Even more than in the past and regardless of the region, community radio finds that its everyday world has become one of dualities – of growing and tangible insecurity even as people aspire and struggle for basic security at multiple levels. The “global village” has become not even a global marketplace but a global mall and, all too often, a global stage for conflict. More than ever, the unique character and attributes of community radio need to be leveraged to build, transform and aggregate the strength of diverse communities desirous of and working towards people-centered security. To celebrate as well as strengthen the capacity of community radio in responding to multiple dualities, the 11th World Conference of AMARC (AMARC 11) will focus on the following themes: (1) Community Radio, holistic security and sustainable development; (2) Community Radio, culture and identity security and (3) Community Radio, conflict and institutional security.
1. Community Radio, holistic security and sustainable development: The world is increasingly facing natural disasters, often related to climate change and the irresponsible management of natural resources. These disasters are both symptoms and illustrations of global inequities and those who pay the biggest price are the vulnerable communities and groups for whom community radio is a critical resource. The current Ebola epidemic highlights not only the interdependence of food security, nutrition security and health security but also how quickly their absence can threaten and impact global security and well-being. In transitioning from the Millennium Development Goals towards Sustainable Development Goals, the international development community led by the United Nations is further giving recognition that peace, inclusion, equity and accountability are at the root of sustainable development. These have always been the values of community radio and AMARC 11 is a perfectly-timed opportunity to ensure that it performs even more effectively and proactively.
2. Community Radio, culture and identity insecurity: Culture is another prism for the duality of security and insecurity. On the one hand, the globalized society is often projected as reflecting the identity pluralism of the so-called “multicultural” society. Yet, even in states that characterize themselves as open and democratic, political leaders are denouncing multiculturalism as a threat. This induced fear, sometimes related to a perceived loss of identity, is one of the reasons for extremely negative reactions to migration. By its nature, and whether in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Latin and North America, community radio has developed an inclusive process towards citizenship and is an instrument for social cohesion and intercultural dialogue. It has preserved and renewed multiple languages, thereby not only revitalizing their communities but also enriching the heritage of the world. At the same time, it is harnessing the newest technologies, taking advantage of non-terrestrial platforms and social media. In this regard too, AMARC 11 will highlight its success stories and illuminate its challenges.
3. Community Radio, conflict and institutional insecurity: Community Radio has not been immune to, and in fact has often been targeted in, the growing incidence worldwide of conflict and violence and general physical insecurity. Threats by armed groups in conflict situations, censorship, terrorist
attacks on installations increasingly undermine the security of community radio as well as their journalists and activists. Where the threats may not be overt, various mechanisms, including legislation and regulation or their deliberate absence or distortion, are used to dim the dialogic voice of community radio. Throughout, community radio has played a key role in conflict prevention and resolution at all levels, from the community to the national sphere and even across boundaries. The question is how to put in place mechanisms, from capacity-building to institutional protection, that would guarantee that community radio is always able to fulfill its peace-building role.