from the standpoint that the Western media, the Western press, is often critical of the developing nations. Maybe we can stop there for a second. Is there any parallel here between what is apparently UNESCO’s point of view toward the press the notion that governments have a right to control information for their own ends or whatever and Ronald Reagan’s own efforts at greater control domestically over the Freedom of the exclusion of CIA operative files from the FOIA, the barring of the entry into this country of certain foreign speakers, and so on? I don’t see any difference. I think it’s the same thing. And I think that’s the contradiction: that we criticize other countries for wanting to manage the news and control news events or the free flow of information and we say that this is contrary to the First Amendment, contrary to American principles, but in so many instances we see the same control, the same management being effected by our own government. Yet, this is the big issue that is at hand today: the United States is wanting to leave UNESCO saying that we oppose any system that attempts to control the free flow of information. On the one hand, we want to penalize an international body which seeks to establish a new international information order, and at the same time we somewhat practice what they advocate. Since we have complained, then, about the Reagan Administration’s efforts to control the free flow of information here domestically, why are we not then going along with the attempt, under whatever excuse, to stop funding an organization that would attempt to control the free flow of information internationally? At least, it would seem, there would be some curtailment of an effort, UNESCO’s if not Reagan’s, to control the free flow of information. From the premise that UNESCO as an international body is represented by member states, 151 of them, there is a sharp division within that body as to the New International Information Order. It happens to be, though, that the member states which represent the Third World and the Soviet bloc are in a majority of accord with that order. But there is also a dissenting view in the member state organizations, you understand. Like any forum where votes count, we are somewhat outvoted. Now, the international order that is advocated by those member states and, to some degree, the UNESCO Secretariat, the official body, is that there has to be some limitations on what news is reported. They are saying that there is a Western bias against the Third World. Now that is valid. I think that is true. And many Americans and Western journalists will say that there is sometimes too great an emphasis on negative reporting about the Third World. But how much of that is just inherent in the press itself as a medium for the reporting of news, usually negative events. We really don’t see much positive reporting about the U.S. government here, for instance. I think a lot of it is just that. [But] I think that there are biases against blacks, Asians, or certain minority ethnic groups. I’ve had journalists tell me, “I guess there is a certain validity to that criticism.” And the criticism that UNESCO has leveled at the Western press has caused it in many ways to try to be more positive and objective in their presentation. The other aspect of the New International Information Order is that the Third World and the developing countries believe that the press, to a large degree, perpetuates Western cultural ideas in their countries. You know, the press is used to promote Western ideas, commercial ideas: jeans, CocaCola, Pepsi-Cola, Exxon, all of those types of things. Sure. Which is the kind of resistance that we get from Cuba, for instance, which is right outside the continental U.S. and directly under our airwaves. Exactly. And the Third World is saying, look, if you’re going to do that, let us have some measure of impeding that. We don’t want our young people to necessarily be subjected to these kinds of notions. And they feel that in many cases, whether it’s right or wrong, that they are being corrupted. So, there are all kinds of criticism that, as I said, the New International Information Order addresses itself to. The whole notion that communications multinationals, as I call them UPI, AP, Reuters, even TASS, the Russian press are monopolistic in their news reporting, that is, that only they, their board of directors and the corporation, really wheel and deal where and how they want without any kind of control and sometimes with no participation from that sovereign state in management, in jobs, in policy planning, in profits. And they are saying, look, if you want to operate in our country and you want to have an agency that is broadcasting to, let’s say, western Africa, then you ought to have some Africans at a policy level, some African employees, and to start helping us Africans begin to understand and pro mote communications and give us technical assistance so that we may operate under our own terms. And the criticism has done exactly that. Large communications multinationals have agreed to and said, you’re right, we should be training more of your people and should hire more of them. You should be participating to a large degree in joint ventures with us, and we are going to share with you a satellite, or we’re going to set up a clearinghouse for news items, and we’ll train your people how. So, what you are saying . . . the way that you are defining that new International Information Order is not so much an effort to control the free flow of information as it is an effort to get more people involved who are in the affected cultural group. Yes, but I also want to qualify that. There is from certain UNESCO member states a very direct emphasis on controlling the press. And those are not the ones that you are arguing for .. . No. There are eastern bloc countries the Soviets, for one, and certain dictatorial nations, who advocate that the rights of censorship belong to the State, and I don’t believe in that. No more than I believe that Reagan should be censoring the press here from being able to cover a major American invasion in the Caribbean. The other area of concern the Reagan Administration had with UNESCO was in the area of human rights the efforts at UNESCO at redefining human rights violations from an individual rights issue to a collective human rights issue. Well, I find no evidence of that. I think by that you mean that the human rights stance at UNESCO is often couched in terms of the people’s rights as opposed to the person’s right, maybe. See, I don’t think the question of certification and the sanctions against particular nations is dealt with by the UNESCO process. The UNESCO process, really, in addressing itself to human rights, is usually in [questioning] the violation of member states against the rights of those fields of competence that UNESCO involves itself in: education, science, technology, the rights of artists, academics. Those are the fields of competence. UNESCO safeguards the rights of individuals which have been violated by the member states of UNESCO within those fields of competence. I sat on the committee that reviewed the violations of human rights against individuals at UNESCO. The country that was under the largest THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15
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