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World Association for Christian Communication Responds to Challenges of Digital Age for Justice and Peace
Contact: World Council of Churches Media Office, +41 79 507 6363

GENEVE, May 24, 2018 /Christian Newswire/ -- As the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) celebrates its 50th anniversary, the organization continues to explore how communication can help advance justice and build peace.

Photo: A young woman posts on social media, promoting an event on the rights of children and adolescents to medical treatment and care, in Nariobi, 2017. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

"WACC has always pursued a pilgrimage of justice and peace by advocating greater understanding through dialogue as well as the concept of 'peace journalism' - when editors and reporters make choices that create opportunities for society at large to consider and to value nonviolent responses to conflict," reflected the newly appointed WACC general secretary Philip Lee. "WACC emphasizes communication rights for all as a way of opening up society to dynamic and creative ways for communication to help build more just and peaceful communities."

As a pioneer of the communication rights movement since 1968, WACC has been among the global organizations working to advance the communication rights of marginalized communities around the world.

In the late 1970s, when both the World Council of Churches and WACC were involved in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, strengthening the public voices of underprivileged communities became a means to question the political and social structures that kept apartheid in place, recalled Lee.

"In today's digital societies, independence and trust are vital to the existence of public service media that are independent of corporate and government influence and that can provide a diversity of balanced information on every topic that impact the lives of people," he said. "Hope lies in the ability of people to see through the fog of fake news and misinformation to the essential truth of our shared human dignity."

Over the past 50 years, WACC has partnered with thousands of grassroots communities, including indigenous people, women, and youth, to advance communication rights. WACC has also supported changes in communication policies and structures at the national, regional, and international levels.

WACC marked its 50th anniversary with a symposium on 14 May exploring new challenges in the field of communication for social change. The symposium took place in Hamburg, Germany, following a three-day meeting of WACC's board of directors.

The keynote presentation at the symposium was given by Dr Ellen Ueberschär, the former general secretary of the German Protestant Kirchentag, and, since 2017, co-president of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Germany.

Highlighting the profound transformation of communication socially and technologically, she traced changes from media monopolies and restrictions to new initiatives in relation to digital values, and the challenges these present for WACC now and in the future.

"Preventing manipulation via mass media and anchoring ethical standards in the media was one of the most important founding impulses for the precursors of WACC after World War II," Ueberschär stated. "Today, it is apparent that these standards must be transferred to a completely new sphere."

Some 40 symposium participants engaged in a lively programme which explored communication rights in "an era of disinformation" and in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals, the importance of media monitoring to advocacy work, and the concept of a communications rights charter.

"To see communication as a whole," said Ueberschär, "as something that permeates the entire world of life, from the private sphere to communities, societies and states – something that is not distinct from other areas, but which exerts a profound influence on them, is rooted in them and links them to one another, is an essential prerequisite to understanding today's communication contexts."

World Association for Christian Communication