3The Message: Role of International Organizations

Introduction

Historically, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has tried to avoid controversy. Yet its role, profile, and focus in the international information and communication debate are unmistakable. UNESCO, a specialized agency of the United Nations based in Paris, sponsored crucial international conferences that focused on the global communication debate and also directed its research program toward promoting new initiatives, such as the New World International and Communication Order (NWICO). Initially UNESCO invested much, backstage as well as publicly, in NWICO. This eventually led to major problems for the agency, the greatest of which was the withdrawal during the 1980s of the United States and the United Kingdom from UNESCO membership. When they left, they also took their crucial financial support, which had been about one‐third of UNESCO's total budget. UNESCO put its efforts and credibility into supporting a call for NWICO, but with the demise of the Cold War, UNESCO was found wanting. It had made a strategic mistake in relying extensively on Soviet support for NWICO.

Before describing the critical historical meetings and stakeholders in the NWICO debate, it is important to note that the global media have two rather distinct origins. In the United States, their origins are strongly rooted in commercial media systems in which advertising and market forces play crucial ...

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