Auteur / Author : Bill Orme ONLINE
Titre / Title : Broadcasting in UN Blue: The Unexamined Past and Uncertain Future of Peacekeeping Radio
Collection / Series :
Editeur / Publisher : CIMA / NED EN
Année / Year : 2010   Nbr. Pages :      74 pages / 1274 kb     Taille / Size

URL : This analysis, written for the Center for Media Assistance (CIMA), discusses the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions' local radio stations in po

Evaluation / Book review.
This analysis, written for the Center for Media Assistance (CIMA), discusses the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions' local radio stations in post-conflict countries. It describes the management, impact, and ultimate fate of these stations. The document maps UN peacekeeping radio openings and closings and discusses fiscal concerns involving the UN headquarters, guidelines for public information radio, entrance and exit strategies that include a public option, and policy recommendations for UN radio operations.

According to the author's assessment, peacekeeping radio stations contribute political impact and infrastructural improvement, giving voice to dissent and minorities and raising local journalism standards in certain post-conflict countries. He criticises the lack of both long-term UN planning and commitment to media development as an integral part of post-peacekeeping democratisation because the fate of most of the stations is closure when the UN peacekeepers leave the country. Instead of closure, the station equipment is sometimes handed to the government in power, which may be partisan. Either scenario, as stated here, can result in the undermining of long-term nation-building efforts. Examples used as case studies include the following: Angola, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, East Timor, and Cambodia, with services and influence extending into surrounding regions.

Policy steps recommended to help UN radio services fulfil UN ideals and make lasting contributions to free media in conflict-prone locations include the following:

* "The Security Council should consistently require legal and technical facilities for UN-backed broadcasting and related digital communications as an integral component of peacekeeping missions - and it should back up those mandates with resources, clear policy guidance, and insistence on local compliance.

* The UN should draw a bright operational line [comprehensible demarcations] between its public relations and information apparatus and its management of broadcasters providing news programs to local audiences.

* The UN should approach creation of a national broadcasting service as part of the UN's institution-building responsibilities in post-conflict countries, much as the UN does now with support for independent election authorities, human rights commissions, and other autonomous democratic bodies.

* All UN-backed local broadcasting should abide by the norms for independent media promulgated and championed by UNESCO and relevant regional institutions (the African Union, the Organization of American States, the European Commission, etc.).

* Before setting up its own radio stations, the UN should first consider partnerships with credible and capable local media outlets, such as nonpartisan public broadcasters or community radio networks, if such institutions exist.

* UN radio partnerships with nongovernmental media organizations should be pursued systematically and transparently, including through open bidding.

* The UN departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Public Information should develop and deploy an on-call roster of experienced media managers and trainers, including through collaboration with UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] (which has a mandate and expertise in media work but lacks field resources) and UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] (which has large field operations and a complementary media development mandate).

* UN peacekeeping media strategies should be shaped through dialogue and data-sharing with local media groups and bilaterally and privately funded media projects in countries with or targeted for peacekeeping missions.

* Peacekeeping radio services currently operating should begin planning for their eventual closure and should help to build local broadcasters that could provide similarly professional and nonpartisan programming.

* Wherever possible, UN missions should support the development of local public service broadcasters with editorial autonomy and a commitment to professional newsgathering and nonpartisanship, as an integral part of the UN mandate to aid national transitions to representative and responsive democratic governance.”

Some specifics from the document on the policy recommendations above include:

1. Ways to draw comprehensible demarcations between UN programmes and local news and public information, sometimes delegated to a local or international media partner, include training communication personnel to do so and planning for this as policy in public information campaign strategies. Training for local journalists should also include codes of conduct to ensure “an environment that promotes the development of free and independent media, and the adherence to the highest journalistic ethics and standards."

2. UN staffers who work to "build or strengthen semiautonomous democratic institutions such as election commissions, anti-corruption agencies, and human rights bodies" could focus also on the conversion of the UN radio stations to public service broadcasting (PBS) stations. UN radio stations, in intending to be complementary to "independent local private media, with which they do not compete for ad revenue and with which they sometimes collaborate in newsgathering and other programming ventures, especially during election periods", offer a model for a PBS radio station, but not a business plan. Along with journalist training, national PBS staff training in management and business is necessary, using specialists from successful PBS stations in other countries and a broad range of thinking and resources on sustainable funding.

Retour / Back