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International cooperation needs to fight disinformation: FM Bilawal

 NEW YORK: Warning that disinformation has become a “global pandemic”, Pakistan Thursday called for international cooperation to confront, counter, and defeat this scourge that fuels hate speech.

“We can succeed in doing so only through comprehensive international cooperation,” Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said at the launch meeting of “Group of Friends for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”.

Established by Pakistan, the Group, which has representation from all regions of the world, seeks the implementation of the landmark General Assembly resolution 76/227 on Countering Disinformation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which was adopted by consensus last year.

In his recorded keynote address, FM Bilawal thanked all the countries who joined the Group and urged others to also be part of it.

“Utilizing this platform, we should agree on an International Plan of Action to counter disinformation, on-line and off-line, in the public and private domain,” he said.

“The exponential proliferation of disinformation, especially through on-line platforms and social media, has spread social discord; fostered hate speech, racism, discrimination, xenophobia, Islamophobia; and exacerbated competing nationalisms and inter-State tensions and conflict,” the foreign minister warned.

“Disinformation has often justified and intensified the violations of human rights.”

FM Bilawal urged member states and the United Nations to enhance public awareness about disinformation through information campaigns.

“We should enhance the capacity of governments and their relevant institutions to detect, analyze and expose disinformation and disinformation campaigns and networks,” he said.

“We should make a concerted effort, through cooperation, to minimize the negative impact of disinformation on human rights and relations between communities and States, by building firewalls against false information, ensuring transparency, adhering to human rights principles, such as respect for personal privacy and reputation, preventing the propagation of racism, discrimination and hate speech.”

Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, who moderated the virtual event, thanked the participants, saying the “Group of Friends” provides a platform for deliberations to member states to discuss means to counter disinformation and raise awareness.

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