UN commits to fighting ‘fake news’
27 September, 2019
By SJA Jafri + AJ
NEW YORK/ MELBOURNE: World leaders have gathered in New York City for the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The meeting comes amid simmering tension in the Middle East over recent attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, which the United States blames on Iran, allegations Tehran denies.
UNGA began just days after millions of young activists and their supporters marched in thousands of cities worldwide to demand greater action on climate change. More protests on climate are expected on September 27.
The general debate started on September 24 and ends on September 30, with dozens of world leaders scheduled to address the General Assembly.
The United States wants New Delhi to quickly ease restrictions imposed in Indian-administered Kashmir, a senior official said on Thursday after President Donald Trump met the leaders of both India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the UNGA.
“We hope to see rapid action – the lifting of the restrictions and the release of those who have been detained,” Alice Wells, the top State Department official for South Asia, told reporters.
She also said that Trump was “willing to mediate if asked by both parties” – although she noted that India has long rejected any outside role.
“The United States is concerned by widespread detentions, including those of politicians and business leaders, and the restrictions on the residents of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.
“We look forward to the Indian government’s resumption of political engagement with local leaders and the scheduling of the promised elections at the earliest opportunity,” she said.
In August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, which had been India’s only Muslim-majority state, fulfilling a long-held goal of his Hindu nationalist movement.
Indian authorities detained a wide range of political leaders and cut off cellular and internet service for ordinary people in much of the Himalayan region.
Twenty countries, including France, Britain and India, signed an agreement at the UN on Thursday that aims to stop the spread of ‘fake news’.
The signatories, which also included South Africa and Canada, committed to promoting “independently reported, diverse and reliable” information on the internet, under an accord initiated by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a press freedom watchdog.
“The emergence of a global digital space is shaking up the world of information, bringing with it progress as well as risks,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
He added on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York that misinformation online, especially during election campaigns, “undermined trust in democratic institutions.”
The agreement underlines the responsibility of internet providers to promote trustworthy content and pluralism to escape the current “information chaos,” RSF said in a statement.