|Global Awareness Raising Project for Eastern Europe (North South Centre, 1994)|
"Global Interdependence and Awareness-raising in a Newly Emerging Democracy"
Jiloviste, 7-9 December 1992
The first of the three workshops took place in Jiloviste, near Prague, from 7-9 December 1992. The theme of the workshop was "Global Interdependence and Awareness-raising in a Newly Emerging Democracy". It addressed the theme of international interdependence and solidarity in the Central European context and focused on ways to raise public awareness, both in terms of the substance of the issues concerned and the techniques used.
The workshop served as a get-together for individuals and organisations involved in issues related to global interdependence and solidarity in the host country and organisations in the South and West. The meeting allowed for the establishment of international contacts, the exchange of ideas on and experience in awareness-raising in various parts of the world and the encouragement of international (bilateral and trilateral) projects in the areas of development and environment education.
The workshop lasted two-and-a-half days. During the first part, a number of eminent personalities from East, West, and South gave brief introductions. Representatives of the local media were invited to cover this part of the meeting. The introductions were followed by a plenary discussion, which in turn was followed by a working group session.
The second part took the form of a working conference. It included short presentations on practical aspects of consciousness-raising activities, examples from other countries, examples of international campaigns, the use of simulation and role games, and working with the media. All participants invited to the workshop received a background reader in advance, containing a selection of articles on the subject and a list of participants with an outline of their organisations.
A total of 35 persons from the former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic and 15 participants from the West and South were invited to take part. They were selected from the four branches of the quadrilogue so as to enhance the quality of the debate. A special effort was made to secure a balanced participation of men and women. With regard to local participants, the organisers identified and invited a significant number of participants from both Czech and Slovak Republics, coming also from outside the capital cities of the respective republics. They included personalities from the development and environment circles in the East, West and South as well as practitioners with a broad experience in raising public awareness.
At the opening session, presentations included a statement by the Executive Director of the North-South Centre, a presentation by a Representative from the CSFR on the new prospects for participation of Czech and Slovak societies in international cooperation, and presentations on the motives behind development and environment education and political lobbying in a democratic society.
On the second day, three presentations by participants from East, West and South focused on awareness-raising activities: "What can we learn from each other?" and "How can we learn from each other?". Subsequent working group sessions focused on "Democracy and human development", "Central Europe in international cooperation" and "Environmental education".
The role of the media in influencing public opinion was the theme of a plenary session based on a panel presentation with journalists from East, West and South. During the evening of the second day a video presentation was given on public reaction to the Rio "Earth Summit". The final day concentrated on reports from the working groups and a general debate, followed by conclusions and an evaluation of the seminar.
In the course of the final session the participants expressed their gratitude to the North-South Centre for organising the international workshop and for having the opportunity to take part in this event. They also expressed the hope that similar events be organised in the future Czech and Slovak Republics. The participants felt that such initiatives provided an ideal opportunity to meet NGOs from other countries, to inform each other about working methods and activities and to understand more about the East-West-South triangle. They felt that much still needed to be done in the field of the democratic character of Europe and in the creation of transparent and accountable governments. The hope for co-operation in the future was underlined.
The organisation of the workshop was timely in that it took place three weeks before the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic became two republics where relations with the South needed to be addressed. The identification of partners, as individuals and as organisations, would be necessary for future co-operation on North-South issues.
The meeting had been part of a process of continuous information exchange between NGOs. It was considered that more intense co-operation with the Foreign Ministries was needed and that the public had to be reminded of interdependence on this planet. The meeting contributed to ideas for improving co-operation between NGOs and the State and called on the North-South Centre to be more ambitious in this respect. It was considered possible that through the Council of Europe, individual member States in Europe may be recommended to consider addressing issues such as these.
The working group sessions and the informal part of the workshop were also seen as significant in the area of contact-making. It was considered that, at future meetings, there could perhaps be more room for informal discussions to bring people of similar professions together who could exchange information on specialised topics and express their viewpoints. More workshops, in smaller groups, were also considered useful, together with a more visual evaluation of issues. The use of more visual methods, in general, was considered helpful in information exchange.
The participants considered it useful to learn how to improve the work of organisations, e.g how to make it more globally orientated, instead of each organisation closing itself in its own sphere. They noted that a certain fragmentation was emerging and integration had to be improved. They felt that one way to stimulate this would be through seminars such as the Prague workshop, which was more constructive than receiving newsletters from the different organisations. Based on this information, development co-operation with partners could take place with mutual respect.
The participants felt that the workshop had provided an opportunity to learn from local people. They considered that future background readers could include information on local economic, political and social situations in order for participants to have a better overview and greater insight into the lives of people in other parts of the world. It was felt that addressing stereotypical images had been very useful in destroying these images and had shown what could be done to break them down. The workshop had demonstrated that increasing opportunities existed for Central and Eastern Europe to be involved in relations with the South. It was considered that a more concrete approach was needed and that specific topics should be addressed. Investment in training and education, for instance, did not show immediate effects, but it was indispensable.
In the future, it was noted that a step forward could be taken to touch upon economic problems and possibilities for economic co-operation. it was considered that trade in particular, as the most elementary exchange between societies, should be addressed and South-South trade should be promoted. It was recommended that a link also be made between the disruption of trade and that of information exchange. At the next meeting, the participants felt that more priority should be given to the relation between the economic system which was gaining ground, the shared market economic system in a consumer society, and global conditions. Efforts had to be made to identify local problems and how to find a remedy for them, and also to pinpoint global problems with the aim of addressing them through global co-operation.
One recommendation for the future was that organisations request potential partners to come up with specific projects which would best illustrate what needed to be done. The workshop felt that it was difficult to arrive at solutions when analysing problems in general terms. No real solutions would be found at government level, due to the strategic interests of governments, but a list of priorities would allow for dealing with issues step by step. This would also lay more emphasis on practical and concrete solutions.
The "test" of the international workshop was the follow-up of the event which would include networking, the exchange of ideas and the provision of future opportunities to allow organisations to be involved in other activities. It was necessary to look ahead and envisage longer term opportunities, instead of identifying these once a year at a conference and to then falling back into routine until the following year. Information exchange should be institutionalised. The North-South Centre was called upon to find procedures for exchange. An infrastructure for exchange would facilitate information flows, so that local views could also be voiced. For 1994 more possibilities were seen for co-operation, contact-making and assistance to the organisation of events similar to this meeting.
'The Challenge of Global Interdependence"
Mr Jos Lemmers,
European Centre for Global Interdependence and
Solidarity, Council of Europe ("North-South Centre")
Thank you Chairperson,
I would like to join you and Mr Jan Pakulski in welcoming the participants to this part of a series of three meetings which the North-South Centre is organising in Eastern Europe. The themes of the series are the promotion of global awareness and the creation of a sense of belonging, not only to our national or even to our European societies, but to a world society in which we all share the responsibility of caring for global problems. I would like to start by telling two stories which, in my mind, symbolise the challenge a conference of this kind presents.
The first story comes from Mr Thor Heyerdahl, a famous Norwegian explorer interested in the global environment. Shortly after World War II, he was on a flight from the United States to Europe. At one point, while on board the plane, he noticed that the service had suddenly improved quite considerably. People were supplied with even more drinks and he noticed a certain nervousness on the part of the stewardesses. He could not help but look out of the window and noticed that the propeller on the engine on his side of the plane was slowing down. There seemed to be a technical problem. So he turned to his corpulent neighbour on the other side, who was eating, and said to him: "Sorry to disturb you, but I think the engine on my side is breaking down." The gentleman, slightly disturbed that his meal was being interrupted, looked out of his own window and said: "The engine on my side seems to be alright. Thank God, I am not sitting on your side."
This story symbolises how people tend to look at the world community, either - as in the past - in terms of "East-West" or today in terms of "North-South". There seems to be a neglect of interdependence, even though we are all in the same boat.
The second story concerns a British general from World War I, who, being tired of the war, had retired to France. One day, he told his gardener that he would like to grow an olive tree. The gardener commented that it takes a rather long time for an olive tree to bloom. The gentleman then said: "Well, I was going to offer you a cup of tea, but in that case we are in an even greater hurry, are we not? You had better plant the tree right now!"
The point is that, on the one hand, interdependence is a reality and on the other, even longer term changes are urgent. These changes may take a long time, but that does not mean that one should not get on with it now. It is with this in mind that the Council of Europe decided, at the end of its North-South Campaign in 1988, to set Up a centre within the Council of Europe which would be devoted to raising public awareness in Europe about global interdependence and the need for new policies of solidarity between the North and the South.
In this spirit, the North-South Centre was set Up with a rather Unique composition. Although it is part of an inter-governmental body with member States, the governing bodies are not only composed of governments, but also of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), parliamentarians and local authorities. These are directly represented on the board of the Centre, forming a so-called "quadrilogue". This is a four-way partnership, ensuring that the important challenges of North-South relations are not only left to governments, civil servants and the international organisations. The people themselves, organised in NGOs, as well as their elected representatives parliamentarians at national level and town councillors at local level - are also responsible for showing concern for the new type of interdependent world community in which we are now living.
I would like to begin my introduction with three short points. The first point pertains to the New World Order, the second to the changes in Europe during the last few years and their impact on the world community at large and the last relates to global interdependence. By way of conclusion I shall present a few points which, in my view, might be considered by the workshop during the next couple of days.
Concepts of the New World Order
I am not referring to the concept as launched by President Bush, but, instead, I am going back in history to the ideas for the New International Economic Order (NIEO). The concept of a NIEO was launched approximately 20 years ago in the 1970s and was very much inspired by the nations of the Group of 77 (G-77), the group of countries from the developing world.
In the 1970s, the developing countries were hopeful that, thanks to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel, oil prices could be raised and the South could make a bid on the world market. They hoped that, after the price of oil, the prices of other commodities would also increase. The nations of the South hoped that this would provide them with a more reasonable share of the world community's wealth. We all know what happened. Despite majority resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly and a few hopeful discussions in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the reality was that a minority of powerful nations continued to decide the course of international trade and the prices of commodities. The NIEO subsequently failed.
This was 15 years ago and since then certain lessons have been learned. Lessons concerning the character of change required for the installation of a new type of world order and lessons regarding the range of issues covered by such a world order, as well as the scope of such a complex interdependent relationship. As far as the character is concerned, I believe that we have learned that change, especially global change, cannot be declared simply by passing a resolution in the UN's General Assembly. The adoption of a Charter of Economic Rights and Duties and of a programme establishing a NIEO, constituting a new blueprint is not enough to bring about change. Change can only be a process and, unfortunately but necessarily, a complex and long term process. The second lesson concerns the range of issues covered. The emphasis 20 years ago was on the economy. It was felt that a NIEO was what was basically required. At the time, however, there was little awareness that problems of economic relations cannot be divorced from the major challenges of the global environment, peace and disarmament and of the establishment of democratic societies with respect for human rights and the possibility of people living a life of dignity.
This range of issues needs to be taken into consideration in any new concept of world order. The scope of relations also needs to be widened beyond discussions between North and South as they took place in the 1970s. Change cannot be reduced to relations between two monolithic blocks of North and South, but is also required on the inside of our Northern societies, in terms of lifestyle, environmental policies and our claim on the world's resources. Change is, of course, also needed in the South with respect to overcoming dictatorships, often created or maintained with open or silent support of East or West, but in neither case serving the needs of the people. Respect for human rights in Southern societies, is also a very important part of the scope of change. Change between the North and the South should not only take place between blocks, but should amount to taking joint responsibility for the global situation at large. Many of the problems which are described as those of the South are really problems which concern the world as a whole. How can one say that poverty is a problem of the South? Global poverty is a global problem which requires a response of solidarity from all of humanity.
Changes in Europe and the Impact on the World
The end of the Cold War created considerable assessment problems for European policy makers. At the beginning of these changes in Europe we were informed about the possibility of a peace dividend. After the arms race, it was said that funds could finally become available to take care of more important problems, like poverty in the South. Unfortunately, the peace dividend of the end of the Cold War did not materialise in economic terms and additional resources have not become available.
However, on a more optimistic note, one may conclude that there is an alternative form of peace dividend. Both the East and the West now have other priorities than to pour more money into competing Third World societies. Some arms exports and the often artificial build-up of local conflicts by projecting the Cold War situation, have come to an end. This, at least, is one sign of hope for a number of societies in the South. Similarly, the transformation of Europe into a community of democratic societies means that many dictators in the South can no longer claim the validity of an alternative type of democracy, to use euphemistic terms. It is clear that this has a positive impact on the situation in Africa. Some of the warlords have been starved out of business and, consequently, there is a better chance that more attention will be paid to the real problems of establishing democracy and dealing with issues such as health and education rather than the building up of armies.
However, as I have pointed out, in financial terms, Europe has not increased its commitment to the South. Instead, it seems to have become increasingly concerned about itself. Central and East European societies are going through such a complex process of transformation that no priority can be given to the problems of the South. Furthermore Western Europe is called upon to contribute, financially and otherwise, to strengthen the process of democratic build-up in these societies and their transformation into market economies. The South has, once again, come out as the loser.
Recalling the anecdote of the aeroplane, today's question is whether we can afford to be labelled just as "Europeans" and to simply look at our own problems. We are part of the global situation, i.e. of a global reality. Poverty in the South is part of global poverty and we should not ignore that poverty in Europe, in the West and in Central and Eastern areas is also rising as a result of the social and economic transformation of societies.
Against this background of rising Euro-centrism it seems ironic that, with no funding available for the peace dividend and development assistance, it was suddenly possible to bring about a huge mobilisation of resources for the Gulf War. I am not arguing that it was the right of Saddam Hussein to invade a neighbouring country, but it is, nevertheless, significant to note here that it was a case of selective indignation of the world community regarding this specific case, after other similar cases in recent history had been ignored. This selective indignation might also reflect a new uni-polar approach to solving global problems. Who controls the UN? What is the responsibility of the one remaining superpower? And what are the responsibilities of Europe and other parts of the planet in the democratic management of global problems?
Global interdependence means that we must accept to live together on this planet and try to solve our problems collectively in a more democratic way than in the past. There is a need for some form of global democratisation, instead of global apartheid. We all cheered and cherished the end of apartheid in South Africa, as it was intolerable that a white minority was running a society where the black majority were so poor and had so few rights. If one looks at the world community as a whole, there is also a white minority running the show and closing the doors of privileged regions to the black majority who are confined to their own poor countries. There is a growing sentiment that refugees should stop knocking on our doors. But, at the same time, what is Europe doing to ensure that the problems of those countries are resolved? Do refugees choose to come to Europe because they admire our wonderful countries? Is it not rather a choice forced by the realities of disrespect for global interdependence? Is this situation not provoked by a lack of solidarity of humanity as a whole in dealing with these common problems?
In conclusion, I would like to submit four points to the conference for consideration in terms of joint responsibility in an interdependent world:
* global interdependence is a reality which cannot be ignored.
Problems concerning economics, the environment, human rights, democracy, peace
and development cannot be solved separately. Global management of global
problems is necessary and even unavoidable;
* global management should not be based on prospects of a unipolar approach and efforts must be made, as soon as possible, to ensure the democratisation of the world community at large. This should be reflected in the appropriate reform of the UN, the Security Council and other institutions as part of a new approach;
* any new world order should be based on the principle of democracy, people's participation and respect for human rights. A person is not the property of any State. Therefore, where people suffer from a violation of human rights, humanity has a duty to intervene and to not allow people to starve, be suppressed or be subject to political and other forms of torture;
* partnership should replace the former colonial and neo-colonial relations at a world level. We have more in common as human beings and nations than what separates us. This requires solidarity, i.e. a joins sense of responsibility to solve common world problems. In this connection, I might also stress that migration and its consequences and symptoms should constitute the "writing on the wall" which we are living today in Germany, France, Italy and even countries like Sweden, where xenophobia has become a growing symptom of lack of respect for human rights. We should, above all, remember that we have not so much inherited this planet from our parents to do with it whatever we like, but we are borrowing it from our children as well. And that creates a large common responsibility.
(This statement was presented at the opening of the Prague and Budapest workshops to set the tone for discussions).
"The North-South issue in the light of current Czech and Slovak Foreign Policy"
Mr Pavel Bechny,
Co-ordinator, North-South Relations for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic
North-South: Bases of the Czech and Slovak position
The disintegration of the bi-polar system in Europe and the end of the Cold War between the East and the West, constitutes a principal turning point from, amongst others, the viewpoint of dialogue between the rich, industrial North and the poor, developing South.
Many Third World countries, by no means share Europe's enthusiasm for the unexpected course of events that took place. On various occasions they have expressed certain fears as current developments in Europe occupy European countries to such an extent that they fail to pay due attention to the question of the South. Post-communist Central and Eastern Europe, with its ever growing financial requirements and efforts to attract as much foreign capital as possible, constitutes a dangerous rival for the developing South. Its gradual integration into the economic and political structures of the West may result in the emergence of new protective barriers in world trade. Political destabilisation, accompanying the process of transformation in Central and Eastern Europe, could easily turn into an open crisis, an example of which is the case of Yugoslavia or the developments in post-Soviet territories and its consequences will worsen, rather than improve, the global situation.
Changes in Europe at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s were the result of positive trends in the development of international relations, thus also greatly contributing to their strengthening. After the ideology justifying the division of the world proved groundless, the ideas of political pluralism, the market economy and protection of human rights became more universal. The overwhelming majority of states, at various levels of development, currently agree with the need for principal and systematic changes based on these ideas. On the other hand, these positive changes have so far not materialised. The differences in levels of development, and thus of security existing between states, have been deepened further and are beginning to constitute the main threat to the international consensus which is still very unstable.
The elimination of the former bi-polar structure of the world has led to a conceptual change, particularly in Czech and Slovak policy pursued in Europe (the political economic and security aspect) and has put new demands also on the Czech and Slovak approach to the so-called Third World problem. In the past, we approached it in two ways based on the transplantation of the love dividing Europe to non-European regions. The ideological criteria implemented in Czech and Slovak foreign policy did not allow to approach the Third World problem in the context of North-South and South-South relations. The Czech and Slovak position within North-South proceeds from three factors. First, the efforts of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic to reintegrate into European political, economic and security structures. Secondly, the fact that some of the developing countries can play an important role in the recovery of the Czech and Slovak economy and the economic development of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. Thirdly, the interest in co-operation of the developing countries in trying to establish starting positions for economic enterprising in the East.
The position of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic in the North-South dialogue proceeds from the fact that in respect to its level of development, traditionally and by its ambitions, it is ranked among the countries of the North, rather than by its current indexes, while it does not qualify for the political, security and development structures of the most advanced states. In the event of the escalation of the conflict between the most advanced and the developing states, these circumstances would considerably weaken the possibilities of adaptation of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic to new conditions as compared to the more advanced, integrated states of the North. At the same time, it is necessary to reckon with a differentiated approach of the countries of the South to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the traditional partners of the North.
The risks arising for the Czech and Slovak Republic from a possible escalation of the North-South conflict include particularly:
* an armed conflict outside the CSCE framework which would for a
long time divert the attention of the advanced states from European affairs and
exhaust the means necessary for stabilisation in Central and Eastern Europe;
* a gradual weakening of effectiveness, or even the collapse, of mechanisms of multilateral economic and trade co-operation, the growth of protectionism and a trade war;
* an uncontrollable influx of refugees, accompanied by increased social tension and the growth of nationalist tendencies, destabilising democratic institutions in European states;
* the weakening of co-operation between states with different levels of development in combating drug trafficking, international terrorism and organised crime;
* the lagging of North-South co-operation in increasing ecological safety behind the deteriorating situation in environmental protection.
It will be in the interest of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic to prevent an escalation of the North-South conflict and, in general, to prevent the emergence of situations in which the line dividing the North and the South would become sharply visible. The Czechoslovak interest rests in a political solution of this relation, not in its politisation.
North South: Development, Trends and Czechoslovak Interests
The picture of current North-South relations is full of contradictions. These are a series of examples of development towards more constructive co-operation, but also of tougher approaches on both sides. The end of the East-West conflict has outlined more favourable prospects of integration of the international community. At the same time, there is more scope in the international system for tendencies towards the shaping of regional megablocs with their own centres and peripheries of development, with controversial co-operation between the North and the South increasingly taking place within these frameworks. Apart from tension existing between the North and the South, rivalry has also been growing among the advanced states (the US - Japan, the US - the EC, Japan - the EC). The negative consequences of this rivalry are reflected, in the first place, at the periphery of the megablocs. The states of the South are gradually showing interest in the prevention of the outbreak of this rivalry.
Besides the "traditional" themes, such as nuclear safety, an ever growing role in the North-South dialogue is played by the so-called new themes of the international agenda: ecology, drugs and human rights. At first, they make the differences in views between the advanced and the developing states, formerly hidden by a curtain of Cold War, more visible. Then, gradually, they strengthen the awareness of mutual dependency and help maintain the interest of the North in dialogue with the South. With the end of East-West confrontation, the international framework of North-South relations is changing fundamentally. The global security and development structures are becoming universal, along with growing internal pressures on their principal adaptation to new needs. The prospects for the North-South dialogue will, in many ways, depend on their results so that the coming years will be of crucial importance in this sense.
At the end of East-West bloc antagonism, the Non-Aligned Movement
(NAM) is undergoing a crisis of identity, but it would be immature to speak of
its disintegration. Attention is now concentrated on whether the NAM should and
could become an instrument of the South in its dialogue with the North, or
whether it is more an instrument for developing co-operation within the states
of the South. The tendencies currently appearing range from a move towards
closer contacts, interaction of the Movement with the mechanisms of the UN
(especially the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development), efforts
towards an organisational strengthening and independence of structures of the
NAM, the extension of its functions and the number of its members to the
transformation of the NAM into an analogue of the UN - without the most advanced
states. The disintegration or a lasting immobilisation of the Non-Aligned
Movement would most likely lead to the further growth of international
instability and complicate efforts to make certain radical regimes abide by the
norms of international law. The Czech and Slovak Federal Republic would,
therefore, rather welcome a gradual transformation of the NAM, the
re-orientation of its priorities towards the problems of development and new
themes and the strengthening of interaction between the NAM and such
organisations as UNCTAD. Czechoslovakia can contribute to shaping a more
coherent approach to unifying Europe towards the NAM. The shaping of these
autonomous development structures, reducing the demands for assistance put on
the advanced states, undoubtedly corresponds to the interests of the Czech and
Slovak Federal Republic and creates new possibilities of developing co-operation
with the states of the South.
The tendencies towards regional integration are evident. What is, so far, not very clear are their consequences for international co-operation within the global scope. In the event of a more marked and longer lasting failure of global multilateral mechanisms, the centre of North-South relations is likely to shift to the level of macro-regions. Some sort of tension, however, can grow between their centres and the shaping periphery (for example Mexico - the US, ASEAN - Japan) the failure of solutions at a global level would at the same time stimulate the shaping of common interests towards the other macro-regions. Certain tendencies can be approximately defined within the current processes of sub-regional, regional and inter-regional integration as follows:
* After the end of East-West global confrontation, there has been
a tendency to grow towards sub-regional integration of the developing countries.
Certain traditional organisations are being revived (the Andean Pact, the East
African Community) and a number of quite new co-operat)on structures is emerging
(the Economic Co-operation Organisation, the Black Sea or the Caspian
Co-operation Zone). Within the changed international situation, groups of the
developing countries have been formulating their objectives in a much more
complex way. The original economic associations are coming with ever more
important political impulses for the stabilisation of the situation in their
region (ASEAN), other organisations, on the other hand, have been shaping their
own economic basis (the Rio Group). Under certain circumstances, we cannot
exclude the development of these organisations into more closed systems,
hindering free trade and broader international co-operation and their eventual
transformation into autonomous power centres with considerable military
potential. It will be in the Czech Slovak interest to contribute to the
weakening of these tendencies in the development of sub-regional groupings of
the South and, instead, to support their development into groupings open to
* More consistent frameworks are being created, bringing states with different levels of development and security together on a regional scale. Within this process, the nature of some traditional organisations, such as the Organisation of American States, has been changing. The shaping of new macro-regional frameworks is currently taking place in various phases of development (the Asian Free Trade Area, the Asian-Pacific Economic Co-operation Organisation, the African Economic Community). In the new international context, these processes could result in the creation of regional systems of security and stability, which would correspond to Czech and Slovak interests.
* Integration tendencies have also gradually reached the inter-regional level. Interaction has been deepening, both at the level of sub-regional and regional groupings and with the global mechanisms of the l)N (an ever growing role can be played by, for example, the Economic Commission for Latin America or the Economic Commission for Africa) and the organisations for international trade and finances (regional banks linked to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, such as the Inter-American Development Bank or the Asian Development Bank). In the event of the failure of global organisation, the regional development organisations will act with more autonomy. The gradual integration of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic into regional development structures could considerably enhance Czech and Slovak interests in the South.
Apart from traditional themes of security and economic development, new themes finding their place in the North-South dialogue include the protection of human rights and democratic values, environmental protection, the struggle against drug trafficking, organised crime and terrorism and efforts to prevent uncontrollable migration. Until recently, these themes were tabled with the North-South dialogue on the unilateral initiative of the advanced states, while the developing states reacted to them rather with mistrust and from defensive positions. This situation is beginning to change:
* the developing states are beginning to accept new themes as
their own and at the same time to use them in a much more offensive manner in
the dialogue with the North;
* the developing countries have been creating new institutions for strengthening their negotiating position and/or giving the existing sub-regional organisation new functions;
* in the sphere of new themes, co-operation between non-governmental organisations in the advanced and developing countries has been developing more noticeably than in other fields. Their influence on the policies of governments has increased and interaction of governmental and non-governmental institutions has deepened;
* the new themes are becoming the most sensitive points of the North-South dialogue, although, on the other hand, due to their very global nature, they contribute most substantially to the strengthening of universality and to preserving the widest possible scope of co-operation between the developing and the advanced states.
As a result of North-South clashes in the sphere of new themes, the ideas of economic growth as a panacea for problems in North-South relations are giving way to more complex concepts of sustainable development in its ecological, social and humanitarian dimension. This will probably not make the North-South dialogue more simple, but the new themes, rather than the "old" ones, will enhance the trend towards seeking cooperative solutions.
North-South and the European Strategy of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic
Along with the end of the East-West global conflict, the foreign policies of states reflect more strongly the links between the processes of regionalisation and globalisation. One of their expressions is also the "Europeanisation" of the North-South dialogue:
* The extension of the sphere of action of the CSCE has increased
the possibility of the participating states to contribute to the stabilisation
of North-South relations. [here is the possibility, however, that a possible
escalation of the North-South conflict will consequently block the all-European
process. The need for constructive co-operation, particularly among states of
neighbouring developing regions, has increased;
* The North-South dialogue is, to a considerable extent, taking place within spheres of interest built by the advanced European states in the developing world (the Commonwealth, the French-speaking Community, the Ibero-American Community). Through these spheres of interest, the influence of the nations of the South on the processes of integration will grow. Spain, for instance, has co-ordinated its position of nationalist reaction with the Latin American countries, which is starting to threaten the stability of democratic institutions.
As a result of factors inter alia, it is probable that the achievement of the direct aims of the European policy of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, i.e. its full-fledged participation in the West European integration and the creation for it of a more secure, all-European framework, will have to be placed on a substantially wider basis than the negotiation of the association agreements with the EC.
The Czech and Slovak Federal Republic has been pursuing its policy of integrating Europe, with a view of the aims and needs of European unification. In this sense, the role of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic as a subject and an object of international policy has been changing. Within the Czech and Slovak prospects, the main threat to the positive development in international relations continues to be instability in the CSCE area. The main causes are the differences in levels of security and development of the CSCE participating states. It is desirable for the Czech and Slovak interests that such understanding of priority of the all-European process is accepted by all the member states of the EC and possibly the whole advanced North, as well as by the developing countries of the South. On the other hand, the policy pursued by the developing states towards the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic becomes part of their new European policy of reacting to the acceleration of West European integration, to the revolutionary changes in Central Europe and the emergence of a Commonwealth on Independent States. The states of the South are seeking preferred partners in unified Europe. The Czech and Slovak Federal Republic attracts certain attention in this respect, which will grow parallel with the advance of European integration and the participation of Czechoslovakia in this process.
Within its interests, the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic would rather prefer a more differentiated, more structuralised and, at the same time, a more complexly held dialogue between states with different levels of security and development. This dialogue should:
* respect a more subtle differentiation between the individual
groups of states;
* be developed systematically and at various levels, but always with a primary stress on holding it within the framework of institutions associating states, irrespective of differences in the level of development;
* focus on the problems of development, within an ever broader context, including their ecological, humanitarian and other dimensions. An ever closer interaction can be expected between 'purelysecurity" and 'purely development" institutions.
The position of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic between the advanced North and the developing South mainly requires a very complex approach in international relations, with the main emphasis placed on overcoming the stereotypical bloc view of the world and systematic differences in the levels of security and development of the individual states. The importance of North-South relations will grow in the future, a proof of which is a series of ideas formulated on the soil of the UN as well as at bilateral level. In the interest of reducing the risks of a new conflict axis (North-South), the North will have to find an acceptable solution to meet the growing needs of the South.
"The Motives behind Development and Environmental Education and Political Lobbying in a Democratic Society"
Ms. Fionnuala Brennan
Director of the Development Education Support Centre (DESC), Ireland
In talking about development education and environment education, i will speak only from the point of view of what happens in the West and will not refer to what takes place in, for example, the Philippines, Africa or Latin America. I speak from my own experience in my own country.
Types of Development Education and Environment Education:
* official (government) development and environment
* non-government (NGO) development and environment education;
* political lobbying and campaigning.
An example of an official development and environment education agency in Ireland is the organisation I work for, called the Development Education Support Centre (DESC), which is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Information on the Environment (ENFO). The motives for governmental development and environment education are, obviously, different from non-governmental motives. I would say that the motives underlying governmental development education are, primarily, to cultivate public support for the aid programme. This is done through raising awareness of development issues, largely in the Third World or developing countries, and through raising awareness of interdependence. The main motive behind environment education is to cultivate public support for official environment policies. The motives for both development and environment education are, officially, to fulfil obligations arising from membership of international bodies like the UN, UNESCO and the EC.
Motives for Non-governmental Development and Environment Education
The situation is very different in this case since very few NGOs engage in this type of activity. The motives show that development and environment education essentially mean peace education:
* to create solidarity with the poor and oppressed in developing
* to increase awareness of the complexity of development issues;
* to make local and global links;
* to promote action for justice;
* to empower people to comprehend end to participate in their own, their community's, their nation's and their world's development;
* to foster a critical awareness of the social, political and economic structures and forces which shape society;
* to balance negative media images of the Third World (e.g. most children only hold negative images, as portrayed by the media);
* to increase international understanding and work against racism and thus reduce conflict end war.
Motives for Environment Education
* to promote an ecological balance;
* to promote a better management of nature/ resources;
* to raise awareness of the dangers of short-term exploitation of nature/ resources and the consequent deterioration of the conditions necessary for life;
* to raise awareness regarding the dangers to the environment of pollution, climate warming, the destruction of the rainforests, wildlife, etc. on a local and global level;
* to promote personal action for change regarding lifestyles, consumption, recycling, etc.
Motives for Political Lobbying and Campaigning
These are largely "single issue" areas and are not strictly educational. In my definition, education is about balance, and campaigning is another thing. The motives are:
* to challenge accepted opinions (e.g. challenging the accepted
view on the "great" discoveries of Columbus);
* to change official policies nationally and internationally in areas like trade, aid, conflict situations and human rights though political lobbying via constituencies and targeting members of Parliament. In Ireland, you can contact a member of Parliament or the local government official and through her or him pressure Parliament;
* to encourage people to take action on specific issues;
* to influence the general public to take action at the local level concerning the environment, international debt, etc.
Examples of Campaigns
* Costing the Earth. Striking the Global Bargain of the World
Development Organisation, in relation to the 1992 Earth Summit;
* Fast for a Fairer World - OXFAM;
* Latin America. The People's Story - The Irish Congress of Trade Unions;
* A campaign on consumer awareness organised by Traidèireann (a member of the International Federation for alternative Trade);
* A letter-writing campaign to Mr. F. Andriessen, the External Affairs Commissioner in Brussels, to give better conditions to textile producers in the Third World, initiated by Comblamh (Co-operation);
* The Intermediate Technology Development Group is campaigning for appropriate technology in developing countries, instead of the present imposition of First World and inappropriate technologies;
* Empowering the Poor - 500 Years of Colonialism in America - DESC. The local-global link is made in this campaign. Ireland was also a colonised country and was the first to break out of the
British Empire after what we call 800 years of slavery. We have empathy with people in ex-colonies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. So, we look at the link between the lessons for Ireland and colonialism in America.
Conclusions and Recommendations
If campaigning for development and environment education is too closely linked with fund-raising, the issues cannot be clear as they have to be simplified in order to raise funds. That is not the purpose of education. Local groups are more effective locally. It is very difficult to interest people in some far away Third World problem when there are problems on their own doorstep like pollution, poverty, etc. Local issues have to be addressed in order to have a real global balance. Networks and information are extremely important. So often we find that we are working away at a little corner unaware of what other people are doing.
This year the Irish North-South, One World campaign took place and environment and development groups in Ireland came together for the first time. I found it very interesting because these groups had not really listened to each other previously. The development groups were concerned about Latin America, the Philippines, South Africa and so on, while the environmental groups concentrated on the pollution of the Irish Sea, radioactivity coming from the nuclear plant in Sellafield, etc. During our discussions, it was decided that we both needed to change. The environmentalists needed to let people in as they are often more concerned about, for instance, the rainforests than the people living in them. The developmentalists, on the other hand, needed to let in the natural environment. We all need to co-operate and also to campaign and lobby. A holistic view is, therefore, required to ensure that development and environment education and lobbying are linked effectively and are not counterproductive.
The following transcript of one of the plenary discussions at the Prague Workshop is included as an example of the type of exchange that took place in the course of the various East-West-South workshops.
Chairperson: Ms Tat'jana Hlavata
Ms Tat'jana Hlavata: Problems of global interdependence and North-South relations have been approached in today's contributions from various angles, including political, environmental, social and educational. I would now like to invite you to open the discussion. The speakers may react to some of the things which were said this morning, or mention aspects he/she feels were omitted in this afternoon's speeches.
Mr Pieter van Rossem, Pax Christi, Utrecht, The Netherlands: The introductions today were important in showing, in one way, what is happening in Ireland and other European countries and, in another way, what will happen in the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. They created an image that we are all working for the Third World, for development education, etc. What I felt was missing was a consideration of the different problems which exist. We can only overcome these if we discuss them. An important difference is the background and history of development assistance and development education. Western Europe has a history of 500 years of colonialism, which is a very important item to campaign on. It is based on the guilt feelings associated with having taken money from the Third World. The situation if completely different in Eastern Europe. Development assistance to the Third World was, until recently, given by the government and not by the people. There were no programmes, or NGOs, to collect money. As far as I understand it, it was government policy which determined which nation would receive money and how much. There are few ideas about the ways in which the Third World can be helped and the necessity to give the money. Public interest in development aid is at a very low level in Eastern Europe and little importance is attached to this issue. There is a large difference between Western and Eastern NGOs in terms of the fields in which they operate and the level of public awareness.
Mr Nelson Agyemang, Youth for Population Information and Communication, Kumasi, Ghana: The previous speaker has made the very same comments I made earlier today in a conversation. Democracy in the former USSR and Eastern Europe has also affected democracy in the South. There are a lot of people who feel happy about the resulting freedoms. The other aspect is, however, that the increased concern for Eastern Europe's internal problems has meant even the need for the withdrawal of whatever system Eastern Europe has given to African countries like Ghana. There has been no programme for replacement along the lines of what we have been discussing, because people concentrate on their own problems. Development aid will not be cut, as it has already been reduced. The Netherlands has just cut the 1.5% of gross national product (GNP) dedicated to development co-operation. Many people naturally think more money can now go to the East, while little aid was given to the South in the first place. There are, indeed, many mixed feelings.
One of the issues I had suggested to the Chairperson to be discussed here, is that Eastern Europe should withdraw from Africa regarding its previous role and some kind of replacement should be found. Perhaps one way would be to join with the West and to ratify the agenda of the South in terms of North-South co-operation. People's fears will increase if this does not happen this year and it is already rather late. On the other hand, some East Europeans in Africa know the situation and they know that, despite the fact that there is a need in the world, there are different levels of need and various levels of development. They realise that something needs to be done. I met an East European before coming to this conference who was interested in knowing what would happen after this meeting and how his country could, for example, assist in overcoming these problems. When talking about Africa, it is not possible to talk about one homogenous development level. What is happening in Somalia, for instance, is not happening in my country. There are, hence, various levels of development. It would not be a good example if we fail to help other countries because of our own problems. Those African countries which are giving support to Somalia cannot say that they will not do so because they themselves are poor and need money from the East or West. We should find a way of integrating these issues.
Ms Jana Ondrackova, Czech and Slovak National Committee for UNICEF, Prague, CSFR: There is an incorrect tendency here to put all of us in Central and East European countries into one basket. There are former colonial countries which are now very poor, like what used to be the Soviet Union, there are former colonised countries which are very poor, like Romania and there are better off countries, such as the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. If you say that the countries of Africa are different from each other, we will also have to admit that there are differences in countries of what used to be Central and Eastern Europe. Having said that, the most important thing to do here is to educate people. The three most important procedures, which should be started at an early stage, are information, communication and education. Information to tell people that there are poor and richer countries in Africa and, as we tend to place you all in one basket as well, distinguish between Somalia, Nigeria, Ghana, etc. Communication to teach people to communicate with others on a equal basis. Education, not only development and environment education, but education per se, i.e. telling people, after 40 years imprisonment, what the world is like. We have to open ourselves to the world and the world should open itself to US, in order for people in this country, and other countries, to obtain good knowledge about the world at large. If we do not have this knowledge, we cannot communicate as we would not know what to communicate.
Mr Federico Nier-Fischer, Inter Press Service, Austria: In looking at Europe as a journalist writing for, and coming from, the South (Uruguay) I am, first of all, concerned about Europe's lack of capacity to reflect its own problems. Information about poor people in Africa would lead to a rising consciousness in these societies which are neglecting their own development problems. We do have a simple and growing problem, which is the increasing mortality rate amongst children in Eastern Europe. This is not reflected in Europe as a continent. Once we find the capacity to solve our problems, then we could also find global solutions. One of the striking incapacities of reflection shown by Europe concerns the problems surrounding unification. There is much talk about "Europe", but what is Europe? The Council of Europe is a toothless organisation of people who may hold some discussions, but these are not reflected in the societies which have sent these delegates to Strasbourg. The lack of communication on this continent is terrible and that is giving me great cause for concern. The concept of Europe is that, in reality, there is a rich and a poor Europe. In the South we lost an actor after the revolution in 1989. We are afraid of losing an actor, expressing its own views and experiences and its capacity to bring in global dimensions. The United Nations delegates from Eastern Europe now simply vote more like those from Western countries. After having spent several years in Europe that is, for me, the most striking element.
Ms June Barry, Cork Youth Organisation Ireland: I am a little concerned about the first speaker's emphasis on history. Although what he says about guilt is very true, a whole dimension of development education is missed if we do not acknowledge that the exploitation was not only historical, but it is still continuing now. We are all part of that exploitation because of the net transfer from the South to the North and the present trade situation where primary products are not given the kind of financial recognition which they should have. It would concern me if we focused on the historical perspective, while denying that we are talking about current exploitation.
Mr Pieter van Rossem: In the West we have focused very much on 500 years since Columbus, but we should not just talk about the "North". The North is becoming richer which, in the terms I am using, means that this applies to Western Europe and the United States. The story is completely different for Eastern Europe which is getting richer to the detriment of the South. Cultural and historical backgrounds for development education are different. The arguments should be very different. Eastern Europe has to re-analyse its former and present relations with the South. Many things are now happening and there are new patterns in East-South relations. As far as I know, no complete analysis has been done of the real effect of these developments between the South and the East. New trade patterns have been implemented. The Hungarians, for instance, have opened foreign relations with the white government in South Africa. There are all kinds of political and economic implications and consequences which need to be analysed.
Mr Otto Brabec, Foreign Relations House, The Czech Ministry of Education, CSFR: We organised an Afro-Asian Institute with seminars for students coming from about ten developing countries. They concentrated on the flow of capital funds from the advanced countries to Eastern Europe and the prospects for the future. It was interesting to see that, at the end of the seminar, the scepticism of the students had increased. People here are in a situation when they, first of all, think about what they should have. Anything which seems too distant is not considered urgent. Due to the problems of communication, disinformation and disorientation these days, the question is whether we have the influence and tools to inform people. "Freedom of speech" hides certain factors. People, perhaps, focus on scandalous and sensationalist affairs, but not on issues of global importance. It will certainly take a long time, a generation, to educate people.
Mr Frantisek Pliva, Josef Pliva Foundation, CSFR: I would like to ask a question. Why did the South become so poor? When will we realise how things can be changed? Channelling money to the South, where the people expect to receive it, will not solve the problem. There is a lack of co-ordination of what is going on in the world. The rainforest problems concern the whole world. Another issue is that we cannot co-ordinate the world's population. We could provide financial funds to, say, the Indian farmer, but then he will stay at home and have more children. The discussion should go deeper and we should try to influence situations more in advance, which is what should have happened in Somalia.
Mr Josef Chromec, Opus Arabicum CSFR: There have been several stages in this process. The first stage was that the rich countries did not realise at the time that they were exploiting the South. The second stage was that they started to give money. Only now has come the third stage in which it is realised that it is no good to send money and that efforts should instead be made to integrate all parts of the world in economic terms. This should apply to the integration of the North and the South and also to the West and the East. This is much better than merely seeing money flow back and forth.
Ms Jana Ondrackova: It is right that you have a feeling of guilt if you have been, or are still, exploiting. As far as the population explosion is concerned, family planning does exist. It is also connected to a high level of education. It is an eighteenth century notion to say that we do not know what to do about population growth. As for people waiting to receive handouts, it is a case of educating people to use the money they get for the right purposes, developing their economies and teaching them the technologies. It is also not necessarily true that people in Central and Eastern European countries are not willing to give anything. It is more a matter of policy. For many years, Eastern Europe deliberately chose the "wrong" countries and people did not know where the money from, for example, the solidarity fund went to. Not knowing where the money goes to creates disbelief, a lack of confidence and a general feeling of whether or not we have experienced this before. People are still willing to give, there have never been so many collections for so many different causes as in recent years, but they need to know who they are giving it to and what purpose it is serving. This ensures them that the money is used properly and will benefit the right people.
Mr Jan Pakulski, North South Centre, Lisbon, Portugal and Youth for Development end Cooperation, Amsterdam' The Netherlands: As a Polish person, having experienced very intense North-South relations in the past ten years, this is a very interesting session. Thanks to the discussion between Pieter van Rossem and June Barry, we are in a position to address the crucial issue of the motives behind North-South co-operation when it comes to Eastern Europe. I would not look for motives and comparisons in terms of guilt and a colonial past, which some countries had and others did not, as this would be very contrary to the very spirit of interdependence. In my mind, we are talking about education, i.e. making people aware of other parts of the world and encouraging people, especially the young generation in Central Europe, to identify themselves with other parts of the world. Forty years of "brainwashing" leaves a scar and with good reason, people feel rather insecure. The societies are Undergoing difficult economic transitions which require many sacrifices. At the same time, some people I have met express strong feelings of having been a victim of an international complot, like of the Malta Agreement, and deserving much assistance. This is very dangerous and there is, indeed, a lot of work that needs to be done to fight stereotypical images and to open people's minds. The crucial point is the "sequencing" of how to go on from here. It is far too premature to say to young Czechs and Slovaks that they should engage in North-South co-operation. People have to be made aware that the Third World is not only about disasters, but that there are nations with people who also have something to share and that much can be done in terms of helping each other.
A very good meeting was held last February, thanks to Inter Press Service, where primarily journalists and NGOs discussed stereotypes of the South in the East and vice versa. The conclusions and the kind of stereotypes which still exist are horrifying. It was mentioned at that meeting that both groups are like victims of the fire and those of the flood who meet the next day. They share a harsh past, but they do not know how to relate to each other. That is why, when talking about North-South co-operation and the newly emerging democracies, we should in the first instance, emphasise education and openness rather than straightforward discussion on development education (as many of us do in our professional lives), North-South jargon and all the important issues related to this.
Mr Jos Lemmers, The North-South Centre, Lisbon, Portugal: Inspired by the discussion on development aid, I would like to stress that aid is a very small part of global interdependence and of North-South relations. There is a tendency to over-emphasise the importance of aid. I would be willing to argue that if you ask the average West European citizen about the relationship between the North and the South, he/she will tend to ask how much money you want so that he/she can then continue with daily life. There is this image that we are very helpful to the South, so much so that we are now risking a recession in Western Europe because we are giving too much aid to the South. Looking at reality, it can be seen that this idea is completely wrong. Financial flows are largely from the South to the North, or rather, to the West. There is less going from the South to the East than to the West. Development aid from the West, small as it is, is also diminishing. Several months ago there was a major world conference in Rio de Janeiro on the Environment and Development (UNCED). Heads of State from all over the world came together to reaffirm, for the third decade running, their commitment to reach the pitiful UN target of 0.7% of GNP to be used for development assistance. This has been discussed for three decades, but the reality is that the aid level is presently 0.34% and is falling rapidly below 0.3%. There are several countries which are cutting their development aid budget. For example, Finland is decreasing development co-operation by 60%, while Spain and Italy are lowering it by 40%. Where is this solidarity, proclaimed by governments to achieve environmental and development targets? Development assistance is manipulated by politicians as a fairly irrelevant part of their budget with the full knowledge that the public is not very committed to it. The emphasis in the East should, indeed, not be on trying the get the countries which are in transition to give more money to the South, but on educating the public on intercultural understanding and on realising that Central and Eastern Europe is not just about joining Western Europe, but that it is part of a larger world community with many problems. We will, therefore, all be sharing in solving some of the problems and certainly in understanding the background of these problems. It is now more important to look for ways in which the East, West and South can interlink in a new type of global economy which is less exploitative and in which aid will become more irrelevant as there will be more justice in the relationship itself.
Mr Josef Vesely, Mlada Fronta Dnes, Prague, CSFR: After the reunification of East and West Germany, thousands of diplomats from the East were not wanted by Bonn and they became unemployed. Many of them found jobs immediately with private German firms all over the world. From the point of view of the division of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, it is true that 40 of years separation from the world is tragic, but on the other hand, this country did invest in co-operation with the developing world. Millions of dollars were spent training people and we, as taxpayers, have thus invested much in these people who will be without a job, unless they become employed with private companies. These people are really at our disposal and it is only logical they should be able to join this civilisation.
Mr Augustin Palat, Kontinenty, Prague, CSFR: Regarding the question of education in the most general sense of the word, Central Europe has been working in this area for 30 or 40 years. What people do not like is the notion of egoism of modern Central Europe. We have tried to inform people about getting rid of Central European "centralism". From a global interdependence point of view, there are priority problems like the environment. Being in the European part of the Asian continent, the environment is not seen as a crucial issue. Europe is becoming a less important part of the world for countries like China, Thailand, etc. We should be aware of the enormous resource potential stemming from global interdependence. I am happy that so many people are discussing this. We need a co-ordinating umbrella organisation in this country of which our institutions can be part. At this conference we will not succeed immediately in finding all the solutions. Yet, every step forward will be a partial step that will lead to the final success.
Mr Federico Nier-Fischer: There is presently too much pressure on Eastern Europe to show what co-operation is. Apart from 40 years of brainwashing, another kind of brainwashing is going on - that of trying to forget 40 years of experience. Not everything has been so bad to justify shelving the experience and forgetting about it. This is hindering a lot of initiatives and ideas. The South has learned to co-operate. We have given you gold and silver in America, Africa has given slaves, etc. It is unfair to show us how to co-operate. The West has now to show what co-operation is. What has been done in Europe since 1989 about a nuclear-free production of energy? The Austrian people were afraid of the nuclear power plants in the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, but nothing was done to help this country to find alternatives. The way in which Western Europe solves problems of development in Eastern Europe could be interesting for the South. It might open ways for the South to also contribute because, by solving these problems, we can obtain a global view of development problems. In Western Europe, and in the US, poverty is increasing. Together with the present economic and financial crisis, there are development problems which should be jointly solved. The initiatives are not coming from the West and this, in my mind, is the main problem.
Mr Nelson Agyemang: There is the impression that, as with the South, all that needs to be done is to call on Eastern Europe to give money and that sort of thing. But there is also the need to remind ourselves more of the issue of global interdependence, for ethical, historical and, more importantly, practical reasons. For example, Somalia was forgotten as somebody has already mentioned. For practical reasons we should think more in terms of global interdependence and be able to take more concrete actions, instead of just thinking of South-East finances and if people will give money. Of course, many ordinary people will be happy if you are going to give money, but the more thoughtful people in the Third World know that basic problems are not solved by just giving money. There is a need for the world to show genuine concern. Somebody was also expressing interest in South Korea and other places. Those countries developed because the world showed genuine concern for the need to co-operate with them. Japan is a case in point. Somebody showed an interest. Global interdependence has brought Japan, Taiwan, Korea and all the other countries to the level they are at now. If we do not show this concern, we neglect it to our own detriment. The West, for example, is now faced with a major migration problem from the South and for that reason alone you have the responsibility of making sure that there is regard for global interdependence. Aid is only one of the solutions.
Mr Milan Bunata, Green Net Foundation, Prague, CSFR: In the past we were living with information uniformity, but since that there has been a certain kind of schizophrenia in people's minds. We had always been taught that South Korea was a "bad" country. Then the situation suddenly changed and the country organised the Olympic Games just as well as the US. Ethiopia was always mentioned as the best socialist state in Africa and then, two years ago, there was the famine. Chile was a bad dictatorship with high unemployment and where people were not well off. Today we see that the country is better off than the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. It must be realised that these examples are deep in people's minds and we do not know if they are able to give so much aid to the South.
Mr Rudy de Meyer, NGOS, Brussels, Belgium: In a way, we fall into a trap when we Use the notion of interdependence as introduced into the discussion in the 1980s. At that time, it was a general global analysis, a basis for a global strategy with capital transfer to the South from the North, especially from the West and the mutual benefits that both blocks would derive from it. A lot has happened since then. We have already talked much about the fact that the Eastern bloc is no longer a bloc and there are several integration processes taking place. We should be conscious of the fact that a lot of energy and time has been invested in attempts to get rid of the Southern bloc as well. We still talk about the East, West, South and North, yet, during the last few years, there has been a real disintegration of the Southern bloc, especially in the approach of the North vis-a-vis the South. A US representative to an UNCTAD meeting, speaking about "end of the bloc approach'' argued that we should no longer talk about the Third World, but about the South. The Third World did not exist for her any more. In the world there are countries with different development experiences that do not need any special treatment and there is no need for a reshuffling of the international trade and finance system. What it boils down to, basically, is that we should apply the market model in the way it was promoted at that time. Interdependence will now be like a contract, or a mutual benefit, between blocs. It will be more individualised and more selective. Economic decision will increasingly centre in the North. The countries of the North will be dependent, not on the South as such, but on individual countries which they need in their own economic and political systems or for the environment. Interdependence will not be a global strategy, but a selective process.
Mr Ivan Dejmal, Environmental Society, Prague, CSFR: It has been said here that trade and economic interdependence is needed in East-West-South relations. This, to my mind, is a rather dangerous statement. Of all transported commodities, 96% are transported to places where the same commodities are already produced and which are moved to other places. This enormous transfer, Using many of the world's resources, should be stopped. With interdependence, we would only trade those products which are not available in a given locality and we would not bring goods to a place where there are similar products and try to promote them in an aggressive way. These are statements economists do not like to hear. But we have to abolish those economic laws which dictate society and, instead, we should subordinate economics to the needs of the country.
Mr Daniel Nelson, the Panos Institute, London, the United Kingdom: First, I want to comment on diplomats as I find it very hard to feel sorry for the unemployed diplomats who have been an influential part of the completely wasted decades. They went to developing countries and interpreted everything for their home capitals and completely missed the development dimensions in which the developing countries were interested. Thirty years were wasted through their efforts. I just do not think that the diplomats represent co-operation with the developing world, just because they have been there. Somebody once said that a diplomat is an honest man who lies for his country.
Second, it seems that two sets of language are used here. I think we have been "out of sync" in terms of time. Economic integration, global management and interdependence set off alarm bells for many of us. Partly as a result of the experience in Rio and partly as a result of the last few years and development experience, the terms global management and interdependence have become very discredited terms. They seem to mean Northern control of Southern resources. This will be one of the difficulties as NGOs from the East, West and South do not seem to be defining the terms in the same way. It seems that GATT and other weapons of economic integration will be terribly damaging, whilst they are also linked to the aid debate. It is not about money, but about justice which is what we are really fighting for on the issues of international trade, economic systems, the reversal of financial flows and the whole interdependence questions raised at Rio. An example of where it all crystallised was the Northern attempt in Rio, on George Bush's instructions, to negotiate a tropical convention, instead of looking at the problems in the US. Again and again, interdependence has come to mean doing something in the South to solve global problems, rather than changing the American way of life. As he actually said himself "The American way is not up for grabs." And if you start on that basis, interdependence does not really mean anything. i should say that people in this part of the world who feel a little insular should not for apologise it. People everywhere in the world are amazingly ignorant about the rest of the world.
Mr Nelson Agyemang: The issue of justice is the basic question we have to address. Whether we define it in terms of the 80s or 90s is not really the question. The basic question which Central and East Europe needs to learn about is the issue of justice in the quest to find a new interpretation for a relationship with other parts of the world.
Mr Pieter van Rossem: For me the discussion this afternoon stresses the need for development education on not only the South' but also East-South relations. This should not be omitted. For instance, there are protests from the South when people in the East say that they do not want to discuss socialism any more. A number of countries in the South have taken Up certain items from that kind of socialism which they think were very good. YOU cannot say that because you do not want to discuss the issue, it should be dropped. It has been said that the East gave money to the wrong partners. NGOs in Western Europe would say that the aid the East has given Up Until the recent revolution has been very important aid to, for instance Mozambique and Vietnam, which did not receive other aid because of the Cold War.
The discussion about democracy should also be continued. Occasionally we hear voices saying that we should postpone democracy, as it is not that important, while the economy should come first. Please consult a number of people in the South about what will happen when democracy and certain rights are repeatedly postponed. It will be very hard to get back to this. Human rights cannot be put aside, they are vital for democracy and for development. There are a number of issues behind this discussion about development education which are important when talking with the partners in the South, like socialism, human rights, the International Monetary Fund. Certain issues just cannot be postponed.
"What can we learn from each other?"
"How can we learn from each other?"
Mr Jan Pakulski North-South Centre, Lisbon, Portugal
Youth for Development and Co-operation (YDC), Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This morning's session will centre, first of all, on the question of "What can we learn from each other?" Yesterday we had a chance to find out more about "us", our different backgrounds and our different perceptions of what we are discussing. The second question is "How can we learn from each other?" And that is, in my mind, exactly the main thrust of the idea. How we can brainstorm, exchange ideas and information, how can we reach people in our constituencies, countries and societies? Being aware of a very large diversity of issues we cover and the very large diversity of organisations we come from, I still think that focusing on methods, rather than on issues, is very useful. Methodology will remain diversified and there is much scope for learning from each other, which is exactly what we have requested our speakers to do.
Mr Helmuth Hartmeyer Austrian Information Service for Development Policy (OIE), Vienna, Austria
The questions "What can we learn from each other" and "How can we learn from each other?" may be simple, but the answers are rather difficult. First of all I want to take this opportunity to thank you for appointing me one of the speakers at this workshop this morning. Talking from my experience, I fully agree with the assumption that public awareness on global issues is a key answer to the main challenges for today's world. I started out as a teacher at a Viennese high school in 1972, before joining the Austrian Information Service (ÖIE) to concentrate on development policy in 1982. I first worked in the information department and I was elected as ÖIE's director in 1986. ÖIE is a development NGO with more than 2000 members, including more than 200 organisations, from various political and social sectors.
ÖIE's main task is development information. A monthly magazine is published, public campaigns are set up, brochures and leaflets are edited and relations with the media are maintained. A second task is education. ÖIE provides teacher training courses, organises seminars and activities for children and produces and distributes pedagogical material. During the One World campaign reading materials for children on environment and development co-operation were published with the North-South Centre. ÖIE writes critical reviews of films, slides, videos and also publishes films and slides which are available all over Austria to be used by teachers and educationalists.
Exhibitions are staged and cultural events and discussion groups are organised as well. And, lastly, ÖIE engages in development action. It lobbies for various urgent actions and also co-operates with a number of official commissions. Development sheets are published and distributed. They are short leaflets with suggestions for action on the back cover. The main issues are environment, debt, trade, women, democracy, human rights and international and Austrian development policies. These issues also determine national and international co-operation. An example is national networking. ÖIE has a working unit on development co-operation, of which I am secretary, which is struggling at the moment for a new legal basis for development co-operation in Austria. A second example is that ÖIE co-ordinates platforms for development and environment NGOs. This corresponds with the pre-, and now post-, UNCED processes.
ÖIE is involved internationally in the EURODAD campaign of Transfair to support fairer trade, in coffee for example, for developing countries. We are also involved in WIDE (Women in Development Europe), Towns and Development and the North-South Centre, which acts as the contact point for NGOs in Austria and where I have had the honour of working as a tutor in Lisbon for the last two months.
The structure of the organisation is a federal one. There is a head office in Vienna with a staff of 15 and we have nine regional offices with a total staff of 29 people. Total annual turnover is 22 million Austrian shillings (approximately FF 11 million, CK 60 million). Fifty percent of the income comes from the Austrian State Secretary for Development Co-operation, while the rest is spilt into support from the Ministry of Education, regional funding and various forms of co-operation for certain events. Sales of our products and services account for about 10% of our income and membership fees and donations constitute another 10%. ÖIE has two bookshops in Vienna, in order to put the work on a sounder economic basis, and has installed an Austrian-wide delivery of books, various goods from the developing world and a direct mailing system to raise further funds.
I want to confront you with a few conclusions from ÖIE's work. I would state that a conception of purely passing on information does not work. Information must be organised as a process. What we should talk about is communication and the exchange of information. An attitude of "I have the answers and the facts and I have to implant these in my target group, in my victim" does not produce any positive results. Moreover, I claim that we do not lack information. What we lack is wisdom. And wisdom has to address one's whole personality. Changes in attitudes and behaviour cannot be prescribed. We can only promote a process which in due course may lead to changes. Secondly, awareness-raising is more than marketing, although we should apply modern forms of relations and marketing. Awareness-raising is about participation and about people and asks for patience and continuity. Moreover, the practice of democratic education means education in all its complexity, diversity and in all its dialectics. But as such it is a must and pre-requisite for any democratic society and policy. Third, if awareness-raising is about people, then it is also about the prejudices of people, their fears, their wishes and their socio-economic environment. This must be taken into account more seriously than is presently the case. We must understand and respect the feelings of the people we want to address before our work must be very realistic and very close to life. The growing individualisation of our society, of Austrian society and other societies, has promoted the loss of values and common identities and gives way to various nationalistic, and sometimes very radical,
leaders and promotes simplistic concepts. It would be wrong if we, as an answer to the global situation, threaten people with the situation and make them feel guilty. Threats and guilt are bad advisers and produce apathy. Public awareness-raising should motivate, inspire and empower the individual and, in the end, strengthen co-operation and forms of resistance.
Finally, public awareness-raising is more about issues than about politics. What we, in general, lack in our work is the searching for the key demands of liveliness, openness and creativity which makes people and children curious. Dogmatism and fanaticism sometimes create barriers which we want to tear down. Searching for new partners is more fruitful and leads to more success than concentrating on enemies and rigid principles. What I am saying is a plea for experiments, for innovations and for the crossing of regional and national borders. I am grateful to be here in one of my neighbouring countries. We are crossing borders as far as issues and disciplines are concerned. What we need is a multi-disciplinary approach in methodology.
I want to conclude my presentation with a few concrete examples of what ÖIE is doing at the moment. So-called "world workshops" are organised to which individuals are invited to come together for a day or two to exchange their experience to issues like trade, debt, women or the environment. After two phases of: a critical reflection of the issues and of fantasy and vision, the participants tackle reality in the last phase. The reality as we come across it in our country is very much a reality of the egos. What can I, as a person, do? How can I change consumption patterns? How can I act locally? The second question which is often asked is "How can I communicate at work, at school and at home?" And the third question is "If I know all that I have read and that you have told me, how can I then interfere?" Let me give you two examples. We had a very successful campaign sending soil to the Ministry of Agriculture so that it could be "on firmer ground" during the GATT negotiations. We also sent money to the Minister of Finance in order to help him with debt relief. Both things caused chaos in the administration, there was a public reaction and the media paid attention to these actions. A dialogue developed and we published a book called "Thirty-Three tips for you and me and what can I do?" At the moment we are producing a yearbook of good ideas and I am sure that this is going to be a bestseller.
The point is, first, to come from information, through experience, to action. Secondly, regarding children, we do not want to manipulate children but it is very important to start at an early age. We have a campaign called "Children ask clever questions". 18,000 children have, so far, taken part in this Austrian-wide action. A children's conference will be held in June as one of the high points. The idea is that children confront their parents, schoolteachers, shopkeepers, with their very way of life and initiate a rethinking and possibly a change. The central issues covered are chocolate, meat and aluminium. Thirdly, ÖIE staged a two-year course on development policy. The fourth course is presently taking place and people are still queuing up to participate. People come together for four seminars and meet in regional seminars and work together in project groups. The point is that if people really want to be confronted with global issues, in a way which is not a mere intellectual and academic exercise but in a way which "hurts", then they have to take the time for it. A two-year course provides time, patience, a certain atmosphere and trust, i.e. it sets the right framework.
Fourthly, ÖIE has brought the idea of climate alliance to Austria which so far has been successful. Five out of the country's nine regions, representing more than half the population, have joined. They promise three things. First of all, ecologically, to restructure their own communities. The main aim is to reduce carbon emissions with 50% by the year 2010 which is very ambitious, but work has began to realise it. Secondly, to enhance public information on global issues. If a mayor signs within the alliance, he/she promises to do something in the community to improve development education and information. Thirdly, these towns promise to give financial support to projects in the rainforest promoting sustainable development.
A fortnight ago ÖIE launched a project in which people from all political and social sectors took part. The environment and development were the main issues this year. This conference showed that there is awareness of these issues, but the question is how to actually achieve change. My personal conclusion is that one must continually fight for democratisation and participation. We have to strive for an integrated concept in all development and awareness-raising activities, especially if they are set to work against the officially declared policy in one's country. Accepting this demands the willingness to dialogue and co-operation and, as a final plea, the continuous process of learning.
Ms Elizabeth Mumbi King'ori, Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya
First of all I want to say, like many others said yesterday, that I believe in global interdependence. All the resources of Mother Earth are linked and we are all thus linked interdependently. We cannot afford to ignore global problems. What goes on in one part of the world will, eventually, affect all us in the rest of the world, whether economically, socially or politically. It is important for everybody in the North and in the South to realise this.
I would like to share with you some of my experience as a person from a developing country in Africa, in general, and Kenya in particular. I hope that from sharing we will learn from each other. I will briefly start with the experience of interdependence in Africa, because it relates to the situation in the East now. In the early 1960s, it was an exiting time in Africa. It was a period of hope for the people, for this continent had gone through a period which they wanted to forget, a period of slavery and colonialism. This time, the African leaders were determined to catch up with the leaders of the developed world. They wanted to eliminate poverty and disease and to do so as quickly as possible. African countries started to follow the development model of the industrialised countries. At this stage they received substantial aid from the Western economies and the economy seemed to grow. It was soon realised, however, that development had not reached the stage it should. People's expectations had not been met. We are now very far from where we wanted to be and the gap between the developing and developed countries is becoming larger. People in the South started to become disillusioned with the kind of aid they were getting from the West. It was obvious to many that problems of poverty and environmental degradation would not be solved by this aid, but through solving other issues like fair trade, removing the debt and justice.
Alternative solutions have been proposed ever since the realisation that development would not continue in the desired way as long as the terms of trade are determined in the West. Unfortunately, people in developing countries are so busy meeting the minimum basic requirements of life that they do not have the time to look for other solutions.
There are a number of local initiatives and I would like to share one example of such an initiative.
In the late 1960s and the early 1970s there was a problem in Kenya, and other African countries with the preservation of wildlife. My country is blessed with a wide diversity of wildlife, both flora and fauna, but there was little conservation. In 1968, a group of Kenyan students came together and decided that more should be done on the conservation of natural resources. The focus was on wildlife at that time. The students wanted to run a conservation awareness programme on an informal basis and form clubs within their schools which could be concerned about conservation. They went with such a request to the Minister of Education who reacted favourably. They then looked for ways to set up an organisation and found a volunteer who was willing to start it. Since then the organisation has grown from a secretariat with volunteers to one with 30 full time paid staff members and four volunteer workers. The membership has also grown from the initial representatives of the twelve schools involved to one of over 1000 clubs in schools and colleges all over the country.
Wildlife Clubs of Kenya is able to spread the message of conservation through various publications which are sent out to club members. It also organises seminars and workshops for students and teachers. There is a mobile education unit which goes out to the schools and colleges where we take slide shows and talk on whatever topic the club members request. There are hostels which serve as education centres. Club members come to hear lectures, see slide shows or be taken on a guided tour to various places. Rallies and exhibitions take place in several regions in the country. Individual clubs organise exhibitions where they show what they are doing to educate others and to raise awareness of conservation issues. They also fund-raise by, for instance, selling T-shirts. During these rallies there are cultural songs and dances which relate to environmental conservation. Club members are also involved in lobbying and demonstrations for change.
The secretariat also holds competitions for club members and awards prizes for various essay, art and poetry competitions. Bus tours are organised to areas of conservationist concern. We deal with issues like tree-planting, in schools and communities. There are small projects, like constructing a fish pond in a school. Members study the environment which is around them and we stress the indigenous knowledge which is now slowly being forgotten. We like them to identify the kind of plants and animals surrounding them, as well as their indigenous knowledge on the environment.
These are some of the activities that the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya are involved in. But we attempt to do more than that. For instance, we try to exchange information with other countries. For the past two years, there has been an exchange programme with Dutch students. Through the Dutch Youth Programme we try to focus on raising awareness among the Dutch youth on conservation issues in our country and in the Netherlands. The students go to each other's countries for three months. Further, we have volunteers who help with the sharing of information. Currently, we have one person from Japan, one from the United States and one from the United Kingdom who help in the exchange of ideas and the spreading of information. We hope that they will go back to their country to share more information on the situation in Kenya and in other developing countries.
Another example is the various women groups. These build on the African tradition of helping one another, co-operating with each other and sharing information. There is also a self-help movement to which donations are given to help local schools and hospitals. It started in colonial times and continued afterwards when people felt they were not receiving the kind of education they wanted. They decided to then provide the education themselves. These are only some of the examples of awareness programmes in developing countries.
To conclude, I would just like to say that any awareness programmes that are initiated should be based on needs as identified by the people themselves. They should be built on those needs and on the local situation of the people. The awareness programmes should also be two-way. We often talk about awareness-raising in the North, but we really need to have global awareness in the South. Because there are many stereotypes of the East in the South, there is a need for this kind of global awareness.
Mr Ivan Dejmal, Ekologicka Spolecnust, Prague, the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic
I can inform you about what I have been dealing with as a Minister of Environment and what NGOs are trying to do in this respect. The Ministry of Environment is a strict body concerned with the environment and set Up only after the political changes in 1989. Before that we, of course, paid attention to the environment and to education, particularly to official environmental degradation. Two organisations, one of them concerned with the security of environmental conservation and the other, a movement which was part of the Socialist Youth Union, organised summer camps on environmental protection. Both organisations were also involved in systematic action in schools and extremely good results were achieved in this way. Teachers were very enthusiastic about environmental protection in these schools and devoted their free time to informing the children. This work was not supported by the state administration. Their work was very important as at least 50% of those involved in environmental protection were educated by teachers who took part in these camps.
A new approach to environmental education had to be sought after the changes in 1989. We tried to learn about models elsewhere in the world. We were also trying to find out what the role of the federal administration should be in environmental education. The conclusion we arrived at was that environmental protection, if it is not only to be one of the subjects at school, must be part of extra curricular education, even though it is carried out in schools. The core of the educational work must be entrusted to external experts, which is why we have accepted this strategy for environmental education. According to this strategy, the role of the state and society is to provide, through institutions, the scope for initiatives of environmental groups. As for export assistance, the state is supposed to assist the establishment of environmental sectors. The National Centre of Environmental Education plays a central role because it is considered a place at which individual ideas and methods of education can crystallise, as it were. It was clear that such a centre could not be created artificially. We, therefore, announced a public competition for the establishment of this centre. The competition was won by the Centre of Environmental Education, which established the National Centre for Environmental Education.
Environmental education is only one of the activities of NGOs and environmental movements. Public opinion is, of course, much more influenced by environmental activities and campaigns. We have learned several things in this respect. Our first experience was of environmental campaigns organised Under the old regime, when our protests against environmental destruction were supported by the public and we used to win the sympathy of the whole nation. It was sympathy without opposition to the totalitarian regime. That is why, after the first free elections, environmental protection was the second priority issue of the population in ail the public opinion polls. At the moment these issues appear somewhere between the sixth and tenth place in public priorities. This proves that the earlier interest shown was not genuine. Nevertheless, it did create a much better climate for our work.
An example of this from recent times are the horse races which take place in the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. These horse races probably have the most difficult obstacles in the world. A number of horses are injured and die each year. An organisation which uses extreme methods to protect animals, organised for the second time this year, a large demonstration against those horse races. Their activity, of course, interfered with the race. People are very reluctant to see the rational element in the behaviour of animal protectionists who claim that animals should not be used for human entertainment and if they are used as such, the activity should not lead to their death. The public, somehow, does not seem to understand this. While the same discussion incited much more understanding in the past, the demonstrators are now publicly considered as hooligans. Today, public opinion is different from the past when it supported the elimination of the above-mentioned hurdles.
Another example of an issue we had already experienced with the old regime concerns the level of environmental ignorance amongst the general public. Our society was a rather industrial society with successful results, though it otherwise was a classic industrial society with all the negative impacts on the environment. Nowadays people also expect to see the good results. Any attempt at the rationalisation of industrial activities which have destructive effects on the environment are understood by the public as depriving them of the fruits of civilisation. This could be an expression of a belief that people today can finally consume the results of industrial production. Yet, they need to become aware that there are people on this planet who do not live as well as they do and they should voluntarily try to lead a more responsible lifestyle. They refuse to do this at present which is why we are now confronted with an enormous barrier in our way. Environmentalists alone will not be able to roll this stone away and we need to choose the path which leads to assistance.
Chairperson: Ms Fionnuala Brennan
This session is devoted to looking at the role of the media and its extreme importance in influencing public opinion. We have four journalists to address this issue. Josef Vesely from the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic who is the foreign desk editor of Dnes, the number one newspaper here with 70.9% of total readership. The paper is now privately owned, is involved in a joint venture with a French company and produces half a million copies daily. Daniel Nelson is a journalist who has worked for and edited newspapers and magazines in Asia, Africa and the United Kingdom. Slavomir Hajet is from the Ecumenical Council of Churches and is starting an ecumenical journal. He describes himself as an amateur journalist. Federico Nier-Fischer is from Uruguay and is the director, and a correspondent, for Inter Press Service in Austria.
Mr Josef Vesely
As a professional journalist, I would like to share with you my experience of working for newspapers for over 25 years. I know thousands of journalists in the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic and abroad and I would also like to share some of their experiences related to the topics we are discussing.
Colleagues from NGOs have said, during our deliberations here, that some elements of the past totalitarian regime should not be discarded because they might have their value for the future. I believe that the interest journalists have in the problems of the Third World is one of these elements. When we were not allowed to report truthfully on certain events happening here and abroad, many of my colleagues tried to fulfil their potential as journalists, reporting fairly without any subjectivity, by writing about far away countries. A number of my colleagues, working not only for the daily papers but also for various illustrated magazines, often used sponsors and their own resources to travel to Africa and Asia. They, of course, also wanted to benefit financially from this and published features illustrated with photographs in local papers and magazines. This need taught them to work in a positive way. If we compare this experience of many Czech and Slovak journalists, who in this way tried to acquaint their readers with distant countries, with the present situation there is an interesting disproportion. Today, the borders are open and we can write about topics which were taboo in the past, including problems in the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic and in neighbouring countries. Countries like the United States, South Korea and South Africa which had previously been "forbidden" countries have, nowadays, become the prime focus of my colleagues. They travel to these countries and inform the public here about events there as they know nothing about them. In relation to the reports on these countries, the number of articles written on the Third World is decreasing.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the former government had many cultural agreements with, amongst others, developing countries. These agreements always included an obligatory clause about the exchange of journalists and other personalities. When the state signed such an agreement, it had to support, directly or indirectly, trips of journalists to developing nations. This meant that besides the personal interest of journalists in the Third World, there was also a kind of pressure exerted by the administration in order to fulfil the clauses included in the cultural agreement. I will not assess the materials they published afterwards, but some facts, data and information, which were published in different forms, were distorted. Besides these distortions, there were descriptions of ordinary life in those countries which were very Useful to the reader.
Currently, I believe, it is a moral issue for journalists whether they become involved in the complicated matters of developing countries, or whether, having the freedom and the finances, they prefer to cover more attractive areas like South Africa, Honolulu, the United States and South Korea. I would like to ensure you that, on our paper, there are a number of young colleagues with moral responsibility and strength who are getting ready to travel to several developing countries, including those where journalistic work is very hard and where it is physically difficult to travel, such as Somalia. On behalf of them, I can promise you that we do realise that our responsibility is to realistically illustrate the world to our readers. We are very happy to be engaged in realistic reporting and we shall not sacrifice this. We will certainly write openly about all the global problems and not describe situations in rosy colours. Such reporting should create an interest amongst our readers, so that they themselves might try to find further information. This may be our modest contribution to the realisation of global interdependence.
Mr Daniel Nelson
With horror, I noticed that this session is called "How the Media Influences Public Opinion". All the academic resources in Britain suggest that the media does not change attitudes, but that it reinforces existing ones. So, I will talk about how to influence the media. It is called "media management" and everybody engages in it, except for sometimes, it seems, NGOs who really need to engage in this too.
Media management is actually very easy. Journalists want a story and if you can provide a story, it will usually be used. The difficulty comes in agreeing with a journalist what a story is. A very non-controversial example of what I believe to be a big story, is that 40,000 children under five years of age die each day from preventable illnesses. This ought to be in every newspaper because it is a large number of deaths. In fact, the only time it reaches the news is once a year when the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) presents its "State of the World Children Report". It is not news because it is a process and not an event. Journalists are absolutely hopeless about reporting processes as they do not know how to work on that. Also, 40,000 deaths is a fact of life, it is like the sunrise and journalists do not like to report on the facts of life because, by definition, it is not news and not out of the ordinary.
Journalists have to be convinced that whatever you would like them to write about is not a fact of life, but that there is someone who is to blame. That if, in the case of the 40,000 deaths, governments, NGOs, pharmaceutical companies, doctors or all of them took action, they could prevent these deaths. This is what UNICEF has gradually started to do over the years. It began by pointing the finger and blaming people. It was a very daring step for a United Nations' (UN) agency at first and, in fact, they got into terrible trouble with the director of the International Monetary Fund. Journalists have picked up on the idea that the deaths are preventable, someone is to blame and is doing or not doing something. UNICEF is in this sense a very good example of an organisation that has influenced the media or, to be more precise, that has influenced a very tiny part of the media on a very specific subject. That is an achievement and it was done through all the usual techniques which are actually open to everybody. Catchy phrases were used. Instead of saying "40,000 children die every day", phrases were invented which were included in UNICEF's press releases, like "The number of deaths equals the toll from 100 jumbo jets crashes each day". UNICEF staff argued that journalists would write about this, so why could they not write about these deaths as well. Informing on oral rehydration therapy, which is a simple and cheap mixture that can save the lives of many children, they say: "Oral rehydration therapy - the greatest medical breakthrough of the century", which is what the British Medical Magazine called it. Journalists like the biggest, the smallest, the largest, the shortest, the most serious, the first. Anything like that is automatically news. Diarrhoea is, for instance, the biggest killer of children today. It is not news that Nelson (Agyemang) comes to Prague, but if he comes as the first Ghanian, or the first since a certain event, or the last Ghanian, it is news. The message needs to be broken down for different markets.
NGOs are terrible complainers as they say that the media do not report what they say. Yet, they do not aim the message enough at the right market. The business pages would not be interested in a story about child deaths, but it would be interested when you talk in terms of the number of sales and profits of companies who make oral rebydration therapy, firms who produce measles vaccines or those who are marketing cows milk, one of the causes of children's deaths, against UN guidelines. I have myself been writing about these stories and they have all appeared on the business pages of newspapers. The medical magazines will take a story about doctors who refuse to prescribe oral rehydration therapy because they do not make any profit from it, or companies who research anti-diarrhoea drugs. The "lifestyle" pages will take stories on the myths of diarrhoea, e.g. that you should stop feeding a child with diarrhoea, which is one of the worse things you could do, or about the dangers of antibiotics which are now grotesquely misused, in both the North and the South. Due to this misuse, many doctors predict that antibiotics could well be useless within 20 years. Encourage journalists to write features by turning obvious statements around or by suggesting that keeping babies alive actually helps to decrease the birth rate. Journalists are quite ignorant, which is something that should not be underestimated.
If all else fails and you cannot get your story into any paper or magazine, then write letters. In Britain, it is almost impossible at the moment to get articles written by journalists in the mainstream newspapers which are critical of the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The consensus is that the trade arrangements are good news. Some development agencies have had several good and punchy newsletters published on this subject. Journalists often monitor the letter page and they may pick up on something and subsequently write an article on it. The more newspapers and the stronger the specialised press, the easier it is to direct a message. It is very hard to get into the large prestigious television programmes or the big national newspapers. A story in a local paper or a specialist publication can carry a lot of weight and will often be picked up by a journalist. The main source of stories for journalists are actually other journalists. We are not writing literature, but we are actually plagiarising and taking each others' ideas. If something has been published it is, by definition, news. Once a story is in a small paper, it may appear somewhere else.
Conversely, do not expect everything you say to be reported. The truth is that most of it will be ignored. In addition to providing specific stories, build up a reputation of reliability and do not exaggerate and pretend that what you have is more important than it is. Most of all, do not complain when stories are not used. Your story is one of thousands every day and be patient when journalists ask you idiotic questions and then ignore your very sensible answers. One area that has changed in the UK is that NGOs are now allowed to write their own stories due to the trust they have built up. Five years ago, an organisation may or may not have persuaded a newspaper to write a story for it, but a member of staff would not have written it, being a non-professional and biased. Increasingly, however, NGOs have build Up such expertise that they are seen as authorities and allowed to write articles directly. They will certainly be turned to for a quote and so get their name in print with a succinct comment. Yet, it remains important to lobby and to "spoon-feed" journalists.
One of the developments in news management is something Margaret Thatcher started when going on foreign trips. She would not take the diplomatic or foreign correspondents as these might know too much about the country she would visit. Instead, she insisted that the correspondents she knew, often the lobby and parliamentary correspondents, went into the aircraft with the free seats because they could be briefed and had no real background in foreign affairs. When John Major came to the Rio Summit, the correspondents were not briefed very well either. At the end of the press conference, OXFAM, Action Aid, Christian Aid and other NGOs would be present to ask them if they realised that the British aid budget had been cut in the last five years and also gave them the figures. The organisations more or less gave the correspondents the stories in this way. They would often not be quoted, but the message had at least come across.
Over all, the standard of reporting on development issues has improved quite radically in recent years in Britain, largely through the efforts of NGOs. All this stems from the invention in Asia by a group of journalists about 30 years ago of something which used to be called "development journalism". If a journalist went to Zimbabwe 10 or 15 years ago, he/she would probably do a story about the personality of Robert Mugabe or lan Smith. Today, he/she would actually refer to population growth, employment generation, the prices of commodities, health issues, etc. Through intense lobbying and educating journalists, the message can come across that these issues matter and that reporting is not about simple personality politics. Yet, it is also necessary to say that, in Britain, there is a very sharp division between the so-called quality newspapers and the tabloid or gutter press. The qualities can be influenced, but the tabloids have not been reached. They continue to purvey ignorant rubbish and nobody has yet found a way of altering their editorial agenda. Similarly, the frequency and standard of television documentaries on development issues are very high, but television news continues to be absolutely appalling, in my opinion. Like the tabloid newspapers, it is far more influential than the documentaries. It is very important to keep these differences in mind when discussing the media. The media is not monolithic, it is in segments of specialised and general newspapers, radio, television, and so on.
In short, do not expect to change the media as you are not able to. Do not expect the media to be an ally as it will not be. You can, to some extent, use it to put your views across in a limited way and that is probably, except in the very long term, all you can do.
Finally, I want to mention racism which is something that seems to have become very important to me as a journalist in the past five years. All European culture is steeped in racism for reasons I will not go into now. But, during the last 20 years, Western Europe, following the United States, has begun to look for ways of tackling its racism, not only by legislation and through organisations such as the Commission for Racial Equality, but also by codes of conduct for journalists which some of us keep and others do not. But they do exist. Almost all the major NGOs have a code of practice for the use of photographic images, which is really quite new, about the type of picture they will release to the public. In my opinion, racism has been fuelled, not caused, by the activities of NGOs, especially their fund-raising activities. Their constant images of famine, starving children and disasters, which they feel they have to use to raise money, have reinforced racist stereotypes in Britain in a very alarming way. If you see North-South relations in terms of aid or emotive images of suffering, even if it is to raise money, you too will reinforce racism. Although we always talk about the victims of racism, rightly, as they are at the sharp end, it is rarely pointed out that racism also corrupts the racist. If it is left to flourish, it will corrupt our societies even more.
Mr Slavomir Hajet
I am going to speak in a slightly different vein. I am concerned about the superficiality of the approach to problems of global interconnection and aid to the Third World. The time period we are now in is a phase of history which is very important. It is a phase of transition from a world divided into several more or less separate civilisations, into a world of one global civilisation. This process is obviously a very complex and complicated one. It means that the big cultures, or civilisations, thanks to scientific and technological progress, have all come together, as if to a single backyard, and all more or less clash together. This brings terrible destruction and this is probably the most important element in history today.
An example is Marxism, to which we, in this part of the world, have been strongly sensitised. It was invented as a socio-economic theory in the West in the last century. It predicted the development of Western industrialised society. That prediction did not come true and Marxism was adopted in non-industrialised, agricultural Russia. It was implanted there very inorganically and it played terrible havoc. It was also implanted further away from its place of origin, in China for instance, and it still plays terrible havoc there. This phenomenon of cultural inventions that rise in one part of the world and are transposed in quite different parts of the world, as I say "inorganically" without the factor of steady growth is disastrous. Western civilisation, as such, is to a great extent also acting as such an influence in non-Western parts of the world. We know that the Islamic countries, for example, are reacting vigorously and wildly to this impact of Western civilisation which comes without due sensitivity for local conditions and cultures and acts in many profound ways destructively.
On the other hand, the Far East has also begun to influence life
in the West. High immigration, cultural and religious influences. All these
processes have, of course, not culminated by far. The world, in global terms, is
facing a very difficult time. This is a time of profound instability as whole
cultures are being gnawed at and erode and life is negatively influenced by
politics or, on a social scale, down to family life and to personal world
outlook. The feeling of security is weakening in all parts of the world. These
are aspects which should be looked at and given due analysis and attention. The
serious press should also pay increased attention to this.
There is hardly any hope that, in some way, in the time ahead of us, means will be found for channelling all these profound changes which are taking place and which, I believe, are in fact signs of the emerging world civilisation. What should be done is to create, say, braintrust groups that pay attention to problems related to these global interconnections and try to find solutions. These study groups must be untraditional because the situation is so completely new and should, gradually, make the public aware of the complexity and the gravity of the situation. Again, the times ahead of us will be very difficult times. They should also concentrate on building up a global ethos. An ethical system which would be mitigated, if accepted or expected to be accepted, during this great transition. Hans King has written a very interesting book called "The World Ethos, A Project' in which he stresses the importance of dialogue between the main religions and the significance of that dialogue for world peace. The moment of dialogue on all cultural levels is something which cannot be overestimated. Let me end by stating my appreciation for the dialogue of which I have, in part, been involved.
Mr Federico Nier-Fischer
The distortion of actual information, the production, use and presence of such information, together with what NGOs could learn from this process, is what I would like to talk about. The media, basically, exists to entertain an audience. Once it succeeds in doing so, it can sell the audience to the advertisers. That is the work of the media in a market society. Its role is not to inform, before having to report on certain events would be too restrictive and, in any case, there is nobody to say what to report about. The media people, therefore, feel it is necessary to entertain, to win a certain audience and to then sell this audience in order to get revenue. That is the business of the media today.
On an international level, the distortion is produced by a total lack of pluralism. Pluralism is a value we should all realise and implement. There are only four news agencies for the print media providing the bulk of news, about 90%. Associated Press (AP), today the largest new agency, was founded in North America before the First World War with the argument that it was unacceptable that people should rely on what the British, French and Germans considered important in the world. The founders wanted to report for their own audience. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It was not seen as pluralistic or to have an own perspective. So the rest of the world, approximately 65% of the world's population, now rely on four new agencies: the British, German, French and North American. This, by far, cannot be said to be all the perspectives of what people consider important for themselves.
This is a distortion in the market. These new agencies have to build up telecommunication networks, use satellites and computers, i.e. create an infrastructure, while also employing thousands of people. Who will pay for that? Three of the news agencies are subsidised by very strong states. In the case of Agence France Press, 50% of the budget is subsidised by the French State, while in Germany every town has to subscribe to the Deutsche Press, which effectively works as an indirect subsidy. Not every state in the world is capable of doing so. Only one news agency, Reuter, is fully financed by the market. Services to the media constitute a mere 6% of Reuter's turnover. The rest comes from stock market services. For example, if you want to change money in Argentina, the change office will use the Reuter services available for easy dealings with US dollar, British sterling, Deutsche Mark, etc. It is a worldwide, and very differentiated network where revenue comes from services to, amongst others, banks and transnational corporations, i.e. providing telecommunication networks for those huge concentrations of money capable of paying for that. These are some of the distortions which explain who the partners in communications are, which partners are consultants and which have a voice that is heard and transmitted. It is important to analyse this.
Inter Press Service was launched 25 years ago and started an alternative type of coverage, despite the North Americans claiming that it must be a KGB exercise and the former Soviet Union saying it had to be a CIA exercise, as they could not imagine that the Third World could launch such an activity itself. The Northern societies, and the ruling interests therein, receive the information they need. But the Argentinian population might not agree with what the British or French think is important. The idea was to report not for the media here in Europe or North America, but in Latin America for the Latin American media and the same for Asia and Africa. The information would then pass on to other regions, but it originated in each developing area. The result was quite different from what the other news agencies were, and still are, producing.
There was a meeting in Mexico some time ago where the Latin American and North American Foreign Ministers met for the Organisation of American States. IPS asked the Mexican government to provide a small fund in order to make a simple analysis of the coverage of the largest North American news agency of that event. Of all its news, 70% concerned the US Secretary of State, what his opinions were before, on and after he got off the aeroplane, etc. There were many steps continually providing the latest news on how this event was interpreted by this man. Uruguay does not have a news agency, so a person buying a newspaper learns much about the North American's views, whom he/she does not even vote for, and very little about his/her own representative. This could be democratic scrutiny, though not as long as we are only informed about what the "others" consider important. The CIA was not needed to ensure this 70% coverage. This percentage is exactly the market share of AP in the US. Seventy percent of the turnover is made in the US, 14% in Europe and the rest from elsewhere in the world. The news agency would have worked against the market if it had produced that much coverage on the Mexican perspective. It would not have been interesting to their market. But, in the meantime' the rest of the region was not covered.
I work in Vienna as the chief editor for the German service of IPS and am involved in the production of the daily cast of news for the German speaking media, i.e. Germany, Switzerland and Austria. How to bring our news into that media has, for the past four years, been part of my exercise. We find that in the past two years in Eastern Europe, where you are organising the very substantial exercise of transforming these societies, most of the events are seen through the eyes of foreign correspondents. They come here and determine what is important to report and this is how, for instance, the Hungarians learn about the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. There is practically no international relationship on how the transition process reports itself nor on the experiences and views of the other media, which are important for the media in this region that is involved in a similar exercise.
It was difficult, at first, to bring development into the German-speaking media because the only player we had was the claim that the voices of the poor should also be heard, or something similar to this. It was like going to church to ask for a few shillings. When people see the development issue as a global problem and how they are directly affected, it gives, in these dimensions, the opportunity to include development. This should be considered when discussing strategies for the media. The prerequisite is, however, that the communication process opens to permit the voices of the affected societies in the Third World to be heard. Otherwise, the reaction would be too direct. For example, to the question of how to solve the problem of atmospheric change, the reply would be to protect the rainforests. If you do not hear about people working in these rainforests and how Brazilian society depends on them, you can easily decide to "protect the rainforests", instead of reducing the number of cars which are responsible for carbon dioxide emissions. Drug abuse happens predominantly in the rich countries, but the peasant producers of coca leaves in Latin America are blamed. We even know the faces of the so-called narcotics mafia instead of those directors of European banks who launder the money and of the people distributing the drugs here. Many European correspondents go to Colombia to learn about drugs, but the problem is here as long as there is a demand and the money to pay for it. The peasant in Latin America without an alternative will continue to produce. There are many global problems and the reaction is to blame those who cannot express what their needs are and the extent of their involvement in global problems.
The objective we may discuss now is the democratisation of national and international communication processes. To look not only at how to use the distorted media, but also at how to complement it, find alternatives and to promote these. We should not only depend on these partly monopolistic structures called "the media".
Chairperson: Ms Fionnuala Brennan
Ms Fionnuala Brennan: To briefly summarise these presentations, Josef Vesely talked about what he hopes will happen in the Czech and Slovak Republics in the reporting of Third World issues which his paper will cover realistically. Daniel Nelson gave many pointers on how NGOs can influence the media. Slavomir Hajet is very concerned about the difficult times ahead and the superficiality of images and approaches to global issues and the "inorganic" transplantation of ideologies, including Western civilisation. He calls for analyses of the complexity and gravity of the situation. Federico Nier-Fischer has focused on the distortion of information and how it has come about, and also on the need for the democratisation of national and international communication processes. I would now like to open the discussion to the floor.
Mr Josef Chromec, Opus Arabicum, Prague, OSFR: The situation in Western countries is that people do not get their picture of society from the mass media. Specifically in our society, during the totalitarian regime when one official position was stressed, the whole nation used to read the paper carefully in between the lines. So now people read all the newspapers and whatever the journalists says forms people's outlook. I heard this was not the same in the West. Journalists are responsible and, Unfortunately, they tend to keep to the principle of position. We need some independent views as well. People prefer to be entertained by the press, but they are also eager to get political news.
Mr Daniel Nelson: Everyone, everywhere, ought to read all newspapers in between the lines. People may be keen to get information, but the industry as a whole, this may also be true here in five years, wants to entertain because it has to deliver readers.
Mr Frantisek Vychodil, Kontinenty, Prague, CSFR: As a question directed to Mr Nier-Fischer, how, in relation to the monopolisation of information, do you evaluate the activities of the non-aligned countries with respect to the building up of information structures, information pools, etc.? Do you see any prospects for the International Information Order as it used to be discussed in the past? Will it have the same fate as the New International Economic Order (NIEO)?
Mr Nelson Agyemang, Youth for Population Information and Communication, Kumasi, Ghana: What the media has done is the commercialisation of negative images of the Third World, what, in part, Daniel Nelson has attributed to the NGOs. The issue is that the Eastern media should try to counter balance this. It may have had propaganda motives before, but it can focus on the more positive things. What is the trend now? Is there a tendency towards the monopolisation of the press or will the trend change in terms of genuine reporting on the South, highlighting also positive aspects. Is the media in the East joining the West? However motivated they may be, the pictures of Somalia are a snare to me and I hate it as much as you might. Most of Africa, and Somalia itself, is not like the images of the photographs.
Chairperson: First, please address the questions of the monopolisation of the press trends vis-à-vis more positive views of the South.
Mr Federico Nier-Fischer: The problem with the UN is that only governments are represented there. Governments are always trying to influence the information flow. The fight for independent journalists has to take place in every society. In Western countries, even in the UK which in a way has been a model for journalism in terms of style and format, this fight is still continuing. Democratisation will allow more voices to be heard. This does mean the use of governments. It can involve governments, but journalists need to be trained to act independently, consulting governments and NGOs and others, and to provide a fair range of views and panorama of the process. This is determined by a demand from a market which is emerging and growing. In Eastern Europe there is a demand for coverage on the transformation of these societies and there is a need to reflect the social transition and global issue as conceived by humanity today. The issue of women's rights is very important. A regression of these rights can presently be noticed. Also environmental issues, relations with the South, minority rights, etc. Many global dimensions should be reflected in coverage from Eastern Europe, instead of seeing where business can be done. This is very important for understanding what is happening in developing societies, the implementation of new emerging values of democracy which are presently not transmitted. This causes much misunderstanding and fighting and is systematically preventing co-operation. It is even an obstacle in East-South trade.
Chairperson: The next question was how the Eastern press will report news from the South. Will they follow Western images which are largely negative?
Mr Daniel Nelson: Alternative media is one of the great hopes that exists. It is really growing and IPS is just one example, others include Gemini, that I used to work for, APS in East Africa, Depth News in Asia. Many NGOs have good publications, Third World Features from Malaysia for instance, computer networks are beginning to run really well and there is a small agency in Switzerland financed by NGOs. There are a lot of good things happening which, in a small way, are quite influential. NGOs really have to use these as a stepping stone to the mainstream media, as well as creating a genuine alternative. I am not qualified to speak on the situation in Eastern Europe, but in the West things have improved quite considerably in terms of reporting the South amongst certain parts of the media, yet not among the very popular parts. As far as the New International Information Order is concerned, it is as dead as the NIEO, but the issues behind both of them still remain to be tackled. They have to be returned to in another way, but not under those same names.
Chairperson: Can I ask a reply to the question of whether the Eastern media is going to follow the same line as the Western media in negative reporting?
Mr Josef Vesely: On my computer, I am able to compare the Associated Press with our press agency and the reports by our correspondents. This is a big advantage as every day I have the possibility of making comparisons. After several months of carefully studying reports of the Associated Press, I do have the impression that it has a pluralistic view of the situation in Third World countries. There are, of course, several levels of AP reporting. The first level consists of short news flashes which are mentioned on the television or radio. These are more or less extremes, as they mainly focus on the State Secretary or on the Head of Government. But they also publish dozens of features and stories, including information on the former Yugoslavia and Somalia. Quite recently, we had five colleagues in the former Yugoslavia, some of whom went into Sarajevo to write in-depth articles on the situation there. We printed an AP story by a US colleague who showed the situation in a highly professional manner. As an editor, I have to decide who writes the best story. If the US colleague is, because he/she was in a better position and saw more details or from an angle which allowed him/her to obtain a more exact description of the situation, I will print it together with a view from my colleagues. The largest change in our work is that we now have an enormous number of resources. Apart from magazines, we can use satellites, etc. It is up to us what to use. I would like to ask you not to create any international orders because then we would need a big "hands man" who would tell us what and what not to print. As a professional journalist, I need maximum free information without any limitations so I can give my readers the best possible information. This is my opinion concerning the situation with our paper today.
Chairperson: Do you have a comment on the views from the East on the South?
Mr Slavomir Hayet: I can endorse what has just been said by my colleague in so far as that I also have access to information. I also do not find the information of the large agencies to be very defective. However, there is some deficiency in the analytical approach, in the sense that too little analysis is done and it sometimes tends to be superficial. The point made by Mr Nelson that the media does not report processes but events, is largely substantiated. I am, more or less, in the middle of the two extreme views.
Mr Jan Pakulski, North-South Centre, Lisbon, Portugal and Youth for Development and Co operation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Related to what was said earlier and my observation of East European countries, I can see two substantial differences when compared to mainstream Western television and newspaper coverage. On the one hand, it is quite striking that there is a strong tendency to rely on picking information from the large mainstream agencies. This is probably also related to the fact that many Central and East European newspapers have a limited number of correspondents and many need to rely on news agencies. IPS is an important initiative but still has a rather marginal share in this part of the world. The consequence is that people see surprisingly few features in the press, compared to the Western press. When talking about processes versus events, journalists do have certain responsibilities. If a racial attack takes place and all you report on it is that it is a sad and deplorable event, you might actually encourage similar actions by spreading the message that these things happen. If, however, you have an opportunity to do a feature on this, giving background information and elaborating on the dangers involved, you act out your responsibility. The other trend is the euphoria about Europe. Of the international coverage, 90% is related to Europe. An editor of a Hungarian newspaper told me that the paper was instructed to have the word "Europe'' on the front page of every issue, because it sells better. That is dangerous. In our discussion we seem to have run over the very important issue of the media's coverage on development and the Third World. I would actually like to take a step backwards and talk about the general coverage of international events and include on the agenda issues like the environment and human rights which, of course, also relate to developing countries.
Chaiperson: Jan Pakulski has raised three issues. First of all, the responsibility of the media, particularly regarding the question of racism and how you can deal with the situation when there are few features and you are reliant on the mainstream press for the reporting of facts and events. Secondly, the euphoria about Europe in the press and, thirdly, the general coverage of international events, human rights, etc. Can I ask the panel to react to any of these issues?
Mr Josef Vesely: The question of media responsibility is a very topical issue in our country. We are going through a period of transition and rebirth at the moment and it seems that it is more important that we establish the general framework of the rule of law and pluralistic democracy. To be frank, the main priority is the responsibility of the members of Parliament. We freely elected our representatives for the first time and we are in a different position from our colleagues in traditional democracies.
Mr Jana Ondrackova, Czech and Slovak National Committee for UNICEF, Prague, CSFR: I used to be a journalist until 1970 when I was thrown out after the invasion. I am now a freelance journalist, so maybe I have a very personal attitude to this issue. I do not believe that you can divide the responsibility and the moral attitude of a journalist. The journalist has exactly the same responsibility whether he/she is reporting on the home front, on international events or on events in general. If he/she exaggerates on a point, it can be seen as a mistake and you can accept his/her apologies, unless you want to destroy the journalist's reputation and life. It is a very difficult matter. I find it totally unacceptable for any divisions to be made whatsoever and to separate in any way a journalist's, and anybody's responsibility towards people here and abroad, towards nations, races, ethnic minorities, etc.
Mr Josef Chromec: The journalists in our country look at events from the point of view of what they want to see, instead of what they really see, in order to attract readers. You get the idea that there are only terrorists down in the South whose only meaning of life is to shed blood, etc. When the liberation of Kuwait started, our paper immediately began to write about possible bomb attacks on Prague. This is what I mean with journalistic responsibility.
Mr Pavel Kaplicky, Jiri z Podebrad Foundation for European Integration, Prague, CSFR: Another thing is that from the mass media we mainly learn that the picture of the Cold War has changed into local, hot and bloody conflicts in these former territories of the Eastern bloc.
Mr Josef Vesely: I do not like to speak for all journalists, but I will speak for myself and my colleagues. I agree that there are many short-comings. I am often outraged by many commentaries and articles in the papers. On the other hand, I am very happy as a journalist that we finally do have a plurality of opinion. Until '89, we spoke about what the Czech and Slovak press reported. Now, with a few exceptions, we talk about different people. This is such progress. I never thought our generation would live long enough to experience this. That is why journalists should be given more freedom.
Mr Daniel Nelson: There is a tension between editorial and commercial interests, that is to say "ownership". This is the reality, especially when we introduce words like "responsibility". Generally speaking, certainly in Britain and among some other journalists from abroad whom I know, they would say that their responsibility is to report and that is where it stops. They will not take responsibility for anything else, not for the possible effects of a certain style of reporting, as commented Upon by Jan. Journalists will not take it on themselves to take responsibility if a riot is started when something is reported in a particular way. It is not clear who decides what should be given attention. There are news values, but they are never stated. They are something journalists carry around or they are occasionally stated by the management, but usually in very general terms. In terms of Europe, for instance, there is this old joke in the British newspaper that one Britain equals five French, equals 50 Czechs, equals a 1000 Chinese. That is broadly true on every paper I have worked on. If 300 Chinese are killed in an accident it will not rate as highly as some incident involving a Briton. This also happens vice versa. I was a correspondent for a Nigerian newspaper in London for several years and, basically, they wanted to hear if a Nigerian got into trouble, etc., and so be more concerned about the Nigerian community. There are rules which journalists do not tend to speak out loud, but they are there. When I was sub-editing on the Financial Times, which I think the best national newspaper in Britain, we had two stories on consecutive days on Bangladesh. I was editing a third one, there was a series of coups taking place, when the editor came in and said: "Not another story about Bangladesh, this paper is not about poor people." And, in a sense, he was right. YOU identify your readers and you write for them. There is no objective news. If I am at a press conference and I am reporting for the Financial Times, I pick Up certain information and discard the rest. It depends on your readers and on your editor, who is the number one person you have to get past. A newspaper is a business as well. What will be interesting in Eastern Europe, is what sort of responsibility will the journalists manage to capture vis-à-vis the management, given that market pressure and the management will, perhaps, change and whether they can hold on to it in a different way, as it is not something which is prescribed. In the United Kingdom, the journalists have, in some way, lost out to the management whereas in the Netherlands they do not seem to have. It will be an interesting struggle here.
Mr Federico Nier-Fischer: Referring to the question of an
artificial New Information Order, I had not said that I am in favour of making
such an order, but outlined how the existing one works and its shortcomings. If
you are happy to learn everything through AP, then you are free to do so. There
is nothing wrong with that, but there are other angles, purposes and ethos in
this world to learn about. In the German speaking area, IPS provides another
copy of the news which is not contradictory, but is the contextualisation of
processes which are not covered by other news agencies. This is legitimate. I do
not believe in objectivity as a certain perspective is always taken on reality.
The more images we get together, the better we are informed. We are not informed
by a flood of information and hearing the same news four times. So, one approach
is to try and complement the existing coverage of events. This is valuable and
we rely on these markets, not on governments.
A perfect scheme has developed for co-operation between NGOs and the media. NGOs in the North give another perspective on the North and it is nice that they are committed to bringing other articles into newspapers. Yet, I would also emphasise another basic question which is to get the media to also pay attention to the other flows coming from the South. Lobbying the media involves the consideration of other flows, trying to find columnists and experts who let their voice be heard. Not just the interpretation of our problems, but also the involvement in our problems and the actors expressing themselves. NGOs should also look into this, as it helps the professionalisation of organisations in lobbying, projects and writing articles in the professional world. Basically, it consists of educating editorial desks, just by looking at what others consider to be the main problems. The pressing problems felt by the population in the South is different from what people feel is important here. Information flows have to complemented. There are actors and creditors and there are different perspectives.
Ms Nadja Andaslova: I come from the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic and would like to make a few general comments. I believe we are moving, in a way, in high spirits and I would like to concentrate on each of us personally. We in Central and Eastern Europe are experiencing a great change. Our friends from Western countries appear to ask us to share our experience with them. We would be happy to do so, but, on the other hand, we also have to realise that we have to answer to how we lived during those past years and in what ways we failed. We have often asked ourselves those questions. I attended a symposium in a foreign country quite recently where I presented the following issue. Even though you have not experienced these changes, you also have to evaluate your past. How did you approach the problems of the oppressed world and how do you approach it now in the Third World? And we should all answer this question, whether in the liberated Central and Eastern Europe or in the traditionally free world or in the Southern hemisphere of the planet and whether we had the courage to do this. Speaking on behalf of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, we want to do this from the position of faith. We are responsible for this world and for those who suffer. I should also recommend to you to turn to your conscience. A conscience we all have, which we often used to lose in Eastern Europe and which we are rediscovering. We should analyse our conscience, whether from the point of view of Christianity or from conscience and I believe this is something which unites us and which is our common objective.
Chairperson: We have now come to the end of our session. Thank you all very much for your contributions.
The following is a compilation of conclusions and recommendations
made by the participants in the working groups of the Prague Workshop on the
subjects of democracy and human development, Central Europe in international
co-operation and environmental education.
To International Organisations:
1. to provide support for the development of NGOs in Central
Europe through PHARE, especially in acquiring information on how to exert the
influence of NGOs efficiently and civic movements on the state and other
2. to create the conditions for extensively informing the population about the arms exports to the South and the flow of capital between the South and the North;
3. to lobby the governments of the European states systematically to create favourable conditions for the exchange of teachers, children end young people between, and outside of, schools, especially the students of secondary schools and universities, under NGO patronage;
4. to organise similar workshops on the South, taking their priorities into account when deciding on the subjects.
To Czech and Slovak NGOs operating in this field.
1. to settle the question of the Non-Profit Sector Act in order to
provide for tax reduction for donators and thus support home NGOs;
2. to support the establishment of a jointly published bulletin with the aim of improving co-ordination among Czech NGOs;
3. to exploit the Czech and Slovak television funds of UNESCO and other organisations which could be introduced to the public by suitable NGOs.
Concerning the aims of Environmental Education and Information:
1. underlining the importance of the relationship between each
human being and his/her environment and world, concrete knowledge about the
transfer of information on a biological basis and on the social responsibility
of women and men is requested. In this sense, young people should be encouraged
to appreciate how to preserve and to beautify their own local environment,
knowing about the problems caused by human activities from a historical and
contemporary perspective and from a regional and global point of view;
2. young people especially should be asked to take part in local environmental campaigns and support wider initiatives and campaigns where appropriate;
3. a solid teacher training programme should be provided as the role of teachers is very significant. Their main task is improving the ability of ecological thinking as well as helping in the creation of ecological ethics;
4. parents should be involved in the information and education processes about environmental topics and concerns and thus complete, on a familiar base, the whole global view on the environment. Different approaches would be considered in different cultures. Each person has, however, not only a role, but also a personal responsibility in the creation of positive changes in environment-related attitudes. Environmental education also involves the adoption of a more thoughtful and appropriate lifestyle based on sustainable development and conservation. This is a long term objective.
Bringing together a person with nature, with his/her global environment, also means motivating people to work actively in groups. June Barry illustrated, by means of an exercise requiring active participation on behalf of those present, how a physical, cognitive and emotional approach can create new images, replacing stereotypes and irresponsible attitudes.
Environmental education is awareness-raising about global interdependence. The participants asked themselves what the aim of the working group was and what the follow-up of the discussions could be. By getting to know the actors involved in environmental education personally, from countries as diverse as the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, Kenya, Ireland, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands, an important step is taken in stimulating future co-operation.
In this sense, case studies on specific organisations, projects and attitudes on the legal and political framework could be engaged in the objective to demonstrate similarities or differences in the problem-solving attitudes of countries. More credibility can than be contributed to concrete solutions which could be transmitted in this way. Information about ecological trips illustrating specific ecological situations can be exchanged and existing channels and structures can be used. "The Interdependent': for example, as a monthly bulletin offers the opportunity to inform and being informed about people's activities in other countries. In this working group contacts were laid in order to, amongst others, co-organise future activities.