As part of the participation in various UN processes, ahead of the 2021 UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), GFMD submitted a written statement for the 2021 ECOSOC High-level Segment. The statement highlights the mass deterioration of democracy around the world and the role media and the right of access to information can play in halting its decline. Understanding that public access to information and the free exchange of ideas are prerequisites for building “peaceful, accountable and inclusive societies”, the statement makes a series of recommendations to UN Member States and Governments to sustain independent media, safeguard democracy, and support the right of access to information. Find the full statement below:
The Global Forum for Media Development is a coalition of 200 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) dedicated to the support of independent journalism and freedom of information, with a special focus on the implementation of SDG16.10.
Democracy and fundamental freedoms are deteriorating globally. More than 90% of the world’s population lives in countries where the level of press freedom is regarded as problematic, difficult, or very serious. Systems that underpin professional production of news and reliable information face challenges even in the most advanced democracies. The coming decade will be decisive for the future of journalism, with the pandemic amplifying converging crises, including the demise of journalism’s economic model.
Access to timely, high-quality information is one of the key pillars required to slow the spread of COVID-19, mitigate its impacts, and underpin collective societal responses. Public access to information and the free exchange of ideas are prerequisites for building “peaceful, accountable and inclusive societies” – the overarching aim of SDG 16.
To stop journalists from holding power to account, a growing number of governments have engaged in overt, sometimes violent, efforts to discredit their work and intimidate them into silence. This is a worldwide assault on journalism, on the public’s right to know, on core democratic values, and on the concept of truth itself.
The Global Forum for Media Development respectfully calls upon this Forum and urges UN Member States and Governments to:
- Respect fundamental human rights: Fully respect, safeguard, and enable the rights to press freedom and freedom of expression, rule of law, access to information, privacy, and digital rights. International responses to this crisis will be more effective and command greater public support if they are subject to independent scrutiny, openness, and transparency.
- Release imprisoned journalists: States that continue to criminalise journalism must release all imprisoned journalists, including those detained or sentenced under the guise of prohibiting defamation or countering terrorism.
- Provide financial support: Work with journalism, media, and civil society organisations to support the sustainability of journalism and news media.
- Devise mechanisms to provide financial support to media that produce public-interest journalism. Ensure that this support is just and transparent, undertaken without favouritism, compromising editorial independence, or distorting the market.
- Allocate public advertising fairly: Continue to publish and broadcast public health awareness campaigns and public service announcements through advertising. But, like all uses of public funds, be transparent and avoid conflicts of interest.
- Enact and Implement Access to Information Laws: Member states without comprehensive Access to Information Laws must immediately enact them. Those with Access to Information Laws must put in place clear measures to facilitate and support their implementation.
Please, click here to read the full document.