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GFMD Urges the UN to Ensure Robust Commitments to Access to Information, Media Freedom, and Public-Interest Journalism in the Pact for the Future

The Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) and the undersigned organisations urge the United Nations (UN) and its Member States to ensure robust commitments to access to information, media freedom, and public-interest journalism as they negotiate the final text of the Pact for the Future in advance of the Summit of the Future in September.

Author: Communications Gfmd | 27. May 2024

Sign our statement and join us in advocating for a future where media freedom is safeguarded, journalists are protected, and access to information is upheld as a fundamental right:

 ✍️ SIGN THE STATEMENT HERE


The Summit of the Future is a high-level event billed as a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity that seeks to reaffirm existing Member State commitments, including the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 2030 Agenda, as well as address challenges such as extreme poverty, climate change, and new technologies. The Pact for the Future is the Summit’s primary outcome document, intending to boost the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals as the roadmap for overcoming crises and securing a better future for all.


GFMD and the undersigned organisations welcome the May 14 revision of the Pact following the zero draft, including strengthened attention to the Sustainable Development Goals throughout the document as well as Action 42’s strong language on human rights. We particularly applaud the new explicit reference to protecting civic space (Action 11); a commitment to protecting journalists and media during armed conflict (Action 12); and the inclusion of respecting the right to freedom of expression while addressing disinformation and misinformation (Action 15).

Given both the severity of challenges facing media and journalists around the world, which in many contexts nears an extinction-level event, and the utmost importance of access to information and freedom of expression in empowering people to address shared needs, we call on the UN and Member States to further strengthen their commitments, in line with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the General Comment on Article 19: freedoms of opinion and expression; the 1991 Windhoek Declaration; and the 2021 Windhoek+30 Declaration: Information as Public Good, and in fulfilment of target 16.10 of the Sustainable Development Goals (ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms).

As underscored in a joint statement by the Presidents of the UN General Assembly, the General Conference of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and the UN Human Rights Council on World Press Freedom Day 2024: “the media’s role as a watchdog, and a catalyst for action cannot be overstated.”

“Access to accurate and timely information, enabled by a free, independent, and pluralistic media, stands as a cornerstone for raising public awareness, fostering informed debate and decision-making, countering misinformation and disinformation, and ultimately galvanizing collective action towards the attainment of the Goals, in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development… As we navigate the final years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we call on Member States and all stakeholders to reaffirm their commitments to the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and access to information.”

We therefore urge the UN and Member States to incorporate the following language into the Pact for the Future:

In the Chapeau include: We affirm that access to information, freedom of expression and media freedom, including the safety of journalists, the vibrancy and viability of public interest media, and the resilience of a healthy, autonomous information ecosystem, are fundamental for advancing the entirety of the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Under Action 5 add: “access to information” after “access to justice”. Under paragraph 7(a) add “media freedom” after “rule of law”.

Under Action 11(b) add “access to information, especially in times of crisis”.

Under Action 15(e) add “and strengthening healthy and resilient information ecosystems, including public interest media and journalism”.

Under Action 24(b) add “access to information” before “the delivery of essential public services”.

Under Action 28 add new point (d): “Guarantee that technology companies are subject to appropriate and independent scrutiny mechanisms to ensure the transparency and accountability of their systems and respect for human rights, including freedom of expression and access to information.

Under Action 42, paragraph 52 add “including journalists and activists” after “Human Rights Defenders.

Under Action 51, paragraph 62 add “Promote and protect media freedom and public-interest journalism, as no crisis or challenge – whether health, climate, economic, political, or humanitarian – can be addressed without access to reliable information and information integrity at its core.

Incorporating the recommended language above will help ensure that the Pact for the Future reinforces existing commitments on access to information and media freedom and empowers public-interest journalism and resilient information ecosystems to play their vital role in delivering on the promise of a better future for all.


As UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted in his message for World Press Freedom Day: “Without press freedom, we won’t have any freedom.  A free press is not a choice, but a necessity.


Your support matters! Please sign the statement here.

Signatories:

  1. 2402 Foundation – Ukraine
  2. Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) – Afghanistan
  3. Africa Freedom of Information Centre – Uganda
  4. Agencia Mural de Jornalismo das Periferias – Brazil
  5. Al-Jumhuriya Collective – Syria
  6. Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) – United States
  7. Association for Media Development In South Sudan (AMDISS) – South Sudan
  8. Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) – Trinidad and Tobago
  9. Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication – Bangladesh
  10. BBC Media Action – United Kingdom
  11. Beam Reports – Sudan
  12. Belarus in Focus Information Office – Poland
  13. Bytes for All – Pakistan
  14. Cambodian Center for Human Rights – Cambodia
  15. Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association – Cambodia
  16. Center for Independent Journalism – Hungary
  17. Center for Journalism Studies (CEPER) at Universidad de los Andes – Colombia
  18. Centre for Law and Democracy – Canada
  19. Centre for Media Freedom – Morocco
  20. Comité por la Libre Expresión – Honduras
  21. Commonwealth Journalists Association
  22. Community Media Network – Jordan
  23. Daily Nawa-I-AhmedPurSharqia – Pakistan
  24. Daily Rozan Gujrat – Pakistan
  25. DW Akademie – Germany
  26. European Journalism Centre – Netherlands
  27. Fiquem Sabendo – Brazil
  28. Fondation Hirondelle – Switzerland
  29. Forum on Information and Democracy – France
  30. Free Press Unlimited – Netherlands
  31. Freedom Forum – Nepal
  32. Freedom of Expression Institute – South Africa
  33. Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP) – Colombia
  34. Gambia Press Union (GPU) – Gambia
  35. Gender and Media Connect – Zimbabwe
  36. GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank – South Africa
  37. Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  38. Global Media Registry – Germany
  39. Global Youth & News Media – France
  40. Globe International Center – Mongolia
  41. Group Siyabonga Gold – Benin
  42. Home News Agency – Kenya
  43. Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda
  44. International Press Centre – Nigeria
  45. International Press Institute – Austria
  46. Internews – United States / United Kingdom
  47. Maharat Foundation – Lebanon
  48. Media Foundation for West Africa – Ghana
  49. Media Monitoring Africa – South Africa
  50. Media Rights Agenda – Nigeria
  51. Mizzima Media – Myanmar
  52. National Union of Journalists of Ukraine – Ukraine
  53. New Narratives – United States
  54. Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) – Palestine
  55. Panos Institute Southern Africa – Zambia
  56. Public Media Alliance (PMA) – United Kingdom
  57. Roma Active Albania – Albania
  58. R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales – Mexico
  59. Radio Espace Guinée – Guinea
  60. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) – France
  61. Rural Media Network Pakistan – Pakistan
  62. SAARC Journalist Forum – South Asia
  63. SembraMedia – United States
  64. Sifter – Ethiopia
  65. Somali Media Women Association (SOMWA) – Somalia
  66. South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) – Austria
  67. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) – France
  68. WELTFILME – Germany
  69. World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) – Canada / United Kingdom

For more information on GFMD and its efforts around the Summit of the Future/Pact for the Future, see https://gfmd.info/briefings/gfmds-efforts-around-the-summit-of-the-future/ or contact advocacy@gfmd.info.

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