Conference report: Press Freedom Post-Conflict

In 2003, IMS convened an international roundtable on conflict reporting in order to further international debate on new methodologies for journalistic practices in times of conflict. In 2004, our conference took a fresh look at some of the dilemmas facing media development in the wake of peacekeeping and humanitarian aid operations. We focused on the actors involved in a post-conflict media environment and highlighted contradictory objectives that often exist between the need for rapid and effective dissemination of information from aid organizations and peacekeeping forces and the need to develop a professional independent media sector in a volatile post-conflict environment.

In ‘Voices of War’ – a publication prepared by deputy-chairperson of the IMS board, Andrew Puddephatt, in light of the 2004 Conference – several core principles emerged: every post-conflict is unique and must be dealt with accordingly; the local media must be engaged in moving from a violent to a non-violent phase and the international community must consider how they can adequately interact with the local media community. To this end, responsibilities must be divided and efforts coordinated, including the establishment of partnerships to apply lessons learnt and avoid mistakes of the past.

The 2007 IMS International Debate built on principles and challenges presented in “Voices of War”. It focused on issues surrounding press freedom post-conflict and arguments for and against liberalizing media environments in post-conflict countries. The emphasis was less on actors and their information/media interests and more on three particularly controversial media development themes: regulation, transformation of state media structures and access to information in a post-conflict setting.