Broadcasting in UN Blue: UN Radio’s Unexamined Past and Uncertain Future

UN Peacekeeping Radio EventFrom Cambodia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, local United Nations peacekeeping radio programs have helped mitigate violent conflict and make peaceful elections possible. In a dozen countries the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations became the provider of trusted national news services, without which transition from civil war to democracy may not have occurred. Nonetheless, a weak exit strategy when the UN peacekeeping missions end can leave broadcast staff dispersed and nations with little independent or professional broadcasting capacity. A CIMA report by Bill Orme, Broadcasting in UN Blue: UN Radio’s Unexamined Past and Uncertain Future, reviews some of the policies and practices that have guided peacekeeping radio in the past and makes recommendations on how to face challenges in the future. The report discusses lessons learned from UN peacekeeping radio operations in places such as Angola, East Timor, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Bill Orme
Author, Broadcasting in UN Blue: UN Radio’s Unexamined Past and Uncertain Future

With Comments by

William Davis
United Nations Information Center

Joshua Marks
National Endowment for Democracy

Moderated by

Marguerite Sullivan
Center for International Media Assistance

About the Author

Bill Orme is a consultant specializing in media development and strategic communications.  From 2002 to 2007 Orme was head of external communications at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), serving as UNDP’s spokesman and overseeing its global press relations and advocacy campaigns. In 2007 he was appointed UNDP’s first policy advisor for media development, a post he held until he relocated in 2009 to work as an advisor to the UN Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone. Orme was executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists from 1992 to 1998, between assignments for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist and The Washington Post. He serves on the boards of the Knight Fellows program of the International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C., and the Fundación Mexicana de Periodismo de Investigación (Mexican Foundation for Investigative Journalism) in Mexico. Orme was the founding editor of LatinFinance, a Miami-based business monthly, and is the author of several books on trade and media in Mexico.

About the Panelists

William Davis is the director of the United Nations Information Center in Washington, DC. In this capacity, he is the United Nation’s senior representative in Washington, serving as a spokesman for the organization and working with officials in the U.S. executive branch, Congress, the media, civil society, and the business community to further the relationship between the UN and its largest contributing member state. Before joining the United Nations, Davis was the director for global and functional affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs.  From 1998 to 2004, he worked for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development both in Paris and in Washington, DC. Previously, Davis served in the State Department’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs and on the White House’s National Security Council staff for eight years.

Joshua Marks is program officer for Central Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy, where he is responsible for democracy and governance programs in seven countries.  His most recent assignments have included assessment missions in Rwanda, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  Previously a consultant for Oxfam and the Small Arms Survey in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Marks has worked on security and human rights issues in eastern DRC where he lived from 2004 to 2005.  He has also worked with a local NGO in the DRC and with the U.S. Department of Defense, and he was a faculty associate at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.  He is a project principal with the Truman National Security Project, an institute that recruits, trains, and positions a new generation of leaders in national security. He has published articles or reports in The African Security Review and The Small Arms Survey, among others.