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UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators introduced in China to support local media

Tue, 10/02/2015 - 12:11

Concepts contained in the MDIs such as public service broadcasting “are relevant to fulfill the information needs of many local communities and vulnerable groups” said Dr. Zhongda Yuan from the Beijing Normal University, one of the workshop’s facilitators. Dr. Yuan has also translated into Chinese the IPDC-endorsed publication Media Development Indicators: A framework for assessing media development in close consultation with the UNESCO Beijing Office.

This workshop was organized within the framework of the IPDC project “Improving the Media Landscape in the Ethnic Minority Area of Yunnan Province”. This project also involved an MDI-based research activity in four pilot areas of the Yunnan province which comprises 26 ethnic groups and more than 25 local broadcast outlets, in additional to a provincial broadcaster, catering to 47 million inhabitants. The research was conducted in the form a surveys among both media professionals and their audiences.

The survey polled a sample of 115 media professionals, 75% of which were from minorities. The results highlighted the need to increase locally-produced content which is scarce due to lack of adequate staffing and resources in local media outlets. They also suggested the need to introduce media self-regulation and to enhance production skills. Concerning safety of media workers, about five per cent of the Survey’s respondents said that they had been harassed or threatened because of their profession, while one reporter stated having been subject to a physical attack, and another having been forced to reveal a source.

The findings of the survey portrayed a working environment in which small media outlets have to fulfill obligations towards local authorities. They also revealed a trend of mounting commercial pressure, with an increased part of the running budget of local media outlets needing to be generated by advertisement, leaving them struggling for economic sustainability in a context of competition with bigger media players.

From the survey involving a sample of the media audience it emerged that the majority of viewers of local television outlets prefer watching “TV news and information programs” (69% of respondents), followed by “arts programs” (11%). These results contrast with audiences’ preferences for provincial and national outlets, where entertainment programmes are most commonly sought. A clear majority of the audiences of local television outlets surveyed would like to see more locally-produced content broadcast (83% of respondents), reflecting the voices of ethnic minorities (65%), poor people (28%) and women (24%).

Such request for locally-produced content can be explained by the fact that “people want information relevant to them and their livelihoods” explained Mr. Haining Wu, Secretary-General of the CSFFTAP. The survey’s conclusions have been shared with relevant national authorities and CSFFTAP is planning to organize a “high-level” roundtable discussion later this year. CSFFTAP’s Secretary-General hopes that these activities will contribute to addressing current challenges of multilingual and local media outlets.

As a follow up to the survey’s recommendations, CSFFTAP has organized a first training workshop in Kunming, focusing on TV Program Production in Ethnic Minority Languages, and benefiting 30 media professionals selected from amongst nine local media outlets. Twelve ethnic minorities (Bai, Dai, Hani, Hui, Jingbo, Lisu, Miao, Naxi, Yi, Wa, Zang, and Zhuang) were represented and 13 of the participants were women.

Introducing the MDI methodology at the workshop, Andrea Cairola, Adviser for Communication and Information at the UNESCO Beijing Office, mentioned the importance of media pluralism and multilingualism to reflect the diversities of society. He also quoted UNESCO’s Director-General Ms. Irina Bokova stressing that: “Every language is equal and linked. Each is a unique force for understanding, writing and expressing reality…It is through language that we make sense of the world and that we can transform it for the better.”

One media professional from an ethnic minority who attended the workshop in Kunming said that “this kind of training and the MDI framework are really useful and can be applied in our daily work.” Other participants expressed the wish that such trainings and assessments contribute to advocating for policies supporting the flourishing of local media.

The CSFFTAP had applied to IPDC for support with a project proposal that was approved by the IPDC Bureau at its 57th meeting in March 2013. IPDC is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development.

UNESCO kicks off a large-scale media landscape analysis for Jordan

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 16:17

The UNESCO Media Development Indicators framework is applied in countries worldwide to carry out in-depth assessments of their media environment. These assessments result in a series of recommendations aimed at helping policy makers and media development actors to address gaps on the way to a free, independent and professional media environment – the core objectives of the Support to Media in Jordan project.

“The MDI framework is agreed by UNESCO’s Member States and offers a unique research tool to measure what is needed to improve media freedom, independence and professionalism” stated Johan Romare, UNESCO Project Manager for the Support to Media in Jordan project.

Following Tunisia, Egypt and Palestine, Jordan will be the fourth Arab country in which a comprehensive MDI assessment will be completed. The MDI study for Jordan is implemented in partnership with International Media Support (IMS), an international media development organization that has been involved in several MDI assessments worldwide. Biljana Tatomir, Deputy Director of IMS, emphasized that "MDI-based assessments provide a basis for an informed debate between all stakeholders involved in media reform efforts by pointing out achievements as well as areas in need of further improvement. I believe the forthcoming assessment stands a good chance to serve its purpose in Jordan due to expressed interest and commitment by the government, civil society and media stakeholders."

The research team for Jordan includes two international researches and four national researchers with extensive experience in media development and research. The assessment is expected to be published in July. The recommendations from the report will feed into the review process of the Action Plan of the national media strategy, a main activity of the “Support to Media in Jordan” project. Currently, an advisory board for the study is being set up.

The “Support to Media in Jordan” project is part of a broader EU initiative to support civil society and media in Jordan and is implemented by the UNESCO Amman office in close collaboration with the main state and non-state media institutions in Jordan.

IPDC Chair supports UNESCO event “Journalism after Charlie”

Thu, 15/01/2015 - 15:30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mon, 08/12/2014 - 15:21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International media law standards fuel the Asia Rounds of the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition in Beijing

Mon, 01/12/2014 - 10:59

The Moot Court Competition, a simulated court hearing used for pedagogical and research purposes, was co-organized by the Beijing-based Renmin University School of Law, its Asia-Pacific Institute of Law and Civil Law, and its Commercial Law Legal Science Research Center, in collaboration with the University of Oxford’s Programme for Comparative Media and Law Policy (PCMLP), and with the support of the UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

Eleven teams from the top law schools in China and one team from the Philippines argued over a complex simulated case dealing with issues concerning freedom of expression in the cyberspace, online content regulation, social media and Internet Service Provider ISP’s responsibility.

Applying comparative and international legal standards, the participants showed impressive argumentative skills to a moot bench composed by top jurists and law practitioners from three continents, including Professor Monroe E. Price, Director of the Center for Global Communication Studies at the Annenberg School for Communication of the University of Pennsylvania; Mr Xiongshan Cai, Senior Legal Manager of Tecent; Mr Mark Stephens, internationally renowned lawyer and Chair of the University of Oxford’s PCMLP; as well as Mr Willem F. Korthals Altes, Senior Judge in the Criminal Law Division of the District Court of Amsterdam.

After a two-day heated and fair competition on legal arguments, the University of the Philippines got the first award, and the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) of China the second post. The finalists, together with the semifinalists (the Shandong and Peking universities from China) will take part to the global Price Media Law Moot Court Competition to be held in April 2015 in Oxford, United Kingdom.

Mr Raphael Lorenzo A. Pangalangan, a senior graduate from the winning team, credited the success to their great efforts and teamwork. “What I enjoyed the most about this event is the communication of so many different views of points on the issue,” he said. The runner-up team members from China said that the two-day competitions deepened their understanding about the case and of the underlining issues at stake.

Mr Andrea Cairola, Adviser for Communication and Information at UNESCO’s Beijing Office, congratulated all the participating teams, remarking that the Moot Court Programme is not just a simulation, because the legal principles the exercise has been dealing with are very much real and essential for the real world. The realization of these fundamental principles is the basis of the United Nations, and of a peaceful and just human coexistence.

Closing the competition, Professor Price said that it has been really moving to see such kind of institution-build around a set of ideas and a set of principles related to the rule of law. “The way the [legal] profession developed internationally has increased understanding between countries and peoples,” he added.

The Renmin Law School had applied to IPDC for support to the Moot Court Competition, and its project proposal was approved by the IPDC Bureau at its 58th meeting in March 2014. IPDC is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development.

Strong consensus on the safety of journalists at the IPDC Council

Wed, 26/11/2014 - 10:46

The 39-member Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development for Communication (IPDC ) has emerged in recent years as  a laboratory of ideas on journalists’ safety. As highlighted by Mr Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO to Council, the IPDC is also the birthplace of the landmark UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

At its 29th Session on 21 November in Paris, the Council welcomed the fourth Director-General’s Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity which tracks the status of judicial inquiries of killings of journalists, media workers, and social media producers who are engaged in journalistic activities and who are killed or targeted in their line of duty, as condemned by the Director-Genera

The Council’s Decision on the report urged “all Member States to encourage the inclusion of freedom of expression and its corollary press freedom in the post-2015 sustainable development goals, in particular the safety of journalists and issue of impunity as a key gateway to achieving Goal 16 which seeks to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development and access to justice for all through achieving a reduction in violence and crime”.

However, the Council also noted with regret that, in two-thirds of the cases in which journalists have been killed, no information has been submitted to the Director-General despite requests to the Member States concerned to voluntarily provide updates.

According to the Report, no information was provided on 382 out of 593 cases of killings of journalists which happened between 2006 and 2013.

The IPDC decision urges Member States to promote the safety of journalists by taking advantage of the knowledge, experiences and opportunities available through participation in the UN Plan of Action. It notes that the Plan encourages “the development of national processes and mechanisms involving all stakeholders to achieve an environment for the safe exercise of free expression”.

The newly adopted Decision further acknowledged the research report “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development” from 2014 by UNESCO and in particular Chapter 4 on Safety. It welcomed “the continuation of such research as a UNESCO knowledge resource for governments, media, academia, international community and civil society”.

The support for journalists’ safety by Member States on the IPDC Council is being echoed at the UN General Assembly where its Third Committee has also renewed its commitment on the issues by adopting a new Resolution on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity at its 69th session. This Resolution, which has still to go to the General Assembly,  calls on all stake holders to cooperate with UNESCO and to active exchange information to support the implementation of the UN Plan of Action to improve safety of journalists and to end impunity.

UNESCO Deputy Director-General acknowledges Valeri Nikolski for his outstanding contribution to IPDC

Tue, 25/11/2014 - 17:01
The Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) took the opportunity during its 29th session to congratulate Valeri Nikolski for his outstanding contribution to the Programme as he prepares to retire from the Organization at the end of November.

Do media matter in the post-2015 development agenda?

Tue, 25/11/2014 - 09:20

The 39 Member States on the IPDC Council were responding to a brief on how the IPDC Secretariat helped to mobilize international advocacy for the inclusion of free, independent and pluralistic media in any development agenda that postdates the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs have so far provided what is regarded as a universal framework for assessing the progress of nations in eradicating poverty, eliminating gender equality and providing affordable education for all, among other things.

The briefing, contained in a status update report, highlights the media-related gaps in the outcome document of the UN Open Working Group which had been tasked to collect and collate testimonies from various development actors, including UN Member States, on possible goals, targets and indicators of sustainable development.

Building on Resolution 64 of the UNESCO General Conference in November 2013, the report appealed to the IPDC members to “constantly and consistently advocate for the inclusion of free, independent and pluralistic media as a key target and indicator of sustainable development”, particularly as the outcome document now moves into the arena of domestic and UN General Assembly discussions.

In particular, the report pointed to the IPDC’s track record in producing and contributing evidence-based insights to the ongoing consultations on the post-2015 development agenda, and argued that the Programme’s “focus on knowledge is paving way for the international media development community to become more visible to the key architects of international development policies, and thus enrich the mainstream sustainable development debate”.

After debating the report, the IPDC Council agreed on a decision that expressed disappointment with the fact that “media and freedom of expression are not at the heart of the future development agenda but only in the periphery”. The Council urged Member States to ensure that freedom of expression, free, independent and pluralistic media, and media development are integrated into the universal Post-2015 Development Agenda.

IPDC elects first ever woman Chair

Thu, 20/11/2014 - 16:25

The Council of the International Programme for Development of Communication (IPDC) also elected a woman Rapporteur, Ms Diana Heymann-Adu (Ghana), a senior lecturer from the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

Council members also nominated Algeria, Bangladesh and Peru for the three IPDC Bureau Vice-Chair positions, as well as Denmark, Niger and Poland for the three Bureau regular membership seats.

The changes were made at the 29th IPDC Council session on 20 November at UNESCO HQ (Paris, France). The Member States of the Council thanked the outgoing Chair, Mr Jyrki Pulkkinen (Finland), who led the IPDC for the last two years, for his commitment to the Programme and his successful chairmanship.

IPDC was set up in 1980 as the only intergovernmental programme in the UN system mandated to mobilize international support in order to contribute to sustainable development, democracy and good governance by strengthening the capacities of free and independent media. Since its creation, IPDC has channeled about US$ 105 million to over 1,700 media development projects in some 140 countries.

IPDC’s Council is composed of 39 Member States elected by UNESCO’s General Conference. It meets once every two years to reflect on the latest trends in the media development field and give direction to the Programme. The Bureau of eight Member States meets once a year and allocates support to grassroots media projects around the world.

Request for Proposals: Media Landscape Analysis, MDI Assessment - Jordan

Fri, 14/11/2014 - 10:46

The proposal should comprise the following components:

  • A description of the organization/party wanting to undertake the assignment;
  • A description of the proposed team, including CVs;
  • Comments on the Terms of Reference if any (in brief);
  • An approach and methodology for the assignment;
  • A detailed work plan for the assignment, including time-line;

The total budget for the assignment, quoted in US dollars. Fees, travel costs, per diems and other costs to be shown separately, as the basis for calculation, but to be included in the total lump sum. More than one scenario may be provided according to different budget ceilings.

Please note that:

  • Your proposal and any supporting documents must be in English.
  • Your proposal should be submitted by e-mail no later than 28 November 2014.

Proposals shall be sent to Mr Johan Romare, copying Ms Rasha Arafeh.

Johan Romare will answer questions on the Request for Proposals on the e-mail above.

Thank you for your interest in this UNESCO assignment, we look forward to receiving your proposal.

From safety of journalists to online privacy, IPDC Council to debate most cutting-edge issues in media development field

Fri, 14/11/2014 - 10:00

These and many other issues will be discussed by the Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which opens in the UNESCO Headquarters (Paris, France) on 20 November 2014. A special session will also be devoted to online privacy and freedom of expression, including the right to be forgotten.

IPDC was set up in 1980 as the only intergovernmental programme in the UN system mandated to mobilize international support in order to contribute to sustainable development, democracy and good governance by strengthening the capacities of free and independent media. Since its creation, IPDC has channeled about US$ 105 million to over 1,700 media development projects in some 140 countries.

IPDC’s Council is composed of 39 Member States elected by UNESCO’s General Conference. It meets once every two years to reflect on the latest trends in the media development field and give direction to the Programme. In addition to projects supported on an annual basis all over the world, IPDC has also launched a series of initiatives aimed at building a knowledge base in strategic areas, such as:

  • Safety of Journalism
  • Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism education
  • Assessing Media Development: Media Development Indicators
  • IPDC and Post-2015 Development Agenda
  • Knowledge Driven Media Development
  • Media sustainability

The IPDC Council will also elect a new Chair and new Bureau members. For further information about the Council meeting, please visit the IPDC website.

From safety of journalists to online privacy, IPDC Council to debate most cutting-edge issues in media development field

Fri, 14/11/2014 - 10:00

These and many other issues will be discussed by the Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which opens in the UNESCO Headquarters (Paris, France) on 20 November 2014. A special session will also be devoted to online privacy and freedom of expression, including the right to be forgotten.

IPDC was set up in 1980 as the only intergovernmental programme in the UN system mandated to mobilize international support in order to contribute to sustainable development, democracy and good governance by strengthening the capacities of free and independent media. Since its creation, IPDC has channeled about US$ 105 million to over 1,700 media development projects in some 140 countries.

IPDC’s Council is composed of 39 Member States elected by UNESCO’s General Conference. It meets once every two years to reflect on the latest trends in the media development field and give direction to the Programme. In addition to projects supported on an annual basis all over the world, IPDC has also launched a series of initiatives aimed at building a knowledge base in strategic areas, such as:

  • Safety of Journalism
  • Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism education
  • Assessing Media Development: Media Development Indicators
  • IPDC and Post-2015 Development Agenda
  • Knowledge Driven Media Development
  • Media sustainability

The IPDC Council will also elect a new Chair and new Bureau members. For further information about the Council meeting, please visit the IPDC website.