was welcome. The DPI had a key role to play in disseminating information about international terrorism and raising awareness of that global threat.

    Turning to the situation in her own country, she said that her work at the United Nations revolved around enlisting the support of the international community to resolve the problems relating to environmental disasters, and especially to eliminating the effects of nuclear tests at the former nuclear site in Semipalatinsk. The General Assembly resolution on the matter had paved the way for elaborating an action programme consisting of multidisciplinary projects in the fields of health, environment, economy, humanitarian assistance and provision of information. Her Government was looking forward to further coordination of DPI’s efforts to enhance public awareness of the consequences of that man-made disaster. She hoped the resolution of the current Committee session would contain a provision on the problems of the Semipalatinsk region.

    ABIHUDI BARUTI (United Republic of Tanzania) emphasized the role of information and communication technology in developing countries. He suggested that there be a deliberate move to focus on the "needy customers" -- the developing countries. In speaking of the reorientation of DPI, the budget had to be reviewed. Also, concerted efforts were needed to help develop both "hard" and "soft" infrastructure in those countries. In that regard, coordination and cooperation were vital. The role of information and communication technology could not be overemphasized, he stressed.

    YAW ODEI OSEI (Ghana) addressed the mission statement put forward for the Department, which would set out the goal and vision upon which any organization wished to focus. He welcomed the statement, as set out in the Secretary-General’s report. He was delighted that the vision was guided by some of the challenges identified by the Secretary-General in the Millennium Assembly report, such as poverty eradication and the special needs of the African continent. There was a need to identify what channels DPI could use to reach the large majority of people who, due to limited access to information, were faced with the issues identified by the Secretary-General.

    The United Nations information centres, he said, were in touch at the grass-roots level in many countries such as his own, and had been able to bring the useful work done by the United Nations to the attention of local people, and raise their level of awareness. While they were doing a good job, it was necessary to examine whether there weren't ways in which they could do their work better.

    Response to General Debate

    SHASHI THAROOR, Interim Head of the Department of Public Information, said he was particularly encouraged by the support expressed for his leadership of the Department and the broad endorsement for the reorientation, as outlined in the Secretary-General’s report, aimed at enhancing the Organization’s public information and communications work. In the report, the Committee was asked to give general guidance. Indeed, speakers had provided a general understanding of their thinking, and the debate had been characterized by many insightful and constructive remarks.

    He said he wished to offer further responses and clarifications to the issues raised. (A copy of his remarks would be distributed at the afternoon meeting.) He had heard many delegations commend the Department’s new focus on performance management as an important tool to measure and prioritize activities, with a view to evaluating their public impact and ensuring that a tool was in place to better judge the Department’s direction. That would be strengthened and developed in the months to come. It had been heartening to hear that a transformed Department was essential to advancing the goals of the Millennium Declaration, and that a clear connection should be established between those goals and the Department’s programmes.

    Among the points he addressed was the need to bridge the digital divide and ensure that the global information and technological resolution also benefited the developing countries. Regarding the importance expressed about the forthcoming World Summit on the Information Society, the Department was presently discussing ways of becoming more involved in the preparatory work for that event.

    With respect to advocacy and outreach activities, he noted that the representative of Spain, on behalf of the European Union, had requested coordination between DPI and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to strengthen the capacity of the information components of United Nations peacekeeping. The United States had raised a similar issue. With a view to implementing the Brahimi report, DPI and DPKO agreed last May to strengthen the Secretariat’s capacity to support peacekeeping. The DPI was given primary responsibility in 12 areas, mostly in pre-mission planning; DPKO was given primary responsibility in eight areas, with the two Departments sharing responsibility equally in one area, namely, the facilitation of media coverage.

    It was DPKO, in fact, that had requested additional resources from the support account, he continued. The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had recommended that DPI, and not DPKO, should have a dedicated technical unit to support those functions, and two additional posts were granted. That was much fewer than DPKO had requested. The DPI was unable to dedicate staff resources to field information support. If the two additional posts had not been provided, its ability to provide information support would remain limited and insufficient, as it was now.

    He said that DPI had already been working closely with DPKO, such as in handling the issues of the Boundary Commission for Ethiopia and Eritrea, and publicizing the successful work of the United Nations in East Timor, culminating in its independence on 20 May.

    He noted that the delegations of Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Syria and Yemen had all stressed the importance of the special information programme on the question of Palestine. The Department, at this time of tragedy and turmoil in the Middle East, was devoting high priority to that question. It was organizing an international media seminar in Copenhagen next month, through which it hoped to contribute to the process of constructive dialogue, without which no durable peace could be established in the Middle East.

    Appreciation for DPI’s involvement in conferences and special sessions had also been expressed, as well as training of broadcasters from developing countries to reduce the disparity of information flows, he said. The Department would strive to see that adequate support and resources continued to be devoted to this programme. That amount had stayed constant, thereby decreasing the numbers trained in recent years. Other delegations had expressed support for special events and tours, which yielded intangible benefits for the Organization. Also affirmed had been the vital importance of press freedom in today’s world.

    He recalled that many delegations had expressed the vital role of UNICs in the field and had called for their strengthening. The representative of Japan had recalled that 35 per cent of DPI’s budget was used for the global network of UNICs. He welcomed the proposed review of the centres, but wished to add that included in that figure were also the budgets of United Nations information services at offices in Vienna and Geneva.

    He thanked the United States’ delegation for its expressed support for the ideas raised in the report about the centres. The centres provided services to 120 countries that did not currently host them, and the 77 DPI branch offices around the world serviced 153 countries. The DPI sent information material to all offices in the field and to peacekeeping missions worldwide, covering most members.

    Noting that the Jamaican representative, on behalf of CARICOM, had called for the establishment of an enhanced information component in Kingston, he said the Department was convinced of the need to "outpost" at least an assistant to act as focal point for activities of the United Nations offices in Jamaica.

    Several speakers had referred to the possibility of redirecting resources from UNICs in the developed countries where rental costs were extremely high, he continued. That was an option he would study further as part of the comprehensive review, but measurable action on that question would take time to implement, in view of existing legal contracts and lease arrangements. He thanked those speakers who had expressed support for providing rent-free or rent-subsidized premises, and hoped that would be reflected in the Committee’s resolution.

    He said he would explore further the possibility of establishing regional hubs, for which a majority of delegations that addressed the subject had expressed positive interest.

    Almost all speakers had commented favourably on the enhanced character of the United Nations Web site, he said. Comments about the high quality of external assistance should be taken with a degree of caution, however. At the same time, several delegations had addressed the need to more rapidly achieve linguistic parity on the Web site. Certain proposals, including one offered by the representative of China and outlined in the Secretary-General’s report, required significant additional resources. That had remained a central dilemma.

    A number of speakers had indicated the importance they attached to DPI maintaining the traditional means of distribution, namely, print, radio and television, while pursuing the use of new technologies, he noted. It had appeared that many developing countries were proceeding towards using new technologies. For example, the Internet was seen as much more than merely the convergence of the three traditional media formats. The Department would keep on top of those trends and attempt to reallocate resources as possible, with approval by Member States.

    Concerning the possible enhancement of DPI press releases in English and French, he noted the importance developing countries had expressed for that service. In terms of reorientation, that was a resource question on which he was seeking the guidance of both the General Assembly and the Committee itself.

    In terms of enhancing the UN News Centre on the Web and the e-mail news service, that was directed to the mass media and not to the person on the street. The mass media in virtually every developing country used e-mail. The Department was currently engaged in developing news sites in all official languages, with a view to launching them this year.

    He appreciated the statement made today by the representative of Monaco, a new member, when he had spoken about efforts to revitalize the Department. He had said the cultural diversity and wealth of countries should be taken into account in the reorientation process, and work should be undertaken to promote and enhance multilingualism. Indeed, multilingualism was a priority issue for the Department and for him, personally.

    With respect to radio, he had appreciated the support expressed for the live radio project, adding that every effort was being made to improve its content in all official languages, he said. The major broadcasters that carried the programme reached tens of millions of listeners daily. The Nigerian representative had said that it reached 50 million listeners in his region. The Jamaican representative had rightly said that the value of the programme should be based, not only on the number of listeners, but on its impact on them.

    He said he was conscious that, as an organization of Member States, a numerically small audience in a dozen different countries was as important as an audience of millions in just one country. He added that coverage of all important issues would continue to be given prominence in all broadcasts.

    To the proposal by the European Union to launch a feasibility study for a global satellite television network, he said that was intriguing, and he wished to explore it further in the context of resource constraints. Such an idea might not be feasible for DPI, but he welcomed the fact that it had come from the Union, as he was sure the Western Group of countries would be in a position to assist in overcoming staff and financial constraints.

    The complimentary remarks about the Yearbook were greatly appreciated, he went on. Member States had found value and utility in the only authoritative refer work on the Organization and had wanted the Department to continue to issue it, despite its cost. Hopefully, that wish would be reflected in the draft resolution.

    On the Chronicle, he recalled that the United States representative had called for a closer look to ascertain whether time and costs were justified in relation to the Chronicle’s readership and impact, given that the information it contained could be found elsewhere. Indeed, the impact and readership of the Chronicle were far greater than the subscriber base would indicate because many were libraries and academia. In the comprehensive review, he would continue to study the right balance between issues of cost and production, subscription costs, and audience and impact.

    He thanked delegations for their support for the Dag Hammarskjöld Library. Work was regularly being done to rationalize its processes. Some services were already automated and performed completely on line.

    On the comments made about a new name for the Department, two delegations had voiced concern that a change would not be in the spirit of the General Assembly resolution of 1946, he said. In considering such a change, he had taken the view that use of the word "communications" would demonstrate a more modern and proactive approach to the dissemination of information. The same proposal had been made in 1997 when the Secretary-General first reviewed DPI.

    At the same time, he continued, the reference to external relations had sought to include non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and other external partners, which had a crucial role to play in the goal of reaching the widest possible audiences. Civil society was a partner of increasing importance. Although no decision had yet been made, he assured delegates concerned that the proposal had been made in that spirit. He would welcome additional comments in the course of the discussions and preparations of the draft resolution.

    He recalled that the representative of Benin today had reiterated that the comprehensive review was not a cost-cutting exercise, but one through which DPI hoped to carry out its mandates more effectively. There was no intention to reduce or eliminate those activities that had won support and showed good results.

    Overall, he said it had been clear that the Secretary-General’s report on reorientation had been addressed by the Committee in a constructive spirit, but, clearly, there was a difference of perception between two groups of Member States -- a difference he hoped to bridge as the reorientation unfolded. He looked forward to the outcome of deliberations, which he hoped would provide guidance towards bringing the reorientation of DPI to a successful outcome. The Committee’s conclusions would be very important in terms of the recommendations he would make to the Secretary-General.

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