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World Press Freedom Day conference adopts Declaration on press freedom, access to information and cultural diversity

Mié, 04/05/2016 - 14:59

More than 1000 media practitioners and stake holders, including representatives of governments called on UNESCO’s 195 Member States to “reaffirm that press freedom and the right to information are essential for a free, independent and pluralistic media and crucial to the advancement of human rights and sustainable development.”

In keeping with the new Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations for the next 15 years, the Finlandia Declaration stresses the importance of access to information and the responsibility of states in making public information available both on and off-line, and promoting universal access to the internet.

It also calls on states to ensure the safety of journalists, whose vulnerability to violent attacks undermines press freedom and freedom of information in many parts of the world.

The Declaration furthermore recognizes the pertinence of UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection of and Promotion of the Divesity of Cultural Expression, artistic freedom and cultural diversity to the exercise of the fundamental human right of freedom of expression.

Participants at this year’s main World Press Freedom Day event, organized by UNESCO and Finland, lauded UNESCO’s Executive Board decision to celebrate an International Day for Universal Access to Information on 28 September every year.

During the two-day conference, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, the Prime Minister of Finland, Juha Sipilä and the host country’s President, Sauli Niinistö, highlighted the paramount importance of press freedom and freedom of information for sustainable development, good governance and a basis for all freedoms.

Former President of Finland and recipient of the UNESCO Félix Houphouët-Boigny peace prize in 2007 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008, Marti Ahtisaari, also spoke of the link between press freedom and peace building during his address to participants at the close of the event.

The celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2016 drew the support of some 50 civil society and media organizations. Some 100 World Press Freedom Day events have been organized around the world this year.

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Press kit: https://en.unesco.org/world-press-freedom-day-2016/press-kit

Contacts:

UNESCO: Roni Amelan: +33(0)7 86 43 58 76

Irina Bokova meets President of Finland H.E. Sauli Niinistö

Mié, 04/05/2016 - 14:47

The meeting was held on the occasion of the flagship International Conference of World Press Freedom Day, organized in partnership with the Government of Finland in Helsinki.

Irina Bokova thanked the President for the support of the Government of Finland to UNESCO’s action across the world, with a special focus on defending freedom of expression and freedom of information and on enhancing the safety of journalists. She underlined the importance of the 250th anniversary of the world's first Freedom of information law.

“This champion support is embodied in UNESCO’s ground-breaking project, supported by Finland, on ‘Promoting Freedom of Expression in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen,’ as well as in Finland’s support to building education capacity, which I saw for myself ten days ago in Nepal,” said Irina Bokova.

The Government of Finland provides support to UNESCO through the Capacity Development for Education for All Programme (CapEFA), with a focus on TVET, gender equality and girl’s education.  Finland also supports the work of the UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication.

"I am deeply grateful for Finland's champion leadership in UNESCO and look forward to deepening this ever more, to take forward the 2030 Agenda," said Irina Bokova to the President.

On the same day, the Director-General was honoured to meet with the Prime Minister of Finland, Mr. Juha Sipilä. 

This was an opportunity to discuss the power of education for more inclusive and sustainable development -- as well as in emergencies, to provide skills, and opportunities for youth engagement, notably for Syrian refugees.

Discussion followed on implementing the 2030 Agenda, with the Prime Minister focusing on the importance of  an all-society approach. Irina Bokova thanked the Prime Minister for the depth of Finland's support.

Irina Bokova also had the opportunity to meet with the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Ms Lenita Toivakka, the Minister of Education and Culture, Ms. Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Ms Anne Berner, as well as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Timo Soini.

The meeting with the Minister of Education and Culture, Ms Grahn-Laasonen, provided a moment to discuss cooperation between Finland and UNESCO in advancing a holistic approach to education in order to advance the 2030 Agenda. 

 Irina Bokova welcomed the meeting with Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, Ms Lenita Toivakka‎, for the overall range of the partnership between Finland and UNESCO. The Minister reviewed the priority importance of education for the success of the 2030 Agenda, with a focus on gender equality. The Director-General explored the contribution UNESCO is leading across its mandate, from education to sustainable water management and freedom of expression. She underlined the importance of new partnerships, including with the private sector, and the focus on capacity building for more inclusive and sustainable development.

The‎ Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Timo Soini, underlined the importance of UNESCO, pointing to Finland as a "long term friend" of the Organisation. Irina Bokova presented the actions taken by UNESCO across its mandate, notably in advancing education to prevent violent extremism, and to prevent youth radicalisation. She spoke also of UNESCO's leadership in safeguarding humanity's cultural heriatge and diversity, especially in the fight against the trafficking of cultural goods. Discussion followed on Global Priority Gender Equality, and the importance of girls' education, especially adolescent girls, as well as the key role of women in conflict mediation and reconciliation.

Access to information, journalists’ freedom and safety at the core of World Press Freedom Day 2016

Mar, 03/05/2016 - 21:35

Speakers celebrated the 250th anniversary of the world’s first freedom of expression and freedom of information legislation, promulgated by modern-day Finland and Sweden in 1766, and the 25th anniversary of the UNESCO Windhoek Declaration adopted in the capital of Namibia in 1991, which was at the origin of World Press Freedom Day. Gwen Lister, founder of The Namibian newspaper, who co-chaired the Windhoek conference on free, independent and pluralistic African media gave the keynote address at the opening ceremony, where she took stock of the achievements of African media since 1991 and spoke of  the continent’s uneven media landscape and the challenges it is facing. The Director-General, described World Press Freedom Day as “one of the most inspiring moments on the global calendar. It is a moment to celebrate the freedom of every woman and man to express themselves. It is a moment to shine light on the right to access and share information. It is a moment to stand with all journalists, to defend their safety.”Ms Bokova went on to describe 2016 as a milestone for press freedom as “the first year in the journey to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” The 2030 Agenda, she noted, includes SDG 16, to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development. The Director-General went on to denounce as intolerable the fact that 825 journalists are known to have lost their lives doing their job over the past decade and voiced indignation at the fact that less than six percent of these killings have been resolved. “I stand up every time a journalist is killed and insist on justice being done,” she said, adding, “I call today on every Government, to respond to calls for information on judicial follow-up. […] We must defend fundamental freedoms both offline and online. UNESCO is working to support the Internet as rights-based, open, accessible and multi-stakeholder driven.” she added.In his welcome address, the Prime Minister of Finland, Juha Sipilä, spoke of the importance for Finland of hosting World Press Freedom Day and said that “because of the strong link between freedom of expression, freedom of the press and democracy, this event is also connected to the celebration of Finland’s 100 years of independence in the coming year.” Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland, and the Director-General of UNESCO, led the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize-giving ceremony honouring freelance journalist Khadija Ismayilova of Azerbaijan. The President quoted the standard by which the prize is awarded. “The annual World Press Freedom Prize honours a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and, or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger,” he said, adding, “The Prize this year is awarded to Ms. Khadija Ismayilova, freelance journalist and contributor to the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe. I deeply regret that Ms. Ismayilova is not with us, but imprisoned.”The Director-General of UNESCO, praised Ms Ismayilova unwavering commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms. “This is why the 2016 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is awarded to Ms Khadija Ismayilova upon recommendation of the International Jury.” Elmira Ismayilova, the mother of the laureate, read a message from her daughter in which she denounced the violence journalists endure for doing their work and encouraged them to continue. “Stand up for the truth, and dare to ask questions and be critically minded. Accept no excuse for political prisoners. Societies cannot develop without scrutiny and public criticism. Dissent is not grounds for jail, fight corruption and demand integrity and the rule of law from your governments and allies.”The $25,000 Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá, on 17 December 1986. It is funded by the Cano Foundation (Colombia) and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland).

This year’s conference broke new ground in establishing the link between artistic freedom, media diversity and press freedom, as promoted by UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression

Approximately 1100 participants are taking part in this year’s flagship World Press Freedom Day conference which continues on 4 May in Helsinki alongside some one hundred World Press Freedom Day events around the world. Concluding events include a seminar assessing the impact of development projects promoting freedom of expression in the Arab Region and an exhibition of works by 10 young photojournalists trained by the regional project UNESCO organized both with funding from Finland and Sweden.The celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2016 was organized in partnership with the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of some 50 civil society and media organizations.****For the media:Press kit: https://en.unesco.org/world-press-freedom-day-2016/press-kit

Contacts:

UNESCO: Roni Amelan: +33(0)7 86 43 58 76Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs: Mari Lankinen, mari.lankinen@formin.fi, +358 (0)295 350 642Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture: Heidi Mäenpää, heidi.maenpaa@minedu.fi, +358 2953 30230), for local media.

Promoting Safety of Journalists’ and Building Effective Safety Mechanisms

Mar, 03/05/2016 - 16:17

Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD, spoke of the discussion paper as an indication of things to be considered rather than a universal blueprint. The seminar, moderated by Jesper Højberg, Executive Director of International Media Support, which co-hosted the event, concluded that there could be no one-fit-all set of mechanisms for all countries.

At the same time, it was noted that every society could benefit from systems to prevent violence against journalists, protect those under threat, procure punitive actions against those responsible for that violence and end the impunity enjoyed by the overwhelming majority of criminals who impose censorship by murder.

The UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity was a start as a framework for broad-based co-operation by different actors, participants stated. However, more was needed to change reality on the ground in places where violence against journalists was frequent and impunity the norm, the participants noted. Both violence and impunity in many countries are due to the shortcomings of essential state mechanisms including law enforcement and the judiciary, argued Toby Mendel. Against a background of failing governance, participants and panellists alike noted that international denunciations of violence against media practitioners and exhortations to end impunity would need to be supplemented with support in those countries where law enforcement overall is weak. Mechanisms to ensure safety of journalists, argued Mr Mendel, would work if they enabled media practitioners and civil society to pressure for better governance so that such demands did not only come from abroad.

UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Frank La Rue proposed that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG16) for 2030 adopted by the countries of the world in late 2015 could prove a landmark.

SDG16 requires all countries to demonstrate progress in ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms, which include the right to freedom of expression, he said.

“This puts all the countries of the world on par,” argued Mr La Rue, who qualified SDG16 as the premise for achieving all of the sustainable development goals, and added that all countries of the world could improve on access to information and safety of journalists, not only those with weaker governance.

Access to information could not be ensured in countries where journalists have to resort to self-censorship due to fear, he stated. Access to information could also not be ensured in countries which practiced censorship and sought to control the media.

Progress in achieving the SDGs could be enhanced by each society establishing or improving mechanisms to monitor and address the problems of journalistic safety.

UNESCO organized briefing in Paris on the Project “Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey”

Mar, 03/05/2016 - 16:09

“Improvement in media freedom and media accountability are fundamental in this region and we are really convinced that this project could make a difference to strengthen media professional standards. With the support of our partners, Permanent Delegations and the European Union, it is our wish that this project achieves a broad impact in the region”, said Franck La Rue during the discussion.

Mr Darko Tanaskovic, Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia commented on the importance of the project for his country. Other participants of the briefing welcomed the signature of the project and expressed their commitment to support the implementation of its activities in their respective countries.

During the briefing, UNESCO representatives welcomed the adoption of a new code of ethics for Montenegrin Journalists on the very same day. This new code was prepared by the working group composed of the representatives of the Montenegro Council for Self-Regulation, Vijesti, Dan and Monitor, supported by the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the Council of Europe.

Slovakian youth and the Ministry of Education fight online radicalization

Mar, 03/05/2016 - 15:57

The seminar, organized by the Slovak Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport, the Slovak Commission for UNESCO and the Regional Youth Council of Zilina focused on sharing knowledge, experiences and good practices on an important issue that is increasingly impacting young people from all over the world.

The outcome of the seminar was the creation of a set of tools and methodologies for human rights education that have been disseminated to both formal and non-formal educational providers. Participants also visited a Centre for asylum seekers to gain a better understanding of some of the issues facing refugee youth “It is vital that we continue to employ critical thinking to address issues currently affecting young people, particularly given the recent trend in youth support of far-right political parties,” said Dean Res from the Regional Youth Council.

This partnership between Slovakia and UNESCO to address xenophobia through education is a great example of how countries can benefit from the organization’s expertise to develop coordinated youth strategies,” said Eva Masarova, Director from the Slovak Ministry of Education’s Youth Department. Further action in this area is foreseen within the framework of the upcoming Slovak Presidency in the Council of the EU later this year. In addition, North/South exchanges and interactions between youth organizations will be supported as part of the NET-MED Youth Project.

The event was organized as part of the Council of Europe's No Hate Speech Movement and was made possible thanks to support from the EEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 as well as to the cooperation of the NET-MED Youth Project.

WSIS Forum 2016: Join UNESCO and its partners onsite or remotely!

Mar, 03/05/2016 - 11:52

At this year’s WSIS Forum, which is co-organized by UNESCO, ITU, UNCTAD and UNDP in ITU’s HQs, Geneva, UNESCO’s Director of the Knowledge Societies Division, Dr Indrajit Banerjee, will welcome participants in the Official Opening Ceremony. He will also moderate a High-Level Policy Session and a UNESCO organized High-Level Dialogue, United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) and Action Line meetings. UNESCO is exploring new grounds in terms of the format, by breaking down traditional silos and exploring how, in practical terms different traditional Action Lines can contribute to meeting the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The first High-Level Dialogue session will therefore be fully dedicated to SDG 16 and to: “Promoting Peaceful and Inclusive [Knowledge] Societies”. While the SDG 16 aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, this session will explore how technologies used from different Action Line perspectives can both advance and slow down the achievement of this goal. Future Knowledge Societies will need to cope with considerable socio-economic and cultural transformations coming from the uses of ‘new technologies’, such as the Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence, robots, ubiquitous connectivity, new social media, digital identities and platforms, and undecipherable algorithms.  These technologies will transform many aspects of our lives. The concept of inclusive knowledge societies offers, however, key elements to meet some of the SDG 16 targets and to address socio-cultural challenges and aspirations emerging from the new technologies. This session has been jointly prepared by WSIS Action Line Facilitators covering media, cultural diversity and ethics (AL C8,9,10), addressing jointly from their different perspectives key SDG 16 challenges and targets. It will include a roundtable on Fighting youth radicalization and preventing violent extremism on the Internet, a debate on key enablers of peaceful and inclusive knowledge societies and how to protect fundamental freedoms and promote diversity of cultural expressions. And it will include a new Match-making session, where several concrete projects will be presented and opportunities for joint action will be explored. The UNESCO-facilitated

In addition, UNESCO will facilitate the  

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, so please try it out and join at a distance. 

UNESCO Outstanding Performance in Defending Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Information

Lun, 02/05/2016 - 19:01

The Award was presented by Mr Gustav Björkstrand (Chairperson of Anders Chydenius Foundation), along with the 250 Delegation, in a ceremony held at the newly-renovated Päivälehti Museum of Finland’s Helsingen Sanomat newspaper.

Issuing the award were the Anders Chydenius Foundation and the Association for Chydenius Institute. The C‎hair of the board of the Foundation, Mr Gustav Björkstrand, explained that UNESCO, led by Ms Bokova, has significantly contributed to free flow of information legislation.

In accepting the award on behalf of the Organization, Irina Bokova cited the words of the humanist and philosopher, Anders Chydenius: “Freedom of writing and printing is one of the strongest bulwarks of a free organization of the State, as without it, the estates would not have sufficient information for the drafting of good laws, and those dispensing justice would not be monitored, nor would the subjects know the requirements of the law, the limits of the rights of government, and their own responsibilities.”

“This says it all,” said the Director-General. “Freedom of information and freedom of expression are human rights that are essential for human dignity, for accountability and transparency, for good governance and the rule of law, for effective decision-making.”

“Human rights and fundamental freedoms are ends in themselves – they are also drivers for the success of all of the goals,” she continued. “They are foundations for the inclusive knowledge societies we need for the century ahead, to take forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The Director-General singled out the Government of Finland for praise, thanking it for its leadership in defending freedom of expression and enhancing the safety of journalists, notably in support of UNESCO’s action.

“I am deeply grateful to Finland for its champion support to UNESCO, embodied in the project on Promoting Freedom of Expression in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. This reflects values with deep roots in this country, in its history and society, led forward also by the Finnish National Commission for UNESCO.”

Previous awardees have been Mr Linus Torvalds (working for open innovations), as well as Mr Miklos Haraszti (working for media freedom).

Artistic Freedom & Creativity Key for Sustainable Development – Irina Bokova with Nordic Culture Ministers

Lun, 02/05/2016 - 18:32

Held at the National Museum, the High Level Debate was led by the Nordic Council of Ministers on the theme of ‘Re-shaping Cultural Policies for development, Promoting Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Artistic Freedom in a Digital Age.’

"Culture is an essential part of sustainable development," said Ms Tarja Halonen, President, Chair of Finnish National Gallery, in her Keynote speech, underlining the importance of gender equality to reshape cultural policies.

Moderated by Jussi-Pekka Rantanen, Senior News Presenter and Producer, Finnish Broadcasting Company, the debate featured a lively discussion between Irina Bokova, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Minister of Education and Culture, Finland, Alice Bah Kuhnke, Minister of Culture and Democracy, Sweden, Linda Hofstad Helleland, Minister of Culture, Norway, Bertel Haarder, Minister of Culture, Denmark, and Illugi Gunnarsson, Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Iceland -- including also a comment from Minister of Culture Rigmor Dam, Faroe Islands, representing the Ministers of Culture of the three autonomous Nordic areas Greenland, Faroe Islands and Åland.

“I thank the Nordic Council of Ministers for this initiative – and, for linking this debate with the celebrations of World Press Freedom Day,” said the Director-General.  

“This is important and innovative, reflecting the deep commitment of the Governments and societies of the Nordic Council of Ministers to promote cultural diversity, creativity and freedom of expression, as essential pillars of healthy, open and dynamic societies.”

UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions underscores human rights and fundamental freedoms of expression, information and communication and the right of governments to implement policies that support creativity and artistic freedom. Indeed the cultural and creative industries have a dual economic and  cultural value that have a significant role to play in contributing towards the global economy and in building tolerant societies.

Remarks during the high level debate in Helsinki centred on better integration of culture in national development policies and in international development assistance programmes in line with the new 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, adopted by UN Member States in 2015. 

In support of the 2030 agenda, UNESCO’s global report Re|Shaping Cultural Policies, funded by the Swedish Government, showcases the contribution of freedom of expression through the creative industries, such as film, music, art, performance and media, and shows how this supports the development of countries around the world. It is the first report to begin monitoring the impact of the 2005 Convention, a decade after its adoption.

Cultural and creative industries represent one of the most rapidly expanding sectors in the global economy with a growth rate of 17.6 % in the Middle East, 13.9 % in Africa, 11.9 % in South America, 9.7 % in Asia, 6.9 % in Oceania, and 4.3 % in North and Central America.

All of the Nordic countries taking part in the debate have ratified the 2005 Convention which guides states on how to introduce better cultural policies to protect and promote the work of creative and media professionals.

The Swedish Minister, Alice Bah Kunhnke, was clear: "ratification is one thing, now we need to implement the Convention fully."

With an increasing number of attacks on artists reported in 2015, moderator and journalist with the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, Jussi-Pekka Rantanen, called on the ministers to share their priorities on the protection of artistic freedom.

The discussion focused on the power of the diversity of cultural expressions for human rights and dignity, for jobs and revenue, as well as for gender equality. This is how culture drives forward and enables pathways to more inclusive and sustainable development -- notably for developing countries -- to take forward the 2030 Agenda.

On the occasion of the roundtable, the Nordic Ministers of Culture issued the Declaration on Promoting Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Artistic Freedom in a Digital Age. This Declaration calls upon the international community, in particular, to enhance global monitoring in areas such as artistic freedom, gender equality, civil society participation and challenges of the digital age.

UNESCO Director-General in Helsinki for World Press Freedom Day

Dom, 01/05/2016 - 18:19

The overarching theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms,’ with a focus on: freedom of information and sustainable development, protecting press freedom from censorship and surveillance overreach and ensuring safety of journalists online and offline.

The Director-General will speak about UNESCO’s promotion of press freedom and freedom of information, and action to enhance the safety of journalists and to end impunity,  during the opening of the two-day conference on 3 May, when she will take the floor alongside Juha Sipilä, the Prime Minister of Finland, and Jussi Pajunen, the Mayor of Helsinki.

On the evening of 3 May, Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland, and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, will lead the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize-giving ceremony, whose winner this year is Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist from Azerbaijan.

On 2 May, this year’s conference breaks ground in establishing the link between artistic freedom, media diversity and press freedom, as promoted by UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. The Director-General will participate in a Side Event, led by the Nordic Council of Ministers, on  “Re-shaping Cultural Policies for development, Promoting Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Artistic Freedom in a Digital Age” – with Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Minister of Education and Culture, Finland, Alice Bah Kuhnke, Minister of Culture and Democracy, Sweden, Linda Hofstad Helleland, Minister of Culture, Norway, Bertel Haarder, Minister of Culture, Denmark, and Illugi Gunnarsson, Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Iceland, including also a comment from Minister of Culture Rigmor Dam, Faroe Islands, representing the Ministers of Culture of the three autonomous Nordic areas Greenland, Faroe Islands and Åland.

On the same day, the Director-General will be honoured to receive the Chydenius Medal, awarded by the Anders Chydenius Foundation and the Association for Chydenius Institute. This Award marks the outstanding performance of UNESCO on international level in promotion of the principles of openness, cherished by Anders Chydenius, the initiator of the world’s first Freedom of Information Act (1766). The Award was presented by Mr Gustav Björkstrand (Chairperson of Anders Chydenius Foundation) and Mrs Jutta Urpilainen (Kokkola City Council President, MP, Chairwoman of the Finnish UNESCO Commission), along with the 250 Delegation, held at the Päivälehti museum.

During the visit, the Director-General is expected to hold bilateral meetings with President of the Republic of Finland, Mr. Sauli Niinistö, as well as with the Prime Minister, Mr. Sipilä, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Ms Lenita Toivakka, the Minister of Education and Culture, Ms. Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Ms Anne Berner, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Timo Soini.

Director-General urges investigation into murder of journalist Francisco Pacheco Beltrán in Mexico

Mié, 27/04/2016 - 15:14

“I condemn the murder of Francisco Pacheco Beltrán,” the Director-General said. “I call on the authorities to investigate this killing, which undermines the media’s ability to do their work and limits people’s access to information.”

Francisco Pacheco Beltrán worked for radio station Capital Máxima, daily newspaper El Sol de Acapulco, online weekly El Foro de Taxco and ran his own website. He was killed in front of his house in Taxco.

The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.

                                                  ****

Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, s.coudray(at)unesco.org, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12

UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”

 

Director-General condemns killing of magazine editor Xulhaz Mannan in Bangladesh

Mié, 27/04/2016 - 15:08

“I condemn the killing of Xulhaz Mannan,” the Director-General said. “Mannan spoke for a part of society that is often shunned, contributing to the media’s calling to serve the public as a whole. His murder is a loss to Bangladesh, to its media community and society. I urge the authorities to investigate this heinous crime, to bring its perpetrators to trial and enhance the safety of all journalists so as to ensure respect for freedom of expression and freedom of information for all.”

Xulhaz Mannan was killed in his home, along with Tanay Fahim. Mannan was the editor of Roopbaan magazine, the only LGBTI media in the country.

The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.

                                            ****

Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, s.coudray(at)unesco.org, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12

UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”

 

2016 World Press Freedom Day celebrations highlight link between freedom of information and sustainable development

Lun, 25/04/2016 - 15:23

The link between press freedom and sustainable development is made for the first time this year, following the adoption in late 2015 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, which recognize the need to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements,” (SDG 16 point 10).

The importance of free and independent media to inform the citizens of the world is crucial to the achievement of the SDGs, argues the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, in her message for the Day: “At this time of turbulence and change across the world, including new challenges that require global cooperation and action, the need for quality information has never been so important—this requires a strong environment of press freedom and well-functioning systems to ensure the people’s right to know.”

The Director-General will speak about UNESCO’s promotion of press freedom and freedom of information, and action to enhance the safety of journalists and to end impunity,  during the opening of the two-day conference* and celebration on the morning of 3 May, when she will take the floor alongside Juha Sipilä, the Prime Minister of Finland, and Jussi Pajunen, the Mayor of Helsinki.

Plenary sessions will tackle the following subjects: Press freedom, right to information and transparency over the past quarter century, Surveillance overreach, Data protection and online censorship, Freedom of information as a fundamental freedom and human right, and, finally the adoption of a Declaration, to be known as the Finlandia Declaration, by the events’ 1,000 plus participants (media professionals, government representatives and those of intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations as well as civil society).

In nine parallel sessions, the participants will take stock of a wide range of political, societal and technical issues relating to freedom of expression: The impact of the current refugee crisis on public service media values, Artistic freedom and development, Whistleblowers and journalists’ source protection, Countering hate speech in the media, Gender, Radicalization in the social media, and Disinformation.

Also on the agenda are discussions about access to information and sustainable development goal indicators and safety of journalists, a subject of particular concern to UNESCO which denounces every fatal attack targeting media workers and advocates an end to the impunity enjoyed by the vast majority of the perpetrators.

This year’s conference breaks new ground in establishing the link between artistic freedom, media diversity and press freedom as promoted by UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. These issues will be examined in Parallel Session II with the participation of Finland’s Minister of Education and Culture, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen and also in one of the conference’s 30 side events “Re-shaping Cultural Policies for development, Promoting Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Artistic Freedom in a Digital Age” with, among others, the participation of government ministers from all the Nordic countries the Director-General of UNESCO and a panel of artists from Africa, Asia Europe, and the Middle East.

On the evening of 3 May, Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland, and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, will lead the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize-giving ceremony, whose winner this year is Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist from Azerbaijan. The $25,000 Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá, on 17 December 1986. It is funded by the Cano Foundation (Colombia) and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland).

This year’s celebration will end with a seminar on 4 May assessing the impact of development projects promoting freedom of expression in the Arab Region funded by the governments of Finland and Sweden. An exhibition of works by nine young photojournalists trained by the regional project UNESCO organized with funding from Finland and Sweden will be on display during the World Press Freedom Day event.

The celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2016 is organized in partnership with the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of some 50 civil society and media organizations.

Some one hundred World Press Freedom Day events are organized around the world this year.

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For the media:

Press kit: https://en.unesco.org/world-press-freedom-day-2016/press-kit

Contacts:

UNESCO: Roni Amelan: +33(0)7 86 43 58 76

 Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs: Mari Lankinen, mari.lankinen(at)formin.fi, +358 (0)295 350 642

Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture: Heidi Mäenpää, heidi.maenpaa@minedu.fi, +358 2953 30230), for local media

 

*Live streaming of the event will be available here: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/resources/multimedia/webcast

 

UNESCO supports discussions on labour conditions of media professionals in South East Europe

Jue, 21/04/2016 - 17:38

“The event provided a unique opportunity to exchange views between EU and non-EU participants from South Eastern Europe of the EFJ members and discuss recent developments in the media sector affecting journalists’ working conditions”, said EFJ project Officer Mehmet Koksal.

During the meeting, national reports on labour conditions of journalists were shared and discussed among participants. Ms Erisa Zykaj from the Association of Professional Journalists of Albania (APJA) and Mr Dejan Gligorievic from the Journalists Union of Serbia (SINOS-UNS), highlighted the challenges faced by journalists in their countries, which are in many ways similar from the ones faced by European colleagues. They also mentioned the importance for media employees to be covered by proper work contracts to address the issue of journalists’ self-censorship and or political interference.

LAREG Chair Philippe Leruth recalled two important meetings the members had with MEP Thomas Händel, chair of the European Parliament Committee on Social Affairs and Marianne Thyssen, the European Commissioner on Social Affairs.

LAREG+ members agreed to meet again informally during the upcoming EFJ General Meeting on 24 April in Sarajevo before their next meeting scheduled in October 2016 in Zagreb, Croatia.

The EU-UNESCO funded project “Building Trust in media in South East Europe” supports media freedom and media integrity in the EU enlargement countries. The project seeks among others to improve the internal governance of media organizations based on the commitment of media owners and editors to respect clearly defined professional and labour standards.

For more information about the project click here.
#BuildTrustinMediaSEE


UNESCO and CLD: Protecting Against Attacks on Freedom of Expression

Jue, 21/04/2016 - 15:21

“The scale of this problem, which represents an attack on society as a whole, has remained at an unacceptable level in terms both of the number of attacks and the number of countries in which they take place”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “Despite their potential, only a few countries have put in place national safety mechanisms and we hope that this Guide will both prompt and support others to do so.”
 
“Freedom of the press is essential for the necessary information and transparency that a democratic society needs. But today we see an increase of violence and intimidation against journalists for which I propose that all countries of the world establish a mechanism of information and protection for the safety of journalists”, said Frank La Rue, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Communication and Information.
 
One of the challenges of putting in place a national safety mechanism is the limited number of examples of existing mechanisms from which lessons can be learned, as well as the mixed success of existing mechanisms. The Guide seeks to provide support in this area by analyzing the key issues that need to be considered when setting up a mechanism, grouped into three main categories: the scope of the mechanism; involving key stakeholders; and institutional design. An Annex provides a flowchart of the decisions/assessments that need to be made when establishing a mechanism, designed to be used as a tool to assist with planning such a process.
 
The issue of national safety mechanisms and the Guide will be discussed at a session at World Press Freedom Day in Helsinki, titled Promoting Journalists’ Safety: Building an Effective Safety Mechanism, to be held in Finlandia Hall from 1400-1700 on 2 May.
 
The Discussion Paper is available here.
 
For further information, please contact:
 
Toby Mendel
Executive Director
Centre for Law and Democracy
Email: toby(at)law-democracy.org
+1 902 431-3688
www.law-democracy.org
twitter: @law_democracy
#MediaSafetyMech

UNESCO supports the trainings of Libyan journalists on conflict-sensitive reporting

Jue, 21/04/2016 - 10:04

The trainings encompass discussion around definitions of conflict-sensitive reporting and media coverage in times of crisis, international standards for journalistic ethics as well as hate speech. There will also be a portion dedicated to obtaining recommendations towards a draft journalistic code of ethics to be elaborated by Libyan journalists at a subsequent workshop end of April.

Amal Al-Sharrad Alwerfalli, a journalist from Tripoli, emphasized the importance of organizing this workshop at a time when “the Libyan journalist has arrived at a crossroad”, facing the challenge of being professional and neutral in times of crisis. She stated that in her view, “These trainings will place us on the right path, under the guidance of two trainers who had previously worked in circumstances similar to the ones we live in our country at the moment. Through their experiences, the path we must take is clearer for us, in order to avoid leading the country into catastrophe.”

Saad Bashasha, a radio broadcaster in Oujela, agreed, saying these types of activities provide journalists with “the opportunity to meet with their counterparts, journalists who work in different media outlets, to exchange information and design a harmonized, complementary work plan that moves away from hate speech.”

Ramadhan Karnafouda, a journalist from Sabha, said that it is important to make use of these training by “communicating what we learned to the other local journalists, so that they may also benefit from these materials that will help them anchor the profession and create a media dialogue between citizens and policy-makers.”

This activity is implemented by UNESCO with the generous support of Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United States Embassy in Libya. It forms a part of UNESCO’s efforts in the media sector to reinforce the capacity of Libyan media outlets to contribute positively to reconciliation in the country and promote journalism that is conflict-sensitive.

 

Youth and media professionals meet to improve youth TV programming in Algeria

Mié, 20/04/2016 - 10:59

Participants examined the means of getting the media interested in young audiences to involve them in programme development and to strengthen the links between media and civil society. Programme formats could, for instance, be transformed into platforms for young people to express their opinions and participate in public life.

Following an opening ceremony marked by the interventions of Mr Marco Sioli, Representative of the EU Delegation in Algeria and Hakim Amara, International Cooperation Director at Algerian Television, the floor was given to Aida Al Kaisy. This BBC Media Action Special Advisor on media reforms presented case studies on how public service broadcasting can influence attitudes, inspire innovation and improve skills. Graeme Moreland and Zoe Hodgkinson, both BBC experts, presented models for audience research, creative platforms and civil society engagement. These models enable public service broadcasters to remain aware of young people’s expectations and aspirations in terms of media diffusion.

“This workshop is an opportunity for us, young people, to hold direct exchanges with those in charge of national television programming. This allowed us to share with them insights regarding youth’s expectations and to begin a collaborative effort toward creating programmes that are more in line with what young people want”, said Meriem Chikirou, member of the SIDRA organization.

Christophe Nick presented the “Generation What”, an initiative launched in France and currently being developed all across Europe. This web platform captures young people’s views on a wide range of key issues and allows for a unique comparison of their attitudes and concerns. The possibility of a "Generation What" in the MENA region was discussed with workshop participants.

Fares Khiari, member of the NET-MED Youth project in Tunisia, presented the radio programme "Up to Business". This programme, primarily dedicated to youth employability and entrepreneurship in Tunisia, aims to prepare young people for the labour-market. This presentation generated much interest and exchange among participants.

Another highlight of the workshop was the creative forum, during which representatives of youth organizations presented innovative TV programme ideas to national television programme managers and international experts. After each presentation, the panel members commented and discussed the programme concepts with young people, highlighting strengths and weaknesses for each proposition.

"The workshop allowed for face-to-face contact with young people, and this enables us to better understand their expectations in term of programmes, which we will take into account”, said Mrs. Nabila Khouidmi, Head of Programming at Algerian Television.

Beyond the in-depth exchanges and the lessons learned, the debates highlighted several areas for future joint work between media and civil society to strengthen the influence of youth in the media.

"Youth on Screen" results from a collaborative effort of two projects funded by the European Union: NET-MED Youth and MedMedia, which are implemented respectively by UNESCO and a consortium led by BBC Media Action. The Swedish International Cooperation Agency and the European Broadcasting Union also contributed to the launch of the initiative.

Youth and Media: identifying grassroots activities in the Maghreb

Mié, 20/04/2016 - 09:27

A month-long study into mainstream media in the 3 Maghreb countries revealed that youth representation is often minimal. Just a small percentage of television news observed involved youth or focused on topics related to youth: about 2% in Morocco and 1% in Tunisia. While in Algeria, less than 1% of those interviewed on television are between 19 and 24 years old. As a result of these findings, youth organizations were keen to have their voices heard and kick-off the discussion.

The workshop was facilitated by Farida Ayari and Safaa Nhairy, experts on media and communication. Special guests including the renowned media professionals Nadia Larguet and Oussama Benjelloun were also present to share their challenges and achievements.

The workshop was designed in a participatory manner, with young attendees “working out loud” and sharing their opinions on social media. “Change cannot happen unless we, the youth, work on strong and relevant messages to achieve our plan, and ultimately obtain better portrayal of youth in the media,” said Jihen Ayed, a participant from Tunisia.

The outcome of the workshop consisted of a set of actions proposed by the participants for implementation throughout 2016. These include training on citizen journalism, capacity-building for reporting on youth, strengthening the abilities of CSOs to construct positive relations with the media, as well as synergies with the Youth on Screen initiative.

NET-MED Youth is a project implemented by UNESCO and funded by the European Union. It aims at mainstreaming youth issues and priorities across national decision-making and policy implementation in eastern and western Mediterranean countries by building the capacities of youth and youth organizations and promoting their active engagement in the development and implementation of national policies and strategies on youth, ensuring that youth issues are adequately covered by national and regional media and by identifying workable models for improving youth access to employment and youth inclusion in different sectors.

Please click here to see the video.

More info: www.netmedyouth.org

Director-General condemns murder of Syrian journalist Zaher al-Shurqat

Lun, 18/04/2016 - 12:21

“I condemn the murder of Zaher al-Shurqat,” declared the Director-General. “It is essential that journalists covering conflict areas be able to do their work without fearing for their lives. I call on all parties to the conflict in Syria to respect the civilian status of journalists in keeping with the Geneva Conventions.”

Zaher al-Shurqat worked for the online broadcaster Aleppo Today for whom he notably presented the Lines of Fire programme that covered the conflict in Syria, with a focus on Aleppo. An unidentified assailant shot him while he was in a street of Gaziantep on foot.

The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.

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Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, s.coudray(at)unesco.org, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12

UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”

 

 

Executive Board strengthens UNESCO to lead 2030 Agenda

Vie, 15/04/2016 - 18:54

Accelerating the reform of the Organization was a key result of deliberations at the Executive Board – to sharpen UNESCO’s delivery to Member States in reaching the new goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as to discuss the implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The Executive Board agreed a wide-ranging reform package, starting with proposals on Structured Financing Dialogue, designed to adapt UNESCO to an increasingly complex and challenging financing landscape.

Members of the Executive Board agreed also on a roadmap to strengthen the sustainability of the UNESCO field network, an essential step to act in sync with societies, adapting to evolving needs, as countries move forward. This roadmap provides for an interactive and phased process.

Member States also agreed on the UNESCO Invest for Efficiency Plan --  including Learning and Development Initiatives, and measures to implement the Knowledge Management & Information and Communication Technology Strategy. These are steps to strengthen capacities of staff in key areas to take forward the 2030 Agenda – guided by two objectives: better, clearer, more strategic global, regional and country-level positioning and leadership of UNESCO; and, stronger operational modalities to deliver UNESCO programmes, globally, regionally and locally.

In taking forward Global Priority Gender Equality, the Executive Board decided to request the Secretariat to improve gender-related performance indicators and to establish a budget tracking system by 2018. 

The Executive  Board also took important decisions to reaffirm Member States’ commitment in a number of programme areas for the Organization -- from reinforcing UNESCO’s role in safeguarding and preserving Palmyra and other Syrian World Heritage sites, to the strengthening of education of girls and women, including expanding UNESCO’s engagement in open educational resources.

In Decision 199 EX/28 the 58-member Executive Board condemns violent extremists’ destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and notes that ISIL (Daesh), the Al-Nusra Front (ANF) and “other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida are generating income from engaging directly or indirectly in the lootings and smuggling of cultural heritage items from archaeological sites, museums, libraries, archives, and other sites in Iraq and Syria, which is being used to support their recruitment efforts and carry out terrorist attacks.”

The Decision calls on Member States to contribute funding for the preservation of Palmyra and other sites in Syria and invites the Director-General to send international experts to “inventory the extent of damages and to identify urgent needs in terms of conservation, restoration, and safeguarding with a view toward the long-term sustainability and integrity” of those sites.

In addition, the Executive Board took decisions on the UNESCO Strategy for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (2016-2021), as well as on UNESCO’s role in encouraging girls and women to be leaders in science, technology, engineering, art/design and mathematics.

Member States also agreed on a new Comprehensive strategy for the MOST programme, and deliberated on enhancing the Organization’s contribution to a culture of respect and issues pertaining to the review of the Memory of the World Programme for the preservation of documentary heritage.

The 199th session of the Executive Board was also marked by the visit of the Secretary-General of The Commonwealth, the Right Honourable Patricia Scotland QC, who spoke of her organization’s priority areas, including climate change and creating opportunities for young people.

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