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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg 2021

Contested sovereignties: The case of the “New World Information and Communication Order” at UNESCO in the 1970s

From the book Band 21 Cultural Sovereignty beyond the Modern State

  • Jonas Brendebach


Intense debate on the reform of international relations and greater global justice marked the 1970s. Global economic reform was hotly discussed at the UN and elsewhere under the label of a “New International Economic Order”. A similar initiative emerged at the UN’s cultural organisation UNESCO, proposing a “New World Information and Communication Order”. This article argues that, early in the 1970s, representatives of the Non-Aligned Movement and the leadership of UNESCO promoted the inclusion of culture into the pursuit of a new international order, focusing above all on global media practices. The debate about a ‘New World Information and Communication Order’ (NWICO) produced far reaching claims about the impact of media on (national) culture(s), their role in national development and international politics. Notions of sovereignty stood at the heart of this debate. While UNESCO claimed a central role in defining culture’s place in international relations and offered newly independent states an arena for sovereign performances in international politics, the debate itself was essentially about probing the limits of state sovereignty with a view to media and communication.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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