THE MEDIA IN POST-CONFLICT SOCIETIES:
A Background Paper for the UNESCO World Press Day Conference in Geneva
PART III: CONCLUSIONS AND AREAS FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION
Each of the four case studies ends with a group of conclusions and recommendations, at least implied ones. The studies each reflect the views of their respective author. Here, some additional, more general observations might be added, tentative in nature and designed to provoke discussion. In this sense, they are to serve the main function of this project as a whole: to set the stage for further review of post-conflict media restructuring involving the international community.
Balancing the Needs of the Many Actors
There is no single overarching strategy, with respect
to the media that can be prescribed for the international community in
One clear lesson from the four case studies is that a uniform approach
for implementation cannot be prescribed with respect to media policies in
post-conflict environments. Specific historic distinctions and peacekeeping
needs will be of paramount importance in indicating priorities, and in the
staging of forms of international involvement. For example, in Cambodia, the
infrastructure for an indigenous media system was wholly absent, while in BiH
the situation was quite the opposite. Context is paramount.
The potential for a free and independent media and for autonomy of a
public broadcaster from state control should be, if possible, built into the
negotiations leading to the cessation of conflict. Furthermore, media structure
and political structure are closely intertwined. The nature of the emerging
government, the extent to which it is unitary or federal, the extent to which
regional differences are or should be crucial—all of these should have an
effect on the media structure planning process. It is inevitable that funders of
media activities will shun recipients who have a record of fostering hate speech
and encouraging violence. But with that exception, the international community
should be seen as [*56] financing a broad range of opinion as a mode of
Donor agencies need to balance their efforts to rebuild state capacities
with support for private groups and institutions. Particularly in the early
period of recovery from conflict, the legitimacy of a new government may be
contested by broad segments of society. To foster political reconciliation,
local ownership, and indigenous capacities for recovery, the donors must bolster
the constructive involvement of opposition parties and civil society actors in
the political and economic life of the country.
Especially where there are severely limited local
alternatives, more attention should be given to the role state-sponsored
international broadcasters can play in enriching the post-conflict media
environment. International broadcasters should continue to develop specific
expertise for service in post-conflict zones.
The IGO's must balance short term objectives—maintenance
of order, implementing a message—with long-term objectives, such as building
an indigenous and professional media system that can contribute to a robust and
plural civil society.
Law and the Rule of Law
A rule of
law approach is essential to inculcate in the society as soon and as extensively
as possible. This means that the IGOs themselves act in a manner that is
consistent with the rule of law.
The rule of
law does not simply provide yet one more vehicle by which government can wield
and abuse its awesome power. To the contrary, it establishes principles that
constrain the power of government, oblige it to conduct itself according to a
series of prescribed and publicly known rules. Adherence to the rule of law
entails far more than the mechanical application of static legal technicalities;
it involves an evolutionary search for those institutions and processes that
will best facilitate authentic stability through justice.
all planning and implementation, IGO's and NGO's should adhere to international
principles of human rights and the freedom to receive and impart information.
objective is virtually self-evident, yet it is complex in implementation. The
Rwanda study demonstrates that in implementing such a principle, there is a need
to recognise, that in some instances, media that may have the trappings of
independence use that status to foster and prolong conflict or encourage
genocidal activity. These are the exceptional cases, though in the wake of
conflict the dangers are the greatest.
continuing dialogue must be maintained between IGOs, NGOs and particularly press
freedom groups so as a) to render the IGOs more conscious of the standards as
defined by such organisations; b) to provide representatives of NGOs with some
level of participation; c) to minimise public confrontations that derail
achievement of commonly desired objectives.
and to some extent in all cases, there were sharp disagreements between press
organisations and other NGOs and the international administration. These are to
be anticipated. But in some instances, such disagreements escalated into
disabling disputes leading, at times, to [*57] nintended results and reduced
effectiveness in reaching shared goals.
Coordination Between IGOs and NGOs
of activities among IGOs and between IGOs and NGOs must be improved.
As with many
other aspects of international responses to post-conflict recoveries, a variety
of areas for coordination and improvement are necessary. These include: 1)
planning the nature of the response; 2) mobilising resources, 3) deepening
institutional reform within the bruised society; 4) harmonising aid conditions,
5)coordinating assistance locally, 6) improving the communication channels
between headquarters and the field 7) enhancing recipient capacities, and 8)
ensuring accountability in aid delivery and implementation.
Ultimately, in the media sphere, implementing addressing each of these
challenges is matched with the need to build a structure consistent with
international norms concerning freedom of speech.
the EU, the EBU, public service broadcasters and others to strengthen
counterpart entities in post-conflict situations have been constructive.
Affecting the media space is not an either/or between an autonomous public
entity dedicated to enhancing public discourse and the significant efforts of
private, local broadcasters pursuing indigenous aims.
be careful not to exaggerate the role that media plays, independent of other
forces, in promoting hate, conflict with authority and genocide in both the
pre-conflict and post conflict situations. Blaming the media can open the danger
of avoiding or ignoring deeper, less visible aspects of mass communication that
are more significant in causing action.
promises mean little unless they can be translated promptly into accessible,
flexible resources that make tangible improvements in the daily lives of
should be transparent, allowing stakeholders to assess progress and encourage
donors to meet obligations in a timely fashion. Transparency will also reduce
the obvious suspicions in the area of grants to the media.
tools should be developed to conduct longitudinal evaluations of recovery
assistance in media restructuring.
If, as the
Center for International Cooperation has recently suggested, a strategic
facility for post-conflict situations is established, such a facility should
address the media restructuring aspects of recovery assistance. Such a strategic
facility should have the capacity to help fashion a tailored approach during
early stages of recovery from conflict, help mobilise resources, that has a
preparedness capacity, and assist in coordination between NGOs and IGOs.
Hervé Deguine is a French journalist who has written extensively about
the recent conflict in Rwanda, including a contribution to André Sibomana's
recent book, Hope for Rwanda: Conversations with Laure Guilbert and Hervé
Deguine. The book, critically acclaimed, was translated from French into
English. Frequently in Rwanda, his work has been cited by such groups as the
United Nations Human Rights Commission and various non-governmental
A. Lin Neumann is based in Bangkok as the resident advisor to the
Southeast Asian Press Alliance. He is a consultant on Asian issues to the
Committee to Protect Journalists. He has written widely on the press in
Southeast Asia and is a former foreign correspondent in the region. The views
expressed in this article are his own.
Professor Monroe Price is the founder and co-director of Programme in
Comparative Media Law & Policy at the University of Oxford. He is the Joseph
and Sadie Danciger Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law,
Yeshiva University, of which he was the dean from 1982-1991. Professor Price
currently serves as the director of the Howard M. Squadron Program in Law, Media
and Society and is the founder and editor of the Communications Law in
Transition Newsletter. He was a Communications Fellow at the John & Mary
R. Markle Foundation and a Fellow of the Media Studies Center of the Freedom
Forum in New York City.
Stacy Sullivan is a former Newsweek correspondent who has covered
the recent conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo. She writes heavily on the influences
that give rise to ethnic conflict and the impact of conflict on society. She
also recently drafted a piece analysing the role of non-governmental
organisations in promoting international development and has been a frequent
commentator on television programmes such as the "News Hour with Jim
following were of particular assistance in the preparation of this document from
the Programme in Comparative Media Law, University of Oxford: Stefaan Verhulst,
Dr. Beata Rozumilowicz, and Eric Blinderman. Peter Yu, deputy director of the
Howard M. Squadron Program in Law, Media & Society at Benjamin N. Cardozo
School of Law, Yeshiva University, helped both with the editing and formatting
of the study. Martha Mendelsohn assisted in translation and editing, and Mark
Thompson reviewed the document. At UNESCO,
Marcello Scarone supervised the project and furnished invaluable guidance.
Jane Perlez, Kosovo's Unquenched Violence Dividing U.S. and NATO Allies, New
York Times, Mar. 12, 2000, at A1.
Pec is the Serbo-Croat word for the city. Albanians refer to Pec as Peja. This
study uses Serbo-Croat pronunciations simply because most of the international
press do so, and thus the names and places are more familiar in Serbo-Croat than
they are in Albanian.
 Quote taken from The Institute for War & Peace Reporting, "Kosovo Journalists' Deep Suspicion of OSCE Media Controls," By Garentina, Kraja, a correspondent for Koha Ditore, ON September 6, 1999.
Kosova is the Albanian pronunciation of the province and given that the vast
majority of the population is Albanian, UNMIK and the OSCE now use this
Shepard Forman et al., Recovering From Conflict: Strategy for an International
Response (Center on International Cooperation, New York University 2000).
Id at 51.
Id at 52.
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