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Building Peace in the Minds of Men and Women
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Access to information is vital to build stronger society and policies in Afghanistan says Irina Bokova

Vie, 27/05/2016 - 03:24

Irina Bokova had an in-depth discussion with Shafika Habibi, founder and Director of the Afghan Women Journalists Association, Najiba Ayubi, Deputy Director of the Afghanistan National Journalists Organisation, Danish Karokhel, member of the Oversight Commission for the implementation of the Access to Information Law and Najib Sharifi, Director of the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee.

Mr Karokhel shared his perspective on the implementation of the Access to Information Law approved in December 2014. “Eleven months back we created the 13-member commission that according to the law should oversee its implementation. However, no governmental budget has been assigned to it so far,” he said.

He said that the Commission has elaborated a bylaw to strengthen its independence and highlighted the importance of right to information in the fight against corruption and the promotion of sustainable, participatory development . “A culture of information sharing is vital to strengthen accountability, to improve public policies and build stronger, more transparent societies,” he said.

Mr Karokhel referred to the launch of a future joint project with UNESCO in Afghanistan to raise public awareness and to encourage media and civil society to play an active role in pursuing the full implementation of the law. «People should know that they have this right to access information» said the Director-General. «If they do not know their own rights, if they are not educated or encouraged, what is written in the law will never be fully implemented ,» she said, reaffirming UNESCO’s  special role to play in this regard.

With regard to the situation of female journalists,  Ms Ayubi said that out of estimated 10,000 reporters in the country only 2,000 women are able to work. “While women represent 50% of the Afghan population, only 30 media organisations are managed by women, against around 1800 registered.”

Both Ms Ayubi and Ms Habibi underlined the urgent need for capacity building for female journalists, including a leadership and management focus. “The creation of role models is important, to encourage young journalists, to tell them they should not be afraid and to give them confidence, » said the Director-General.

Ms Habibi informed that since the last visit of the Director-General three years ago, the Afghan Women Journalists Union has expanded its activity to 13 provinces and counts over 400 members. “The situation is very bad in the provinces, the number of women working has decreased, many are fired without any reason and others receive their salaries after months,” she said, also reporting on harrassment.

Both Ms Habibi and Ms Ayubi agreed that the decision making power on hiring staff is dominanted by men, stressing the importance of women in leadership positions in the media.

Ms Bokova pledged to seek further support from potential donors, in particular for capacity building. The UNESCO office in Afghanistan stands ready to launch a Women Media Service project that would include investigative reporting by female journalists and capacity building throughout the country.  

The Director of the Afghanistan Journalists Safety Committee underlined the role played by media in promoting democracy in the country. “However, we receive pressures from all sides” said Mr Sharifi, highlighting also that many media had to close because they are unable to tackle the financial challenges they face. He recognized the commitment of the current Afghan leadership towards media freedom, calling for more concrete action.

Ms Bokova cited the expertise of UNESCO in the context of the UN Plan for the Safety of Journalists,  with judges and prosecutors receiving specific training to prosecute crimes against journalists. “I am impressed by the leadership you demonstrate and by all the actions and progress made over the past few years. The adoption of the Access to Information law in 2014 is truly a success story for Afghanistan, and now it needs to be fully implemented,” concluded the Director-General.

For further information contact UNESCO’s Mr. Habibullah Sayed 0728 85 85 53 – s.habibullah@unesco.org

UNESCO supports capacity building of Press Council in Pristina

Jue, 26/05/2016 - 15:10

“Our Press Council has decided to react to several criticisms it has received highlighting that our decisions and rulings should be written in a more user-friendly language,” said Qerim Ondozi, Public Relation Officer of PCK.

The training program was based on the recommendations of UNESCO’s needs-assessment report regarding press councils in the region. The report was published in 2015 and recommended to improve some of the Councils’ rulings, specifically pointing out that “there is sometimes a lack of detail in the explanation of whether and how the Code has been breached.”

At the training, decisions taken by PCK during the last two years were discussed. PCK receives on average 40 complaints per year. Decisions against the complaints are made by the Board and are then made public by the Secretariat of PCK.

Training highlighted the need for PCK’s decisions to be more descriptive, in particular to include a background section where the foundations and context of the complaints are outlined. Using the examples of their counterparts in Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the trainer Zenun Ҫelaj, editor-in-chief of the online news portal koha.net, highlighted how to bring clarity to and to boost the credibility of the decisions of the self-regulatory body.

This training seminar was organized as part of the UNESCO EU-funded project Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey. Nehat Islami, Executive Director of PCK, Nora Behluli, complaint officer, and Qerim Ondozi, PR officer, took part in the training.

UNESCO and Sakharov Prize Network discuss human rights online at the European Parliament

Jue, 26/05/2016 - 09:45

This was the message of Guy Berger, UNESCO Director of the Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, in a keynote speech at the European Parliament in Brussels, 24 May 2016.

His intervention was part of the Mid-Term Conference of the Sakharov Prize Network for stronger human rights action, which involves Laureates of the Prize and which is dedicated to defending human rights in a digital era. The session was chaired by MEP Christian Dan Preda, Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights at the European Parliament.

Berger referred to “a level of securitisation that puts our rights to freedom of expression, privacy and association under stress”. Balancing rights on the Internet needed to take account of international standards for proportionality and necessity, he said.

Balancing also needed to take account of the Internet specificities of Openness, Accessibility and Multi-stakeholder participation, Berger stated.  

Paying tribute to the Laureates of the Sakharov Prize, Berger also underlined that “we need to support and protect journalism, on and offline. We need to speak out when its expressions are censored, and when its practitioners are persecuted, whether by terrorists or state actors.

“These violations of freedom of expression remove the very factor that can enable everyone to think in an informed way. So, we must defend the right to do journalism online in freedom and safety.”

During the session Guy Berger also introduced a pilot project being worked on by UNESCO, and invited co-operation by European institutions. Called “Internet futures: upgrading policy and practice human rights in the digital age”, the project promotes the UNESCO framework of Internet Universality and ROAM principles as a way to balance human rights online.

The Sakharov Prize Network connects Members of the European Parliament, laureates, and civil society and it serves as a channel of communication that enables them to better address human rights violations and issues.

Director-General welcomes freeing of Khadija Ismayilova, laureate of UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2016

Mié, 25/05/2016 - 16:01

“Some three weeks after UNESCO awarded Khadija Ismayilova the prestigious UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, I welcome her release from prison as a major step for freedom of expression, due process and the rule of law in Azerbaijan,” said the Director-General. “UNESCO’s commitment to stand by journalists around world, is unwavering,” Ms Bokova added. “Our mandate to enhance the safety of journalists and fight impunity for crimes against them, to defend freedom of expression and media freedoms has never been so important. This requires the commitment of all actors and every Government.” 

Ms Ismayilova, a freelance journalist and contributor to the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe, was detained in December 2014. In September 2015, was sentenced to seven and a half years’ imprisonment on charges relating to abuse of power and tax evasion.

At World Humanitarian Summit protecting journalists key to reporting in crisis situations

Mié, 25/05/2016 - 01:15

The session focused on challenges and good practices experienced by the media in crisis situations, notably the increased risks to journalists’ safety and the impact of crises their ability to meet professional standards.

UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, said that “today, we must accelerate the global recognition by states of the importance to protect the safety of journalists everywhere, especially in humanitarian emergencies where it plays a vital role in informing, preventing, mitigating and reducing the impacts of crises.

The session Chair, Chairwoman of Turkish Newspaper Hürriyet, Vuslat Doğan Sabancı said that “humanity is facing one of its most significant tests, as millions of people are leaving their homes for safety. The media is playing a critical role, awakening the world's attention to the refugee crisis by giving voice to the pain of the refugees being forced to leave their homes and bringing startling visual images into our consciousness.”

Participants called on Member States, UN agencies and media organizations, to implement the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. They also focused on specific actions each stakeholder could take to increase their efforts to bring an end to attacks against journalists and to promote independent reporting in crisis situations.

The call requests Member States to create national safety of journalist mechanisms to prevent, and monitor threats against media professional, end impunity by ensuring thorough investigation into such crimes, and improve protection by training security forces and judiciary officials about international human rights and humanitarian law and the role of journalists, all under the framework of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goal 16, which calls for States to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms.”

It urges UN agencies to continue sharing information and best practices, drawing on their expertise to implement the UN Plan worldwide and monitor journalist safety through the Universal Periodic Review (the UN reporting mechanism on human rights in Member States), UNESCO reports, and progress reports on the implementation of the SDGs.

Finally, Media organizations are called on to ensure that international and local, staff and freelancers, have the training and resources needed to practice their profession safely.

UNESCO, the UN agency mandated to promote freedom of expression, reports that over 825 journalists have been killed in the line of duty over the past ten years. On average, this translates into one media worker killed every five days and in more than nine out of 10 cases, those responsible for the killings are never punished, leading to impunity for crimes against journalists.

UNESCO takes World Humanitarian Summit into virtual journey with war reporters in Syria

Mar, 24/05/2016 - 15:04

The film enabled visitors to the Exhibition Fair at the Istanbul Congress Centre to stand by journalists at the moments they document stories in Syria and to follow them to different locations covering the unfolding events. The film brings insights into the dangers that put journalists’ lives at risk and the difficult decisions that they are faced with when covering the news.

In Their Press Vests engaged visitors into an immersive experience to understand the working conditions of Syrian journalists, many of who started as citizen journalists documenting the civil unrest, and who have become increasingly professional.

By presenting In Their Press Vests at the World Humanitarian Summit Expo, UNESCO makes use of virtual reality as a powerful new approach to advocate for the safety of journalists, freelancers, bloggers and social media producers as well as journalism sources. Not only do they fall casualty to conflict, but they are frequently directly targeted for doing their jobs.

“The film put myself in a situation that I would never had experienced;” “There's nothing like looking through the eyes of a person - just seeing the world a whole different way. I feel like I understand more of what's going on in Syria - makes me wonder what I can do,”  were some of the comments from visitors to the UNESCO booth.

UNESCO produced In Their Press Vests, in partnership with The Association for the Support of Free Media and with the support of the Government of Finland. The film was first exhibited this year during World Press Freedom Day in Helsinki and Difference Day at BOZAR Centre of Fine Arts in Brussels.

As the UN agency mandated to protect freedom of expression and with an active role in promoting journalists' safety worldwide, UNESCO stands up every time a media worker is killed and calls for justice. The organization also spearheads the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists.

Between 2006 and 2015, UNESCO condemned the killing of 825 journalists around the world. In more than nine out of ten cases, those responsible for the killing are never punished.

Attacks against journalists are also perpetrated in non-conflict situations. Threats of persecution, arrest, imprisonment, denial of journalistic access and gender-based harassment continue to be tactics to silence journalism. Threats are also linked to digital safety and online harassment, trolling and surveillance.

Inaugural meeting and planning workshop for Open Access for Libya concludes in Amman

Mar, 24/05/2016 - 09:48

Inaugural Meeting and Planning Workshop for Open Access for Libya was held at Hotel Regency palace from 17 to 19 May 2016. The event, which was implemented within the framework of “National ICT project for capacity building in Higher Education of Libya”, was attended by 23 high level government officials and delegates of nine Universities in different parts of Libya.

The OA project will create necessary conditions to create a policy framework and national system that will ensure that all publicly funded research in Libya becomes freely and openly available and that Libyan academia are not left behind in the global OA movement. The project will not only ensure strengthening research and innovation processes in the country but it will also ensure that Libya is enlisted highly on global systems, such as Global Innovation Index (GII), that ranks innovation and research strength of countries. The proposed strategy will also formulate a framework to monitor progress and establish benchmarks.

The project has a strong networking and capacity enhancement component, which will be implemented within the broader framework of reconciliation and reparation agenda of the Government of Libya.  

The Meeting created a platform to understand trends and emerging challenges related to the impact of Open Access  on scientific information acquisition and sharing; clarified the context and the utility of Open Access policy and analyzed existing barriers or support for Open Access Policy adoption; discussed specific technology generated trends, and their consequences for development in scientific (both social as well as natural sciences) information and research sharing; and discussed several collaborative and collective efforts and actions required to initiate Open Access movement in the country. Attendants from various Libyan universities actively participated in discussions and shared their experiences. The meeting also benefitted from the expertise of Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press, Qatar, which provided technical expertise during the meeting.  Following intensive discussions, and in a participatory manner, the meeting finalized a detailed “way-forward” for the project.

A side meeting of the Vice President of the Presidential Council Dr Fathi Ali and Dr Ghaith Fariz, UNESCO Representative to Libya, as well as other UNESCO delegates was also held to discuss and consolidate modalities for implementation of the project.

Open Access (OA) is a term widely used to refer to unrestricted online access to articles published in scholarly journals. OA movement is aligned with the overarching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with its focus on bolstering human capital and the World Summit on the Information Society’s goal of building open and inclusive knowledge societies.

UNESCO supports OA for the benefit of the global flow of knowledge, innovation and equitable socio‐economic development. To achieve the goal of open and inclusive knowledge societies, different approaches and strategies have been adopted by UNESCO.

Director-General urges investigation into the killing of journalist Manuel Santiago Torres González in Mexico

Mar, 24/05/2016 - 09:25

“I condemn the murder of Manuel Santiago Torres González,” the Director-General said. Attacks on the media affect every member of society and undermine freedom of expression. I call on the authorities to investigate this heinous crime and bring its perpetrators to justice.”

 

Veteran journalist Manuel Santiago Torres González was editor of the Noticias MT news website was shot in the city of in Poza Rica.

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…”

 

 

Networks of Mediterranean Youth speak up on World Press Freedom Day in Helsinki

Lun, 23/05/2016 - 17:45

The overarching theme for this year’s celebration was “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms. This is your Right!”. Giving ample room for young voices to be heard was key at this global event; one of its focus areas being freedom of information and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which youth will have a central role in bringing to completion. This was an occasion for NET-MED Youth participants to exchange views with actors from Arab countries and the world over that are fighting for effective press freedom and plural media that give space to youth, women and all communities, highlighted Imane Bounjara, from Morocco.

On 2 May, a side-event organized by NET-MED Youth in cooperation with MedMedia (another EU-funded project, implemented by a consortium led by BBC Media Action), served to share insights emerging from the “Youth on Screen” initiative, which has been implemented for the past year. Youth that had taken part in past national-level meetings presented creative ideas for new television programmes, to an audience of TV professionals and young civil society advocates from different NET-MED Youth target countries, as well as other participants attending the World Press Freedom Day commemoration. Discussions also addressed the challenges faced by media in producing youth-focused programming, and the opportunities offered in this regard by constructive collaboration with civil society. One of the young Algerian presenters, Samira Dehri, noted that the experience had given her new hope, permitting a clearer view on how to best move toward media’s future, enhance the image of young people and their role in bringing about change. “My slogan today is: yes we can, we are the key!” she concluded. 

Five among the NET-MED Youth participants at World Press Freedom Day were members of the Youth Newsroom that covered the celebration. Bringing together more than 40 participants from 10 countries, this was the biggest edition of this unique experience yet! Young reporters produced written stories and interviews, podcasts, videos, photos and social media content. Their work was featured on the Youth Newsroom website, a magazine disseminated among World Press Freedom Day attendees before the event´s closing session, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube , and Instagram. “I will never forget how the FREEZINE magazine gave our voices the chance to come out loudly!” said Lubna Saheb, from Palestine, who praised the newsroom leaders for proving guidance, efficiently distributing tasks and ensuring cooperation among all members.

“Participating in the newsroom was the best experience I've ever had in my life…”, explained with excitement Mohammad Oreiby, from Lebanon, noting how enriching it was to meet and interact with people from all over the world, get to know some of their traditions, and share information about their respective countries. “And the most important thing was working in a same spirit to showcase the best of the event,” he stated. In a similar vein, Saleh Kishta, from Jordan, stressed that sharing experiences with peers from different cultures and nations “led to unite us and unite our efforts… proving the strength of team work”. In a world witnessing disunity, conflicts and wars, “I think what we have done is what serves humanity,” he expressed.

Also on the side of World Press Freedom Day, a networking event was jointly organized by the Anna Lindh Foundation, the Finnish Institute in the Middle East and the NET-MED Youth Project, which connected Arab youth with Finnish civil society and media actors to exchange views on major issues affecting their societies, including the role of media in promoting cross-cultural understanding.

Participants also got to attend a public seminar focusing on the work of UNESCO to promote freedom of expression in the Arab region, which showcased the impact of extra-budgetary projects supported by the Governments of Finland and Sweden that have also provided co-financing for NET-MED Youth.

Reflecting on the overall 2016 World Press Freedom Day experience, Lebanese participant Bechara Ghaoui described it as an inspiration, which left him with wishes, hope and determination to go back to his region and promote freedom of expression until it is ensured that “the press is free and every man is able to say whatever he wants without any fears”.

The Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth) project is 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.

To learn more about Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth), visit: http://www.netmedyouth.org/ and follow us on: www.facebook.com/netmedyouth

Namibia celebrates World Press Freedom Day and 25th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration

Lun, 23/05/2016 - 17:16

The ceremony brought together a collective body of representatives from relevant government offices, diplomatic corps, humanitarian organisations, non-governmental organizations and the media. The overall objective of the celebration was to raise public and institutional awareness on access to information as a fundamental human right. 

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) keynote speaker and Deputy Director of Print Media Affairs at the MICT, Mr Frans Nghitila, who spoke on behalf of Deputy Minister Stanley Simataa said that an access to information law will soon be available in Namibia. He also urged all the journalists to acknowledge the Government’s efforts in creating an enabling environment for their operation and reciprocate that through ethical journalism.

"We (Government) are working hard at ensuring access to information by all especially journalists. We expect the media to be more responsible and contribute meaningfully to sustainable development," he said.

Mr Nghitila also mentioned new initiatives in the pipeline by the ministry such as the whistle blowers protection act, e-governance plan and broadband access by citizens which the Government is currently working on to ensure that the infrastructure for an access to information law is in place.   

The United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Ms Kiki Gbeho delivered the UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki Moon and UNESCO Director General, Ms Irina Bokova’s Messages on WPFD.  She emphasised on the important role the media plays in achieving developmental goals, especially those launched under the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty.

"The media plays a pivotal role in raising awareness and providing a better understanding of the SDGs. In order for us to achieve sustainable development, we must come together and pull in one direction, just as the preamble to the SDGs encourages us to leave no one behind," said Ms Gbeho.   

She also congratulated Namibia for being ranked number one in Africa and 17 in the world in terms of press freedom according to the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

As a result of rapid technological advancements in the media and the increase of online journalism, UNESCO strongly supports that Press Freedom and Freedom of expression should be protected online.

During his speech, Dr Jean-Pierre Ilboudo, the UNESCO representative to Namibia, mentioned that bloggers and social media activists who generate information that is of public interest are increasingly gaining recognition by the international community in recent resolutions across the UN.

"UNESCO believes that bloggers should be protected just like journalists. However, they must abide with the journalism ethics. This means they too must verify their sources," he said.

Ms Jana Hybaskova, European Union (EU) Ambassador to Namibia commended the country’s free press and the variety and diversity of opinion displayed amongst the numerous media platforms.

She said that while journalists globally face many challenges, including harassment, threats, imprisonment and death, it is important to highlight how media and information continues to thrive in the Southern African region. According to the EU Ambassador this development shows that the best and good practice in media freedom is doing well on the African continent.

After an entertaining performance by local poets and traditional dancers, MISA Regional Director, Ms Zoe Titus gave the vote of thanks at the ceremony and reflected on the efforts made by UNESCO in 1991 to free imprisoned journalists so they could join the historic seminar known as the Windhoek Declaration. She also extended her prayers and solidarity to all those journalists imprisoned and who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The roots of World Press Freedom Day began in Namibia's capital 25 years ago, when the Windhoek Declaration on global press freedom was crafted at a seminar for African journalists organized by UNESCO. In December 1993, the UN General Assembly declared 3 May, the date of the Windhoek Declaration, as World Press Freedom Day.

Hue City in Vietnam hosts a Memory of the World regional meeting

Vie, 20/05/2016 - 16:12

The event was opened by the Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Vietnam, Ms Dang Thi Bich Lien. In his address to the participants, Ms Lien emphasized that Vietnam, as a country with a diverse and rich culture, highly appreciates the role of UNESCO in supporting the preservation of cultural and documentary heritage worldwide. Also, stressing the significance of MOWCAP in identifying and preserving unique documentary heritage in the region, Vietnam is attaching great importance to heritage preservation with 8 world heritage sites, 10 intangible cultural heritage and 4 documentary heritage items recognized by  UNESCO.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau, Secretary-General of the Vietnam National Commission for UNESCO, emphasized that Vietnam greatly values UNESCO’s heritage programmes and is particularly eager to play an active role in  strengthening and promoting  the MoW Programme.

<h2>The UNESCO Bangkok office representative, Misako Ito, reminded the theme of the 2016 World Press Freedom Day, “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms – This is Your Right” highlighting in this context the importance of public access to information  as a crucial pre-condition to achieving all of SDGs.</h2>

The 7th MOWCAP meeting was attended by some 66 delegates representing 16 countries of Asia and the Pacific and 40 participants from different Vietnamese institutions involved in preservation of documentary heritage. The objective of the meeting was to review MOWCAP’s past activities,  including the work programme adopted at the previous general meeting; to discuss the undergoing review process of the Programme’s General Guidelines and Companion. Participants also reviewed and discussed proposals for inscriptions to the regional Register, based on the recommendations of the MOWCAP Register Subcommittee.

Within the framework of MOWCAP, a one-day workshop was organized to introduce and provide guidance on the implementation of the recently adopted UNESCO normative instrument, the Recommendation concerning the Preservation of, and Access to Documentary Heritage, including in Digital Form.

The MOWCAP meeting reviewed 16 new proposals for inscription on the regional Register, out of which 14 have been approved. The total number of the inscribed items on the MOWCAP Register reaches  now 46 items  from 23 countries.

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 is intended to protect documentary heritage, and helps networks of experts to exchange information and raise resources for preservation of, and access to, documentary material.

IPDC delegation visits Turkey

Vie, 20/05/2016 - 11:52

The objective of the mission was to discuss IPDC collaboration with Turkish media, the Directorate of Press and Information, the Turkish Development Cooperation Agency (TIKA) and the AA in the field of media and migration, as announced by Ambassador H.A. Botsali during the 60th IPDC Bureau meeting in March this year.

Following the IPDC debate on Media and Migration also on the occasion of the IPDC Bureau, an IPDC project was developed in cooperation with the Turkish delegation based on research and perceived need of journalists and media organizations to increase their skills and knowledge in reporting about the issue of migration and refugees. The project therefore consists of organizing a series of training workshops by skilled national and international lecturers and journalists associated with universities, professional media and journalists’ organizations. It was agreed that the project will also include training on safety of journalists and the situation of women refugees, based on UNESCO/IPDC’s syllabus on “Reporting Migration, with a focus on refugees”.

It is hoped that this pilot project, which should start in the second half of 2016, may develop into a longer-term programme which focuses on putting communication at the center of larger development goals, with special attention the implementation of SDGs.

During the visit, IPDC delegates were also able to address challenges of press freedom, the situation of media and journalists in Turkey, particularly issues related to accreditation, media polarization and the use of the Anti-Terrorism Law. It was discussed to develop a dialogue on these topics. 

The International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) is the UN’s intergovernmental programme that mobilizes international support in order to strengthen the capacities of mass media to contribute to sustainable development, democracy and good governance.

Final call on governments to join the UNESCO Global Survey on Governments’ Actions on Gender and Media

Jue, 19/05/2016 - 17:07

UNESCO’s consultation with governments from across the world is taking the form of a global survey. Since 2015, 40 countries have already responded to the questionnaire, and UNESCO calls for more countries to join.

This is the final opportunity to participate. The questionnaire will be closed on 5 July 2016. The online questionnaire can be accessed here. For more information, please contact the Section for Media Development and Society of UNESCO (Zhiying Dai, z.dai(at)unesco.org or Alton Grizzle, a.grizzle(at)unesco.org).

The finding of the survey will be summarized in a global report which will serve three main purposes:

  • Gather, analyze and distribute empirical data on progress towards achieving Strategic Objective J, relating to media and gender, of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPfA) from the stand point of government actions;
  • Raise awareness of the topic among Member States and make recommendations as to how media and ICTs can be integrated into national gender policies and strategies, and
  • Contribute to the 20-year review of the BDPfA.

The survey questionnaire draws on key action items as set forth in the BDPfA as well as relevant indicators of the Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media resource published by UNESCO.

There are two seminal global studies in recent times which address gender and media issues. These are the Global Media Monitoring Project and the Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media. However, there is no comprehensive and collective report in the aspect of governments’ actions on media and gender although many governments have implemented programmes and policies in line with the Women and the Media strategic objective of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This global survey undertaken by UNESCO in cooperation with its Member States addresses this research gap.

A UNESCO Memory of the World workshop to strengthen Central American sub-regional cooperation and heritage preservation

Mié, 18/05/2016 - 17:15

The primary purpose of the workshop is to strengthen national capacities of Central American countries to engage more effectively at national, regional and international levels with the Memory of the World Programme and increase identification and preservation of documentary heritage with global significance in the sub-region. Another equally important objective of the workshop is to improve  cooperation between Central American national committees and the Regional Memory of the World committee for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Participants came from major national memory institutions of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The workshop was opened by Mr Oscar Rivas, Minister of Education of Guatemala and President of the National Commission of Guatemala for UNESCO, who emphasized that although Guatemala is a country very rich in history and culture, a better understanding of the cultural heritage is crucial because heritage should be perceived as a public good and as such it enhances identity and appreciation of the cultures that produced that heritage. In this context, the cooperation within the framework of the Memory of the World Programme is very important for preserving cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.

The Deputy Minister of Culture, Max Arujo, referred to the importance of the national Memory of the World committees for identifying, preserving and promoting documentary heritage of global significance. He spoke of the sacred book of the Maya and Central American Spirituality Popul Vuh, (in translation The Book of Community), which is currently in the United States, and which should be proposed for consideration and possible inscription on the MoW international Register.

In his address, Mr Frank La Rue, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, emphasized the importance of the  2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a significant step forward in the recognition of the vital role of freedom of expression, particularly in the context of access to information, including to historical records as an indispensable element for promoting democracy and fostering citizen participation in the post-2015 development agenda.  He went on to highlight UNESCO’s work on the promotion of universal access to information which focuses on increasing public access to information, including through ICTs and protecting fundamental freedoms. In this context, he stressed the ever growing importance of and interest in preservation and public access to historical records since use of historical documents broadens our understanding of democracy, history, and culture. Mr La Rue pointed out that the Memory of the World Programme contributes directly to UNESCO’s mandate of promoting peace, intercultural dialogue and preservation of cultural diversity by supporting the safeguarding of documentary heritage globally. Mr. La Rue spoke about the rich intangible heritage of Guatemala, stressing that intangible forms of cultural heritage are as important as tangible ones, since they both significantly expand our understanding of other cultures and  embody the collective memory of communities across the world.

In his welcoming remarks, Mr Julio Carranzza, Director of UNESCO Guatemala office, emphasized the rich cultural heritage and cultural diversity of Guatemala, and especially of Antigua Guatemala. He spoke of the importance of preservation of cultural heritage and historical records as an important source of providing a sense of belonging and identity. He evoked the role of historical records and heir active role not only in allowing us to better understand previous generations but in the transformation of reality and construction of identity. He evoked the importance of the Central American General Archives in Guatemala City as an institution that holds unique documents as well as the most comprehensive records on colonial affairs and indigenous affairs of the region. In addition he suggested that the book The True History of the Conquest of New Spain, a first-person narrative of Bernal Díaz del Castillo, a 16th-century military adventurer and conquistador  and  the work of the 17th century Guatemalan historian and poet, Francisco Fuentes y Guzmán, Recordación Florida  be submitted for consideration for inscription on the MoW international Register.

During the workshop, the completion of nomination forms was one of the main challenges identified by Member States. The workshop provided assistance in that regard as it provided practical opportunity for the participants to receive direct technical assistance from Memory of the World international experts. Such assistance improved the participants’ knowledge of the methodology for preparing an application for nomination to the International Register as well as in identifying documentary heritage with global significance which will fundamentally enhance nominations for the Memory of the World International Register.

IPDC Chair Albana Shala Calls for Research Partnerships on Journalists’ Safety at WPFD Conference

Mié, 18/05/2016 - 11:47

The IPDC Chair highlighted IPDC’s history as a driver of knowledge-driven media development, and stated that journalists’ safety was a priority area in which IPDC wished to strengthen cooperation with academia to produce research. “Research will help in mainstreaming safety of journalists, raising public awareness, involving Governments in addressing impunity and finally support sustainable development of  peaceful societies all over the world.”

Shala identified three areas in which IPDC would be interested in exploring possibilities of partnerships with academia. Firstly, partnerships for new applications of the UNESCO/IPDC Journalists’ Safety Indicators. Secondly, research on the processes that lead to the successful establishment of national safety mechanisms. And thirdly, the identification and compilation of best practices from different parts of the world in monitoring, reporting on and promoting the safety of journalists.

The conference brought together more than 50 academics from six continents, and was organized by UNESCO in partnership with the University of Sheffield (Centre for Freedom of the Media), the University of Tampere, the University of Helsinki, and the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR).

Commemoration of the ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, Republic of Seychelles

Mié, 18/05/2016 - 10:53

In conjunction with this event, the Ministry of ICT launched the ICT Week yesterday, an annual event which brings together, government officials, the private sector ICT companies and civil society groups.

The ICT Week was inaugurated by H.E. Mr Danny Faure, Vice-President of the Republic of Seychelles. In his opening remarks, the Vice-President highlighted the efforts of the government of the Republic of Seychelles to deploy broadband connectivity throughout the country and harness ICTs for enhancing economic development, entrepreneurship and stability.

In his keynote address at the opening ceremony, Mr Indrajit Banerjee, Director of the Knowledge Societies Division of the Communication and Information sector of UNESCO, stressed on the linkages between ICTs and SDGs and urged the government of Seychelles to incorporate the Knowledge Societies framework into their national development plans and policies. He also discussed the importance of broadband networks and infrastructure in order to deploy adequate services in key areas such as education, health, environment and economic development.

The keynote address was followed by a Q&A session with the participants and many questions relating to broadband and economic development, ICT policies and capacity building were discussed.

Mr.Banerjee will also moderate a plenary panel discussion on the role of ICTs for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

In the course of his mission to the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Banerjee also held discussions with H. E. the Vice-President of Seychelles and senior government officials from the Ministry of ICT, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture as well the Ministry of Education.

Caption for the attached photograph: Mr. Indrajit Banerjee with H.E. the Vice-President of the Republic of Seychelles Mr. Danny Faure, at the opening of the ICT Week.

UNESCO publishes first-ever comprehensive report on media development in Curaçao

Mié, 18/05/2016 - 10:46

“This Assessment on Media Development in Curaçao will serve as a good example for the rest of the Caribbean”, the Minister stated.  She added: “I am aware that it was not an easy task to fulfil but we now have a final product on the views of society and of relevant stakeholders on our media landscape, that was very much needed"

Katherine Grigsby, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean, emphasized that the recommendations of the report “provide a platform for improving the environment of media development in Curaçao, and will foster a greater commitment for action by the government, parliament, media professionals, policy makers, regulators, and civil society groups interested in media development in the country.” She concluded “I would invite you to make full use of the Assessment of Media Development in Curaçao. Let us all work together to make this vibrant country and the rest of the Caribbean, ambassadors for media development.”

The report is the result of a year-long study based on the UNESCO/IPDC’s internationally-endorsed Media Development Indicators (MDIs) and is the first MDI assessment to be completed in the Caribbean region.

The publication of the report comes six years after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010 (‘10-10-10’). Since 10-10-10, the former ‘Island territory’ of Curaçao enjoys the status of autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. By becoming a new country, Curaçao was provided with the opportunity to conceive a new constitution and embarked in a series of legal reforms. UNESCO’s report is expected to help guide legal reform and the definition of policies affecting the media sector to enhance the media’s contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Curaçao.

The report highlights the vibrancy of Curaçao’s media landscape, reflected in the high number of media outlets. There are no fewer than 28 licensed radio stations, eight newspapers and three television stations for the island’s population of just over 150,000 inhabitants. Together, these outlets facilitate a culture of lively debate. Freedom of expression is anchored in Curaçao’s Constitution and the main international human rights treaties are in force.

However, the report finds that the media are unable to adequately play their role as watchdog over the authorities and the other powerful stakeholders in society, and calls for this role to be strengthened.

The report recognizes the limited resources available to journalists in Curaçao. No academic courses in journalism or communication studies are available and only occasional training opportunities are offered. There is no sector-wide code of conduct, no trade union for journalists, no independent Press Council, and no established mechanism for the public to file complaints.

The report also highlights the absence of public service broadcasting and community media (with one possible exception), leaving audiences with only commercial media to rely on to cater to their news and information needs. Another finding is that insufficient guarantees of editorial independence and the absence of a culture of self-regulation have contributed to biases in the way news and information are presented.

Included in the report is a set of evidence-based recommendations to strengthen the development of free, independent and pluralistic media in Curaçao. Among the key recommendations to enhance professional and ethical standards in the media are:

  • better training and educational opportunities as well as an effective system of self-regulation;
  • the adoption of a code of ethics;
  • the creation of professional organizations for journalists; and the use of Collective Labour Agreements.

The study also invites the national authorities to explore possibilities for alternatives to commercial media, such as independent public service broadcasting and the promotion of community media to ensure media diversity in Curaçao.

The report encourages the Government of Curaçao to support the free flow of information by institutionalizing its responsibility to respond to information requests and ensure the proactive disclosure of important governmental information. This includes the release of parliamentary documents, governmental advisory reports and consolidated versions of all current legislation. It further recommends the establishment of an independent body for regulating the broadcasting sector that follows international standards on independence, membership, accountability and transparency.

Additionally, the report proposes that the media industry develop an effective system to ensure transparency in terms of ownership and influence on the media, both financial and political. It also invites the Government, the education system and civil society organisations to promote media and information literacy to help foster a critical use of the media and a demand for an independent press.

The MDI assessment process in Curaçao was nationally-driven and, as little data on media development was available, it involved wide-ranging consultations with key media stakeholders in addition to desk-based research. ‎The consultations included 28 in-depth interviews throughout Curaçao, four focus groups with media workers and members of the public, and three opinion polls respectively targeting 54 media workers, 11 media managers and a representative sample of 708 inhabitants of Curaçao. Careful attention was given to including perspectives from all areas and to ensuring a gender-sensitive approach.

The preliminary findings of the assessment were presented and discussed at the National Conference of Media Development in Curaçao organized in August 2014, attended by some 50 media stakeholders. The feedback received at this conference was taken into account in the finalization of the report.

UNESCO also supported a series of Master Classes based on the findings of the report to assist media development in Curaçao. This programme, implemented in partnership with the Curaçao National Commission for UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and RE-Quest Research & Consultancy, followed up on several key recommendations of the report, such as ensuring appropriate training opportunities for journalists, promoting a code of professional ethics and educating citizens to be critical media users. 

The assessment of Curaçao’s media landscape using UNESCO’s MDIs was financed by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and benefitted from the support of the National Commission of Curaçao to UNESCO, the University of Curaçao (UoC) and the Bureau Telecommunicatie en Post (BTP).

The UNESCO/IPDC Media Development Indicators were developed in 2008 and endorsed by the Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s IPDC. Since their endorsement, they have become one of IPDC’s flagship initiatives and have been applied in 16 countries, while assessments are underway in many more.  

To access the full Report on Media Development in Curaçao, click here.

Director-General condemns murder of journalists Akhilesh Pratap Singh and Rajdev Ranjan in India

Mié, 18/05/2016 - 09:51

“I condemn the murders of Akhilesh Pratap Singh and Rajdev Ranjan,” the Director-General said. “I call on the authorities to investigate these killings to prevent impunity for crimes against freedom of expression and freedom of information from taking root.”

On 12 May, unknown assailants shot Akhilesh Pratap Singh, a correspondent for Hindi-language broadcaster Taaza TV, who was also known as Indradev Yadav, in the Chatra district of the state of Jharkhand in the northeast of India.

Senior reporter Rajdev Ranjan was shot on Friday 13 May in Siwan in the central Indian state of Bihar. He was the bureau chief of the Hindi-language national daily Hindustan.

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…”

 

IFAP participates in African two-country KFIT needs assessment mission

Vie, 13/05/2016 - 15:40

This 3-year extra-budgetary project funded by the Republic of Korea (ROK) through the Korean Funds in Trust (KFIT) facility has allocated some US$6 million to support ICT in education activities across three countries, namely Mozambique, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

In particular, the project will support the development and scaling-up of ICT-enhanced school curricula, strengthen the capacities of teachers to make effective pedagogical use of ICT, support higher education institutions in developing and applying Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and facilitate policy development including the use of the IFAP National Information Society Policy Template.

The team visiting Mozambique and Zimbabwe consisted of Mr. Fengchun Miao, Chief of UNESCO’s ICT in Education Section, Mr. Paul Hector, Progamme Specialist with responsibility for the information for All Programme (IFAP), Mr. Hezekiel Dlamini, Advisor for Communication and Information in the Harare Office and Professor Kyoung Phil Joo, of the Korean National Open University.

The needs assessment mission provided an opportunity to engage with concerned UNESCO Field Offices and National Ministerial Teams who have a key role to play in supporting national ownership and implementation of the project. As part of this process a number of meetings were held with Ministers and senior government officials in key line ministries to clarify national priorities as well as specific institutional mandates and responsibilities. A number of field visits to schools, teacher training institutions, national ICT and community centers were invaluable in providing an understanding of the existing human capacity, technical infrastructure. Focus groups sessions workshops were especially useful in validating and enriching the external team’s findings.

According to Mr. Abdoul Coulibaly, UNESCO Programme Specialist and Focal point for the Zimbabwe project, “the Needs Assessment mission was an opportune time as it allowed the National Team as well as well the UNESCO staff in the field to meet and discuss with actors and beneficiaries of the project, get acquainted with the template and get the necessary guidance toward its finalization.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by his counterpart, Mr. Noel Chicuecue, National Progamme Officer and focal point for the project in UNESCO’s Mozambique Office, who felt that the assessment mission allowed local stakeholders to understand better the goals and focus of the project and provide relevant information on key issues and priority areas for Mozambique. The visit to institutions and partner organizations helped the mission to assess the conditions in which the project will operate” It was a useful exercise for the preparation of workplans by the country project team with technical assistance from the local UNESCO office.”

The mission was therefore successful in contributing to a shared  vision of project priorities and modalities and for surfacing contextual challenges as well as opportunities critical to the project’s success.

The mission also provided an opportunity to meet with the Secretary-Generals of the UNESCO National Commissions in both countries, to support their closer engagement in the KFIT project, to identify national IFAP projects and local IFAP champions. A visit to the national archives in Mozambique provided avenues for collaboration under the IFAP information preservation priority and with UNESCO Memory of the World (MOW) Programme.

Over the coming weeks national teams will finalize the draft needs assessment report prepared by the external team and develop detailed national implementation strategies. A regional consultation workshop to support coordination and sharing of experiences between the three national project teams is expected to take place in Harare in mid-May 2016.

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

Press councils from South East Europe and Turkey discuss the challenges of online journalism at World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Helsinki

Vie, 13/05/2016 - 15:30

« In Serbia, the code of ethics has not been adapted to the digital era, yet the press council receives many complaints about online journalism. Most of these complaints deal with copyrights issues and it has become imperative for the press council to address this issue », said Nevena Krivokapić, a member of the Complaints Commission of the Press Council in Serbia.

The situation is quite similar for the other countries of the region. In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 78% of the breach of the code of ethics concerns online media, above all about non-balance reporting, the confusion between facts and comments or hate speech.

While online news sites and online-only media outlets are now members of most press councils in the world, there is no agreement if bloggers should be included in the system of media self-regulation. Debates indicated that divergences of opinions originated from the lack of common understanding on who is a blogger and who should be considered a journalist. Risto Uimonen, former Secretary General of the Finnish Media Council introduced the case of Finland where bloggers have until now been excluded from the media self-regulatory system. Conversely, Flip Voets from the Flemish Press Council explained why this body has adopted a different approach.

In this context, participants of the side-event from South East Europe and Turkey agreed that further discussion on these questions is needed to better understand the concrete implications of these challenges for their work and future. They also expressed the need for sharing best practices.

The side-event was organized by the Press Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the project “Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey”. Together with other press councils that are partners of the project, it sponsored the trips of participants from the whole region to Helsinki. This event will be followed by a regional training about online media ethics in Sarajevo in June 2016.

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