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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Vienna International Center, Austria -- The third and final day of the CommGAP-United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) communication and anti-corruption learning event featured the following topics: the role of communication in changing social norms and behavior that support corruption; the communicative dimensions of anti-corruption bodies; and a brainstorming session on the ways in which UNODC and CommGAP can support the global anti-corruption community of practice.
This summer I was asked to evaluate Timor-Leste’s Leadership and Communication Capacity for National Renewal Program (LCCNR) and provide strategic recommendations for the future of the program. I did so with great interest and developed a high appreciation for the LCCNR. Its design is built on extensive research and reveals deep insight into Timor’s culture and current governance challenges.
In a post a couple of months back, we announced that CommGAP is co-organizing a learning event on communication’s contribution to anti-corruption efforts with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the international agency responsible for promoting the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption.
The event will be held next week at the UN headquarters in Vienna, Austria and will bring together government officials working in anti-corruption commissions (ACCs) and experts in communication approaches and techniques that support anti-corruption initiatives. We look forward to learning about real-world challenges as well as communication efforts that have been effective in anti-corruption work in both developed and developing countries. We’ll be posting updates from Vienna – at the end of the first and last days of the event. In the meantime, please find below the latest version of the agenda.