Cross-Regional Statement on “Infodemic” in the Context of COVID-19

12.06.2020. 17:48

Australia, Chile, France, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Latvia, Lebanon, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Senegal and South Africa as the co-authors have the honor to transmit the following statement.

 

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and declaration of the pandemic, the UN Secretary-General and other senior leaders of the UN and its institutions have increasingly drawn attention to the challenge of the “infodemic” [1] or misinformation and disinformation pandemic. Quoting the UN Secretary General, “as COVID-19 spreads, a tsunami of misinformation, hate, scapegoating and scare-mongering has been unleashed”.

In times of the COVID-19 health crisis, the spread of the “infodemic” can be as dangerous to human health and security as the pandemic itself. Among other negative consequences, COVID-19 has created conditions that enable the spread of disinformation, fake news and doctored videos to foment violence and divide communities. It is critical states counter misinformation as a toxic driver of secondary impacts of the pandemic that can heighten the risk of conflict, violence, human rights violations and mass atrocities.

For these reasons we call on everybody to immediately cease spreading misinformation and to observe UN recommendations to tackle this issue, including the United Nations Guidance Note on Addressing and Countering COVID-19 related Hate Speech (11 May 2020).

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the crucial need for access to free, reliable, trustworthy, factual, multilingual, targeted, accurate, clear and science-based information, as well as for ensuring dialogue and participation of all stakeholders and affected communities during the preparedness, readiness and response. It also has confirmed the key role of free, independent, responsible and pluralistic media to enhance transparency, accountability and trust, which is essential to achieving adequate support for and compliance by the general public with collective efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Better international cooperation, based on solidarity and goodwill among countries, can contribute to achieving this goal. 

States, regional organizations, the UN system and other stakeholders such as media workers, social media platforms and NGOs have a clear role and responsibility in helping people to deal with the “infodemic’. In this regard, we strongly support the United Nations Communications Response initiative and the “Verified” [2] campaign announced by the UN Secretary General on April 14, 2020 [3].

Many countries, including ours, and international institutions, such as the WHO and UNESCO [4], have worked towards increasing societal resilience against disinformation, which has improved overall preparedness to deal with and better comprehend both the “infodemic” and the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are also concerned about the damage caused by the deliberate creation and circulation of false or manipulated information relating to the pandemic. We call on countries to take steps to counter the spread of such disinformation, in an objective manner and with due respect for citizens’ freedom of expression, as well as public order and safety. We reaffirm the importance of ensuring that people are accurately informed from trustworthy sources and are not misled by disinformation about COVID-19.

These efforts are based, inter alia, on freedom of expression, freedom of the press and promotion of highest ethics and standards of the press, the protection of journalists and other media workers, as well as promoting information and media literacy, public trust in science, facts, independent media, state and international institutions. Different initiatives have been launched to provide independent expertise and recommendations for States and private actors to strengthen these efforts.

We call for action by all Member States and all stakeholders to fight the “infodemic” to build, to quote the Secretary General, a “healthier, more equitable, just and resilient world”.

We remain committed to creating a healthy information environment at the national, regional and global levels, in which the “infodemic” is countered by scientific, evidenced-based information and facts. By doing this, we will be better prepared for dealing with the next “infodemic”.

The following Member States, Non-Member Observer States and Observers endorse this statement:

1.                   ALBANIA

2.                   ALGERIA

3.                   ANDORRA

4.                   ANGOLA

5.                   ARGENTINA

6.                   ARMENIA

7.                   AUSTRALIA

8.                   AUSTRIA

9.                   AZERBAIJAN

10.                 BANGLADESH

11.                 BARBADOS

12.                 BELARUS

13.                 BELGIUM

14.                 BHUTAN

15.                 BOLIVIA

16.                 BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

17.                 BULGARIA

18.                 BURKINA FASO

19.                 CANADA

20.                 CHILE

21.                 COLOMBIA

22.                 COSTA RICA

23.                 CÔTE D’IVOIRE

24.                 CROATIA

25.                 CYPRUS

26.                 CZECH REPUBLIC

27.                 DENMARK

28.                 DJIBOUTI

29.                 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

30.                 ECUADOR

31.                 EGYPT

32.                 EL SALVADOR

33.                 EQUATORIAL GUINEA

34.                 ERITREA

35.                 ESTONIA

36.                 ETHIOPIA

37.                 FIJI

38.                 FINLAND

39.                 FRANCE

40.                 GAMBIA

41.                 GEORGIA

42.                 GERMANY

43.                 GREECE

44.                 GUATEMALA

45.                 GUINEA

46.                 HONDURAS

47.                 HUNGARY

48.                 ICELAND

49.                 INDIA

50.                 INDONESIA

51.                 IRAQ

52.                 IRELAND

53.                 ISRAEL

54.                 ITALY

55.                 JAPAN

56.                 JORDAN

57.                 KENYA

58.                 LATVIA

59.                 LEBANON

60.                 LESOTHO

61.                 LIECHTENSTEIN

62.                 LITHUANIA

63.                 LUXEMBOURG

64.                 MADAGASCAR

65.                 MALAYSIA

66.                 MALDIVES

67.                 MALTA

68.                 MARSHALL ISLANDS

69.                 MAURITIUS

70.                 MEXICO

71.                 MOLDOVA

72.                 MONACO

73.                 MONGOLIA

74.                 MONTENEGRO

75.                 MOROCCO

76.                 MOZAMBIQUE

77.                 MYANMAR

78.                 NAMIBIA

79.                 NEPAL

80.                 NETHERLANDS

81.                 NEW ZEALAND

82.                 NIGERIA

83.                 NORTH MACEDONIA

84.                 NORWAY

85.                 PAKISTAN

86.                 PALAU

87.                 PANAMA

88.                 PAPUA NEW GUINEA

89.                 PARAGUAY

90.                 PERU

91.                 POLAND

92.                 PORTUGAL

93.                 QATAR

94.                 REPUBLIC OF KOREA

95.                 ROMANIA

96.                 RWANDA

97.                 SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS

98.                 SAINT LUCIA

99.                 SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

100.               SAN MARINO

101.               SAUDI ARABIA

102.               SENEGAL

103.               SERBIA

104.               SEYCHELLES

105.               SIERRA LEONE

106.               SLOVAKIA

107.               SLOVENIA

108.               SOUTH AFRICA

109.               SOUTH SUDAN

110.               SPAIN

111.               SRI LANKA

112.               SURINAME

113.               SWEDEN

114.               SWITZERLAND

115.               THAILAND

116.               TIMOR LESTE

117.               TOGO

118.               TONGA

119.               TUNISIA

120.               TURKEY

121.               TURKMENISTAN

122.               TUVALU

123.               UGANDA

124.               UKRAINE

125.               UNITED KINGDOM

126.               UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

127.               URUGUAY

128.               UZBEKISTAN

129.               VENEZUELA (BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA)

130.               YEMEN

131.               STATE OF PALESTINE

132.               EUROPEAN UNION

 

[1] The term used by the Secretary General of the United Nations

[2] www.shareverified.com

[3] http://www.unodc.org/unodc/press/releases/2020/April/message-on-covid-19-and-misinformation.html

[4] https://en.unesco.org/covid19/communicationinformationresponse

 


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