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Governance

Human Rights Never Get Old

Andrea Cairola's picture

It was a hectic time for human rights last week here in Paris because of the many initiatives to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed on 10 December 1948 in this very town, at Palais de Chaillot. And it was hectic here at UNESCO’s HQ as well, which among many initiatives opened its doors to the last living witness of the Declaration’s drafting group, lawyer Stéphane Hessel awarded with the UNESCO/Bilbao Prize.
 
But working myself in the “Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace Division”, of course my focus was on the Declaration’s Article 19, the right of every individual to “freely seek, receive and impart information through any media and regardless of frontiers”. A perfect formulation by those wise drafters Mr Hessel was part of. And a forward-looking one if we think that the wording “through any media and regardless of frontiers” was conceived in the aftermath of WWII, but it is even more of appropriate nowadays in the age of the Internet. Let’s repeat it once again: “freely seek, receive and impart information” - that is to say the essential prerequisite for two-way flow of information among public sphere’s three sectors: the media, the civil society and the State.

Media Literacy: An Avenue to Broader Citizen Participation & Good Governance

Susan Moeller's picture

Development economists used to argue that elections were THE best instruments of accountability.  But events have overtaken that idea and now there are many, including Oxford economist Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion, who are focusing on the limitations of elections: “If you have an uninformed citizenry,” Collier says, “elections just won’t work.”

Once articulated, it makes sense that the sine qua non of good government and economic development is an informed society.  And on the face of it, getting critical news and information out to citizens should be an easier and easier task in today’s digitalized, networked and hand-held world.  But Collier and others note that most media—across regions and on any platform: print, radio, TV or online—aren’t interested in serving the public good, because “there is no finance to that public-good role.  Indeed far from there being finance for it,” says Collier, “there is actually a hostile environment to it….”

Communicating Change or a Shift?

Caroline Jaine's picture

Communicating change is a specialist field.  PR and HR companies charge a small fortune for seminars on the subject.  Whilst corporate and government communicators wrestle to understand how they might persuade colleagues that important, imminent, organisational changes are good for them - so that they can achieve that all important "buy-in" which leads to the shiny path of success - organisations are using change as a selling point

Why Democratic Institutions Matter

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

In certain circles, democratic governance is seen as something of a luxury in the developing world. What people really need are the basics: shelter, food, livelihoods, etc., the argument goes. Yet what frequently goes unsaid is the importance of democratic institutions and practices to such basics. Nowhere is this more apparent than during public health crises.

Worthy Competition for the MBA, the MacArthur Foundation’s MDP?

Tom Jacobson's picture

A notable new initiative in development training has recently been undertaken by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  In October the Foundation released a request for proposals to establish Masters in Development Practice (MDP) programs worldwide. This RFP is the outcome of a year long effort by the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice, established in early 2007, also supported by the MacArthur Foundation. The aim of the Commission was to identify the core disciplines and areas of expertise needed to develop a global network for interdisciplinary training in sustainable development.

Taking Measure of a Bastion of Democracy

Antonio Lambino's picture

In the birthplace of democracy will be discussed the strengthening of a bastion of democracy.  The 2008 Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) will be held in Athens, Greece, next week and will draw hundreds of people from around the world who promote, study, and work in the media sector. 

A Reformer without Public Support is....?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

BBC News has a story today (December 3, 2008) about the travails of Nuhu Ribadu. Ribadu was until recently the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria. He made a name for himself as a fearless pursuer of the corrupt. Human Rights Watch reports that Ribadu is - despite of the loss of his job - at the receiving end of an 'escalating campaign of harassment' and that attempts have been made on his life.  The full report is worth reading.

As has been reported on this blog by my colleague, Tony Lambino, CommGAP recently organized a workshop for anti-corruption agencies in partnership with the UNODC. One of the reasons we were keen to support these agencies with an array of communication-based techniques and approaches was the observed fact of the often perilously isolated position of these agencies in their own environments. Yet they are meant to take on powerful interests in their societies.

A Major Challenge in Good Governance: The End of Communication as We Know it (Part II)

Paolo Mefalopulos's picture

What if communication did not envision sending messages or persuading people about adopting our ideas or proposals? What if communication were no longer about transmitting information, but about generating information?

I Hate Thee but, Alas, I Need Thee

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Each time I attend a meeting where public officials are gathered and the subject of the mass media comes up, the room lights up. The stories of deep frustration with the media simply flow out of them like melted butter out of a jug. The complaints are legion:

  • Those terrible journalists distort my views.
  • The media are instruments of terror...virtually.
  • They don't get anything serious; they are lazy and uninformed.
  • They are in bed with sinister forces, and corrupt proprietors.
  • They are not to be trusted at all.
  • As the discussion progresses, the authoritarian impulse comes out. You hear calls for strict regulation of the mass media in the particular developing country. Yes, the officials say, the media must be brought to heel, reigned in.

Regional Movements for Media Reform

Silvio Waisbord's picture

Much has been said lately about the prospects for global institutions to promote media democracy and good governance. The jury is still out, however. How can a diversity of trasnational actors, including intergovernment bodies, donors, UN agencies, civic groups and business, be effective? Are all actors equally positioned? If national governments retain power over key decisions shaping media environments, how do global actors manage to influence opportunities for media pluralism and participation?

Latin America offers an interesting petri dish to examine the germination of regional movements promoting media pluralism.


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