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UNESCO and SciELO launch a new publication on 15 years of Open Access

Tue, 27/01/2015 - 11:10

The title is published to provide a best case practice model that can be replicated in other parts of the world.  UNESCO and SciELO stand committed to support interested countries or a group of Member States to initiate the SciELO model of Open Access journal publication.

Highlighting the significance of the publication, Dr. Indrajit Banerjee, Director of the Division of Knowledge Societies, Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO noted “SciELO was launched four years before the Budapest Declaration, and six years before the Berlin Declaration on Open Access and pioneered the concept of Open Access and brought research to the easy reach of the common people. From 10 journals at a public workshop in São Paulo on its inception year to the current level of 1000 journals and 500,000 freely downloadable articles is a remarkable feat and an example of Open Access approach par-excellence!

Similarly, noting the significance of the publication, Mr Abel Packer, Director of SciELO stated that “the pioneering spirit and scope of SciELO is to improve the quality, visibility, usage and impact of journals that are available Openly. SciELO integrates the functions of indexing, journal performance evaluation, online open access publication and dissemination following international standards of the highest quality.” SciELO is implemented through a network of national collections of journals that extends through 16 countries, most of Latin American and Caribbean plus Portugal, South Africa and Spain.

Following the mandate given to UNESCO in 2009, UNESCO has been working in the field of Open Access to strengthen the organization's clearing-house mandate. The 187th session of the Executive Board approved UNESCO's  strategy for  the  promotion of Open Access to scientific information and research,  which was also adopted by the General Conference at its 36th session. Implicit in the strategy was to disseminate key approaches to Open Access that are not only pioneering but also are path-breaking that set a replicable example to the whole world.  The current publication is published within the framework of the same mandate. 

SciELO (The Scientific Electronic Library Online) is an electronic library of Open Access Journals. It is an integral part of a project being developed by FAPESP - Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo and created in partnership with BIREME - the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information. Since 2002, the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) also supports SciELO.

Talks at the Guildhall to celebrate the UNESCO Memory of the World Register

Mon, 26/01/2015 - 15:05

The talks, staged by the Council’s Heritage Services in the Bath Guildhall on 14, 21 and 28 January 2015, present the perfect opportunity to learn more about some of the most significant written documents in the history of the world, which are held right here in the UK.

Mr Ben Stevens, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said on that occasion: “These documents were of great importance in the past and are also of great importance to us today – helping us to better understand the world in which we live.”

The first talk about the Mappa Mundi took place on Wednesday 14 January. It was delivered by Sarah Arrowsmith, the Education Officer at Hereford Cathedral where it is displayed.  This is the only complete example of a large mediaeval world map intended for public display.  It gives us a window onto the world as it was known in the middle ages.  It is drawn on vellum (calf skin) and holds historical, anthropological, ethnographical, theological, biblical and classical images and information.  It presents a view of a world very different from ours. It wasn't intended to help find places. It relied as much on pictures as on words; many of its viewers couldn't read. It was to be treated reverentially. The world is depicted as round and flat. It's populated with such diverse creatures as Adam and Eve, Noah and his beasts, Emperor Caesar Augustus, a man riding a very unrealistic crocodile, and an imaginary being called a Sciapod who shelters himself from the burning sun with one huge foot. Mythological beasts jostle for space. The 12 winds are named and represented by dragons and grotesque squatting figures. Jerusalem is the center of the world. Countries and oceans are squeezed and stretched to fit into the map's circle. The Mappa Mundi is a work of history, zoology, anthropology and especially theology. It reveals how 13th-century scholars interpreted the world in spiritual terms. The map covers all time, from creation to doomsday. Mappa Mundi is on prominent display at the gorgeous cathedral in Hereford, England

On Wednesday 21 January, the Magna Carta was the subject for Seif El Rashidi, the Magna Carta 800 Manager at Salisbury Cathedral.  2015 will be the 800th anniversary of its signing.  Only four copies of the original Magna Carta exist, and one is held by Salisbury Cathedral.  Considered by some to be the most significant document in our history, it set out for the first time the English principles of liberty, law and democracy and had a worldwide influence which endures to this day.  The charter imposed constraints on royal authority in the areas of taxation, feudal rights and justice, thereby limiting unfair and arbitrary behaviour by the king towards his subjects. The Magna Carta was signed in June 1215 between the barons of Medieval England and King John. 'Magna Carta' is Latin and means "Great Charter". The Magna Carta was one of the most important documents of Medieval England. It is regarded as “an icon for freedom and democracy throughout the world”.           

The final talk – to be given by Roman Baths Manager Stephen Clews about the Roman Curse Tablets from Bath – will be on Wednesday 28 January 2015.  They were included on the UK Register earlier this year. The Tablets are prayers requesting the assistance of the goddess Sulis Minerva in righting wrongs and ask for sometimes blood curdling punishment for the perpetrators of crimes. Some were written backwards to increase their potency. They provide a very different insight into the Roman world from that which comes down to us from other surviving documents.

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.

Congolese community radios trained in the production of local programmes

Mon, 26/01/2015 - 11:48

After a review of basic concepts and techniques related to the production of thematic programmes in the area of health, agriculture, environment and education, trainers and participants analyzed the results of surveys that had been conducted prior to the workshop among the participating radios. The surveys had focused on the following main subjects: developing respect for small farmers; providing farmers, health personnel, teachers and other stakeholders in the project with the opportunity to speak and be heard; offering the most useful information when it is required; and broadcasting programmes on the topics of local concern in a constant and entertaining way.

During the workshops participants also learnt how to disseminate key information by other means than broadcasting, such as letters, phone-in programmes and SMS, and how to better promote programmes of main interest for their audiences. In order to make radio programmes entertaining, participants did simulation exercises, which helped them organize in-phone programmes and quizzes, use dramatic elements like suspense and story-telling, use humor appropriately and regularly, and include local music to animate their programmes.

The workshops were held simultaneously in the premises of the following four radio stations: in Kasumbalesa for Radio Déogracias, in Kenge for Radio Kimvuka na Lutondo, in Kimpese for Radio Bangu, and in Moanda for the Moanda community radio.

UNESCO launches a new publication in its Internet freedom series

Mon, 19/01/2015 - 16:02

The case study research, collaboratively delivered by 16 international researchers led by Ms Rebecca MacKinnon and Mr Allon Bar, as well as 14 members of International Advisory Committee, covers of three categories of intermediaries:

  • Internet Service Providers (fixed line and mobile) such as Vodafone (UK, Germany, Egypt), Vivo/Telefônica Brasil (Brazil), Bharti Airtel (India, Kenya), Safaricom (Kenya),
  • Search Engines such as Google (USA, EU, India, China, Russia), Baidu (China), Yandex (Russia) and
  • Social Networking Platforms such as Facebook (USA, Germany, India, Brazil, Egypt), Twitter (USA, Kenya), Weibo (China), iWiW (Hungary).

The research showed that internet intermediaries are heavily influenced by the legal and policy environments of states, but they do have leeway over many areas of policy and practice affecting online expression and privacy. The findings also highlighted the challenge where many state policies, laws, and regulations are – to varying degrees - poorly aligned with the duty to promote and protect intermediaries’ respect for freedom of expression. It is a resource which enables the assessment of Internet intermediaries’ decisions on freedom of expression, by ensuring that any limitations are consistent with international standards. The research also recommends specific ways that intermediaries and states can improve respect for internet users’ right to freedom of expression. This is through promoting:

  • adequate legal frameworks and policies consistent with international norms,
  • multi-stakeholder policy development,
  • transparency of governance,
  • accountability in self-regulation,
  • mechanisms for remedy, and
  • public information and education.

UNESCO has succeeded in raising awareness and promoting good practice through past research in the UNESCO Series on Internet Freedom: Freedom of connection, freedom of expression: the changing legal and regulatory ecology shaping the Internet (2011) and Global survey on Internet Privacy and Freedom of Expression (2012).

This rich material in this, the third in UNESCO Series on Internet Freedom, will be of great value to all stakeholders. These are industry actors, UNESCO Member States, technical community, Intergovernmental organizations, private sector, civil society, and others both national and international.

This research is linked to UNESCO draft conceptual framework of “Internet universality” which draws from UNESCO decisions on the Internet, and recognises that four core principles should inform cyber actors. These principles are that the Internet should be human rights-based, open, accessible for all and governed by multi-stakeholder participation.

The research also helps to inform UNESCO’s implementation of a comprehensive and consultative multi-stakeholder Internet study as mandated by the Organization’s 37th General Conference Resolution 52. The study, due in 2015, covers UNESCO’s key competence areas of access to information and knowledge, freedom of expression, privacy, and ethical dimensions of the information society, and contains possible options for future actions.

The research has been presented at a number of international events including the 9th Internet Governance Forum and the 4th UN Forum on Business and Human rights. The publication will initially be launched at UNESCO’s forthcoming Internet conference “Connecting the Dots: Options for Future Action” (3-4 March 2015).

IPDC Chair supports UNESCO event “Journalism after Charlie”

Thu, 15/01/2015 - 15:30

A special guest at the “Journalism after Charlie” event on 14 January at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Ms Shala underlined to the more than 400 participants why IPDC supported journalists’ safety.

She noted that while there are different reasons why journalists become targets of killers, there was also “something in common between the murdered Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, investigative journalists and political correspondents shot dead in Mexico, Philippines, Pakistan and Syria”.

“In all cases, these journalists and others have been killed because of the public role they play.  They have been killed by people who believe it is legitimate to stop words and images with violence. In all cases, the effect is the same. The murdered journalists cannot bear witness, and society no longer has the choice of knowing what they would have said.”

The Chair’s remarks mirrored those of speakers such as UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, the cartoonist Plantu, as well as journalists from several countries and religious leaders.

The Chair added that she herself worked on a daily basis with journalists in conflict regions and countries in transition. “These are the ones who dare denounce corruption, crime, human rights abuses. They are the ones who are threatened, arrested and even killed.”

She pointed out that IPDC monitors all these cases and draws attention to the fact that killings of journalists are not just against individuals, but also an assault on everyone’s right to free expression, and on society’s right to know.

“The IPDC’s monitoring shows that there is a fundamental issue that Governments should deal with - the issue of impunity. Dealing with impunity calls for legal and institutional reform. It calls for will and courage on the part of Member States to protect journalists and bring to justice the drug barons, the corrupted politicians, the fundamentalists.”

She concluded: “The recent events underline the importance of what we do, and they encourage us to redouble our efforts. I pledge that IPDC will continue to strive for a world in which everyone is safe to speak and where justice is made.”

Other special guests included Christophe Deloire of Reporters sans frontières, Jesper Hojberg of International Media Support, and Dominique Pradalié of the Syndicat national des journalists (SNJ). The event was supported financially by the delegations of Austria, France and Sweden, and was done in partnership with broadcast station France Culture.

Enhancing ICT and e-literacy skills of Kenyan librarians

Wed, 14/01/2015 - 16:29

The training attracted participation of 30 librarians from 29 public libraries that currently provide public access to computers and Internet in Kenya. It aimed at enhancing public librarians’ information and communications technologies (ICT) and e-literacy skills, in order to make better use of ICT for new public library services to meet community needs.

The training also aimed at helping support delivery of the Millennium Development Goals by enabling public librarians to use ICT in new services that meet community needs in development areas such as agriculture, education, health, culture, social inclusion and e-literacy.

During the training Ms Ramune Petuchovaite, Manager of the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) stated that “ICT’s role in accelerating development is now widely recognized in Africa and that governments are speeding up the roll-out of ICT infrastructure and equipment to aid this developments. With these developments, it is important that public libraries be included in national ICT policies and strategies.”

“To date, only 29 out of 60 libraries are adequately equipped with ICT infrastructure in Kenya. There is, therefore, an undoubted need for both library staff and our clients to upgrade their ICT skills to be able to better utilize the resources that we currently have in place,” said Mr Richard Atuti, Director of the Kenya National Library Service.

This training adapted courses and training methods currently being tested in Ghana and Uganda by EIFL to fit the Kenyan context and supported a broader Kenya National Library Service initiative of engaging partners in transforming libraries across the country into ICT hubs.

This capacity building initiative falls within the framework of UNESCO, supporting adoption of ICT in public libraries and also enabling the creation of new services for users in Kenya.

Kenya National Library Service is a statutory body established to develop, equip, manage and maintain national and public library services, to promote information literacy and reading, and to enhance stakeholder participation in development of libraries in Kenya, while EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) advances community development by enabling public libraries to implement innovative ideas that use technology to improve people’s lives and livelihoods.

Building capacities to monitor youth’s representation in media coverage in the Maghreb

Wed, 24/12/2014 - 11:48

Participants were brought together through a workshop organized by UNESCO in partnership with MENA Media Monitoring, under the framework of the Networks of Mediterranean Youth Project (NET-MED Youth), which is funded by the European Union and implemented in 10 countries from the Western and Eastern Basins of the Mediterranean Sea.

Following-up the formal launch of NET-MED Youth Working Groups in Morocco on 22-23 November and in Tunisia on 5-6 December, the aim is now set on gathering concrete evidence on which to build the different activities foreseen under the media axis of the project.

To implement media monitoring “is to learn to observe, to look at things from a more logical and objective way...” stated Jihen Ayed, responsible of media and communication at Tun’Act in Tunisia. She noted that the training taught her to look into media, deep inside, concluding that “we could never improve media and ensure youth’s participation if we don’t look for weak points [in media], and monitoring enables such search”

Media monitoring efforts will be complemented by a survey on youth perceptions about media, both to be undertaken at the country level early 2015. The findings of this research will feed into a youth-led outreach strategy seeking to mobilize media so that young peoples’ concerns and perspectives are better reflected in the coverage produced, particularly in support of their participation in the elaboration, review and implementation of public policies with a special impact on youth.  Similar efforts are also expected to take place in different NET-MED Youth target countries, leading to transnational sharing of knowledge and expertise: towards an improved media portrayal of youth in the Southern Mediterranean. 

Workshop participants became central contributors to the definition of a methodology that they later applied through practical exercises focused on the observation of radio and TV content from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Adel Boucherguine, from the Ligue Algérienne pour la defense des droits de l’ homme highlighted the utility of media monitoring under the NET-MED Youth project, since it allows young people from the region to learn how media function, deepens their knowledge on the way media treats information, and sheds light on media’s coverage of different contexts and themes, notably in relation to the representation of youth and women. It permits young people to observe these aspects “in a scientific and objective manner”, he added.

Thus, those taking part of the workshop gained new skills that will not only help them as the drivers of the NET-MED Youth project, but will more broadly reinforce their critical and constructive engagement with media outlets, in turn enhancing future advocacy. As put by Mohamed Outahar, who represented the Association Médias et Culture from Morocco: “the knowledge acquired and the techniques that were appropriated by us throughout the week of training, will certainly be a platform upon which we could develop media monitoring projects and create partnerships focused on media monitoring regarding social, cultural, political and religious issues in the Moroccan context”

For further information about this activity, please contact:

  • Rosario Soraide, NET-MED Youth Coordination Team at UNESCO HQ, Youth and Media project component
  • Nacim Filali, Coordinator of the NET-MED Youth project in Algeria
  • Zoubida Mseffer, Coordinator of the NET-MED Youth project in Morocco
  • Salma Negra, Coordinator of the NET-MED Youth Project in Tunisia

UNESCO launches Open Access Curricula for Researchers and Librarians

Fri, 19/12/2014 - 16:13

The OA curricula developed by UNESCO includes a set of customized modules which can be easily be fitted with the educational needs of different OA stakeholders and can be integrated with any sensitization programmes of OA. 

The curricula for Library and Information Science Professionals entitled “Open Access for Library Schools”, consists of four course modules. An Introductory Module aims at sensitizing the library community about the history, evolution, forms and impact of OA within the domain of scholarly communication environment and covers issues related to rights management, IPR and advocacy. The remaining three modules cover subject areas of OA Infrastructure, Resource Optimization and Interoperability and Retrieval.  These sections give insights into the features, types, maintenance and standardization of OA resources, information retrieval/storage software and highlight the role of the new dimension of web-enabled resources such as e-journals, e-repositories and ICTSs.

The curricula for researchers entitled “Open Access for Researchers” addresses OA issues within the community of research scholars. The modules cover the subject areas of Scholarly Communications, Concepts of Openness and Open Access, Intellectual Property Rights and Research Evaluation Metrics. The first four modules have been developed to nurture researchers with an elaborate understanding of the genesis, objectives, processes, types and existing limitations of OA scholarly communication, which include insights into the issues related to IPR, the methods and limitations of the process of peer reviewing and the concepts and roles of E-journals, databases, ICTs, OSS and other OERs. The final and fifth Module entitled “Sharing your Work in Open Access” provides a step-wise guideline for researchers about the process and options available for publishing their research work.

These curricula were developed after undertaking two detailed capacity building need assessment studies of librarians and researchers on Open Access. A multi-stakeholder expert meeting was organized in New Delhi, where 23 experts participated  to finalize the curriculum. Two online consultations were also held to substantiate the expert meeting, which helped UNESCO to outline the content for each of the curriculum and provided a framework to develop modules.

The curricula were developed with the help of Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA), New Delhi of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL).

The curricula will soon be available for download. Currently,  copies can be requested by writing to UNESCO’s OA programme.

Media stakeholders gathered for the first Media Forum in Madagascar

Thu, 18/12/2014 - 15:29

The meeting was organized to emphasize the important role of the media sector in the development of Madagascar. Under the high patronage of the President of the Republic and the sponsorship of the Prime Minister, the event is the result of collaboration between the Ministry of Communication, Information and Relations with Institutions (MCIRI) and the United Nations, especially CINU, OHCHR, UNDP and UNESCO. The representative of the United Nations Jaco du Toit, UNESCO Regional Advisor for Communication and Information in East Africa, reiterated in his speech the will of the UN system to work in close cooperation with the government, journalists and media professionals and civil society to build knowledge societies.

The first day was devoted to the presentation and discussion of the draft report on the evaluation of the media in Madagascar, conducted by UNESCO in partnership with the Department of Interdisciplinary Professional Training of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the University of Antananarivo.  The study, which is based on the UNESCO Media Development Indicators (MDI) takes into account data collected from 9 major sites in Madagascar. An advisory committee comprising representatives of the written, audiovisual media, civil society, training institutions and the government provided advice to the research team throughout the process. The report's recommendations focus on the legal and regulatory framework, the audiovisual control system, the media as a platform for democratic discourse, vocational training, trade unionism and civil society and the media, and infrastructural capacity of the media.

During the second day of the Forum, the focus was on one of the key instruments of the sector, namely the draft media bill (Code de la Communication). Government representatives, officials, journalists and media professionals as well as civil society discussed and made recommendations, comments and suggestions for improvement of the draft bill. The participants worked in four groups (Radio, TV, press, cultural Industries and ICT) and arrived at a consensus on the need to continue this participatory process, involving various media players in the finalization of the draft media bill.

The representative of the NGO ARTICLE 19 Fatou Jagne reiterated the importance of adhering to international principles relating to the media to ensure freedom of expression, pluralism and diversity of media. The Minister of Ministry of Communication, Information and Relations with Institutions Cyrille Mahaforona Reboza reaffirmed the commitment of the Ministry to adopt the draft media Bill in May 2015. During his speech, Tahitsy Gilbert, member of the Club of Journalists representing participants to the forum welcomed the commitment of the authorities.

The event was also honored by the presence of the Prime Minister Kolo Roger who attended part of the discussions on the draft media bill. He reiterated in his message the importance of having the courage to reform the media so that the Malagasy media can be free and independent.

Request for Quotation: Production of a research study on privacy & transparency on internet

Tue, 16/12/2014 - 11:46

The overall objective of the study is to stimulate global research on balancing privacy and transparency within UNESCOs mandate of protecting freedom of expression. The research should unpack the complexity of the subject, by seeking answers to the questions through both normative and empirical information. The study should contribute to a better protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially the right to freedom of expression.

The scope of the research study*:

·        Overview of international, regional and national frameworks, normative guidelines and accountability mechanisms that underpin the digital dimensions of privacy and transparency ;

·        Relation between the privacy of personal data, and transparency, and how to balance them in the context of public interest;

·        Anonymisation issues concerning data in both public and private sectors, which enters into the public sphere;

·        Issues around “the right to be forgotten” in relation to the right to privacy and the right to access information;

·        What is the status of public persons, within the context of balancing transparency and privacy on internet;

·        Ways in which internet adds to complexity in regulating privacy and transparency online at the national, regional & international levels;

·        Recommendations regarding sufficient safeguards in the digital environment so as to ensure a balance of privacy and transparency with the right to freedom of expression;

·        National best practices aimed to reconcile the rights involved in privacy and transparency matters.

The research process requires:

·        A mapping of issues so as to ensure comprehensiveness and global representation;

·        Development of specific research questions for these;

·        Collection of data, aggregation into a global report;

·        Qualitative analysis of the findings and recommendations.

The envisioned output of the research:



Executive summary








Research & Qualitative findings




Bibliography & Appendices





*UNESCO is to provide applicant with an extensive concept note in order to elaborate on the scope of the study.

Comorian Media Training Workshop to Reinforce Good Democratic Reporting Practices for the Forthcoming 2015 Elections

Mon, 15/12/2014 - 14:22

The training workshop saw journalists and editors embrace clear commitments to playing a constructive role before, during and after the elections. “We re-discovered the ethical basis for the exercise of our profession,” One of the participants said. The training modalities at the workshop included practical work and simulation covering an election campaign.

Enhancing election reporting knowledge of journalists is crucial a free and fair election. An exchange of good election reporting practices took place between media practitioners, officials of the Comoros Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and the National Press and Audio Visual Council (CNPA).

Further to this, a seminar was organized to bring together directors, media executives and members of the National Press and Audio Visual Council on 10 November 2014. The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and the National Press and Audiovisual Council (CNPA) also attended the seminar. The seminar drafted and adopted three crucial documented protocols. These are

  • A media commitment for fair and responsible professional coverage of elections.
  • A detailed request to CENI and CNPA for easy access by the media during the elections in line with the Comorian Constitution.
  • An election guide for Comorian journalists to be distributed to all journalists in the country prior to the election.

The training initiatives were carried out by the Organization International de la Francophonie (OIF) and UNESCO as free and fair elections are essential for democracy consolidation and conflict prevention.

UNESCO Memory of the World Regional Training Workshop Opens in Muscat, Oman

Mon, 15/12/2014 - 09:22

The Memory of the World workshop was opened by H.E. Hamad bin Hilal Al Mamaari, Undersecretary for Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Mr. Mohammed Saleem Al Yaqoubi, Secretary General of the Oman National Commission for UNESCO, Ministry of Education and on behalf of UNESCO, the opening remarks were delivered by Mr. Boyan Radoykov,  Chief of Section in the Knowledge Societies Division,  Communication and Information Sector. 

The specific objectives of the workshop are:

(i)              to increase awareness of the existence and significance of documentary heritage in the Arab region,

(ii)             to help participants identify documentary heritage with global significance and

(iii)            to assist them in preparing their respective applications for nominations to the Memory of the World International Register in accordance with the existing procedure.

The four-day workshop will bring together representatives from 12 Arab countries ,as well as national participants from Oman and three experts including Mr. George Boston, (UK Memory of the World National Committee), Ms. Alissandra Cummins (Former Chairperson of the UNESCO Executive Board, 2011-2013) and Mr. Abdelaziz Abid (Former Head of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme).

One of the most important components of the Programme is the Memory of the World Register, which has been a influential tool for increasing global awareness of the existence and significance of documentary heritage. In particular, the Memory of the World International Register has come to be considered as one of the most prestigious forms of worldwide recognition for documentary heritage with outstanding value and global significance.

The collection Treasury of Oriental Manuscripts from Slovakia, along with the National Library of Egypt's Collection of Mamluk Qur'an Manuscripts, and the Phoenician Alphabet from Lebanon, or the Persian Illustrated and Illuminated Manuscripts from Egypt, listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register are but few examples of the important for the world sources of Islamic culture and literature representing the outstanding documentary heritage of the Arab region.

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’s report on World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development presented in Morocco

Thu, 11/12/2014 - 10:23

The conference was attended by 110 participants including Moroccan journalists, academics, governmental officials, and representatives of international organizations such as Freedom House, Reporters without Borders, International Federation of Journalists, Amnesty International, Free Press Unlimited, as well as media researchers from Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon, Senegal, Finland, Portugal and Spain.

During the presentation, UNESCO discussed the four dimensions of press freedom: freedom, pluralism, independence and safety of media professionals, together with gender equality, as the key components to consider when addressing legal and institutional guarantees for media freedom. UNESCO recognizes that for effective press freedom a media environment that is legally free, open to public debate and provides for pluralism and independence is essential.

The Moroccan National Press Syndicate commented that UNESCO’s conceptual framework for press freedom, namely, its Media Development Indicators is a useful reference tool for the analysis of press freedom in Morocco.

In his opening remarks, the Moroccan Minister of Communication, Mustapha Khalfi, called the conference a space for open and free dialogue allowing new ideas and proposals for the media reform in Morocco. He affirmed that: “The objective of the conference is to promote press freedom in Morocco. We cannot conceive democracy without a free press.”

The conference coincides with the national consultation on the Moroccan draft press code, which was made public on 18 October to be adopted by the Parliament in December. A session was allocated to the draft press code during which UNESCO was invited to comment.  

Sweden funds UNESCO to continue its work on freedom of expression

Wed, 10/12/2014 - 11:23

The new project, “Promoting democracy and freedom of expression”, is both global and regional in scope benefiting people in the Arab region, Africa, South East Asia and Latin America. The project will complement UNESCO’s existing programme in freedom of expression and build upon achievements made through the Sida-funded project “Promoting an Enabling Environment for Freedom of Expression: Global Action with Special Focus on the Arab region.”

The project aims to foster peace, sustainable development and democracy through freedom of expression, at the global and regional levels. It includes four expected results:

  • An enabling environment is fostered for freedom of expression, freedom of information and press freedom, both online and off-line;
  • A free and safe environment for journalists is promoted, particularly in post-conflict countries and countries in transition;
  • Journalists exercise professional and ethical standards that contribute to the media’s role as a platform for democratic discourse, including through election reporting and investigative journalism;
  • Women and youth are empowered through enhanced media and information literacy and improved representation in the media.

Main modalities of action will consist of awareness-raising, coalition building, capacity building, promoting legal and regulatory reform, research, and sharing good practices.

The project will be divided into two components: global normative actions promoting awareness and research on world trends in freedom of expression and media development at the international level, and regional and national interventions aimed at building capacity of relevant stakeholders in places where freedom of expression is challenged and democratic space is limited.

Under the project will be the 2017 version of the report on World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development. The new report will track the evolution of trends since the initial report was published in 2014.  The World Trends Report is a comprehensive document written in partnership with UNESCO and an Advisory Group of 27 international experts, drawing on more than 800 quantitative and qualitative sources.

Sylvie Coudray, Chief of Section for Freedom of Expression, says: “the report provides a systematic analysis of trends on the issue of freedom of expression and media development on a global level and has been launched in 10 countries. There is a need for UNESCO to continue mapping and understanding these important trends on this large scale.”

Safety has remained elusive for many practicing journalists, working in both traditional and new media. The safety of media workers is of great concern to society, since it is a prerequisite for preserving the fundamental right to freedom of expression. The UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, led by UNESCO, has become a global point of reference, but much more remains to be done. Therefore many project activities will be address journalist safety.

The safety of journalists is a crosscutting issue that encompasses freedom of expression both online and off-line. Freedom of expression online directly relates to issues of digital security, surveillance, the right to privacy, and access to information, all of which are pertinent to journalists working in the digital age. As Internet-related issues have moved to the forefront of global agendas and as governance structures, legal frameworks, media and communication practices, and business models are reviewed and adapted to fit new digital developments, UNESCO works to ensure that the right to freedom of expression is protected online as well as off-line. The Organization promotes freedom of expression, privacy, safety and universal norms on the Internet as basic human rights – activities focusing on these issues will be vital to the project.

The project will also contribute to UNESCO’s two Global Priorities: Africa and Gender Equality. Finally, the project is in line with, and will contribute to, the UNESCO Operational Strategy on Youth 2014-2021.

UN Secretary General new report endorses freedom of expression for post-2015 development

Mon, 08/12/2014 - 15:21

Titled “the Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet”, the document states that “People across the world are looking to the United Nations to rise to the challenge with a truly transformative agenda that is both universal and adaptable to the conditions of each country, and that places people and planet at the center.”

It continues: “Their voices have underscored the need for democracy, rule of law, civic space and more effective governance and capable institutions; for new and innovative partnerships, including with responsible business and effective local authorities; and for a data revolution, rigorous accountability mechanisms, and renewed global partnerships.”

The report recognizes numerous contributions to the post-2015 development debate, indicating that amongst the points which these have underlined, they have also “called for strengthening effective, accountable, participatory and inclusive governance; for free expression, information, and association; for fair justice systems; and for peaceful societies and personal security for all.”

UNESCO has been prominent among these calls concerning free expression issues to be recognised with the development debate, notably in the World Press Freedom Day Paris Declaration and Bali Roadmap.  Both these documents asked UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova to share their contents with Secretary General Ki-Moon.

In acknowledging receipt of the statements earlier this year, the UN Secretary General communicated to UNESCO that freedom of expression, press freedom, independent media and the right of access to information were of high importance, and should not be lost sight of in the ongoing post-2015 deliberations.

Predating the release of the SG’s new report, UNESCO’s 29th session of the intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC)  agreed in November on a decision that expressed disappointment that there was “no specific reference to the right to freedom of expression and information and its corollary, media freedom.”

The Council was responding to the UN Open Working Group’s list of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where number 16 is: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”  Goal 16.10 elaborates: “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.”

The IPDC Council urged Member States to ensure that freedom of expression, free, independent and pluralistic media, and media development are integrated into the universal Post-2015 Development Agenda. A report to the council elaborated the work of the secretariat in regard to the status of freedom of expression as both a means and an end in sustainable development.

The “Road to Dignity” report signals that the SDGs will finalized be at a special Summit on sustainable development in September 2015. It proposes the possibility to maintain the 17 goals put forward by the UN’s Open Working Group, and to “rearrange them in a focused and concise manner that enables the necessary global awareness and implementation at the country level”.

UNESCO member states at the 37th General Conference of its member states recommended, in Resolution 64(v), that “the importance of promoting freedom of expression and universal access to knowledge and its preservation - including, among others, through free, pluralistic and independent media, both offline and online – as indispensable elements for flourishing democracies and to foster citizen participation be reflected in the post-2015 development agenda”.

The call for freedom of expression to be at the heart of the SDGs was also made by UNESCO at the WSIS+10 event in Geneva during 2014, as well as at a large number of other events.

Besides UNESCO, many civil-societal groupings have been pushing for a clearer statement within the UN on the link between free expression, press freedom and sustainable development.

 An international coalition of non-governmental media development actors has urged the inclusion of these issues in the post-2015 development agenda, including in the Nairobi Declaration on the Post 2015 Development Agenda issued by the African chapter of the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) – an international body bringing together over 200 media development actors.

The GFMD coalition has endorsed UNESCO in taking leadership over coordinating the monitoring of any media-related indicators for the post-2015 agenda.

Seminar on Localization of Media and Information Literacy Kit in the Middle Eastern and Northern Africa (MENA) region

Mon, 08/12/2014 - 14:29

The seminar was organized from 1 to 2 December, 2014 at Hotel Fairmont, Nile City Cairo. 45 delegates including policy makers, curricula experts and teachers from 9 countries (Algeria, Egypt, Qatar, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen) joined this seminar and deliberated on the strategies to adapt MIL in their respective countries.

The seminar was opened by the Director of UNESCO Office and Egyptian Minister of Higher Education delegated by the Deputy Secretary General of the National Commission of UNESCO in Egypt.

UNESCO Cairo Office engaged some experts to prepare the MIL kit which contains material on media and information literacy (MIL) that could be used in the MENA region. These materials were produced with some audiovisual materials. This kit was reviewed by the participants of the seminar.

In general, the MIL kit was approved and appreciated by the participants. They have raised some issues including adding more contents and more information from the Arab World in the kIt. It was recommended that all the materials in the MIL kit must be in Arabic language. Other recommendations include: Establishing an Arab network for MIL, outlining a pan-Arab strategy for MIL, opening Arab Chapter of The Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy (GAPMIL), organizing a meeting for all the Arab Ministers of Education with the experts and inclusion of MIL curricula in the secondary school education in each country.

UNESCO Internet study and conference welcomed at Berlin event

Thu, 04/12/2014 - 15:01

The event in Berlin was co-hosted by the EastWest Institute and Federal Republic of Germany, Foreign Office. It was attended by UNESCO’s Director for freedom of expression and media development, Guy Berger.

“There was great interest amongst participants in the research that UNESCO is doing into online access to information and knowledge, free expression, privacy and ethics,” said Berger.

Many delegates expressed interest in contributing to the process, including the March 3-4 2015 conference on the Study, he added. They saw links between UNESCO’s concerns and their own discussions which covered topics including surveillance, privacy and big data, as well as on governing and managing the Internet.

Berger was a speaker in a session titled “Managing policy barriers that limit access to information for innovation and education

In his remarks, the Director proposed a human-rights based approach to the topic, explaining how the right of access to information is also relevant to the post-2015 development agenda. He further outlined how international standards require that any blocking and filtering of access to information should only be exceptional, and should correspond to recognized safeguards such as being necessary and proportional.

Safety of Somalian journalists addressed at an event in Mogadishu

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 17:04

Speaking at the opening session, Mustafa Duhulow, Minister of Information of the Somalia Federal Government, said, “The dialogue aimed to address the safety of journalists, which is one of our key challenges in Somalia. It is an opportunity to hear how other countries solved issues of security and safety of journalists providing examples of best practices.”

Mohammed Ibrahim, Secretary General of National Union of Somalia Journalists (NUSOJ), noted that “the provisional constitution of Somalia guarantees freedom of expression.” However, statistics gathered since 2011 indicate that thirty journalists have been murdered, two of the incidents being reported in 2014. Three were wounded in the same year with five media houses closed and thirty-one journalists have been arrested. Only two incidents have been resolved. According to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), Somalia is among the most dangerous countries to work in as a journalist in the world.

The dialogue session, embracing the spirit of the commemoration of International Day to end Impunity celebrated on 2 November, also addressed issues of impunity of perpetuators of crimes against journalists. The two-day dialogue session contributed towards dialogue among media practitioners and security forces, exchanging international best practices on safety of journalists and projecting a way forward by drafting a national plan of action. This national plan of action, agreed upon during the dialogue session, will act as a guide in initiating the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in Somalia. The priorities of the national plan of action are:

  1. raising awareness on the role of the media  in reporting on security/terrorism and development;
  2. fostering unity, networking, advocacy skills and knowledge sharing among journalists in South Central, Puntland and Somaliland;
  3. opening lines of dialogue and engagement between media, government and key state institutions (police, judiciary, parliament, army) with a common strategy to  deal with the media;
  4. developing safety and guidelines and protocol and carrying out training;
  5. enhancing media capacity on ethical reporting.

The Somalia Media Support Group (SMSG) was supported by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Free Press Unlimited, International Media Support (IMS), Fojo Media Institute, Relief International and UNESCO.

UNESCO joins UN to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 16:24

Throughout human history, technology has always impacted the way people live. The industrial revolution ushered in a new age of technology that raised the standards of living of people around the world and their access to goods and services. Today, technology is built into every facet of daily living. The emergence of information and communications technologies have dramatically increased connectivity between people and their access to information, and further raised living standards.

ICTs have indeed changed the way people live, work and play. However, not all people benefit from the advances of technology and the higher standards of living. This is mainly because not all people have access to new technologies, and not all people can afford them.

There are currently over 1 billion people living with some form of disability. Around the world, persons with disabilities not only face physical barriers but also social, economic and attitudinal ones. Furthermore, disability is associated with 20 per cent of global poverty, of which the majority live in developing countries. In spite of being the world’s largest minority group, persons with disabilities, as well as the issue of disability, have remained largely invisible in the mainstream development frameworks.

Since 1992, the annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

The observance of this year’s Day provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability as a cross-cutting development issue. The theme of this year's commemoration, “Sustainable Development: The promise of technology” is timely, as it marks the conclusion of the period of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) in 2015 and the launching of the new development framework of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The 2014 commemoration of IDPD will work to harness the power of technology to promote inclusion and accessibility to help realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape the future of sustainable development for all.

Three sub-themes chosen will focus on the promise of technology in:

  • Disability-Inclusive Sustainable Development Goals,
  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Responses, and
  • Creating Enabling Work Environments.

A special session will be organized by UNESCO and DESA on 3 December 2014 to present the New Delhi Declaration issued by the participants of the international conference entitled “From Exclusion to Empowerment: Role of ICTs for Persons with Disabilities”, which took place from 24 to 26 November 2014 in New Delhi, India. The conference provided a forum to explore the choices and opportunities available to people with disabilities. Particular attention will be given to education, information and knowledge, as well as economic empowerment through improved access to work and more social inclusion. 

One hundred and thirty speakers from around the world are to address issues related to sustainable development, accessibility and technological solutions, as well as access to information and knowledge for persons with disabilities using ICTs. Participants will also make recommendations on the appropriate use of ICTs in favour of persons with disabilities. Other events scheduled during the conference include We Care, a festival of short films and documentaries on the theme of the Conference, drawing attention to the multiple abilities of persons with disabilities; and an exhibition of innovative assistive technologies and ICTs for persons with disabilities.

UNESCO strengthens legal support to media through specialized training for future judges

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 16:07

As an integral part of phase two of the overall activity “Legal Support to Media”, the training aimed at better acquainting young judges with media laws and the regulatory context in Jordan, with particular attention to online media laws, in comparison with international standards. Additionally, recommendations were compiled to feed into the design of the future network of specialized lawyers.

In the context of recent developments within the media sector in Jordan, namely the amendment of the Press and Publication Law leading to the closing of hundreds of websites, the need for legal support to media professionals has been identified as part of an overall development plan. In September 2013, UNESCO Amman started with phase one towards achieving a long-term goal to support media through a network of specialized lawyers to defend journalists, media activists, bloggers and other media professionals in court.  

During the first phase of the project, a specific training for young lawyers was organized to familiarize them with international standards and national laws and regulations in order to better represent their clients in court. Moreover, an Action Plan for best solutions and recommended actions towards achieving freedom of expression in Jordan, with emphasis on Internet freedom and news websites was developed. 

During the current phase of the project, a coaching period for the trained lawyers took place including actual court presence and deliberations on current cases involving media. In May 2014 a training camp for law students from five national universities was organized on media laws in Jordan.

In addition to the training cycle, an online platform is currently being created to serve as the sole comprehensive source for media laws and regulations in Jordan. The portal will provide detailed information needed for journalists, lawyers, and various media stakeholders to better understand the legal context related to media and freedom of expression in Jordan. The website will be updated and managed by the network created throughout the project.

Future phases in the project will include a workshop on creating synergies among the trained groups and with media stakeholders, and a Training of Trainers workshop (TOT) that will extend into a peer education initiative at local universities.

This project is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in its goal to promote an enabling environment for freedom of expression, with a special focus on the Arab Region.

Background information

UNESCO is known as the “intellectual” agency of the United Nations. At a time when the world is looking for new ways to build peace and sustainable development, people must rely on the power of intelligence to innovate, expand their horizons and sustain the hope of a new humanism. UNESCO exists to bring this creative intelligence to life; for it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace and the conditions for sustainable development must be built. UNESCO’s mission in Jordan is to work with the government of Jordan and other stakeholders to provide effective high quality educational, scientific, cultural and communication programmes.

For more information about the work of UNESCO in Jordan, please visit UNESCO's Office in Amman website.