SIGNIS: MEDIA FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE SIGNIS is a non-governmental organization that includes members from 140 countries. As the "World Catholic Association for Communication", it brings together radio, television, cinema, video, media education, Internet, and new technology professionals.
SIGNIS was created in November 2001 from the merger between two organizations (Unda, for radio and television; and OCIC, for cinema and audiovisual) that were both created in 1928. Its very diversified programmes cover fields such as the promotion of films or television programmes (juries at important festivals: Cannes, Berlin, Monte Carlo, Venice, Ouagadougou...), the creation of radio, video, and television studios, production and distribution of programmes, supplying specialized equipment, training professionals...
The understanding of media language and the ability to respond to social injustices through media is at the heart of the work of SIGNIS members. This commitment to social justice and communications rights through the promotion of independent and vibrant media serving the community and common good continues to direct the SIGNIS commitment to Media for a Culture of Peace.
Children are most vulnerable members of society; without respect for their dignity and rights we cannot build a culture of peace. SIGNIS members work with others, at international, inter-governmental and local levels; to secure a better future for our children - tomorrow’s promise. That is why SIGNIS decided to choose ‘Media for a Culture of Peace – Children’s Rights, Tomorrow’s Promise’ as the theme for its next World Congress to be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand (17-21 October 2009).
The Congress will highlight how the media can contribute to the building of a culture of peace, especially through the creative empowerment of tomorrow’s generation.
Building a Culture of Peace.
SIGNIS enjoys consultative status with UNESCO and the UN (ECOSOC); we are also represented at the Council of Europe where our representative Fr. Gabriel Nissim OP, chairs the Human Rights Grouping of NGOs and is on the Steering Committee on Human Rights.
SIGNIS-World is actively building alliances with other international organizations that share our concern for transforming cultures by working to eradicate injustices, and build respect for human dignity. In 2008 links with other Catholic organizations like Pax Christi and the International Catholic Children’s Bureau (BICE) were further developed with plans for concrete collaboration in 2009. SIGNIS is a partner in the BICE photo exposition “Hope and Dignity for Each Child”. The photo exposition is currently circulating through key parts of the Globe including UN establishment sin New York and Geneva, advocating the Rights of the Child. It will be presented at the SIGNIS world Congress in October 2009.
In June, 2009 SIGNIS participated in the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn on the theme "Conflict prevention in the multimedia-age". The event brings together media users and producers, peace building and conflict prevention specialists, representatives from the fields of media technology and security, public relations, the military, the arms industry as well as members of government and political parties to network and discuss the challenges and solutions for the future. SIGNIS and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflicts are co-hosted a workshop on the topic of "Partnership for peace: cooperation between media and civil society institutions".
“Catholic Media and Peace Building in Africa” was the theme of the SIGNIS-Africa Assembly was held in 2008 in Dar es Salaam (haven of peace). The seminar, co-organized by SIGNIS-Africa and CEPACS, the Social Communication department of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar-SECAM, sought to promote peace building in Africa through the Catholic media. Participants from across the continent resolved to “mobilize all resources for the promotion of peace, true reconciliation and good governance on the continent through effective use of our professional tools to promote truth, respect for human dignity, justice and peace as well as promote African cultures that develop these values.”
In collaboration with the Afrika Film Festival, Leuven, SIGNIS published a second book Images and Democracy (Images & Démocratie: Les Rwandais et les Burundais face au cinéma et à l’audiovisuel) by SIGNIS Media editor Guido Convents. The book explores the history and impact of cinema and audiovisual culture in Rwanda and Burundi. Guido presented the book at Hillywood Film Festival in March 2008 in Kigali, Rwanda, in the presence of Rwandan Culture and sports Minister Joseph Habineza.
An important aspect of SIGNIS work is promoting greater awareness of human rights, justice and media rights issues by providing regular news and information on these topics. Besides the news on the website SIGNIS has developed a dedicated advocacy web blog with additional information and news.