UNESCO leads regional UN Task Force on Disinformation

With the support of more than 15 national and regional offices of UN Funds, Programmes and Agencies in El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, the UNESCO Cluster Office in Costa Rica launched the UN Regional Interagency Task Force on Disinformation, a mechanism focused on improving the coordination and cooperation within the UN system in the region and in catalyzing the development of interdisciplinary responses to address one of the most complex challenges of this era.

During her opening address at the first meeting of the Task Force held on 22 October 2020, Esther Kuisch-Laroche, Director of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Costa Rica highlighted the impact of disinformation on democracy: “Disinformation is one of the biggest challenges and it affects the democratic processes, the implementation of public policies and governance.”

An opening address was also delivered by Christian Salazar Volkman, Director of the United Nations Development Coordination Office in Latin America and the Caribbean who noted that the work of the Task Force has great relevance given the COV-19 pandemic. He added that “fighting against disinformation is part of our integral effort to save lives and protect the population´s health amidst a pandemic. Next year the world vaccination process against COVID-19 will start, and we must be prepared to respond to the wave of disinformation and guarantee equitable and universal access to the vaccine.”

Participants also heard other presentations about the experiences of the UN in the development and implementation of initiatives to combat disinformation. During future Task Force meetings, continual focus will be placed on sharing best practices and experiences, and work will begin on the development of a framework of an interdisciplinary regional action plan to combat disinformation that could be used by the national UN country teams as a reference point to develop their own actions plans regarding this issue.