Remarks at the Adoption of a General Assembly Resolution on Global Media and Information Literacy Week

Thomas Leiby
Advisor for Economic and Social Affairs
New York, New York
March 25, 2021


The United States appreciates Australia and Jamaica’s leadership and skilled efforts in stewarding this resolution. We also appreciate the core group’s decision to bring such an important topic to the attention of the General Assembly. We support efforts to highlight the importance of media and information literacy, the challenges of digital divides and data inequalities, and recognize the importance of access to information. We also appreciate the resolution’s acknowledgement of the serious challenge posed by misinformation and disinformation and the need for Member State cooperation on this important issue.

We take a holistic approach to countering disinformation by promoting multi-stakeholder collaboration to raise awareness among vulnerable audiences and bolster societal resilience. This includes promoting a free and transparent news media environment and independent journalism – including by supporting investigative journalism and local news media. This also includes promoting media literacy and fact-checking as key ways to enable individuals to seek multiple sources of information, to assess the origins of information and the viewpoints and motivations of sources, and to make informed judgments.

We also appreciate the core group’s efforts to address some of our concerns in the latest draft. However, we remain concerned with PP11, which calls for “balancing” the fight against disinformation with respect for the right to freedom of expression. We strongly disagree with the idea that respect for human rights should be balanced against other objectives. States must respect their international human rights obligations and commitments, including in their efforts to counter disinformation. Member States must ensure that our approaches to countering disinformation do not inadvertently abuse or violate human rights and fundamental freedoms, which undergird free and open societies – including freedom of expression online and offline.

Thank you.