Many Voices One World, also known as the MacBride report, was a 1981 UNESCO publication written by the International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems, chaired by Irish Nobel laureate Seán MacBride. Its aim was to analyze communication problems in modern societies, particularly relating to mass media and news, consider the emergence of new technologies, and to suggest a kind of communication order (New World Information and Communication Order) to diminish these problems to further peace and human development.
Among the problems the report identified were concentration of the media, commercialization of the media, and unequal access to information and communication. The commission called for democratization of communication and strengthening of national media to avoid dependence on external sources, among others. Subsequently, Internet-based technologies considered in the work of the Commission, served as a means for furthering MacBride's visions.
While the report had strong international support, it was condemned by the United States and the United Kingdom as an attack on the freedom of the press, and both countries withdrew from UNESCO in protest in 1984 and 1985, respectively (and later rejoined in 2003 and 1997, respectively).
The MacBride Commission
The International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems was set up in 1977 by the director of UNESCO Ahmadou-Mahtar M’Bow, under suggestion by the USA delegation. It was agreed that the commission would be chaired by Seán MacBride from Ireland and representatives from 15 other countries, invited due to their roles in national and international communication activities and picked among media activists, journalists, scholars, and media executives.
The members of the MacBride Commission were:
- Elie Abel (USA)
- Hubert Beuve-Méry (France)
- Elebe Ma Ekonzo (Zaire)
- Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia)
- Sergei Losev (Soviet Union)
- Mochtar Lubis (Indonesia)
- Mustapha Masmoudi (Tunisia)
- Michio Nagai (Japan)
- Fred Isaac Akporuaro Omu (Nigeria)
- Bogdan Osolnik (Yugoslavia)
- Gamal El Oteifi (Egypt)
- Johannes Pieter Pronk (Netherlands)
- Juan Somavía (Chile)
- Boobli George Verghese (India)
- Betty Zimmerman (Canada), in substitution of Marshal McLuhan, then ill
The commission presented a preliminary report in October 1978 at the 20th General Conference of UNESCO in Paris. The Commission's seminal session on new technologies to address the identified problems, was hosted by India at New Delhi in March 1979. The final report was delivered to M’Bow in April 1980 and was approved by consensus in the 21st General Conference of UNESCO in Belgrade. The commission dissolved after presenting the report.
Because of controversy surrounding the report and the withdrawal of support by the UNESCO leadership in the 1980s for its ideas, the book went out of print and was difficult to obtain. A book on the history of the United States and UNESCO was even threatened with legal action and forced to include a disclaimer that UNESCO was in no way involved with it. The MacBride report was eventually reprinted by Rowman and Littlefield in the US, and is also freely available online.