| Foreign Minister says UN should build capacity of member states
ISLAMABAD – Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has urged the United Nations to form an inter-agency task force to counter disinformation which could have regular interactions with member states and other stakeholders.
He said this during his address to the first meeting of the Group of Friends on Countering Disinformation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms here yesterday.
Bilawal said Pakistan and its people, like many other countries, have been victims of targeted disinformation campaigns.
Pakistan recently formed a UN “group of friends” made up of 20 countries, including Russia and China, to advance the goals of the earlier UN resolution on countering disinformation to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In his opening address, the Foreign Secretary said that indeed, in the information age, misinformation has become a global pandemic.
He said the exponential proliferation of disinformation, especially via online platforms and social media, has sown social discord; encouraged hate speech, racism, discrimination, xenophobia, Islamophobia; and exacerbated competing nationalisms as well as tensions and conflicts between states.
“Disinformation has often justified and intensified human rights violations. And ‘hybrid warfare’, prosecuted by misinformation, is often the first salvo of intervention and conflict,” he said.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs said that this disinformation pandemic must be confronted, countered and defeated at the national and international level.
“We can only achieve this through comprehensive international cooperation,” he said.
He recalled that Pakistan, along with a number of like-minded countries, took the lead last year at the UN General Assembly against disinformation.
Bilawal said these painstaking efforts led to the adoption of historic General Assembly resolution No. 76/227 on “Combating disinformation for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” “.
He said it was the first formal effort by UN member states to craft an agreed international response to the scourge of disinformation.
Explaining the purpose of the group, he said the “Group of Friends” was created to promote the implementation of this resolution. “We are grateful to all the countries that have joined the group. They represent all regions of the world.
“Using this platform, we should agree on an international action plan to counter disinformation, online and offline, in the public and private domain,” he said.
Bilawal also presented a charter of action to fight against disinformation and said that we should first raise awareness about disinformation through information campaigns promoted by Member States and the United Nations and build resistance. and societal resilience against misinformation.
He said that to this end, the UN and its agencies should help build the capacity of member states, especially developing countries, to analyze, verify and filter information, especially online information. In addition, financial and technical support should be extended to national and international researchers and institutions involved in detecting disinformation. The United Nations Department of Public Information can play a vital role in this context, he said.
Bilawal said such a concerted international effort can help expose and dismantle disinformation networks – some of which have operated against my country for more than 30 years.
Finally, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the United Nations, perhaps through its Committee on Information, should open an in-depth dialogue, led by Member States, and with the participation of the private sector, business , media and social media platforms and civil society actors, to develop a coherent consensus on international cooperation to counter disinformation.