Media’s crucial role in promoting peace the focus of TV series in Afghanistan’s west
HERAT - A free and independent press is crucial for promoting peace and the respect for human rights, stressed participants in a UN-backed event that was later broadcast by television to audiences in and around Afghanistan’s western province of Herat.
Speaking during the event, later aired on Asia TV in Herat, panellists representing Herat civil society, media advocacy groups and provincial authorities underlined the importance of media delivering reliable information as a significant tool in enabling communities to uphold human rights and promote sustainable peace and development.
“Despite the challenges that media and journalists face in Afghanistan, the press is a significant achievement here and is helping move the country toward a better future,” said Ahmad Saeed Haqiqi, a media advocate in western Afghanistan. “We all have a responsibility to protect Afghanistan’s media.”
Haqiqi went on to note that the media has an obligation to reflect contrasting views about any given issue, giving voice to differing positions about how to move the country forward. “This type of discourse helps Afghanistan achieve political pluralism, where everyone has a role,” Haqiqi added.
Other participants called for additional safeguards to protect journalists and other media professionals as they carry out their work.
Panellist Fariba Aram, a journalist, said that violence and intimidation threaten a free press. “Journalists face various types of threats, including cultural and political threats,” she said. “The work for us, as female journalists, continues to be challenging, as we face both discrimination and violence; this must be stopped.”
The United Nations recognizes that Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places for journalists to work and remains steadfast in collaborating with national and international partners to protect journalists and to fight against impunity.
UNAMA has been working with media not only in the country’s west, but also in other parts of Afghanistan, to build support for Afghan-led peace and reconciliation efforts. UNAMA supports journalists’ forums to provide media workers an opportunity to network, share their experiences and, most importantly, bring communities together through accurate news and reporting.
The United Nations continues to support the Afghan government, consistent with its international human rights obligations, to implement measures that improve journalist safety and that foster an open media where no voice is silenced through fear.
Organized by UNAMA’s regional office in Herat, the televised series of programmes was aired by Asia TV and rebroadcast by radio partners in Farah, Ghor and Badghis provinces, reaching an audience estimated at one million people in Herat and in the surrounding provinces.
UNAMA works with various institutions and individuals, including religious leaders, provincial councils, community leaders, youth groups, women and local media stations to create platforms – using radio, social media and television – for Afghans to engage in dialogue on pressing issues affecting their communities.
At almost every UNAMA-backed event, local media partners not only record the discussion and debate for later rebroadcast, but also create new programmes around the issues that are raised, extending the discussion and creating new opportunities for local voices to be heard on issues such as peace, reconciliation, government transparency, human rights and rule of law.
In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.