Statement by Mr. Marwan Jilani, Counsellor, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., before the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), Agenda Item 87: Questions Relating to Information, 51st Session, 6 November 1996:

Mr. Chairman,

As this is the first time my delegation takes the floor before this committee, I would like to begin by congratulating you upon your election as Chairman of this important committee. We are confident that your diplomatic skills and experience will greatly facilitate the work of the committee during this session. Allow me, at this time, Mr. Chairman, to also congratulate your colleagues in the bureau.

Mr. Chairman,

We live today in a world characterized by vast technological advancement, at the heart of which is communication and information technology. The rapid growth of information technology has greatly increased the influence and impact of information, as well as the multi-dimensional role of information, upon all aspects of life for nations and peoples.

In this regard, it is therefore appropriate that this world organization should utilize this fact for the benefit of all nations, the advancement of international relations and the promotion of the principles of the United Nations through accessible and attractive channels of information.

It is in this context that we stress the importance of the role of information in raising the awareness of the international community with regard to the complexities of the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East. The availibility of accurate and current information in this regard can clearly contribute to the advancement of dialogue and understanding and support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the Middle East peace process.

Mr. Chairman,

The Department of Public Information (DPI) has an important role to play in furthering the Palestinian cause. The start of the peace process and the signing of the interim agreements should further enhance the role of DPI rather than diminish it. The current situation on the ground clearly requires that the public continue to be educated about all aspects of the situation.

The international community does agree on the importance of availability of information on the Palestinian situation. For years the General Assembly has approved an annual resolution on the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information. During its 50th session, the General Assembly adopted resolution 50/84 C, with 142 votes in favor and only 2 against, thus reflecting the support of the overwhelming majority of member states in this regard. 

Mr. Chairman,

In the above mentioned resolution, the General Assembly requested DPI, in full cooperation and coordination with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to continue, with the necessary flexibility as may be required by developments affecting the question of Palestine, its special information programme on the question of Palestine for the biennium 1996-1997. The resolution did specify the provisions of the programme to be implemented by DPI.

One provision of the programme related to assistance to the Palestinian people in the field of media development was implemented. We welcome that. However, the resolution as a whole remained largely unimplemented. Most of the provisions specified in the said resolution, which already have budgetary allocations, were not carried out. Mr. Chairman, we believe that the Secretariat should not exercise judgement on mandated programs or arbitrarily apply financial cuts to them. Further, we believe that if a member state, if any at all, has opposition to an approved program, that state should follow the proper course, namely to take up the matter with member states.

Mr. Chairman,

In the past, my delegation took the floor before this committee to express satisfaction with the work of DPI and the implementation of the resolution on the special information programme on the question of Palestinian. Last year, we unfortunately could not do the same because of what we viewed as a clear lack of implementation. This year we cannot but bring the situation to your attention, stressing the need for full implementation of the resolution in cooperation and coordination with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP).

Mr. Chairman,

The work of DPI on the question of Palestine should continue until a final settlement is attained and a just and comprehensive peace is achieved in the Middle East. I thank you Mr. Chairman.