UN General Assembly president calls for joint efforts to fight "infodemic"

2020-12-03 02:32:35 GMT2020-12-03 10:32:35(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

UN General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir on Wednesday called for joint efforts to fight misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19.

"Aside from the virus and its impacts, another adversary has been plaguing our response: misinformation and disinformation. COVID-19 is a communications crisis. It is not simply a pandemic. It is an 'infodemic.' And this has cost lives," said Bozkir.

Misinformation and disinformation can lead to lack of diagnostic tests, poor observance of public health measures and lack of immunization, he told a virtual event for the sharing of best practices to respond to an infodemic, which was organized by the permanent mission of Australia to the United Nations, together with the permanent missions of France, India, Indonesia and Latvia.

United Nations General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir addresses a high-level UN meeting to mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons at the UN headquarters in New York, on Oct. 2, 2020. (Rick Bajornas/UN Photo/Handout via Xinhua)  United Nations General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir addresses a high-level UN meeting to mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons at the UN headquarters in New York, on Oct. 2, 2020. (Rick Bajornas/UN Photo/Handout via Xinhua)

Misinformation and disinformation are not new concepts or new behaviors. But their existence in the context of COVID-19 has sharpened the risks, as well as the collective resolve to respond, he said.

It is clear that to address this issue, joint efforts by multiple stakeholders, including governments, international organizations, academia, and technology and social media companies, are required, said Bozkir.

Journalists and media workers also have a crucial role in helping the public make informed decisions. Member states must support journalists and media workers so they can do their jobs throughout the pandemic, he said.

Given recent developments, it is likely that the world will see several viable vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming months. However, these welcome advancements will only work if people have confidence to use them, he said. "Building vaccine confidence and countering disinformation is in our collective interest."

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