This year’s Global Media Forum takes place from June 22-24, just days before the United Nations celebrates its 70th anniversary.
On June 26, 1945, 50 countries signed the Charter of the United Nations in San Francisco, establishing the intergovernmental organization focused on international peace-building, human rights and development cooperation. There are now 193 member states. In its early days, there were relatively few armed conflicts in the world. The Second World War had just come to an end, and the Cold War was just starting to rear its head. But then as now, civil society was beleaguered by population displacement, poverty and starvation.
Although by comparison, the world’s conflicts and crises have grown in complexity, the United Nations has always played a key role in matters of peace and human rights. Since its founding, various branches of the UN have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, including its children’s charity organization, UNICEF, in 1965, the UN peacekeeping forces in 1988, and the United Nations as a whole in 2001.
In light of the world’s current challenges, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has declared that “the year 2015 must be a time for global action,” noting that with increased global connectedness, people around the world are demanding answers to the planet’s most pressing problems. “We will continue to adapt the United Nations itself to a new global landscape,” he said. “As we mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, we have a duty to answer the call of people across the world for shared prosperity and a sustainable future for all."
In 2015, the prevailing focus of foreign policy in democratic states is on matters of Islamic terrorism and climate change. As if to prove the point, Cyclone Pam ravaged the island nation of Vanuatu in mid-March, just as President Baldwin Lonsdale was attending a UN conference on disaster risk reduction in Japan. His words there underscored the obvious: “Climate change is contributing to the disaster in Vanuatu,” he told reporters. “We see the level of sea rise … The cyclone seasons, the warm, the rain, all this is affected.” Lonsdale called the storm “a monster that has devastated our country.”
The UN offices in Bonn have partnered with the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum for years. This year, they will host a workshop entitled “70 years of the UN – From the past to the future: Fit for the purpose in the age of digital media?” The session experts intend to take stock and ask: Is the UN still fit for its purpose in a digital age? In the spirit of a new public diplomacy, can the digital age and its two-way communications media help the UN to get its job done even better? Can social media and the public at large influence crucial decisions in 2015? In a “year of global action“ the Global Media Forum provides a platform to ask such questions and seek truly viable and sustainable answers.