Information and Communication for Global Governance - A Latin American Perspective
IPS Regional Director for Latin America
We are undoubtedly going through a time of profound change which affects everybody and everything. This process is not finished yet and bring about moral uncertainties rather than certainties. Every region of the world, in every sector is facing the question: Where are we going and what is our standpoint in this process?
This is also the case for IPS, which for many years now has been discussing the changes in international situation, and its new role and stands on those changes in our world. The majority of thinkers say that globalization is here to stay but some answers are still missing. What globalization are we talking about? Who will benefit from it? Who is going to steer it? And in our case: what will be the role of communication in the process?
Communication is not playing the role it should, because vast sectors of our society, especially in the South, listen to other people talking about globalization but they dont know what it means. Just two years ago, South African vice president Thabo Mbeki pointed out to G-7 that there were more telephone lines on the island of Manhattan than in the sub-Saharan Africa. Half of the people of the world have never made a telephone call, said Mbeki.
It is true that the dynamic globalization process has developed faster than the media's and communication's and communicators' capacity to inform about this complex process. The rapid development of information technologies and increasing concentration and monopolisation of the conglomerates in the field of telecommunication constitute a grave challenge for developing countries. But at the same time there is no doubt their citizens will we able to participate more fully in the cultural, economic and political life, if they have access to the new technologies and sources of information.
Also it is increasingly more difficult to process the information in the old traditional way. In the inter-connection of factors and situations which set trends and the follow-up of processes with their own peculiarities which require a different journalist quality are still pending issues. It is not a matter of informing about a situation of this or that country, but of understanding the relationship between the situation and their effects on the process.
Together with the United Nations, IPS launched a high quality environmental supplement called Tierra America in Latin America which is distributed to eleven major regional newspapers. This supplement promoted a debate on environmental issues by important people and experts in the region who concluded that environmental problems do not belong specifically to the North or the South.
The experience of the group of major newspapers which participate the Tierra America project is just one example of interesting process which is taken place in Latin America involving the press, radio and television media of different countries. This media joined the effort to co-ordinate the international action as a response to the new communication monopolies that have been rapidly creative, mainly in the United States, and which have aggressively approached in this region. The issue is again the same, the control of information is essential in current conditions so that a particular monopolistic concept of globalization can progress.
I am conscious that all North-South parameters have changed and there is a South in the North and a North in the South. These processes are increasingly complex but at the same time we must understand that many inequalities, some of which are traditional and some new, have increased. And if this is not understood, it may gave rise to a new kind of explosive factors and therefore new destabilising ingredients in our world. In order to change this situation, the civil society must play a more active role. That is why IPS attaches importance to an interactive relationship with the civil society. dialogue with the civil society and that discussing with organisations and governments to jointly make strategic decisions in the future.
We have received many letters from the readers of our publications and of our journalistic service, including many NGOs. A Colombian child of only eight years sent a letter to a Tierra America supplement in which it said that we human beings have three possible attitudes to the world's situation in which we live. First, say that anything is happening, secondly, admit that something is happening but say that it is not our problem. Third, be a protagonist in quest for a change.
That child chose the third possibility - the same possibility chosen by IPS in order to tackle the creation of a sense of global security for the people of the 21st century from a communication field. We live in an era where a new information order in fact is being built and we hope that IPS with its history, values and ideas will have an important influence on this state of affairs.
© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Dezember 1998