Support to Media in Violent Conflict and in Countries in Transition'
In situations of open violent conflict, information and communication structures often break down. In such situations, the acute need for reliable and credible humanitarian information about security conditions, population displacement and the political situation, is fundamental. But assistance to local media and information outlets eventually must turn towards capacity-building to ensure a sustainable transition to peace.
The theme in Belgrade this year ‘Assistance to Independent Media in Tension Areas and Violent Conflict’ accompanying the ceremony, is inspired by the outcome of a seminar jointly organised by UNESCO and Sida in Stockholm (25-27 May 2003), to exchange expertise know how, information and experience concerning assistance to media in tension areas and conflict zones, and contribute to the outlining of an international plan of action. Various background papers were written by experts in preparation for the seminar.
Following the seminar in Stockholm a number of international, regional and national partners initiated a Partnership for Media and Conflict Prevention in West Africa. The objective of this Partnership is to facilitate rapid and collective approaches that utilize the expertise of and resources available amongst national, regional and international stakeholders, thereby offering a unique approach for the provision of assistance while avoiding duplication of action.
This brainstorming organised by UNESCO amongst a wide range of experts and organisations familiar with media has been an ongoing process. In 2000 UNESCO organized a roundtable in Geneva, which was dedicated to Media in Conflict and Post Conflict Areas, and resulted in fifteen recommendations on how the International Community could promote freedom of expression and the development of independent and pluralistic medias.
Already in 1995 UNESCO also responded to the call for attention to media in conflict and tensions areas. Following the tragic genocide in Rwanda and the influence ‘hate media’ had on this event, UNESCO held an expert meeting on propaganda inciting to commit genocide in Rwanda (Paris, 6 June 1995), which resulted in recommendations to counteract propaganda inciting to genocide.