UNGA Prez calls for joint efforts to fight ‘infodemic’

UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Volkan Bozkir has called for joint efforts to fight misinformation and disinformation about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” Xinhua news agency quoted the UNGA President as saying on Wednesday.

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 UN, together with the permanent missions of France, India, Indonesia and Latvia.

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

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

Journalists and media workers also have a crucial role in helping the public make informed decisions, noted Bozkir, adding that member states must support journalists and media workers so they can do their jobs throughout the pandemic.

The UNGA President further said that 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.”