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.
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.
You are familiar, I believe, with the authoritarian objection to a free, plural and independent media system. Authoritarian leaders always say: at this stage in the development of our country we cannot afford a free press. Too dangerous, you understand, too disruptive. Let's secure national unity first, let's get rid of poverty, let's be as rich as the West, then we can talk about a free press. Or they deploy the cultural norms argument. This is Asia, they might say, and Asian values do not support imported notions like a free press, free speech and such nonsense. Others will say: this is Africa; we have to do what makes sense in Africa. A free press causes nothing but trouble. We can't afford that now.
Well, you can imagine my reaction when I read the following story in the New York Times of Thursday November 6: 'Malay Blogger Fights a System He Perfected'.
I recently gave a talk about the importance of strengthening the public sphere in programs designed to build good governance. In this conceptualization, the public sphere is that space where free and equal citizens discuss, debate, and share information about public affairs in order to influence the policies that affect the quality of their lives. Existing at the cross-roads of media, civil society, public opinion, and state institutions, the public sphere forms an essential element of good governance and accountability.
During the talk, a question arose about whether the public sphere model actually discounted issues such as accountability in favor of building consensus between civil society, media, and government. In my view, this is absolutely not the case, but I can see how such questions arise.
Those are not my words; they belong to the editorial board of The National, Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE). The editorial is quoted in full below. It is a comment on a development: the Cabinet of the UAE has just approved the setting up of a Government Communication Office as part of its modernization agenda. The editorial points out why this is a major development. I draw attention to the editorial because it is an eloquent statement about one of the under-appreciated issues in the governance reform agenda...the vital importance of a government's ability to engage in two-way communication with its own citizens, and why this is one of the reasons why the nature of the public sphere in a country has consequences for the governance outcomes that we seek. About all this, more later. Here is The National:
A well-known musician from Mozambique, Feliciano Dos Santos, was recently featured in a New York Times article on his use of pop music toward changing people’s sanitation habits, especially in far-flung rural villages. His songs include messages regarding boiling water to prevent diarrhea and washing one’s hands before leaving the bathroom. His band, Massukos gained international fame via a combination of pop and socially relevant songs, while his nonprofit Estamos (“We are”) installs latrines and provides services to AIDS patients.
The 2008 presidential election in the United States has been touted as an epic battle over many things – over whether and how to continue US military involvement in Iraq, over whether and how to boost private companies’ efforts to dig their way out of a global financial markets crisis, over whether and how to change the overarching course of the country from the trajectory it has been on for the past
Like Sina, I too was recently in Cape Town as part of a team of trainers delivering a course titled 'People, Politics and Change: Communication Approaches for Governance Reform'. The participants were 29 senior government officials from 10 different African countries.
I was in Cape Town, South Africa, last week as part of a team of trainers. We were delivering a course titled 'People, Politics and Change: Communication Approaches for Governance Reform'. The participants were 29 senior government officials from 10 different African countries, each one being responsible for a specific governance reform initiative.
As one of our trainers explained it, the idea of a 'learning laboratory' is an adult-learning moment where three-way learning occurs: the participants learn from the trainers, the participants learn one from the other, and the trainers learn from the participants. And that is what happened over those four days in Cape Town.