There is good reason why the free flow of information is one of the eight key areas of the culture of peace, as defined by the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. On the one hand, it is essential for the consciousness-raising and networking that can make the transition possible from the culture of war to a culture of peace, especially in the hands of the young generation. On the other hand, its opposite, the control of information by the state and its commercial allies, has become the chief weapon of the culture of war.
As described in this month’s CPNN bulletin, the struggle for internet freedom has been especially sharp in recent weeks. Media coverage of the World Conference on International Telecommunication was heavily biased toward support of information control by the American empire, of which the commercial mass media is an essential part. As the CPNN article by Professor Milton Mueller points out, their unrestrained criticism of the International Telecommunications Union diverts attention from the control of the Internet exercised by little-known institutions associated with the culture of war such as: “ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee, the US CyberCommand, Israeli cyberweapons, the British Cleanfeed system, data retention and graduated response in the European Union, the Wikileaks financial boycott”, etc.
Within this struggle, the figure of Julian Assange has emerged as something of a hero for the new generation, because he has the courage to confront these and other institutions used to control information. As he says in his Christmas message reprinted in part in CPNN: “True democracy is the resistance of people, armed with the truth, against lies, from Tahrir to right here in London. Every day, ordinary people teach us that democracy is free speech and dissent.”
Let us agree with Professor Mueller’s conclusion and work together for its implementation: “Internet freedom requires the construction of effective new, open transnational governance institutions and globally applicable legal principles that regulate and limit the power of states and private sector actors to abuse users. It requires liberalized communication industries and free trade in information services; multinational, multistakeholder pressure against censorship and surveillance.”
Meanwhile, there are media institutions that are escaping from control by the culture of war. CPNN is one of a growing number of Internet information sources for a culture of peace. And described in CPNN this month, journalists in Africa are setting a good precedent by giving increasing priority to culture of peace news. We should push that their example is followed by journalists and commercial media in the rest of the world.