UN's Ban praises social media's role in Arab Spring

Arab World Materials 3 May 2012 20:51 (UTC +04:00)

The United Nations on Thursday praised the use of new media tools that have brought democratic changes to many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, dpa reported.

Marking the World Press Freedom Day at the UN headquarters in New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Ireland's President Michael Higgins presided over a panel discussion that called for enhancing safety and protection for journalists worldwide.

Ban said social media, smart phones and satellite television played a central role in popular uprisings in 2011 and this year.

"As the use of those tools expands, the world is likely to see more historic changes, and other applications that can advance human well-being," Ban said.

The panel held a minute of silence in tribute of the more than 60 journalists killed on duty last year. The UN cited the Committee to Protect Journalists, which said that 179 journalists were detained in 2011, a 20-per-cent increase over the previous year.

"Impunity for those who attack or threaten journalists remains disturbingly prevalent - including for assaults carried out in broad daylight, delivering the most brutal of messages," Ban said.