Pakistan assumes CoI presidency for 2-year term

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan was formally elected as chairman of the UN Committee on Information (COI), a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, for a two-year term (2023-24), with a pledge to promote fact-based information and fight against the spread of misinformation.
“We must combat hate speech,” Ambassador Aamir Khan, deputy permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, told COI’s 45th annual session on Monday, pointing out that bad actors were misusing digitalized platforms spawning social unrest and tensions within and among societies.
Ambassador Aamir Khan took over the chairmanship of the Committee on Information on behalf of Pakistan from Ecuador. It is the second time Pakistan has served the Committee as chairman. Over the past couple of years, Mariam Shaikh, press counsellor at the Pakistan Mission to the UN, played an active role in the Committee, which examines the UN’s public information policies and activities.
In his opening statement, the Pakistani envoy called for building a system that is cohesive appreciates diversity and enhances the understanding of the principles of the UN Charter.
“Bridging the digital divide and achieving universal connectivity by ensuring access to broadband and data for all is critical,” Aamir Khan said, adding it will enable people to make informed decisions and contribute to the building of inclusive, peaceful, and just societies.
“It is the cure to the pandemic of disinformation and hate speech.” he added.
Highlighting the triple-crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic, the existential threat caused by climate change and the inter-related shocks to food, fuel and finance – the world is facing, Aamir Khan said COI’s role in combating these challenges by ensuring accurate and timely information was critical.
“As we work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we must persevere and renew our commitment to meeting these goals despite challenges posed by Covid-19” he said.
He also called for confronting the existential threat of climate change, recalling the catastrophic flood in Pakistan last year, the terrible earthquake hitting Turkiye and Syria this year and the threat posed by rising sea water and desertification are its serious manifestations.
“Our information systems should promote the exchange of information and best practices to accelerate the bold climate action” he urged.
Aamir Khan also underscored the need for a technological divide and the lack of access by developing countries to reliable, factual, and multilingual information.
“We must address these gaps and create a fair, equitable and resilient global information landscape” he added.
He recalled Pakistan’s initiative in the General Assembly, for the first time, adopted resolution 76/227 entitled “Countering Disinformation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”, on 24 December 2021.
Later, ‘Group of Friends’ on Countering Disinformation was launched to advance the multidimensional response to counter all forms of disinformation, including in the context of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Last Year, as G-77 (developing countries) Chair, Pakistan played a productive role in bringing a consensus-based resolution in the Committee on Information.
He also welcomed the new Vice-Chairs and Rapporteur of the Committee as well as new member- Estonia admitted to the Committee on Information. – APP