Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 03/2010

Broadcasting in UN Blue: The Unexamined Past and Uncertain Future of Peacekeeping Radio

Bill Orme

February 2010

National Endowment for Democracy


For almost two decades, United Nations peacekeeping missions have routinely set up local radio stations that almost immediately have become the dominant national broadcasters of those post-conflict countries. From Cambodia to Liberia, these UN stations have helped end violent conflict and make political transition possible. They have provided citizens with trusted local news programs and nonpartisan discussion forums, often for the first time. The UN radio stations were also often the first to reach all corners of these warravaged countries. In national elections after peacekeeping interventions, the UN stations were the main if not the only source of nonpartisan voter information and campaign coverage, crucial for any functioning democracy.