Telling the RMI story

Marshall Islands President David Kabua, seated center, was joined at the opening of the Summit on Democracy by, from left: Ambassador Neijon Edwards, Rev. Jeledrik Binejal, Speaker Kenneth Kedi, keynote speaker Andy Winer, lead workshop trainer Floyd K. Takeuchi, and Pacific Media Institute co-founder Giff Johnson. At back are elected leaders and media workshop participants. Photo: Chewy Lin.

JOANNA OLSSON, EUNICE BORERO, TAMIKO JAJO and TEBOUA TIMEON ERITAIA*

The Republic of the Marshall Islands could be more effective in Washington on nuclear legacy, Compact of Free Association and other issues if it had a strategic communications plan, according to the keynote speaker at last week’s summit on Media and Democracy.

Andy Winer, Executive Vice-President of Strategies 360, said many issues are discussed in Washington, DC, yet in his experience the issue of the RMI’s nuclear legacy is rarely brought up with the Congress or the siting administration.

Winer believes that a unified voice through a communications strategy would guide the country’s priorities and interests.

“If you don’t tell your own story, who will?” Winer said warning that unless countries make a case for their national priorities there is a risk of being ignored or worse, being misrepresented by lobbyists who fail to understand the issues, history, and culture of the RMI.

Students, journalists and public information officers who participated in last week’s Media and Democracy Workshops in Majuro also attended the Summit on Democracy June 22 at the ICC to report on the presentations. Working on their story to meet a deadline while at the Summit is one of the workshop teams, from right: Lita Flood, Jamrianna White, Kalah Wannie Anjolok, and Olya Pedro. Photo: Giff Johnson.

Winer says the Pacific is once again a battleground for great power rivalries and today it is a militarily aggressive China. He added, while Washington, DC can be criticized for “taking its eyes off of the Pacific Islands for a generation, it is back and made it clear that it considers the Pacific to be a strategic priority.”

“So, my call today as one Pacific Island friend to another, is to urge you to use this important summit as the foundation to develop a clear, concise and consistent national communications strategy,” Winer said.

Those comments resonate with Alson Kelen, chair of the Marshall Islands’ National Nuclear Commission.

“The real story of the Marshall Islands needs to be shared through the voices of its people reaching the depths of Washington, DC,” Kelen said. “It is crucial to include the human aspect of this issue, acknowledging the immense challenges being experienced by the Marshall Islands.”

The Marshall Islands holds a pivotal position in the Pacific, with Kwajalein Atoll and its US military base serving as a crucial component of US security strategies.

  • The writers participated in last week’s Media and Democracy Workshop for public information officers. They are, respectively, from the Nauru President’s Office, Marshall Islands Chamber of Commerce, Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority, and the Broadcasting and Publications Authority of Kiribati.

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