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Media and the use/misuse of the appellation “International Community”

March 11, 2010


Various media organs around the world operating from their own agenda have always been using the phrase “international community” to accept or negate certain issues and events. It is in most cases made without attributions therefore coming as sweeping statements which may just be reflecting the views of the journalist or the media organ.

It is common to hear, “the International community has condemned US over the aggression in Iraq, the International Community has blamed Hamas for the violence in the Middle east, The international community has condemned the Coup in this or that country , The international community has called on Israel to shun horror and terror in their disproportionate response to the filing of rocket propel grenades by Palestinian militants, the international community has blamed President Laurent Gbagbo and his government for the prolonged conflict in that country, the International community has blamed President Mugabe for the humanitarian crisis in his country. The international community has done this; the international community has done that” etc.

 

As someone developing a career in international communication, global journalism and international development, I have always asked myself, who is this international community, how are they qualified and quantified and who do they represent?

There are almost two hundred countries in the world. The United Nations which can be described as the largest grouping of countries in the world has 192 members. Some say it does not bring about any unanimity. Others claim that the UN is in itself, undemocratic, therefore, cannot claim to speak for the international community when some members exclusively hold veto power to stifle the development of “rebel” states and leaders.

In my opinion, the media should not only inform, educate, entertained but contribute to development. That is why going beyond reporting, to presenting issues and analysing making fair comments and opening up for discussion is very good. Media must not shy away from its development role, yet indirectly or directly represent the views of their political masters, most of who profess imperialism, domination, oppression etc.

According to Finnish Professor of Communication and Development, Kaarle Nordenstreng,  "only the UN General assembly can be said to speak on behalf of the international". He posits that the security council cannot, given that it is not representative enough.

When colonial troops were placed in the middle of Cote D’ Ivoire separating the North and the South of that country in a bid to comfortably arm rebels who had been favoured in a trouble making MACOUSSI peace deal, most radio organs be they the so called global media blamed and keep blaming the Ivorian government saying for example, “the international community has held President Gbagbo for stalling the peace talks”. Who was therefore this international community? Was it France and its allies? The same applies to several countries and situations.

 

I am therefore really flabbergasted when I hear supposedly “more experienced” and “pace-setting” media organs referring to some countries and their allies as “the international community”. I think the international community should be a mutually inclusive than exclusive thing.

It appears the media seem to have fallen prey to some politicians who are happy with such appellations because in my opinion, I have never read any article quantifying this “international community” by; some, many or most. It is often categorical. In very few cases, the use of the appellation may have been appropriate. This also applies to other appellations as militants. Who is a militant, who is a freedom fighter?

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