"Since it was developed about a century ago, radio has proven to be an exceptional means of communication, debate and exchange – indeed, it is one of the most accessible and widespread types of media," Audrey Azoulay, director-general of UNESCO said in a statement.
Azoulay said the accessibility of radio is the reason UNESCO uses the medium to reach people, for example in sub-Saharan Africa where during the COVID-19 pandemic radio has enabled the continuity of learning despite the difficulties.
"Aside from being a technical instrument, the radio also provides a space where democratic debate is fostered and enriched. It is therefore essential to safeguard both the independence and the diversity of what is, in many respects, a genuine modern-day agora," Azoulay said.
Following its theme focusing on radio as a platform for conflict prevention and peace building, UNSECO said radio stations shape public opinion, framing a narrative that can influence domestic and international situations and decision-making processes.
"This unique ability to reach out the widest audience means radio can shape a society’s experience of diversity, stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, be represented and heard," UNESCO said in statement.
UNESCO said though radio can fuel conflict, (such as what happened in Rwanda in the 1990s,) the medium can moderate conflict, prevent escalation or bring about reconciliation and reconstruction talks.
The organization says independent reporting and programming "provide the foundation for sustainable democracy and good governance by gathering evidence about what is happening," informing citizens in impartial and fact-based terms, "what is at stake and brokering dialogue among different groups in society."
The United Nations agency aimed at promoting world peace and security, established World Radio Day in 2011. The day was later adopted by the United Nations General Assembly as an international day.
"UNESCO calls on everyone – listeners, radio broadcasters and audiovisual professionals – not only to celebrate radio’s potential, but also, and especially, to make greater use of radio as a unique instrument of peace," Azoulay said.