Magazine article UNESCO Courier

UNESCO's Strategy: Interview with Henrikas Yushkiavitshus

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

UNESCO's Strategy: Interview with Henrikas Yushkiavitshus

Article excerpt

UNESCO'S Communication, Information and Informatics Sector, created in 1990, plays a leading role in the Organization's activities. The goals of its 1994-1995 programme, entitled "Communication, Information and Informatics in the Service of Humanity", are to encourage the free flow of ideas, promote the development of communication, safeguard the heritage of archives and libraries, consolidate international co-operation in the field of information and strengthen countries' informatics capacities. Here Henrikas Yushkiavitshus, the Assistant Director-General of UNESCO who heads this sector, presents the main features of this programme.

* What is UNESCO'S strategy in the communication field?

- Our key words are media pluralism and independence. Since 1992, 30 per cent of the funds allocated by the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), the main operational arm of UNESCO'S new communication strategy, have gone to private press projects. In order to ensure the free flow of information and eliminate all restrictions on it, we have concentrated our efforts on professional training and know-how. In the present world situation, in which an independent press is taking shape in countries whose experience of democracy is still in its early days, it is essential for journalists to understand exactly what a free press means. Furthermore, while it is true that there can be no democracy without a free press, it is equally true that a free press cannot exist without democratic legislation. And so we have compiled basic information on legislation in certain democratic countries in order to help states which have asked for such data, and we have proposed solutions to their problems.

In addition to the problem of democracy, the developing countries are faced with severe financial constraints. One of UNESCO's fundamental objectives is to help them produce their own programmes and newspapers. There is a lot of talk today about "information superhighways", but we forget that they can often be littered with roadblocks. In partnership with the International Telecommunication Union UNESCO has developed a study on telecommunication tariffs, an important factor in the flow of information.

* What important projects are under way?

- We recently approved forty-two new projects in developing countries, and in a sense they are all important. There are several priority areas - Africa and the least developed countries, the situation of women. …

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