Bearing Witness by ProQuest

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									THEWORLDTODAY.ORG AUG-SEPT 2009
PAGE 12
          GENEVA CONVENTIONS AND THE MEDIA Nik Gowing, MAIN PRESENTER, BBC WORLD NEWS TV, VISITING FELLOW, REU
          THE NEW TYRANNY OF SHIFTING INFORMATION POWER IN CRISES’: HTTP://REUTERSINSTITUTE.POLITICS.OX.AC.UK/PUBLICATIONS/RISJ.HTML




          BearıngWıtness
                                                            b
          Avoiding responsibility
          for military misdeeds has                                           UILDING MOMENTUM TO
                                                                                challenge abuses of the
          just got much harder, as                                              Geneva Conventions requires
                                                                                proof of apparent violations.
          the Iran election protests                                            For this to succeed, eye
          show. Millions of                                                     witness evidence and
                                                             supporting documentation are vital.
          ordinary people carry                                 By chance there might also be some kind
                                                             of orthodox media coverage, especially
          with them the means to                             video or still images. Until now, the extent
          enforce the laws of war                            of such imagery has largely been the result
                                                             of good fortune. A professional journalist
          and Geneva Conventions.                            or cameraperson might have been present
                                                             at the vital moment. But this traditional
          Mobile phones and                                  media dynamic and limited ability to record
          digital cameras allow                              theatres of conflict or crisis is shifting
                                                             dramatically and at high speed.
          everyone to be a witness.                             The fast-changing realities of the new


                           | INDEPENDENT THINKING ON INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
                                                                                     THEWORLDTODAY.ORG AUG-SEPT 2009
                                                                                                                                     PAGE 13
TERS INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF JOURNALISM, RECENTLY PUBLISHED ‘SKYFUL OF LIES AND BLACK SWANS:




         media and information dynamic in a crisis,         and political credibility in a crisis is shifting.
         mean there is a far greater chance that the        In turn, the dynamic is also making more
         actions of those who violate the laws of armed     vulnerable and brittle the record and public
         conflict or the Conventions will be recorded       perceptions of the actions of governments,
         digitally. This is because of the proliferation    political leaders and the military and corporate
         almost everywhere of what I have christened        institutions which assume they will dominate
         ‘information doers’ who have the capacity to       information by right. In a similar way, actions
         record whatever is unfolding around them.          of terrorists and insurgent groups are
             Video confirming the nature of protests in     highlighted in real time more vividly than ever.
         Burma in 2007, Tibet in 2008, then Iran and           The paradox is that while vast numbers
         Xi
								
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