Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Article: Role of media in conflict; community media and conflict
I'm honored to be featured in a new publication titled, "Civilian Peace Workers and Conflict Prevention," produced by the Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Here is an excerpt from the Q&A featured in the magazine that I did with my colleague Alexander Vojvoda of the Cameroon Community Media Network:

AV--What unique opportunities do community media offer to facilitate dialogue in conflict situations? How do peace journalistic tools and methods support community media in their work?

SY--Community media are in a perfect position to facilitate dialogue among players in a conflict. They can do this at the smallest local level, and in such a way that the discussion itself is seen as productive rather than threatening. One of peace journalism’s key tenets is giving a voice to the
voiceless. This is precisely what community media can do best. In providing this voice, those who have been traditionally marginalized feel empowered, and are less likely to strike out violently.

The principles that underlie peace journalism also provide a compelling justification for community media in Cameroon and elsewhere. These include not just giving a voice to the voiceless, but encouraging dialogue, exploring solutions, and rejecting simplistic “us vs. them” narratives. Community media are uniquely positioned to promote each of these principles. Community media are in a perfect position in facilitating dialogue, exploring solutions, and rejecting simplistic “us vs. them” narratives.

AV--How can community media using peace journalistic principles better serve IDP’s and refugees and the communities that host them?

SY--Content analysis research in places that host large numbers of refugees like Turkey, Lebanon, Austria, and Germany show that migrants are typically portrayed negatively by news media, often as a burden, and often through the use of dehumanizing language (flood, wave, infestation, etc.) Peace journalism asks journalists to offer counter narratives that portray the displaced in a more three-dimensional way, not ignoring the challenges their presence creates, but also reporting the positive impact that they may have on communities. PJ also recommends reporting that humanizes refugees and promotes the idea that the displaced themselves should be employed as reporting partners, especially on stories that analyze the situations encountered by the displaced.

The entire publication can be accessed at: 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The New Peace Journalist is here!
The latest edition of the Peace Journalist magazine, a semi-annual publication of the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Park University, has arrived. This edition features a series of reports about the safety of journalists in Nigeria, Kashmir, and Cameroon, as well as an interview with the Committee to Protect Journalists. Also featured are articles from Zimbabwe, Lebanon, and India.

For flip-through format on Issuu, see: 

For .pdf of the magazine:

The next issue will be April, 2019. The copy deadline will be March 3, 2019.


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Mandela peace summit delights, disappoints
At the UN Monday, world leaders gathered for the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit. Somehow, I got invited.

Mandela Peace Summit, UN, Sept. 24.
Speakers included dozens of prime ministers, presidents, and foreign ministers, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Each presenter sang Mandela' praises, and urged one another to carry on his legacy. This event, designed to honor Mandela and discuss peace, occurred the day before the opening of the General Assembly on Tuesday (when world leaders laughed at Donald Trump).

The event was simultaneously uplifting and discouraging.

Many of the speakers were inspirational. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said, "The challenge of our age is to answer the question, what is it that we can do to convey peace, prosperity, and democracy everywhere?...Conflict has its roots in poverty, exclusion, and marginalization. We (leaders) represent the hopes of billions for a peaceful and prosperous world."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was equally eloquent. "We're all part of the same community. We must live in a way that respects and enhances the freedoms of others," he said.

Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty Intl, at the Peace Summit.
The day's most passionate speaker was undoubtedly Amnesty International President Kumi Naidoo, who stated his refusal to adjust to the continuing inaction, to "not adjust to leaders who espouse fascist narrative, to not adjust to bloodbaths, to not adjust to inhumane treatment of refugees..."

One theme emphasized by a half dozen speakers was the importance of multilateralism, and the folly of unilateralism--a clear shot at the U.S. president, though his name was never mentioned. Naidoo touched on this, as did the head of the African Union, a spokesperson for The Elders (a peacebuilding group), the Namibian president, and the EU Commission chair.

Collectively, it was reassuring to hear their speeches, almost all of which correctly emphasized the role of poverty, inequality, and discrimination in impeding a lasting peace. However, I was disappointed that so few speakers discussed or proposed concrete actions--let alone pledged to take action.

I wish I had these leaders as students. I would put them in groups, make them come up with a concrete action plan (with deadlines for implementing each action), and ideas for communicating their actions and goals to their citizens. If each country started with 2-3 attainable goals, perhaps some momentum could be built.

While the speeches were nice, lasting peace is going to take much more effort and commitment than a day's full of well-meaning oratories.
Mandela Peace Summit, UN, Sept. 24

Monday, September 24, 2018

A host of speakers, including a number of presidents and the UN Secretary General, are singing the praises and embracing the legacy of Nelson Mandela today at a peace summit named after the late South African leader. Somehow (perhaps mistakenly!), I was invited to this event.

I have been inspired by a number of speakers, especially the head of Amnesty Internaional. Also, Several speakers have taken shots, indirectly, at Donald Trump.

I'll be listening to all the fascinating speeches this afternoon, and have a full report on the Mandela Peace Summit in the next few days. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Nelson Mandela Peace Summit
I was honored to be invited by the UN to participate in the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit next Monday in New York. The summit’s being held a day before the start of the 73rd session of the General Assembly.

According to the UN, “The focus of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit is on Global Peace in honour of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela. This Peace Summit offers the opportunity for world leaders to renew their commitment to global peace, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacebuilding, promotion and protection of human rights and long-term development initiatives as called for by the Secretary-General. The Peace Summit will also adopt a political declaration, which will reaffirm the values of Nelson Mandela.”

Stay tuned—I’ll be writing about this next week.

International Day of Peace: Peacebuilder Heroes
To celebrate the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21, I’m writing/Tweeting/Facebooking about some people I know who I consider the unsung heroes of peacebuilding. These heroes include:

#PeaceDay Hero: @glorialaker is the founder of the #PeaceJournalism Foundation of East Africa (in #Uganda). She’s taught/mentored 100’s of journalists, and is a role model especially for aspiring female reporters. Her work has been recognized/honored by @bbc : . #ParkPeace

#PeaceDay Heroes: #Cameroon Community Media Ntwk (@ccmn) works with reporters, radio promoting #peacejournalism & peaceful communities. Their heroes are Rose Obah, Alex Vojvoda @atzo, staff at CBS radio/Buea.#ParkPeace

#PeaceDay Heroes: @VanessaBassil and Media Assn for Peace-Lebanon @map_lb, who are working to educate youth abt #peacejournalism, peace/gender, peace/environment, etc.

#PeaceDay Heroes: Tom Patterson, Janette Jasperson @jccctweet, founders of Greater #KC Peacebuilding Conference.  #ParkPeace

#PeaceDay Heroes: @johangaltung, @ProfJakeLynch, the grandfather/father of #peacejournalism and ongoing forces for good in the world. #ParkPeace

#PeaceDay Heroes: The late #ShujaatBukhari & the dedicated staff @RisingKashmir nwsppr, which bravely carries the torch, legacy of Bukhari, & his commitment to peace