U.N. Ambassadors Discuss Terrorism, War, and the Roles of Media

Posted: April 7, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Fran Rensbarger

The George Mason community is invited to participate Thursday in a unique opportunity to discuss media coverage of the war on terrorism and war against Iraq with Javad Zarif , ambassador of Iran, and Colum Lynch, Washington Post United Nations (U.N.) correspondent. Ahmad Kamal, the former ambassador of Pakistan, will moderate the discussion.

The conversation on “Terrorism, Mass Media, and Diplomacy” will take place from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Verizon Auditorium on the Prince William Campus with a live two-way videoconferencing hookup. Arranged through The Ambassador’s Club at the U.N., participants from this end can ask the panelists in New York City questions in real time. This videoconference is part of International Week, and it is also a weekly event for the 26 students in the class GOVT 444: Global Issues with U.N. Ambassadors.

“Does the media add to our fears or help resolve them? Has diplomacy been truly used before moving into war?” questions Kamal. “As for the media coverage on terrorism and Iraq, the American press has really not done a very good job. They have covered it as if it were a football game without really analyzing the deeper causes of events or the longer term consequences. The foreign press, and especially the British press, did a much better job of covering both terrorism and the current war and its human tragedy,” he says.

Kamal founded the Ambassador’s Club during the height of U.S. Sen. Jessie Helms’ anti-U.N. stance in an effort to try to educate students about the United Nations from an alternative perspective. In 1999, George Mason became the first of several universities to partner with the club.

Kamal is currently a senior fellow of the U.N. Institute of Training and Research. He has authored numerous books and articles and speaks on a wide range of subjects covering information technology, cyber security, disarmament, and trade. Gheit has served his country in numerous diplomatic posts since his career began in 1965. Lynch previously wrote for the Boston Globe from Central America.

“A videoconference can be a very exciting thing–it is like jazz, because it is improvised,” says Kamal. “You never know in advance exactly how it will turn out because the questions and comments from the student participants make each videoconference absolutely unique.”

Dennis Sandole, professor at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, will be on hand for a pre-conference warmup and post-conference wrapup. Sandole teaches a course on “War, Violence, and Conflict Resolution.”

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