Media and Information Literacy As a Means of Preventing Violent Extremism.

Author:Al-Nasser, Nassir Abdulaziz

Since its inception more than 10 years ago, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) recognized media literacy as an educational and cultural area that needed to be addressed, particularly when aiming at building bridges of better understanding between individuals of different religious and cultural backgrounds. UNAOC sees the field of media literacy as an opportunity for the development of peacebuilding initiatives, addressing polarization that too often provokes identity-based violent confrontations.

The Report of the High-level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations notes:

The constant exposure of populations to media presents an educational challenge, which has increased in the electronic and digital age. Evaluating information sources requires skills and critical thinking .... Separating fact from opinion, evaluating text and image for bias, and constructing and deconstructing a text based on principles of logic are teachable skills. Media literacy instruction is not widely recognized for its importance as an aspect of civic and peace education and therefore few instructional programs have been developed as part of basic modern education. (1) The Report recommends that "media literacy programs should be implemented in schools, particularly at the secondary level, to help develop a discerning and critical approach to news coverage by media consumers" and "to promote media awareness and development of Internet literacy to combat misperceptions, prejudices and hate speech." (2) UNAOC took these recommendations to task. At its first forum in Madrid in January 2008, it presented a Media Literacy Clearinghouse that has continued to grow, becoming the main United Nations platform for the global and multilingual distribution of media literacy-relevant resources and information. One of the outputs of that first forum was the creation, in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), of a global network of universities working on media literacy as a platform for intercultural dialogue.

UNAOC agrees with the former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who said, following the adoption of the Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014), (3) that "over the long term, the biggest threat to terrorists is not the power of the missiles--it is the politics of inclusion". (4) UNAOC also recognizes in line with the preamble of that resolution that education and developing counternarratives...

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