International Programme for the Development of Communication

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The International Programme for the Development of Communication is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) program aimed at strengthening the development of media in developing countries.

"Over the last 25 years, following the decisions and guidelines of the Intergovernmental Council and its Bureau, IPDC focused its projects on the most urgent priorities in communication development. The efforts of the IPDC have had an important impact on a broad range of fields covering, among others, the promotion of media independence and pluralism, development of community media, radio and television organizations, modernization of national and regional news agencies, and training of media professionals. IPDC has mobilized some US$ 90 million for over 1000 projects in 139 developing countries and countries in transition." [1]

Background

On December 10, 1948, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations' General Assembly as Resolution 217 A (III). It stated that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

In 1977 UNESCO initiated the International Commission for the Study of Communications Problems, known as the MacBride Commission and named after the Commission's Chairman Sean MacBride. The Commission was given a three-year timeframe to conduct investigations and report back to UNESCO. In October 1980, the report Many Voices, One World was presented at the Belgrade Assembly.

As a result of the report, UNESCO launched the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). The Programme web site states that it "exists to strengthen the means of mass communication in developing countries, by increasing technical and human resources for the media, by developing community media and by modernising news agencies and broadcasting organizations."

At the November 1987 General Conference at Paris, UNESCO called for the continuation of its major plan called Communication in the Service of Man in which it re-affirmed that "it is essential gradually to eliminate existing imbalances in the field of communication, in particular by fostering the development of infrastructures, the training of people and the strengthening of production and dissemination capacities in the developing countries, and to encourage a free flow and a wider and better balanced dissemination of information, with a view to the establishment of a new world information and communication order seen as an evolving and continuous process."

Recently, at the June 2004 session of the General Assembly, it was "decided to maintain the Committee to Review United Nations Public Information Policies and Activities" with a mandate including "To promote the establishment of a new, more just and more effective world information and communication order intended to strengthen peace and international understanding and based on the free circulation and wider and better-balanced dissemination of information and to make recommendations thereon to the General Assembly."

It has been said that the "results of UNESCO's McBride Report regarding media diversity alerted UNESCO, and other international bodies to the necessity for a New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO)."[2]

However, "Despite UNESCO's attempt to protect independent and national news agencies from being dominated by western news agencies and networks, the NWICO policy was boycotted by America and Britain, who withdrew their membership from UNESCO and funding of the organisation's initiatives. Although Britain rejoined UNESCO in 1997, the global media owners' opposition towards the NWICO policy (which collapsed thereafter) highlights their commercial stronghold in the international news market."[3]

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