World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Cartoonists Can Help Promote Peace: Annan

Cartoonists Play A Large Role In Forming Public Opinion, Can Help Promote Peace: Annan

New York, Oct 16 2006 5:00PM

Highlighting the important role of cartoons in forming public opinion, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on cartoonists to help society “promote peace and understanding,” while warning that their work can also encourage intolerance as shown by the deadly furore earlier this year over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Mr. Annan, speaking at the UN’s fifth Unlearning Intolerance seminar, said this dispute showed how “vital and urgent” it is to engage cartoonists in discussion of how their work may be seen and felt by different groups of people, and he suggested some form of self-censorship may be appropriate but no blanket ban by the State on offensive material.

“Cartoonists have a big influence on the way different groups of people look at each other. They can encourage us to look critically at ourselves, and increase our empathy for the sufferings and frustrations of others. But they can also do the opposite. They have, in short, a big responsibility,” he told cartoonists from all over ῴhe world gathered in New York.

“We need to engage cartoonists in the discussion. They can help us to think more clearly about their work, and how we react to it. And perhaps we can help them to think about how they can use their influence, not to reinforce stereotypes or inflame passions, but to promote peace and understanding. Certainly, they can help each otῨer to do that.

Mr. Annan told the seminar, which also included other media representatives, officials and members of the public, that he did not believe the solution lay with State censorship, pointing out that if all offensive cartoons were banned an “important form of social and political comment” would be prevented.

“I am not convinced that the solution to this problem lies in invoking the authority of the State at all. Even if we decided to ban only cartoons that are deeply offensive to large numbers of people, we would still be asking the State to make some very subjective judgements, and embarking on a slippery slope of censorship.

“I would much prefer to leave decisions about what to publish in the hands of editors, and of the cartoonists themselves… Does that involve “self-censorship”? In a sense, yes – but exercised, I would hope, in a spirit of genuine respect for other people’s feelings, not out of fear. Does it involve “political correctness”? Not, Iᾠhope, if that means being dull and pretentious. But again, yes, if it means remembering that other people have feelingῳ.

He also cautioned against the danger of getting into a “cartoon war,” in which one group seeks to retaliate for the offence it has suffered, or believes it has suffered, by publishing whatever it thinks will be most offensive to another group, and instead called for better understanding and mutual respect between people of different faiths and culture.

The theme of the seminar, ‘Cartooning for Peace’, came from French cartoonist Jean Plantu, who has worked with the Le Monde newspaper since 1972, and he suggested it to Mr. Annan in January before the uproar over the Prophet Mohammad caricatures.

“We don’t want war, we want peace,” Mr. Plantu told reporters, as he emphasized the positive role that cartoons can play in promoting dialogue. As part of the debate, UN headquarters in New York is also hosting an exhibition by 18 well-known cartoonists from around the world.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


ADC: Statement On The Assassination Of Shireen Abu Akleh

Early this morning in Jenin, Occupied Palestine, revered Palestinian voice Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist for Al Jazeera, was assassinated by Israeli Occupation Forces snipers...

Ukraine: UN Rights Office Probe Spotlights Harrowing Plight Of Civilians

Almost 76 days since Russia invaded Ukraine, countless civilians remain caught up in the horror and destruction of war, UN rights investigators said on Tuesday... More>>

UN: Michele Bachelet On Inter-religious Clashes In Ethiopia

I am deeply distressed by the recent violent clashes between Muslims and Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia in which at least 30 people were reportedly killed and more than 100 others injured... More>>

Access Now: Elon Musk’s Twitter Buyout Must Not Come At The Expense Of Human Rights

Following today’s announcement that Elon Musk will acquire complete ownership of Twitter in a cash sale of around 44 billion USD, pending shareholder approval, Access Now urges Twitter’s Board, employees, and shareholders... More>>

UN: Biodiversity And Ecosystem Protection Highlighted On Mother Earth Day

Marking International Mother Earth Day, UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid urged on Friday, for collective action to safeguard biodiversity and protect ecosystems... More>>

Ukraine: Hundreds More Reach Safety After Fleeing Besieged Mariupol
In Ukraine, humanitarians said on Wednesday that hundreds of people have managed to reach safety after fleeing Mariupol, where there’s also been condemnation for the killing of Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravicius... More>>