Press release 21/12/2017

MedMedia concluded this week a series of consultations held in Vienna and Paris, to increase regional and international support for the Declaration and the Special Mechanism for Media Freedom in the Arab World.

Backed by the EU-funded MedMedia programme, the initiative builds on strong partnerships between media stakeholders, national human rights’ institutions and states in the region, to uphold the principles of media freedom in the Arab World.

An experts’ meeting held on the margins of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference on impunity in Vienna on 11December, discussed the initiative’s latest developments and a methodology for its first report on media freedom in the Arab World to be published next year.

Led by MedMedia, the meeting gathered representatives from the OSCE, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Tunisia, the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) in Palestine (An Arab Network for National Human Rights Institutions (ANNHRI) member) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). It concluded with a series of recommendations on the pursuit of discussions with ANNHRI as the recommended host organisation for the Mechanism, and the development of the regional report.

In Paris, a series of meeting were organized on 20-21 October to introduce and secure wider support for the Declaration on media freedom in the Arab World by UNESCO member states. The Declaration sets out 16 key principles promoting the highest international standards of media freedom.

During the mission, MedMedia experts met several ambassadors and permanent delegates to the UNESCO from Arab countries. A technical meeting was also held with representatives of the UNESCO’s sections on Freedom of expression, Communications and Information, to exchange ideas on how to gather support for the Declaration in major international events on media in 2018.

These consultations follow a round of visits organized in Tunisia in November, which secured stronger engagement towards the initiative from the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), the Arab Institute for Human Rights (AIHR), and the Arab League Educational, Culture and Sciences Organisation (ALESCO).

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, Palestine, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan.

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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