The cover image of WACC's 2018 Annual Report. A boy takes a selfie on a mobile phone as people gather around a fire inside a refugee processing center in the Serbian village of Presevo, not far from the Macedonian border. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants -- including children -- flowed through Serbia in 2015, on their way from Syria, Iraq and other countries to western Europe. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
WACC’s vision of “Communication for all,” means that its purpose is “to disturb the conscience of the world by being critical, opening up dialogue and creating greater understanding,” says General Secretary Philip Lee.
In his introductory message to WACC’s 2018 Annual Report, Lee notes how, during its 50-year history, the organization has “raised and strengthened the voices of marginalised and vulnerable people worldwide.”
Lee cites occasions when WACC opposed apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s, supported Zimbabwe’s liberation from colonialism in the 1980s; began studying and analyzing how women are represented in the world’s media; trained communication professionals, published a series of books and a quarterly journal, Media Development, among other things.
WACC can continue its advocacy for communication rights “by speaking out and enabling others to speak for themselves,” said Lee. “Today’s challenge continues to be exercising moral leadership by discovering new meanings to the values WACC embraces. It will do this by asking how communication rights can help advance gender equality; how communication rights can help achieve the sustainable development goals; and how digital ethics can help create a fairer and more just world.”
As WACC celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, members and partners looked back on how their efforts have supported thousands of grassroots communities in advancing their communication rights, says the annual report, “Real People, Real Lives.”
WACC also looked to the future, including how – as a pioneer in the communication rights movement – it could continue to make a difference in today’s challenging era of digital communications, says the report.
In 2018, WACC continued its support for changes in communication policies and structures at the local, national, regional and international levels, according to the report’s executive summary.
But WACC also focused on a new track of transforming media representation of migrants and refugees, a direct response to the forcible displacement last year of a record 68.5 million people worldwide. “WACC’s regional members are engaged in research and advocacy that respond to the migration realities in each context, with an emphasis on media’s impact on public discourse and government policy,” the executive summary notes. “At the global level, WACC is compiling the regional evidence for a unique analysis of media coverage and the state of communication rights for people on the move.”
Through position papers, videos and work with international networks, WACC and its partners also highlighted how communication rights help to advance all 17 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.