Ambassador Chris Lu
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
New York, New York
May 4, 2022
Thank you, Ambassador Espinosa, for serving once again as Chairperson.
We also thank Under-Secretary General Fleming for her leadership of the UN Department of Global Communications. We applaud her department’s innovative efforts to communicate the UN’s work to the world and to act as a defender of free of expression—a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Respect for freedom of expression is a bedrock value of the United States and a cornerstone of free societies around the world. Vibrant political discourse, scientific inquiry, and equitable and sustainable development all depend on the free exchange of information, and the freedom to debate ideas.
We live in a time of unparalleled access to information. Yet, for all the innovation and inclusion that the internet and information technology have brought, they have also allowed disinformation and misinformation to proliferate.
Disinformation and misinformation compound our most pressing global challenges from climate change to COVID-19. We see unfounded claims calling into doubt broad scientific consensus. We see rumor and fear erode trust in public health institutions. And we see conspiracy theories leading many to question the safety of life saving vaccines. That is why initiatives such as the Department of Global Communications Verified campaign, which amplifies trusted, life-saving advice about COVID-19 in languages around the world, are so important to combat the spread of this “infodemic” of false information.
We are also deeply concerned at the spread of disinformation in conflict areas, which puts our UN peacekeeper safety and security at risk, erodes public trust in the UN, and obstructs missions’ efforts to implement their mandates. We support efforts by the Department of Global Communications to explicitly address the risks that misinformation and disinformation pose to peacekeepers and the missions in which they serve.
Finally, we deplore Russia’s use of disinformation to obfuscate and push false narratives to justify its unprovoked war in Ukraine. From deliberate dissemination of lies and conspiracy theories to the use of false pretexts, Russia is employing a well-worn playbook. At the same time, it has muzzled dissent at home, shuttered independent media outlets, and blocked access to social media and independent information about the war in Ukraine.
We are heartened that member states have rejected these efforts to propagate lies, sow doubt, and obscure the truth in Ukraine. But let’s be clear, Russia’s deceitful tactics have the potential to do real and long-lasting damage to truth and undermine efforts for accountability.
We welcome the Department of Global Communication’s efforts to promote free expression and share accurate and reliable information in multiple languages across the world to combat the spread of disinformation. We must all do more to speak out against the dangerous manipulation of truth.