Public information is a critically important element of the success of the United Nations, and the world body has managed to develop innovative ways to engage more people, the UN's top communications official said today.
That task was particularly difficult, however, within budgetary constraints and in "a world in which many discordant notes were struck by competing voices," noted Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information.
The UN Department of Public Information (DPI) has risen to the challenge by honing its communication tools, sharpening its focus and reaching out to newer audiences, using new technologies and forging closer partnerships with civil society, Mr. Tharoor told the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) as he introduced Secretary-General Kofi Annan's report on questions relating to information.
Such innovations included the launch in May of a listing of "Ten stories the world should hear more about," which came about because news on Iraq seemed to be eclipsing all other important stories, he noted.
DPI would also continue to promote the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) although it was particularly difficult to get coverage of development issues because the media was mainly interested in conflict, he said.
The communications chief also described developments in other areas, such as ongoing improvements in DPI's strategic work with Peacekeeping and other UN Secretariat Departments, and capacity-building media monitoring and analysis.
The Department has also taken steps to strengthen its information presence in the Arab world, among other things by establishing a focal point for Arab media. In addition, an intensive review of library services had been undertaken, Mr. Tharoor said, and the web site and news centre had expanded their multilingual services and usage.