Panafrican News Agency

UN’s rights council adopts ‘fake news’ resolution

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) - Member states of the UN Human Rights Council have adopted a plan of action to tackle disinformation, at the request of Ukraine and with widespread – but not universal - support.

Officially sponsored by Ukraine, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the UK and US, the draft resolution presented to the Geneva forum emphasised the primary role that governments have, in countering false narratives.

It notes with concern, “the increasing and far-reaching negative impact on the enjoyment and realisation of human rights of the deliberate creation and dissemination of false or manipulated information intended to deceive and mislead audiences, either to cause harm or for personal, political or financial gain”.

Although China said that disinformation was a common enemy of the international community, it disassociated itself from adopting the draft resolution, saying that there was too little emphasis on the root causes of fake news, and the role of human rights mechanisms.

A UN statement said Venezuela also declined to approve the text, citing bias and alleging that some of the sponsors of the draft resolution were behind disinformation campaigns.

France, meanwhile, insisted that disinformation was increasingly being used to attack human rights activists and journalists and urged more coordination and efforts among States to tackle it.

Echoing that message, India, noted that that social media companies had an important role to play in combating fake news, as its impact on our societies was increasing. 

The statement said although disinformation is not new, modern-day digital tools and social media platforms have allowed maliciously incorrect information to spread widely, before false facts can be challenged and removed.

At a global level, the dissemination of fake news came to the fore in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, with unscientific remedies and anti-vaxxers gaining a massive online following among communities who were taken in by a proliferation of fake news and rumours.

In Colombia, the UN office there highlighted how several Latin America countries were targeted by enticing WhatsApp messages that said: “Stay home, the UN will bring you food,” in exchange for sharing personal data.

“It was false, of course. Yet, it led some people to go to the UN office, hoping to be given something to eat,” said Hélène Papper, head of UNIC Colombia.

-0- PANA MA 3April2022