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WSIS Forum 2015: Join UNESCO and its partners onsite or remotely!

Fri, 22/05/2015 - 15:53

UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General, Mr Getachew Engida, will be giving the opening remarks on behalf of the Organization on Tuesday, 26 May.  Together with the Heads of agencies of ITU and UNCTAD, Mr Engida will also co-chair the High-level meeting of the United Nations Group on the Information Society.

UNESCO will organize six sessions at WSIS Forum 2015. On Wednesday morning UNESCO will bring together high level panelists to discuss the topic “Making Empowerment a Reality – Accessibility for All”. The special focus of this session is on access to information and knowledge using accessible and inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for inclusion of persons with disabilities. UNESCO is proud to be organizing this high level dialogue, as the issue is of the utmost importance. Despite UN’s commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as technological progress, many persons with disabilities still experience barriers to access information. The high level dialogue seeks to raise awareness about disability issues and draw attention to the need of mainstreaming accessibility of ICTs for persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda. The dialogue session will be chaired by Mr Indrajit Banerjee, Director, Knowledge Societies Division, Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO.

In addition, UNESCO will organize five more Action Line meetings focusing on Free, independent and pluralistic media and the Post-2015 development agenda; Culture and ICTs as drivers of sustainable development; Ethical dimensions of the information society and sustainable development; Access to information to achieve Sustainable Development Goals; and Teacher ICT competencies to support inclusive Knowledge Societies. All the sessions will attempt to raise awareness and find solutions to the emerging and on-going challenges present in information societies today.

Joining online:

For those unable to participate in this year’s WSIS Forum in person, the event can be easily accessed remotely by choosing the desired session on the WSIS Forum Agenda online and selecting the preferred type of remote participation (Webcast or Adobe Connect). Remote participants will be required to fill in a real-time registration form in order to access the session. Each session will have 10 to 15 minutes dedicated to the questions from remote participants. Onsite registration, as well as further information on remote participation is available on ITU’s WSIS Forum 2015 Website.

More information on UNESCO organized sessions:

More information on the Forum:

Enhancing the preservation of documentary heritage in the Middle East and North Africa

Fri, 22/05/2015 - 09:59

Within this context, UNESCO and the National Commission of Lebanon for UNESCO organized a three-day regional training workshop for French-speaking Arab countries, which opened on 20 April 2015 at the UNESCO Office in Beirut. The workshop, convened in the framework of the Memory of the World (MoW) Programme, seeks to promote preservation of, and access to the region’s unique archival holdings and library collections. This strategic activity also aims to encourage and support local efforts to identify, develop and submit new proposals for consideration and inscription on the Memory of the World Register. This will make many valuable historical collections accessible to the general public, which is critical to ensuring the survival of the Middle East and North Africa unique documentary heritage.

The Memory of the World workshop was opened by Prof. Zahida Jabbour, Secretary-General of the National Commission of Lebanon for UNESCO, who also read a welcome message to the participants by H.E. Raymond Araygi, Minister of Culture.  Mr Sulieman Sulieman welcomed the participants on behalf of the Director of the UNESCO Beirut Office,  Dr Hamed Al-Hammami. Opening remarks were also delivered by Ms Iskra Panevska, UNESCO’s officer in charge of the Memory of the World Programme. In her welcome remarks, Ms Chafica Haddad, Chair of the Intergovernmental Council of the Information for All Programme (IFAP) extended, on behalf of the IFAP Bureau and Council, her warm greetings to all participants and experts attending this important regional event. “Through its information preservation priority area, IFAP has been focusing attention, over the last years, on the fragility of new data storage media and the threat this presents to the ability of future generations to access digital knowledge. IFAP has also been raising awareness, building the capacity of information professionals, supporting international cooperation and contributing to policy responses aimed at promoting the development and implementation of digital preservation techniques and standards,” she said.

The capacity building workshop in Beirut brings together representatives from eight Middle East and North Africa countries (Algeria, Djibouti, the Comoros Islands, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and Oman), and 22 national participants from Lebanon, as well as two international experts, Ms Frederique Bazzoni, a member of UNESCO’s MoW Register Sub-committee, and Mr Abdelaziz Abid, former Head of the Memory of the World Programme.

The workshop interactive sessions offered to participants an overview of UNESCO’s heritage programmes, in general, and the functioning of the Memory of the World Programme, in particular. The participants acquired practical skills and knowledge on how to use the MoW Register Companion, to identify and select items for nomination, to use the selection criteria, and what to do in case if their nomination is rejected. They got acquainted with some past examples of inscriptions on the Register and with the significance of establishing national and regional MoW committees. The training also focused on the crucial role of the Memory of the World Register in increasing global awareness about the existence and the significance of documentary heritage.

Participants discussed, among other things, the establishment of an Arab Regional Memory of the World Committee as a cooperation mechanism, which would also encourage further training within the region, initiate and manage specific projects and build a regional network of experts on documentary heritage preservation.

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 to guard against collective amnesia calling upon the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination. The Programme vision is that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance. The Programme is thus intended to protect documentary heritage, and to help networks of experts to exchange information and raise resources for the preservation of, and the access to, documentary and archival collections of valuable records.

UNESCO conference on fighting radicalization of youth on the Internet to be held in Paris next month

Wed, 20/05/2015 - 16:12

Organized in the framework of the Intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP), the Conference will provide a platform for debates regarding the current challenges of youth radicalization on the Internet. It will also sensitize about the reality and the potential risks if the issue remains unaddressed in a relevant and holistic way.

Furthermore, the Conference will seek to identify specific areas for UNESCO’s action, across all its areas of competence, to support Member States in tackling these important challenges. The knowledge shared at the Conference will be taken forward through pilot projects, which will also act as a learning lab for more effective policy responses in the future.

This Conference which will attract some 200 delegates from around the world and will be conducted in English and French.

The intergovernmental Information for All Programme was established in 2001. It provides a platform for international policy discussions, cooperation and the development of guidelines for action in the area of access to information and knowledge. The Programme supports Member States to develop and implement national information policy and strategy frameworks.

Progress in the implementation of WSIS outcomes discussed at the Commission on Science and Technology for Development

Wed, 20/05/2015 - 16:01

The CSTD meeting, which took place from 4 to 8 May 2015 in Geneva (Switzerland), started with a High-level Opening, in which Indrajit Banerjee, Director of UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division addressed the plenary on behalf of the Director-General. Mr Banerjee highlighted UNESCO’s key role in the implementation of the WSIS outcomes and its contribution to the WSIS Review process: “The international community can continue to count on UNESCO for its major contributions in the field of access to information and knowledge, e-learning, e-science, cultural diversity and local content, media and ethics,” he said. Mr Banerjee congratulated CSTD for a balanced WSIS review report, seizing and analysing key developments, while also noting some shortcomings.

This CSTD session was organized around two priority themes, the Strategic foresight for the post-2015 development agenda and digital development. The second key agenda item was WSIS, including the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the WSIS outcomes at the regional and international levels, summarized in the Ten-Year Review Report.

During this week, a resolution on WSIS outcomes was negotiated, which will be used as input for the related UN General Assembly process (June-December 2015) and a second resolution on the role of science, technology and innovation (STI) for development. Both resolutions were adopted and will be put forward as the CSTD contribution for the ECOSOC High-Level Segment (July 2015) discussion dedicated to Managing the transition from MDGs to the SDGs - what will it take?

Peter Major (Hungary, who played a key role in WSIS and Internet Governance issues for years and facilitated the WSIS resolution negotiations at this CSTD session) was elected as chair of the 19th CSTD session.

The chair of the 18th session, Ms Johnson, closed the session by thanking the delegates and the secretariat for accomplishing all the objectives of the session and for the spirit of compromise. Even though the WSIS draft resolution does not "accurately reflect the richness of the discussion, we can leave here satisfied," she said.

Building capacities of young journalists in view of forthcoming elections in Burkina Faso

Tue, 19/05/2015 - 10:17

UNESCO, having more than two decades of global experience in building capacities of the media professional to best cover elections, is well positioned to undertake this endeavour. The Organization provides in-depth training on election, investigative and conflict sensitive reporting, supporting technical reform and sustainable media development, and developing professional election reporting, which is particularly essential in the context of democratic transition. As countries are undergoing political reforms and changing electoral procedures, the need to keep citizens well informed is a preventive measure against vote buying, and electoral fraud and controversy.

The training seminar in Burkina Faso was opened by Bila Dipama, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Secondary and Higher Education, who stated that “knowledge is a powerful tool, which is fundamental for UNESCO’s mandate”. Sanmalmin Aristide Dabire, Secretary-General of the Burkina Faso National Commission for UNESCO, recalled in his opening remarks the difficult political situation of October 2014 in the country, and highlighted the important position that the media holds in the democratic process and, therefore, the importance of UNESCO’s work related to the training of young journalists.

The training seminar focused on giving young journalists a thorough understanding of the election process, its importance and the role of the press during this period. In the first session, Socio-Political Crises in Africa and the Responsibilities of Journalists, the trainer encouraged participants to debate and respond to questions such as: “Do journalists need ethical rules?” “Can journalists be politically engaged?” and “Can journalists receive rewards from heads of political parties?” Conflicts in Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire were used as examples where journalists had taken a negative role.

In the second session, the young journalists became familiar with the concept of democracy, the country’s Constitution and the African Union, followed by a discussion on the electoral code of Burkina Faso. Later sessions focused on more technical aspects of election reporting including non-biased reporting.

This training workshop was a substantial contribution by UNESCO to the overall efforts aiming at improving the quality and the professional standards of reporting in the current media landscape, especially in view of the forthcoming national elections.

Biblioteca Mayor of the University of Cordoba in the Latin America and the Caribbean Memory of the World Register

Mon, 18/05/2015 - 12:24

The event was attended by Mr Franciso Tamarit, Rector of the National University of Córdoba, and Ms Gabriela Cuozzo, Director of the Biblioteca Mayor of the University, among other high authorities. Mr. Guilherme Canela Godoi, Secretary of the Regional Committee of the Latin America and the Caribbean Memory of the World Register,  was also present. Mr Canela referred to the collection as "another monumental expression of the Jesuit historical legacy in Latin America and Caribbean", stating that "This heritage must be preserved, socialized and known by everyone. These are the three pillars of the Memory of the World".

The celebrations continued in the reading room of the library up to April 17. There, open lectures were offered by leading experts in Documentary Heritage of UNESCO, including Mr. Alfredo Eduardo Fraschini, Ph.D. Philosophy and Letters at the University of Buenos Aires. It was also the opportunity to take a journey to the history of UNC through its documents, and access the Jesuit Collection.

The Jesuit Collection of the Biblioteca Mayor of the National University of Córdoba is one of the largest collections that make up the valuable bibliographic heritage of the Institution. Its origin dates back to 1613, when the Sociedad de Jesús endowed the Colegio Máximo an important library known as Biblioteca Mayor (Big or Greatest Library) to differentiate it from the other smaller libraries in the Order. The "Library", representative of the civilization of its time, proudly shows through its shelves the works of St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Thomas and St. Augustine; aligned with works of Aristotle, Descartes, the five volumes of mathematics and Wolf "Opuscula Pathologica" of Haller, among other scientific writings which are still preserved.

The Memory of the World Programme of UNESCO promotes the preservation, by the most appropriate means, of documentary heritage that has world significance, and national and regional importance. It also supports awareness by Member States of their documentary heritage, in particular aspects of that heritage which are significant in terms of a common global memory. Furthermore, it seeks to develop products based on documentary heritage for making them available for wide distribution, ensuring that the originals are kept in the best possible conditions for storage and security.

Since 2002, the Memory of the World Register Latin America and the Caribbean has accepted 95 nominations including many regional collections on politics, philosophy, literature, music, text, graphics and audiovisual format of regional and national scope. The Latin American and Caribbean list also addresses issues of human rights, indigenous issues and slavery, among others.

This distinction adds to that received by the ancient complex of the Bloque Jesuítico, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in November 2000, thus transformed into a museum area comprising not only the former headquarters National University of Cordoba, but also the Church of the Sociedad de Jesus, the Domestic Chapel, the Residence and the Colegio de Monserrat.

A video about the Biblioteca Mayor can be accessed here (in Spanish).

UNESCO Supports Global Media and Information Literacy Week and International Award

Wed, 13/05/2015 - 10:15

Global MIL Week unites diverse actors all across the world who are committed to promoting MIL as a way to foster social inclusion, intercultural and interreligious dialogue as well as to enable citizens of all ages to make the best use of the Internet and electronic media while protecting themselves from potential risks.

The MIL week offers important opportunities for members of the Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy (GAPMIL) and the Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue University Network (MILID Network) to draw worldwide attention to how Media and Information Literacy helps empower citizens.

>> Please see the 10 Ways to Celebrate MIL Week 2015.

International MIL Award

A new feature of the Global MIL Week 2015 will be the launch of the International MIL Award.  The MIL Award is coordinated by GAPMIL and MILID Network with the support of UNESCO and UNAOC. It honors an educator who has had positive impact on learners through media and information literacy. Click here to apply or nominate someone.

Since 2012 previous MIL Weeks were led by UNESCO and UNAOC within the framework of the MILID Network. The MILID Network consists of 15 universities representing all region of the world and is the research arm of GAPMIL.

GAPMIL is a groundbreaking effort to promote international cooperation to ensure media and information literacy for all to drive open and inclusive development. This pioneering initiative was launched during the Global Forum for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy which took place from 26 to 28 June 2013.

For more information please visit the GAPMIL website.

World Press Freedom Day celebrated in Tunisia

Tue, 12/05/2015 - 15:53

On behalf of the Tunisian Government, Neji Jalloul, Minister of Education and President of the Tunisian National Commission for UNESCO, opened the conference. The event was attended by more than one hundred participants, including representatives of media and civil society, journalists, human rights activists, students, experts and lawyers.

David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, was the keynote speaker at the conference. “First of all, I would like to congratulate Tunisians for the work they have done, over the last four years, to change the law and the practices in their country, which is a model to other countries around the world,” he stated. “My second message is to keep up the momentum and to continue fighting for freedom of expression and against any type of state censorship. And my third message is to use all available tools to build a system of ethical journalism, which is an integral part of every democratic society,” he added.

The conference aimed at raising public awareness on the role of freedom of expression and of the press in the transitional period that Tunisia is undergoing. The debate focused on the progress and challenges in this domain, the current state of gender equality in the media and the security of journalists (online and offline).

“We participate in this event to support our colleagues facing difficulties. It is a great opportunity and very enriching to meet with civil society, journalists and media institutions. It is a very enriching occasion for freedom of expression defenders,” said one of participating journalists.

Students from the Tunis-based Institute for Press and Information Sciences (IPSI) compiled a special edition of a journal for the 2015 World Press Freedom Day in Tunisia (to download the journal, in Arabic, please click here).

UNESCO will continue strengthening awareness about the fundamental role of press freedom as an essential element for democracy, and calling upon all stakeholders to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference.

This activity received support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Youth makes the news on World Press Freedom Day

Tue, 12/05/2015 - 11:37

The newsroom consisted of 12 Latvian and 20 international journalism students as well as emerging journalists, photographers, videographers, podcasters, and social media producers. The “youth newsroom” concept begun with the aim to provide opportunities to youth to be engaged in the latest discussions in freedom of expression and press freedom with leading practitioners, experts, and advocates at an international forum.

“Could you imagine how is it to work in a room full of young people from all over the world who love journalism? I guess you will believe me that it was a great experience! I am sure that members will bring home not only impressions of beautiful Riga but very useful professional experience and inspiration that will help them to be press freedom ‘ambassadors’ in their home countries” said Ms Vita Dreijere, a PhD Candidate in Communication Studies from University of Latvia who served as the Editor-in-Chief of the 2015 Youth Newsroom.

The WPFD 2015 multicultural newsroom produced two editions of the Avviso newsletter which were distributed in the morning of the WPFD as well as a whole range of multimedia coverage that are available on http://www.youth-newsroom.com. The newsroom also produced an “Express Interview” segment where the participants were asked the questions “How Can Journalism Thrive?”

The participation of the international youth was made possible by the funding from the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, Sweden and the NET-MED Youth project which is funded by the European Union.

The next World Press Freedom Day’s main celebration will take place at the Finlandia Hall located in Helsinki, Finland from 2 to 4 May 2016.

UNESCO addressed the Freedom Online Coalition conference in Mongolia

Mon, 11/05/2015 - 18:15

The annual conference of the 26-country coalition to promote Internet freedom was opened with a keynote by H.E. Mr Tsakhia Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia. He described online freedom as a “global commons” that is essential for human and sustainable development, as well as for the realization of human rights.

Opening remarks were delivered by eight senior government officials from FOC Member States, and by Mr Engida, who thanked FOC for contributing to the global multistakeholder consultations that informed the comprehensive study on Internet-related issues, which UNESCO Secretariat undertook on mandate from the UNESCO General Conference.

Mr Engida recounted the components of the consultative process that culminated with the CONNECTing the Dots conference, held at UNESCO on March 2015. He referred to the Outcome Document, which encourages the sharing of best practices between Member States and other stakeholders, in order to address security and privacy concerns on the Internet in accordance with international human rights obligations. (Access the full text of Mr Engida’s speech: please click here).

For two days, representatives from governments, civil society organizations, and Internet companies discussed in plenary and side sessions around the 2015 FOC Conference’s theme: Internet Policy Making – Best Practices for Promoting Internet Freedom.

UNESCO’s contribution to the Conference included also chairing the session on “Framing Plenary Progressive Policy Making for States” which was participated in by Mr Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor for the USA; Ms Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media; Mr Viktors Makarovs, Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia; Professor Kyung-sin Park, from the Seoul-based Korea University; and Ambassador Maria Leissner, Secretary General of the Community of Democracies.

Speaking at the plenary Future Internet Trends, the Director of Ranking Digital Rights Ms Rebecca MacKinnon mentioned the recent publication of the UNESCO Internet freedom series which she compiled: Fostering Freedom Online: the Role of Internet Intermediaries. Another recent publication from the same UNESCO series, titled Building Digital Safety for Journalism: a Survey of Selected Issues was featured in an article in the special edition of a magazine distributed to all the Conference’s participants.

On 3 May 2015, in the build-up to the FOC Conference, Mr Engida opened a Roundtable “Focus on Mongolia” on the occasion of the local celebration of the World Press Freedom Day. This was co-organized by the Confederation of Mongolian Journalists, the specialized Mongolian media NGO Globe International Center, the Open Society Forum, and with the support of UNESCO Beijing Office and of the Austrian Embassy.

Addressing the Roundtable in the presence of more than 80 Mongolian media managers, members of parliament, journalists, and civil society leaders, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Ms Mijatovic said that democracy was not compatible with journalists being attacked, threatened, harassed, and imprisoned.

The President of the Mongolian Globe International Center Ms Khashkhuu Naranjargal stressed the importance of realizing freedom of expression in practice. Ms Migeddorj Batchimeg, Member of the Mongolian Parliament, highlighted how “free media contributes to protect national sovereignty and national security”. The Roundtable’s opening was also attended by Mr Gundegmaa Jargalsaikhan, Secretary-General of Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, and by representatives of the diplomatic corps.

During the visit to Ulaanbaatar, Mr Engida had also a series of bilateral meetings, including with the Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr Lundeg Purevsuren, and with Mr Buya Tulga, Vice Minister for Education, Culture and Science. Mr Engida also attended a special meeting of the UN Country Team, and he was conferred the title of “honorary professor” at the Mongolia University of Science and Technology. 

At the Closing Plenary of the 2015 FOC Conference, the Director for Human Rights Policy at the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ms Nina Nordstrom said that Finland will be the venue of UNESCO’s flagship celebration of World Press Freedom Day in 2016.

The Jordanian Media Development Indicators in the making

Mon, 11/05/2015 - 16:37
The MDI workshop held in Amman in April brought together the international and national researchers for the second time to discuss the status and way forward for the Jordanian MDI process. The second draft that the local research team produced over the last months is currently under review. By June, a first edited final draft will be submitted to UNESCO, an advisory board of the study and several peer reviewers before entering the final publication process.

Discussion on youth´s presence in media organized by UNESCO and MedMedia in Amman

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 14:43

The occasion bringing this lively mix together was the kick-off conference for “Youth on Screen”, a collaborative initiative framed under two projects funded by the European Union, NET-MED Youth and MedMedia, which are being implemented, respectively, by UNESCO and by a consortium led by BBC Media Action. “Youth on Screen” also enjoys support from the Jordan Media Institute, and the European Broadcasting Union. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency contributed to its launch event as well.

Young civil society representatives argued that they currently find insufficient space for the reflection of their views in traditional media. Among them was Imane Bounjara, a Moroccan project coordinator at e-joussour online radio.

“Youth have been born in a digital world, are no longer just passive recipients but also active producers of content…. The information society has changed, and civil society has understood this… Television has to integrate itself into this new dynamic, in order to reposition itself and catch up with the rhythm of youth”, Bounjara stated.

Also serving to stimulate debate was the presentation of preliminary findings of media monitoring efforts focused on the presence and image of youth in mainstream television in Tunisia and Morocco, which is being facilitated under the NET-MED Youth project in partnership with MENA Media Monitoring.

In turn, participants working in mainstream media called attention to the challenges they face when developing youth-focused programmes. Ideas were shared on how to capture the attention of young audiences and engage them, through cross-media products and interaction through social media, as was done through the Generation Quoi? project in France, for example. Moreover, a specific session focused on examining the financial implications of producing this type of programmes, including possible funding sources and marketing strategies.

Another panel was dedicated to exploring how media and civil society organizations can productively work together despite a lack of trust often existing between them, their diverse agendas and notions of what is considered “newsworthy”. The conclusion was that strengthened linkages can bring rewarding results for both: CSOs can help media access certain groups and provide content to generate captivating human interest stories, while media can be instrumental in expanding the reach and appeal of their messages. However, a fruitful collaboration implies investing time in relationship building, setting ground rules, sharing information and understanding their respective needs, among other key aspects.

The overall mood was one of enthusiasm and willingness to work together, as reflected in the words of May Marei, the young Palestinian coordinator of the Voices from Gaza project.

“I think that this can be the start of new unique TV programs and experiences. I cannot wait to see the result that could come up of gathering such efforts and different backgrounds with rich experience,” said Marei.

Ameni Mabrouk, from Taabir inTunisia, added that the launch conference had been very helpful. “There were creative ideas that have inspired me, and it was a good opportunity for networking”.

The “Youth on Screen” initiative aims precisely at fostering experience sharing, the strengthening of capacities and enhanced cooperation within and across countries. It is expected to lead to the development of TV programmes and multimedia projects that better respond to the needs and aspirations of youth, and that further enable them to connect with each other and exchange their views on topics that concern them.

You can follow NET-MED youth activity online through #netmedyouth and Like the project’s official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/netmedyouth.

Needs and challenges of press councils in South East Europe discussed at World Press Freedom Day in Riga

Mon, 04/05/2015 - 13:52

The five media councils of South East Europe: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia met to discuss the initial findings of the study on the current state of self-regulation in the region. This took place during a side event organized on 2 May by UNESCO in Riga, Latvia as part of World Press Freedom Day 2015.

Early this year, UNESCO consultant Catherine Speller travelled to the region to hold meetings with representatives of the councils and with external stakeholders. Speaking of her mission, Speller explained : “although the work of media councils in the region is often discussed, it appeared that an up-to-date, detailed presentation of the councils' operations was missing. Now that this information has been collated as part of this study, it can be used to identify strategies that encourage the long-term functionality and sustainability of self-regulation in the region.”

Lack of financial sustainability combined with the reluctance of some members to accept moral sanctions and the limited participation of online media are shared concerns for press councils. The study identifies possible areas of support for the future including concrete suggestions for each press council. During the event, Speller provided the media councils and other participants from the region with an overview of the main findings, which were then discussed by the councils. Representatives from Albania and Turkey also shared their perspectives on self-regulation in their countries.

Representatives of press councils from South East Europe welcomed the discussion. Katerina Sinadinovska, from the Macedonian Council of Media Ethics – the newest of the councils - said “when discussing our challenges, we should still keep in mind the collective successes of our media councils in recent years. In spite of scarce budgets, we have undertaken many profile-raising activities for civil society, trained journalists and editors and dealt with numerous complaints. We must build on this important work in the future.” All the councils underline the need to find resources that keep them running during a time of financial crisis.  

Tarja Turtia from UNESCO commented “this study could help to enhance coordination among donors and partners, particularly in the framework of UNESCO’s ongoing projects in the region”. There is an increasing interest on the part of the international community to strengthen the capacity of press councils, as part of a broader strategy to promote media freedom. The benefits of the region's self-regulatory councils have been widely recognized, including the valuable service they provide to civil society. But to succeed, they need to be effective and well-known, and there needs to be cooperation from the media. The website of UNESCO's Communication and Information Sector provides more information about the Organisation's work in this important area.  

This work has been undertaken within the framework of the EU-UNESCO project “Media Accountability in South East Europe”, which started in January 2013 and encourages professional and ethical media reporting by supporting the creation and strengthening of media self-regulatory mechanisms in the region.

Campaign for a media-inclusive sustainable development goal to intensify

Mon, 04/05/2015 - 09:59

This came to light on May 2 during a roundtable addressed by UNESCO, Article 19 and the Global Forum for Media Development.

Speaking on behalf of UNESCO, Fackson Banda, a programme specialist based at the UN agency’s Paris headquarters, explained that UNESCO’s mandate included ensuring the ‘normative soundness’ of the goal, adding that there were already established international agreements which reflected ‘an internationally recognized and shared framework’ for realizing the projected target of SDG 16.

Banda said: ‘Goal 16, which broadly focuses on governance, includes a two-tier target on ensuring public access to information and promoting fundamental freedoms in an equally two-tier context of national legislation and international agreements’.

This point was echoed by various other speakers, including Bill Orme, who spoke as a UN representative on behalf of the GFMD – a civil society organization that represents over 200 members.

He outlined the process leading up to the proposition of the goal, expressing optimism that the UN General Assembly was on track to confirm it as one of the seventeen such goals which will replace the present Millennium Development Goals in September.

Barbora Bukovska, representing Article 19, emphasized her organisation’s commitment to continuing its advocacy for the retention of the issue of public access to information in the ongoing negotiations for SDGs.

Several participants agreed with the panelists, and called for the intensification of the campaign, both at national and international levels, to ensure that Goal 16 did not fall off the agendas of the UN Member States.

Discussions of the SDGs have now moved into a technical phase of elaborating indicators to measure the different targets suggested for the proposed goals. Indicators being proposed for Goal 16 include the presence and implementation of legal, constitutional or policy guarantees for access to information, alongside the issue of the safety of journalists.

The UN Statistical Commission, composed of national statistical offices, is leading this process, with an expert group set up to provide the more ‘technical’ advice. UN agencies, including UNESCO through its Institute for Statistics (UIS), will serve as observers.

Other participants at the roundtable included the BBC Media Action, Center for International Media Assistance, Media Rights Nigeria, Internews, International Media Support, among several others.

Journalistic quality? The answer is audience trust

Mon, 04/05/2015 - 09:53

“First of all, we need to earn the trust of our audience”, said Cilla Benko, Director-General of Swedish Radio, adding that such trust would make it harder for politicians to “hurt” media organisations.

However, she stressed, audience trust could only come about by being truly independent and knowledgeable, enabling journalists to “ask the right questions”.

While agreeing with Benko, Yuli Ismartono of the Indonesian Tempo English Magazine, was quick to point out that, in some countries, building such trust could come at a price, including death.

A point that Musikilu Mojeed, Managing Editor of Premium Times, readily conceded was true of Nigeria where, as he put it, the quality of journalism could be affected by who owned the media.

The speakers further agreed that investigative journalism was an important indicator of journalistic quality, particularly if, as Maria Teresa Ronderos of the Open Society Foundation explained, it engaged the public in an act of “open journalism”.

As part of open journalism, she added, it was important to invest in good editors who could help contextualise information “in the sea of alternative media outlets”.

Paul Steiger, Founding Editor-in-Chief of ProPublica, agreed, emphasizing that media organisations needed the right kind of institutional culture and a diversified funding base to guarantee their independence.

Insights endure from the Bali Global Media Forum

Fri, 01/05/2015 - 08:40

The English version of the publication will be launched at the global ceremony in Riga, Latvia, and the Bahasa version is in production for a launch in Jakarta in mid-May.

“Media in support of sustainable development and a culture of peace” is a compilation of presentations delivered at the conference “Global Media Forum: the role of media in realizing the future we want for all”, co-organised by UNESCO and the government of Indonesia in Bali, during August 2014.

The publication includes a foreword by Dr Freddy Tulung, Director General of Public Information and Communications Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies, Republic of Indonesia. There is also a preface by Prof H. Arief Rachman, Indonesian National Commission to UNESCO, Ministry of Education and Culture, Indonesia.

The chapters that reflect presentations at the Global Media Forum include contributions by Naranjargal Khaskuu (Mongolia), Moez Chakchouk (Tunisia), Toby Mendel (Canada), Gwen Lister (Namibia), Maria Ressa (Philippines), and Uni Lubis (Indonesia).

Other contributions are by Prima Jesusa Quinsayas (Philippines), Edetaen Ojo (Nigeria), Ulla Carlsson (Sweden); Endy Bayuni (Indonesia), Harry Surjadi (Indonesia) and Lisa French (Australia).

These diverse views highlight how there are many kinds of media, ranging through community media, new media and social media, amongst others, and that there are many kinds of roles being played.

The contributions range from general analyses through to rich empirical case studies.

As a whole, the publication underlines the importance of press freedom if media is to actualize its full potential. A number of contributors also stress the value of investigative journalism, as well as journalism that is conflict-sensitive and gender-sensitive.

Empowering audiences, such as to be citizen journalists and to have Media and Information Literacy capacities, is a further theme in the publication. Also reflected are the issues raised about the safety of journalists and the problem that those who attack the media are doing so with impunity.

The publication resonates with the debates about media issues being reflected in the new Sustainable Development Goals currently being developed at the UN General Assembly.

It takes forward the “Bali Road Map”, which was the key outcome of the Global Media Forum, in advancing the case for mainstreaming media issues within thinking about development.

The concluding chapter states: “because media roles are so key to development, the Bali Road Map must continue as a living document into the future.”


Download the publication in PDF

 

 

Women Make the News: Let the Images of Women Speak!

Thu, 30/04/2015 - 15:27

The Beijing Platform for Action which diagnoses gender inequalities and proposes concrete actions to be taken by various actors in order to achieve equal opportunities for women and men – girls and boys – accentuates the importance of media and technology.

Each month of 2015 is designated to a theme which is related to objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action. The theme for the month of May concerns “Women and the Media” and focuses on women’s access to expression and decision-making and non-stereotypical representation in and through the media and information and communication technologies.

As a global community we all can play a role in promoting gender equality. The Internet is a massive medium of communication with over 1 trillion webpages. The homepages of your websites are like primetime news.

We invite stakeholders to participate in the “Women and the Media” campaign by featuring the images of women at all levels of society on your homepage during the month of May.

  • Write a clear and simple caption for the image
  • Link a strong paragraph to the image describing the person selected
  • Keep your chosen image above the scroll (on the upper half of the homepage)
  • Add “share” buttons to it
  • Tell UNESCO about your actions by completing this short form.

For more information please view the official flier for the campaign.  Please help to circulate the flier on the Internet.

The theme for June will be “Women and Conflict”.  Please keep your eyes on our website for more information.

It has been fifteen years since UNESCO launched Women Make the News initiative and the twenty years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

Women Make the News is a global online awareness raising and policy advocacy initiative aimed at drawing attention issues of gender equality in and through the media, driving debate, and encouraging action-oriented solutions until global objectives are met.

New “Freedom of Speech” Stamp on World Press Freedom Day

Tue, 28/04/2015 - 15:52

The idea for the special commemorative stamp came out during the planning process of main event of the World Press Freedom Day which will take place in Riga, Latvia from 2 to 4 May at the new National Library. Each year, UNESCO leads the international celebration of World Press Freedom Day with a main event as well as setting the global thematic. This year’s theme is “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, and Media Safety in the Digital Age”.

Known for their high artistic quality, the Latvian Post designed and produced the commemorative postage stamps. The stamps will be officially unveiled on 3 May (Sunday) and be presented to the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova who will be in Riga, Latvia during the opening session of the main event.

The “Freedom of Speech” stamp and enveloped are designed by Mr Ludis Danilāns. The basic price of the first day cover (the stamp with its first day envelope) is 0,57 € and approximately 100,000 stamps will be made available beginning from 10:00 am on 3 May 2015 at the Post Office Origo Stacijas laukumā 2, Rīgā.

To find out more about the “Freedom of Speech” stamp, please contact: The Philatelic Department of the Latvian Postal Service (Ziemeļu ielā 10, Mārupes pag., LV-1000 ; e-mail:  infofil(at)pasts.lv)

A UNESCO Expert Meeting on Digital Preservation Challenges held in Paris this week

Fri, 24/04/2015 - 14:58

The 45 experts, from 17 countries, representing memory institutions from countries, the IT community and the academia, explored the establishment of a multi-stakeholder platform for the discussion of digitization practices, digital heritage selection policies, standardization and digital heritage preservation involving all relevant stakeholders.

In his welcome remarks, the Director of the Knowledge Societies Division, Mr Indrajit Banerjee, stressed that “The issue of long term preservation and accessibility of digital heritage is a professional issue for all those involved in the creation, dissemination and management of knowledge to make sure that the information they deal with can be available for future generations.” He emphasized that “It is also a development issue for the society to guarantee that the accumulated knowledge could be utilized in the future to promote further progress”.

At the opening session, Ms Chafica Hadad, Chair of the intergovernmental Council of the Information for All Programme (IFAP), pointed out that one of the major objectives of IFAP is “to promote and widen access to information in the public domain through the organization, digitization and preservation of information, as well as to promote the use of international standards and best practices at local, national, regional and international levels.”

UNESCO launched the PERSIST Project in order to foster a high-level policy dialogue among heritage institutions, governments and ICT-industry on digital heritage preservation under the aegis of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme. In order to achieve this objective, participants first took stock of various digital preservation activities underway, reviewed existing selection policies for digital heritage and discussed potential solution-oriented approaches to long term digital preservation, towards establishment of a Global Repository for Heritage Software with relevant ICT industry partners. The experts worked in three working groups, namely a Content Task Force, a Technology Task Force and a Policy Task Force.

The Technology Task Force discussed the complexities of the digital environment including the vulnerability of digital documentary heritage to loss and destruction because of it being stored on fragile magnetic and optical media that deteriorate rapidly and that can fail easily from exposure to heat, humidity, or faulty reading and writing devices. Unlike the situation that applies to books, digital archiving requires relatively frequent investments to overcome rapid obsolescence introduced by technological change. In response to all these, the task force developed the concept of the Global Repository which is conceived as part of the gap analysis that highlighted the need to preserve software alongside the content. The Technology Task Force has therefore embarked onto a mission to create an international bank of legacy software.

The Content Task Force debated the issues related to selection of digital content for long term digital preservation which is one of the pressing issues currently faced by heritage institutions. Out of the massive amount of content available in a digital format, it has to be evaluated what needs to be preserved for future generations. Up to now there is no decisive method for selecting digital content and heritage institutions need to rethink their selection criteria from an analogue method to a digital one. In order to help public memory institutions with the emerging and ever changing environment and the resulting challenges, the Content task force will develop a set of Guidelines for the selection of digital heritage for long term preservation which will give institutions from all domains (Library, Archive and Museum) a starting point to thinking about their digital selection policy for long term access.

The Policy Task Force - Through its standard setting function, UNESCO aims to assist its Member States in formulating appropriate policies for effective management of their digital heritage. It is in this context that the Policy Task force discussed issues related to existing standards, policies and sustainability. The benefits of having a digital preservation policy in place include assisting with planning of a coherent digital preservation program and publicly indicating that the organization is serious about digital preservation. A digital preservation policy also states the mandate for an archive to support the preservation of digital records through a structured and managed digital preservation strategy. The policy details why selected material needs to be preserved; the strategy defines how this will be implemented.

Both the policy and the strategy are essential to ensure there is a verifiable and trusted means of preserving the integrity of digital records.  The digital preservation policy also needs to identify how other policies such as the acquisition or collection policy should be applied to the collection and management of digital records the archives and libraries seek to preserve.

In the following months, UNESCO will continue its cooperation with ICA, IFLA, LIBER, Microsoft and other relevant partners to continue and intensify the work on development of solution-oriented approaches in the area of digital preservation through its three task forces.

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 to guard against collective amnesia calling upon the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination. The Programme vision is that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance. The Programme is thus intended to protect documentary heritage, and to help networks of experts to exchange information and raise resources for the preservation of, and the access to, documentary and archival collections of valuable records.

IFAP’s capacity building efforts bear fruits

Wed, 22/04/2015 - 17:14

This specialized capacity-building forum organized in July 2013 in Kampala, in concert with the United Nations University (UNU) and the Government of Uganda was targeted to meet the needs of executive senior civil servants charged with directing current and future national e-governance initiatives in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, as well host country Uganda. The one week-long training event sought to enhance the role of e-governance initiatives in the effectiveness of national policy implementation and the delivery of public services to citizens. In particular, the programme emphasized how the goal of building of knowledge societies could be more effectively integrated into ongoing and future national information and e-governance initiatives. In this regard, officials were introduced and sensitized to the contribution that the IFAP National Information Society Policy Template could provide in the development, review and implementation of national information and knowledge societies policies.

The first South Sudan Information Communication Technology for Development Conference, held in Juba from 25 to 27 February, 2015  provided a launching pad for the practical application of the IFAP National Information Society Policy Template into South Sudan’s national policy planning processes. The IFAP Policy Template provided the framework for structuring this intensive three-day national and international co-operation, policy and partnerships building event which aims to support the creation of inclusive Knowledge Societies in the newly formed nation.  Drawing on the experiences of other nations and regions, but fully focused on South Sudan’s specific context and needs, the IFAP Template provided a methodological framework around which appropriate, comprehensive, forward-looking and sustainable ICT strategies that align with vision of its national development plan and poverty reduction strategy can be developed. Government ministries, institutions and parastatals involved in public service delivery, vocalized keen interest in mainstreaming the IFAP National Information Society Policy Template in national planning processes.

Similar reactions were also observed by Mr Jaco Du Toit, UNESCO’s Advisor for Communication and Information  (ACI) in the Nairobi Regional Office during a recent mission to Djibouti where he presented the IFAP Policy Template to Governmental officials. According to Mr Du Toit, “The government of Djibouti welcomed the IFAP Template as a key tool for developing a national roadmap to implement a Strategic Programme for the development of Information Technology in Djibouti. Not only did they view the IFAP Policy Template as a means to elaborate interventions and attract national and international partners in addressing the challenges of ICTs in Djibouti, but also as a key resource for sensitizing civil servants to the importance of ICT in public administration”.

According to UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General with responsibility for the CI Sector, Mr Getachew Engida, “I’m very pleased to see the growing interest across Africa, Asia-Pacific as well as Latin America and the Caribbean in this important IFAP resource which UNESCO’s General conference at its 36th session mandated as a tool  to support  Member States in  implementing national information policy frameworks for universal access to information and integrating them in their common country programming processes. I call on Member States to provide additional resources to support this tool that clearly responds to their needs. To broaden the reach, use and impact of the IFAP Policy template the Secretariat is exploring the development of an electronic version of this important resource that will incorporate an online case library to which national experiences, statistics and new resources can be readily made available to policy-makers. However, to achieve this goal, tangible demonstrations of solidarity are key”.

The intergovernmental Information for All Programme was established in 2001. It provides a platform for international policy discussions, cooperation and the development of guidelines for action in the area of access to information and knowledge. The Programme supports Member States to develop and implement national information policy and strategy frameworks.

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