Ban Ki-moon: Spread of misinformation - grave risks to peace
Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 17
Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) Ban Ki-moon has today sent a message to the fifth News Agencies World Congress organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Azerbaijan’s state news agency AzerTAc in Baku.
“I am pleased to send greetings to the fifth News Agencies World Congress,” said Ban Ki-moon in his message.
Traditional and new media are essential to the rule of law, good governance and democracy, he noted adding that the UN member states reaffirmed this principle in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted last year as a blueprint for peace, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all.
“Freedom of expression and the media are essential to this new global roadmap for people and the planet,” said the UN secretary general. “News agencies have an extremely important role in disseminating timely, quality information. This is both a means and a goal of positive change.”
He added that shifts in technology and business models have opened new avenues for freedom of expression around the world.
Ever more people are able to access, produce and share information, he said, this exchange of news and ideas, within and across national borders, has tremendous potential for good.
“On the other hand, the spread of misinformation, especially hate speech, presents grave risks to peace and progress,” said Ban Ki-moon. “The news media have a particular responsibility to counter this by promoting tolerance and understanding and presenting the truth fearlessly.”
The UN secretary general added that the international community also has a responsibility to support free media and stand firm against forces that threaten inclusive and open societies.
These threats range from censorship and the blocking of digital information to physical intimidation against journalists, he said.
Together, they undermine freedom of expression, a fundamental human right that is vital for truly sustainable development, added Ban Ki-moon.
“In the past decade, at least 827 journalists have been killed in the line of duty – many, but by no means all, working in conflict zones. It is essential that their safety is preserved and respect for their profession observed,” he noted. “Many more reporters for traditional and new media around the world have been threatened, detained and imprisoned for doing their essential work. Too often, such obstruction occurs with Government acceptance or collusion, and the perpetrators are able to act with impunity.”
“Tackling these threats demands the commitment of all – Governments, first, and all relevant actors, including the United Nations,” added Ban Ki-moon. “I commend the organizers, and the President and Government of Azerbaijan, for convening the fifth News Agencies World Congress in Baku, and I wish you a successful and fruitful meeting.”