Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Portugal, Ms. Cristina Pucarinho, at the 39th Session of the Committee on Information

New York, 25 April 2017

Mr. Chair,

Distinguished Delegates,

I would like to thank the Acting Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Mr. Maher Nasser, for his comprehensive statement at the beginning of this session. I would also like to congratulate you, Mr. Chair, on your election. You can count on my delegation to work closely and constructively with you and with all the new members of the Bureau, as well as with the Department of Public Information and the whole of the Secretariat, regarding public information and multilingualism. I would also like to express our deep appreciation to Ms. Cristina Gallach for her work and commitment to the values of the United Nations during her term as Under-Secretary-General for Public Information.

This statement is fully aligned with the one delivered yesterday by the European Union and I would just like to add some additional remarks in my national capacity.

Portugal welcomes and thanks the Secretary-General for the three comprehensive reports on the activities of the Department of Public Information. They reflect the crucial role played by the Department in communicating the values and the activities of the United Nations to global audiences worldwide, so raising awareness for the key issues in the Organization’s agenda and also ensuring transparency and external accountability. To this end, it is essential that the DPI communicates the work of the Organization in an understandable way for everyone, that´s to say to all the peoples it is serving.

The adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda was a milestone for the UN and multilateralism. It is a truly global, universal and transformative agenda and it cannot but be an essential theme for the DPI to promote worldwide. We welcome the thematic campaigns developed so far by the DPI and encourage further efforts in trying to reach out to an increasingly broader audience, in particular youth and civil society. In this regard it is important it continues to disseminate understandable information on the 2030 Agenda in as many languages as possible, including in Portuguese.

The role of public diplomacy of the United Nations is a crucial one to reach the global audience, and to that extent we welcome the creation of the new position of “Under Secretary-General for Global Communications”. The overall perception of the Organization worldwide - or the UN brand - relies not only on the remarkable work of this Organization in the areas of peace and security, sustainable development and Human Rights, but also on its global communication’s strategy and how it is able to inform and positively influence public opinions. In this regard, we also welcome and strongly encourage the work of the DPI, especially those activities involving the strengthening of multilingualism, a core value of the Organization.

Mr. Chair,

The compelling message for peace by the Secretary-General António Guterres issued on the 1st of January was a far-reaching appeal also due to a successful broadcast strategy. It reflected how a multilingual approach, alongside well-established partnerships, can be effective in reaching out to “the Peoples of the world”. That message was distributed in eight languages, including Portuguese, and then translated into many others by the UN information centers and disseminated in a record of 400 outlets in television, radio, newspapers and magazines, online and in social media.

This is a specific and concrete example of how the UN information centers are a unique asset for the UN’s public diplomacy. In this context, we fully support the Secretary-General’s intention “to broaden and enhance the role of the information centers in their respective regions and local languages”.

I would like to stress, in particular, the comprehensive work in Portuguese developed by the UNRIC–United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe and the UNIC-Rio, in  Brazil. Furthermore, we welcome and strongly encourage the collaboration between the two Centers with the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) to develop contents in Portuguese. These synergies should be an encouragement for the whole of the UNIC network and other entities to better explore creative and cost-effective partnerships within the Organization’s global communications’ strategy. In particular, we encourage the DPI to further create and deepen synergies in the Portuguese-speaking world and my Delegation stands ready to fully cooperate also in this regard.

I would also like to recall the decision to create a UN information center in Luanda “as a contribution towards addressing the needs of Portuguese-speaking African countries” and to reiterate that the very significant expression of the Portuguese language in Africa calls for a prompt and full implementation of this decision.

Mr. Chair,

Portuguese is a global language. It is one of the world’s most spoken languages and is the most spoken language in the Southern hemisphere. It is official language in nine countries and in one Chinese Special Administrative Region, in four continents, comprising around 260 million people. It has also one of the highest growth rates as a second language in the internet, particularly in social networks, and in learning as a foreign language. These are facts that we would like to see increasingly considered and reflected in the communication strategy of the UN, although we are deeply appreciative of the continuous efforts by the DPI in working with the Portuguese language.

Portugal also supports the work developed during these last years by “Rádio ONU” and now by the “ONU-News” in Portuguese. We have been closely monitoring the change to this innovative news platform, hoping it will fulfill its goals of becoming an enhanced news platform, in a variety of media formats, providing a more intuitive and engaging user experience, and therefore potentiating its reach out capacity to a broader universe.

We are, however, pleased that this emphasis in increased digital content does not mean a drawback in the use of traditional means by the DPI. As acknowledged by the Secretary-General in his report, “traditional media are still an important form of media”.

Finally, Portugal welcomes the continued provision of services to UN Radio partners, including in Portuguese. Quoting again the Secretary-General in its report on News Services when referring to the Portuguese Unit of UN Radio, “engagement with audiences around the world increased dramatically”. The far-reaching work of the Portuguese Unit of UN Radio is also illustrated by the success of its initiatives, which include 25 new partnerships just in the period between September 2016 and February 2017.

Mr. Chair,

I reiterate Portugal’s support to the important work developed by this Committee and the Secretariat and our willingness to fully and constructively cooperate during this 39th session of the Committee, in view of an ambitious outcome.

I thank you.