Inclusive media can help create space for peace and resolving conflicts, emphasised Prof. Andi Faisal Bakti, the newly established UNESCO Chair for Communication and Sustainable Development at Indonesia’s Pancasila University.
He said this during the official launch of his Chair on 4 May, which coincided not only with the sixth edition of the Orbicom symposium but also with UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day in Jakarta.
Prof. Bakti explained: “My Chair aims to undertake sustained research into how communication influences sustainable development, particularly given the near lack of research data on this subject in Indonesia and other parts of the developing world.”
The keynote speaker, Dr Mahathir Mohammad, former Malaysian prime minister, later took up the symposium’s theme – peace journalism and conflict resolution in the media. He referenced his country as the backdrop against which independent media had proven useful in sustaining his agenda for new economic reforms as well as racial and social harmony.
Speaking on behalf of UNESCO, Frank La Rue, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, told the participants that UNESCO’S constitution committed the organisation to forging the defences of peace in the minds of humankind through, among other things, the free flow of ideas and information.
“That’s why we support public access to information and the safety of journalists as two key ways through which communication can reinforce the achievement of all the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” said La Rue.
He informed the gathering that UNESCO was involved in reporting global progress on how countries were implementing legislation and policies on the right to freedom of information, in addition to collecting data on the killings of journalists.
The Jakarta symposium is the latest in a series of such symposia held annually to bring together the over 30 UNESCO Chairholders in communication and 300 associate members of the Orbicom network.
Some 69 participants took part in the symposium, including faculty and students from Pancasila University as well as 21 UNESCO Chairs in communication from other countries.
Among these participants were seven UNESCO-sponsored teachers of journalism from Africa.