Thursday, April 17, 2014

World Press Freedom Day Event at the UN


A Commemoration of World Press Freedom Day was held at the United Nations on 4 May. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon addressed a full crowd at the event as well as  H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan who spoke as acting President of the UN General Assembly. Other speakers introducing the event included UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, H.E. Ambassador Eduardo Ulibarri-Bilbao, the Permanent Representative of Costa Rica and current Chairperson of the Committee on Information, and President of the UN Correspondence Association, Mr. Giampaolo Pioli.

The speakers praised journalists and reporters for their work and pointed out the crucial role of media at the forefront of change.  Furthermore, speakers recognized the increasing number of people who are exchanging information and views beyond previously well-defined borders.

Freedom of speech, of course, was the theme of the event. “There can be neither security nor development unless human rights are respected. The credibility of the international community is at stake in ensuring that these rights are upheld and that human rights violations do not go unpunished,” said H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin.

One of the key messages emphasized was the idea that while technological innovation has advanced the initiative of freedom of expression through digitization and modernization, individuals -journalists and reporters especially – have played a critical role in quickly transmitting current events from one end of the world to the other. The speakers therefore highlighted the importance in providing security and safety to journalists and other members of the media, and holding accountable those who inflict harm upon them.

“On this World Press Freedom Day, we pay tribute to all media organizations, civil society groups and individuals who devote their energies- and their lives- to ensure that our world will be just and that all people will be educated, informed and living in peace,” said H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin.

The United Nations’s effort to observe World Press Freedom Day emphasized the importance of the international community coming together to support journalists and reporters who often pay far too high a price to ensure widespread awareness in the world.

Ambassador Tanin

H.E. Zahir Tanin (left), Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN and Vice-President of the General Assembly, chairs a meeting at which Members granted the delegation of the European Union the right to make interventions at the Assembly, as well as the right of reply and the ability to present oral proposals and amendments, adopting a draft resolution presented by Hungary’s representative on behalf of the E.U.

General Assembly Votes in Support of Stronger Recognition of European Union in UN In Debate Chaired by Ambassador Tanin

On 3 May, as acting President of the General Assembly, H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin chaired the 88th GA plenary meeting which included both agenda items “Culture of Peace” and “Strengthening the United Nations System.”

After 8 months of debates on a stronger recognition of the European Union at the United Nations, draft resolution A/65/L.64/Rev.1 sponsored by the members of the European Union was adopted by the terms of the resolution with 180 in favour to none against, and 2 abstentions. This historic decision was made with the inclusion of oral amendments to the written proposal announced during the meeting and was met with several serious reservations by countries such as Nauru, Iran, and Zimbabwe who expressed concern about the significance of such a resolution. In the end, the European Union was able to garner the overwhelming support of Member States in order to adopt the resolution.

“The resolution will in the future enable EU representatives to present and promote the EU’s positions in the UN as agreed by its Member States” and will further “take account of the institutional changes brought by the Lisbon Treaty,” as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton stated.

Subsequent to the adoption of the resolution, the EU and its Member States are able to be inscribed on the list of speakers among representatives of major groups as well as be invited to participate in the Assembly’s general debates.  In accordance with the rules of procedures of the GA, the EU now has the right to raise points of order and can exercise the right of reply “regarding positions of the European Union.”

The resolution was welcomed by a number of delegates from regional groups.

The Assembly Secretary reported that under operative paragraph 2 of the resolution, additional financial requirements amounting to $10,000 would be required for the installation of the necessary delegate units.

The meeting also included the adoption of the draft resolution A/65/L75 in which delegates in the General Assembly designated 30 July as the International Day of Friendship as a part of the agenda item “Culture of Peace.”