The United Nations calls to end government funding of media titles that encourage racism against migrants

The United Nations in session.

The United Nations has made a rare intervention into the world of advertising by calling for public bodies not to support media outlets that promote xenophobia and racism.

A clause (known as Objective 17) contained within the UN’s recently published draft Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration aims to “eliminate all forms of discrimination” and “promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration”.

The clause calls upon the UN’s 193 member nations to: “Promote independent, objective and quality reporting of media outlets, including internet based information, including by sensitizing and educating media professionals on migration-related issues and terminology, investing in ethical reporting standards and advertising, and stopping allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants, in full respect for the freedom of the media”.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, said of the Global Compact document: “Migration raises profound issues: around State sovereignty and human rights; around what constitutes voluntary movement; the relationship between development and mobility; and how to support social cohesion. This compact demonstrates the potential of multilateralism: our ability to come together on issues that demand global collaboration – however complicated and contentious they may be.”

Jake Dubbins, managing director of Media Bounty and co-founder of the Conscious Advertising Network, said of the move: “This is the first time that I’m aware of that the United Nations has made any comment in relation to government ad spending and diverting ad funds away from titles that contribute to a hostile environment for migrants and, therefore, for wider society. It’s a significant intervention and, I believe, a major step in the right direction. Any media titles, on or offline, that leverage xenophobia and division as a business model need to change their ways.”

The Conscious Advertising Network (CAN) is a cross industry group that believes industry ethics must now catch up with the technology of modern advertising.

Dubbins said: “Brands do not live in a vacuum and the money spent on advertising has a profound impact on society. The advertising industry, from brands and agencies to adtech, is perfectly placed to consciously change both their operations and the content they produce in pursuit of making communications that are better for all.”

The ambitions of the CAN include the eradication of ad fraud, a diverse industry producing diverse content, withdrawal of brand ad funding for media titles promoting hate and division, informed consent for online experiences and safeguards on advertising to or around children.

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