Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Statement by H.E. the Deputy Permanent Representative of Portugal, Ms. Cristina Pucarinho, at the Committee on Information – 40th Session

New York, 1 May 2018

Mr. Chair,
Distinguished Delegates,

I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his three recently issued reports, on the activities of the Department of Public Information (DPI), namely on Strategic Communications Services, on News Services and on Outreach and Knowledge Services. I also thank the Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Ms. Alison Smale, for her comprehensive presentation to this Committee earlier today.

The European Union as already spoken on behalf of Portugal, as it will tomorrow the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries. This brief statement is complementary, in my national capacity.

Mr. Chair,

The growing number and relevance of the tasks committed to the United Nations, is clearly reflected on the mandate and responsibilities of the Department of Public Information. This goes along with growing expectations on the DPI to deliver, to bring the UN closer to the people and the people closer to each other, to reach out to anyone, anywhere, to let them know what the UN is doing and what it can do for them, for their communities, for their countries, for their regions and worldwide. UN is a unique global Organization and its communication strategy must be global as well.

In this regard, the DPI is a central executing pillar of that strategy; it generates multiple avenues of communication and has to able adapt and effectively reach very different publics in very diverse regions.

In this context, multilingualism stands out as crucial for the UN to be able to convey its messages to the widest possible audiences and Portugal truly praises the work performed by UN News and all its staff, who produce, on a daily basis, communication materials in eight different languages, including in Portuguese.

The vast dissemination of those materials relies also on the outstanding performance by the United Nations information centers throughout the world, involving the translation and broadcasting of the goals, activities and the achievements of this Organization.

In this regard I would just like to stress the importance of the activities developed by the United Nations Regional Information Center for Western Europe (UNRIC), in Brussels, and by the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) in Rio de Janeiro, both producing and disseminating a significant amount of contents in Portuguese.

The addition of an Information Center in Luanda to the existing network would be an important progress to improve the dissemination of UN-related information in Angola and in all the other Portuguese-speaking African countries. Portugal is therefore pleased that there has been progress in the implementation of that decision and hope the future UNIC Luanda is granted sufficient human resources to be able to effectively implement its mandate.

Mr. Chair,

The current emphasis on social media by the Department of Public Information is a farsighted decision. Social media platforms relying on the capabilities of different language units of the UN News potentiate enormously the communication outreach of the Organization. This is especially true when we target priority audiences as the younger generations are.

Traditional media, radio in particular, must however continue to be granted, if the UN is to fulfil the ambition of reaching out to the widest audience worldwide. Radio has the widest outreach; in many regions there is not even access to any other media source.

 Mr. Chair,

Portuguese is the language of 260 million people; is the most spoken language in the Southern hemisphere; it is the official language in nine countries, spread in four continents, and in China’s Special Administrative Region of Macau, making it not only one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, but a truly global language too. It has also a huge footprint in the Internet which further reveals its strength as an important and effective tool of global communication.

By mid of this century, the figure of those having Portuguese as official language is estimated to increase to 400 million people. In our view it is crucial that the communication strategy of the UN duly expresses the importance of the Portuguese language in the world and that the DPI continues to consolidate and further expand the use of Portuguese in its work.

I must add that we are pleased to see the UN, and especially the DPI, continuing its efforts to promote multilingualism, which also includes increasing the use of Portuguese. The UN News is loyally followed by a great number of Portuguese speakers, actually the third largest linguistic group among its audience. (The latest figures available go even further, showing that, in some months of last year, the Portuguese speaking audience was the most numerous linguistic group of followers of UN News).

This is a reality that is accurately reflected in the latest Secretary-General’s report on news services, which provides impressive statistics on the following of the Portuguese Language Unit. We believe that the report would also further benefit from the inclusion of data related to all working languages of the DPI.

The report also contains relevant information regarding new partnerships with media outlets concluded in Angola, Brazil and Cabo Verde. This reconfirms a consistent trend for the last years that Portugal praises and further encourages.

Mr. Chair,

I would like to conclude by reiterating the firm support of Portugal to the activities undertaken by the Committee on Information and by the Secretariat. You can count on our commitment to contribute for the best outcome of this 40th Session.

I thank you.