Press release 24/11/2017

MedMedia launched last week a new round of events to increase regional and international support for the Regional Declaration for Media Freedom in the Arab World and its Special Mechanism.

Backed by the EU-funded MedMedia programme, the initiative builds on strong partnerships between media stakeholders, human rights’ organisations and governments in the region, to uphold the principles of media freedom across the Southern Mediterranean region.

This new round of events started with a series of high profile visits in Tunis, Tunisia, on 15-17 November. Led by MedMedia experts Monir Zaarour and Rachid Khechana, the mission aims to build stronger engagement in the initiative by regional organisations including the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), the Arab Institute for Human Rights (AIHR), and the Arab League Educational, Culture and Sciences Organisation (ALESCO).

During the visit, AIHR President Abdel Baset Ben Hassan and ASBU Director General Abderrahim Sleiman confirmed their commitment to the initiative’s goals, laying out possible ways to take it forward.

A wide coalition comprising national, regional and international bodies has already backed the initiative, and five states in the region signed the Declaration for Media Freedom in the Arab World, including Palestine, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan.

The Declaration, a clear commitment to the principles of media freedom, independent journalism and the right to information, is the first step towards establishing the Special Mechanism. It sets out 16 key principles to achieve the highest international standards of media freedom, protect and enhance journalists’ rights.

Last spring, journalists’ unions from the Arab World meeting in Kuwait agreed to support the creation of a Special mechanism for media freedom in the region mandated by the Arab National Network of Human Rights Institutions (ANNHRI), in line with universal standards.

The Tunis meetings are the first in a series of events which will engage with ANNHRI, the UNESCO, the OSCE and other intergovernmental organizations with a mandate to promote media freedom, to develop further the initiative.

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The Special Mechanism for Media Freedom in the Arab World is an initiative based on joint efforts by human rights bodies, the journalists’ trade-union movement, media organisations, civil society groups and international organisations defending free media, high-quality journalism and fundamental freedoms. It recognises the crucial role Arab intergovernmental organisations play and calls on them to commit to media freedom through the establishment of an intergovernmental structure – a special mechanism – similar to those that have proved effective in the United Nations, the African Union (AU), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and Organisation of American States (OAS).

MedMedia is an EU-funded programme which aims to facilitate the progress of media reforms in the MENA region by offering policy-makers, regulators, broadcasters and union leaders access to relevant experience and know-how from both sides of the Mediterranean.
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Contact: Sarah Bouchetob, MedMedia, Senior Communications and Networking Manager

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