Declaration of Cajamar

Cajamar, Brazil


WE, the participants, of the International Seminar "Media for Citizenship in the Electronic Age: Community Television and New Technologies" convened by Videazimut in Cajamar, Brasil on July 3-5, 1996, who have come from Asia, the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, North America, Latin America and Africa, who work in all fields and aspects of communication for development and democracy at the local, regional and international levels, aiming to bring about permanent changes that would guarantee access for all to the means of communication, in the same spirit of the four symposia held by Videazimut in Montreal (1990), Maputo (1991), Lima (1992) and New Delhi (1994), and in solidarity with Videazimut's role as an international coalition for the democratisation of communication to promote active participation and development:

REITERATE our support for the principles stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Declaration on the right to development;

AFFIRM that, in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the recommendations in the MacBride Commission and Maitland Commission Reports, the right to expression - including the right to communicate - must be recognised and defended as inalienable for individuals and peoples and as indispensable to the democratization of societies;

RECOGNISE and support the efforts and actions taken by multilateral organisations like UNESCO, the UNDP and the ITU for encouraging initiatives by civil society in the field of communication. In particular, we note the series of conferences organised by UNESCO since Winhoek (1991) to support independent media, and the recent UNESCO commissioned report, ROur Creative DiversityS, which officially recognises the alternative sector and makes recommendations encouraging it to evolve along side the commercial and state sectors;

SUPPORT the decisions taken during the 4th Conference on Women held in Beijing and, in particular, the Chapter J of the Plan of Action dealing with the rights of women to communicate;

RECOGNISE that communications as the driving force behind today`s globalization process, is also the focal point for the supporters of progressive change. The industrial and commercial logic that underlies this change is appropriating technology for the purpose of the commodification of information and communication. If access to information is determined by the ability to pay, the impact of this will be the exclusion of certain social actors, of certain peoples, of certain cultures in participating in the worldwide audiovisual and electronic networks.

RECOGNISE and bear witness by our actions to the unprecedented and widespread proliferation of initiatives for the free and democratic use of means of communication by alternative, community and popular media organizations. These actions illustrate the will, the capacity and the creativity deployed by civil society in the social appropriation of information and communication technologies, and they constitute an international social movement offering a democratic alternative to the market-dominated political arena.

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AFFIRM that the development of alternative communication practices based on democratic principles of liberty, equality and participation, which defend plurality and cultural diversity, is essential to the creation of fora which support citizen's participation in a democratic process;

DEMAND that governments, international organisations and private sector enterprises accept and act on the needs of civil society in the area of social communication. In a spirit of openess and equity, they must create an adequate legal and economic framework which will facilitate and reinforce universal access to alternative, participative, democratic, independent media, and create a public space for debate and consultation in which representatives of civil society will participate in the determination of communication policies. In this way, the civil society can become a fully fledged actor in the development of communication systems at the national and international levels;

INVITE governmental, non-governmental and multilateral organisations working in international cooperation to support democratic and non-commerical initiatives that acknowledge the centrality of the right to communicate, and the strategic importance of communications for development;

PROMOTE the active and equitable participation of the women in all decisions relating to the information and communication systems, and support the portrayal of positive images of women in the media;

SUPPORT indigenous people in their struggle to reaffirm their identities and their right to communicate;

ENCOURAGE the forces of civil society to engage in collective and responsable actions to broaden and deepen the use of appropriate new information and communication technologies, as well as create and strengthen mecanisms of citizen consultation and participation. In this spirit, we participate actively in the growing international movement to unite networks and international coalitions working in different areas of alternative communication;

ASK the Government and the information and commercial enterprises of Brasil to include the participation of civil society, represented by the National Forum for the Democratisation of Communication.

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THEREFORE, we encourage all individuals and organisations worldwide working in the field of communications for development and democracy to collaborate in solidarity and work together, at every opportunity, to achieve these goals.

Cajamar, Brasil 5 July, 1996.

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