The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Tuesday expressed its desire to partner with ambassadors of its 193 member states to propagate media and information literacy (MIL).
Speaking at a parallel session of the Global MIL Week titled ‘Ambassadors as messengers championing MIL’, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Communication and Information, Tawfik Jelassi, invited ambassadors to join in the quest to make cyberspace safe.
The Nigerian government on Monday flagged off the Global MIL week in Abuja with an opening ceremony at the State House.
“Ambassadors are symbols of international cooperation and key stakeholders at UNESCO. This is a message of solidarity to ambassadors of different countries to make sure cyberspace is safe,” Mr Jelassi said.
He added that the partnership must focus on how to repair the already broken trust people have in the information in cyberspace. In doing this, “we have to co-regulate with stakeholders to ensure the cyberspace is safe and used for the public good.”
He said UNESCO plans to hold a regulation conference in February 2023 with big tech companies. Mr Jelassi however, clarified that the aim of the conference is not to promote censorship but responsibility- to ensure that information remains for the public good.
“If you regulate, you negatively impact freedom of expression, we are very much aware of that. You know it is a very thin line and we have to balance. Because UNESCO has been the lead UN agency on freedom of expression, freedom of the press and safety of journalists, we cannot shoot ourselves in the foot…”
China’s ambassador to Nigeria, Ciu Jianchun, who was one of the panellists, welcomed the invitation by UNESCO on behalf of his colleagues (ambassadors). He said information and technology change is as important as climate change which the world is paying attention to at the moment.
“We believe that ambassadors, embassies can do something to support this because diplomatic assignment is not only overseeing on the political, economic, security and international affairs but should also focus on the people and communication and how we can utilise our technology,” he said.
He added that citizens of the world have to maximise the advantages and benefits of technology and minimise harm.
Mr Jianchum added that it is important at this time for the international community to work together to identify the root cause of information disorder and proffer solutions.
He also proposed an incentive model for the media – a model that rewards platforms that produce and promote authentic information.
According to the moderator of the panel, Hajo Sani, Nigeria’s permanent delegate to UNESCO, other ambassadors in Abuja who were meant to be on the panel could not make it following the security alert issued by the US and the UK.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that the US and UK missions in Nigeria on Sunday issued separate security advisories warning of likely terror attacks in Abuja.
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