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Statement by Under-Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor
Hand-over ceremony of Digitized United Nations documents on CD

Press Release 05-063-E 2005.07.22

13 July 2005, First Floor Reading Room (L-105), DHL

Ambassador Kitaoka, Ladies and Gentlemen:

As you are, I am sure, aware DPI is constantly seeking ways to provide access to information on the work of the UN to a global audience.One recent innovation that has contributed greatly to this is the provision of free access for the public to the UN’s Official Documents System – the ODS.

Through this system, researchers, students and interested people the world over can access, via the web, thousands of UN documents in the six official UN languages.Security Council and General Assembly documents, as well as the Secretary-General’s report, are now loaded onto that system almost as soon as they are approved, providing quick free access to anyone with access to the internet.And this system has assumed even greater importance as part of the renewal of the Dag Hammarskjold Library, which is moving from a collection based resource, to a connection based resource.

The ODS is a remarkable tool that allows people from Nagoya to New York to Nairobi to be up-to-date — but if one is seeking information not on the present but on the past, the story is not quite so straightforward.For much of the UN’s history, important documents were not kept in digital form, for the simple reason that it was pens and typewriters and typesetters that were used to draft these documents, not computers.

Since 1998, the Dag Hammarskjold Library has been working tirelessly to digitize the UN’s historical documents, but – with some 60 million pages of UN documents created since 1945 — it is not hard to understand that this is a difficult and laborious task.

That task has been much advanced today, as a result of the generosity and goodwill of the people and the Government of Japan.Japan has a well-deserved reputation as a leader and an innovator in the field of technology, so it will come as no surprise to many to learn that Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has chosen to aid the process of bringing the UN into the 21st century by digitizing some 30,000 United Nations documents dating back to 1962.

And I am very pleased to accept these documents, today donated to the United Nations on behalf of Japan, by His Excellency Ambassador Shinichi Kitaoka.

Your Excellency, on behalf of the United Nations, thank you very much.Your donation constitutes an enormous and very welcome contribution to making the world Organization – your Organization — more accessible to people all over the globe.

I certainly hope that this Japanese initiative, which is the first of its kind, will encourage other such initiatives and will set an example that other governments and institutions will seek to emulate.

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