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The McBride Commission and its Findings


A major reason that the United States withdrew from UNESCO in the 1980’s was the anger generated by UNESCO’s discussions of a New World Information and Communications Order.

A major contribution to that discussion was a UNESCO publication, “Many Voices, One World“. This was the report of UNESCO’s International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems. The Commission is ofter known as the McBride Commission, after its chair, Sean MacBride.

In 1970’s and 1980’s there were concerns from many people about how the then broadcast media was dominated by the very few developed countries. Most channels carried American Movies and serials.

These concerns about unbalanced media coverage around the world was coined as New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO).

The UNESCO acknowledged these concerns and set up a commission under Sean MacBride. This was known as MacBride Commission, they came out with a report “Many Voices, One World”. Also part of this commission was acclaimed author Gabriel Garcia Marquez
They came up with a really long report with approx 80 points stating how the media should evolve so as to make it fair and peaceful for the world.

US and UK felt this was restricting free press and saw no need to curb their gains. They left the UNESCO over this matter and rejoined it only in 2003 and 1997 respectively.


As a result of the report, UNESCO is described by Sourcewatch as having launched the International Program for the Development of Communication. (The United States is now a donor to this program.) The Program web site states that it “exists to strengthen the means of mass communication in developing countries, by increasing technical and human resources for the media, by developing community media and by modernising news agencies and broadcasting organizations.”

Sean McBride was Irish Minister for External Affairs when the Council of Europe was drafting the European Convention on Human Rights and is credited with being a key force in securing the acceptance of this convention. He was President of the International Board of Amnesty International for 14 years, and Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists for seven. He was also elected Chair (1968-1974) and later President(1974-1985) of the International Peace Bureau. In 1973 he was elected by the General Assembly of the United Nations to the post of UN Commissioner for Namibia with the rank of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his life’s work in 1974. He died in 1988.

The McBride principles, named after Sean McBride, were adopted as US law in 1998 creating a fair employment code for US companies in Northern Ireland, and contributing to the peace in Ireland.

The MacBride Round Table on Communication is a communications rights advocacy group created in 1989 to stimulate discussion of issues embodied in the 1980 UNESCO MacBride Report.

Relevance in today’s world

Today, modern media technologies, particularly the Internet and satellite communication, have become the infrastructure that has made possible a new global market system and a new context for the spread of political, economic and cultural ideas. Emerging with these new powers have come opportunities for the elimination of global poverty and the greater capacity for citizens of the world to bear witness to and fight against violations of human rights, wherever they may happen. But alongside the many positive changes are the perils that must be avoided, not least of which are the uses of these new means of communication by some to violate the dignity and humanity of others through public deception, economic exploitation, political surveillance and repression, and other abuses of power.

Ref: GPF

Questions, suggestions and comments


  1. Profile photo of Kumar Harsh Kumar Harsh

    What made you write this blog? 😛
    Jo kahin nhi hai wo CD me hai 🙂

    1. Profile photo of Confused Billi Confused Billi

      The content team had a few members who worked with an important Think Tank in India and they were analysing the importance of International Commissions and power of ideas around that time. I think around that time this blog was written when traditional media’s relevance etc was being questioned.

      1. Profile photo of Kumar Harsh Kumar Harsh

        Great work. Many important issues are covered in these blogs, which were relevant to this year’s mains. Those who would have read this article, will be at an advantage in GS2, this year.

      2. Profile photo of rashmi hooda rashmi hooda

        hi,,what is this cd feature,,is it a regular feature or it is some paid initiative?

        1. Profile photo of Confused Billi Confused Billi

          CD Feature is a free initiative. These are the articles which are not originally written by the CD team but are researched and compiled from various sources. The reference link is given in the bottom of the article. You will find them in the blog section from time to time – http://www.civilsdaily.com/blog/

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