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United Nations

Explanation of Position: Countering Disinformation and Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 16 November 2021

Explanation of Position – Australia for Mountains Group

Mr. Chair

I have the honour of delivering this explanation of position on behalf of Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and my own country, Australia.

Our delegations recognize the numerous challenges presented by disinformation presents numerous challenges. We therefore thank Pakistan for having brought forward this topic. Indeed, we share the view that greater international collaboration to combat disinformation is needed.

However, in efforts to address this important issue, we underline the importance of respect for human rights including the rights to freedom of opinion and freedom of expression, both online and offline. State sovereignty cannot be used to shield a country from scrutiny for behaviour towards those within their borders.

Given that this resolution was presented within the Third Committee, we believe it is crucial that the text be carefully balanced and that it focuses on combatting disinformation within the framework of international human rights law.

Furthermore, while we join consensus on the text, we regret the manner in which the resolution was facilitated. We consider that the tabling of L.7 was premature and would have preferred that there be ample time for a second reading in open consultations – particularly given this was the first time this text was introduced in the Third Committee. This would have helped to ensure transparency, and build cooperation and dialogue, which are important goals in themselves.

Regrettably, not all our concerns with this text have been addressed. Additional language on the promotion and protection of human rights while combating disinformation would have balanced the text further.

We believe that the freedoms of opinion, expression and information are essential components of democracies, in addition to independent and free media. We regret that preambular paragraph 8, could not reflect this clearly and unambiguously.

I thank you.

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