An Operational Framework for Media and Peacebuilding

TitleAn Operational Framework for Media and Peacebuilding
Publication TypeBook
Subtitle / Series TitleHandbook by IMPACS
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsHoward, R
Number of Pages33 pp.
PublisherInstitute for Media, Policy and Civil Society (IMPACS)
City Vancouver, Canada
Accession Number916

The media is a double-edged sword. It can be a frightful weapon of violence when it propagates messages of intolerance or disinformation that manipulate public sentiment. Radio Mille Collines in Rwanda is one of the most appalling contemporary examples. Using a blend of popular entertainment and proselytizing by announcers, the government-supported broadcasts demonized one group of people and built resentment and fear among the other group. The messages implanted and legitimized the belief that genocide was an appropriate self-defence initiative, and hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered in that country.
But there is another aspect to the media. It can be an instrument of conflict resolution, when the information it presents is reliable, respects human rights, and represents diverse views. It's the kind of media that upholds accountability and exposes malfeasance. It's the kind of media that enables a society to make well-informed choices, which is the precursor of democratic governance. It is a media that reduces conflict and fosters human security.
This document identifies opportunities to strengthen the media as an element of conflict reduction and peacebuilding. It is intended for donors, agencies and nongovernmental organizations, media practitioners, governments and others, and conflict managers or peacekeepers. The fact is that media has become so pervasive and influential that anyone currently working in the field of conflict reduction must consider both edges of the sword. A project that launches without examining the media environment, such as an indigenous media that is fomenting hatred, is more liable to fail. Similarly, any effort to resolve or prevent deadly conflict that ignores the media as an opportunity in itself is incomplete. This document offers a guide or framework for understanding how media-related interventions can be used in a variety of conflict conditions. The framework can support planning, implementing or evaluating media initiatives to avoid risk and misapplication of resources.
The framework provides some common indicators or consequences for the media in environments of pre-, overt and post-conflict. It presents a typology of interventions potentially appropriate to the media conditions that exist in those stages of conflict, or in others. It provides indicators for assessing those interventions. And the framework draws operational lessons from mediarelated programming and includes a matrix of exceptional examples of media peacebuilding initiatives. A resources list is included.

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