On 2 December 2020, on the eve of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in Response to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic, Latvia, together with Australia, France, India and Indonesia, co-hosted an online side event titled “Responding to the “Infodemic” – Sharing Best Practice”. The discussion was moderated by the Ambassador of Latvia to the United Nations, Andrejs Pildegovičs, and its aim was to share best practices of fighting the infodemic.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, in his remarks to an international audience, called for the strengthening of resilience against disinformation during the pandemic. “The number of new daily cases and deaths from the COVID-19 virus is increasing. A considerable part of the spread of the virus is attributable to disinformation affecting people in every country of the world. Disinformation eases the spread of the virus, and it hampers vaccination and recovery efforts. Here the Governments have a broader role to play apart from curbing COVID-19 itself – to fight disinformation associated with it,” the Minister underlined.
Edgars Rinkēvičs presented Latvia’s experience in the fight against disinformation providing people with verified, fact-based information and involving experts and professionals in raising public awareness. The Latvian Foreign Minister also pointed out that organisations such as the UN, the World Health Organisation and UNESCO have a unique role to play in fighting disinformation, by bringing together all stakeholders and reaching out to a sizeable part of global population.
In his opening remarks, the President of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, underlined that trust in institutions is crucial to ensure verified and credible information is acted upon. Therefore, the institutional framework must be strengthened at the national, regional and international level. The President of the UN General Assembly offered thanks to Latvia for the organisation of the side-event.
Taking part in the discussion were representatives from Australia, France, India, and Indonesia, the WHO, a non-governmental organisation, “Reporters without Borders”, and the UN Department of Global Communications.
The discussion was broadcast online via the UN Web TV. Watch the recording of the discussion at the Foreign Ministry’s YouTube account: https://youtu.be/ot9OG44v-z0.
The term ‘infodemic’ is used when referring to the pandemic of disinformation which has arisen during the COVID-19 crisis. To stand up against the spread of disinformation, a Cross-Regional Statement on “Infodemic” in the Context of COVID-19 initiated by Latvia was launched within the UN system, signed by 130 UN Member States and two UN observers.
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