The Achievements and Challenges of the United Nations’ Security Council in the Field of Media and Public Communication


Since its foundation in 1945, the United Nations (UN) has undertaken numerous efforts to strengthen freedom of information and media development across the world. The General Assembly and the Security Council are the two main policy-making organs of the UN. The General Assembly has adopted hundreds of resolutions on media and public information. Yet, these resolutions have, according to the Charter of the UN, no binding character. The Security Council, in contrast to the General Assembly, has the power to adopt resolutions, which do have binding character. Yet, it only deals with media and public information in very few specific cases, which constitute a threat to international peace and security.

From an International Relations’ perspective, it can be argued that the UN is trapped between legal idealism and political reality (see Kelson-Schmitt debate). Even though, there is a general consensus within the UN to promote human rights and social progress, including freedom of information and media development, political efforts of the UN are commonly distracted by the principle of state sovereignty. The aim of this paper is to review the policy-outcomes of the UN Security Council in the field of media and public information from 1945 till today and assess to which degree the UN was able to transform ideas on freedom of information and media development into reality. The investigation will be based on a qualitative content analysis of a sample of 62 resolutions of the Security Council, which were identified through a set of topical key words in the UN Digital Library.

At the IACMR conference 2019, I presented a paper which investigates the achievements and challenges of the UN General Assembly in the field of media and public information. The results of the new paper will also be compared to the results of the previous paper to contrast the policy-outcomes of the General Assembly with the policy-outcomes of the Security Council. As digital rights and cyber-crime play a more and more important role in global governance, this study will also address the theme of the conference. Furthermore, it will be of local interest to the host country, as China is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council.