An open public consultation aimed at gathering views from key stakeholders on the establishment of a Special Mechanism for Media Freedom in the Arab World was launched today. The consultation is part of a regional initiative to improve the performance and the commitment of Arab States to media freedom. It responds to rising concerns in the region, where the temptation to revert to authoritarian practices is strong and where media face greater risks than ever before.
The initiative is 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).
Led by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the initiative was launched in Casablanca in October 2014, at its regional meeting held in cooperation with the Federation of the Arab Journalists (FAJ). Two key documents help define the initiative: the Technical Proposal which examines options in terms of the mandate, structure and financing of the proposed special mechanism (1), and a draft Declaration on Media Freedom in the Arab World (2). A series of national meetings in recent months, bringing together key international experts, journalists’ leaders, media freedom defenders and representatives of national human rights commissions from across the Arab World, has allowed for the development and honing of the key documents.
The current online consultation aims to widen the scope of involvement in this initiative and calls on individuals and national, regional and international organisations to contribute to the debate and the development of the proposals.
The initiative is supported by MedMedia, an EU funded programme promoting media reform in the region, the IFJ and the government of Norway. This open consultation is being conducted with the assistance of the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), IFEX and the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD). [Its results and the final proposals will be presented at a Media Freedom Conference to be held in Casablanca on 2-4 May 2016, in cooperation with the UNESCO and the Syndicat National de la Presse Marocaine (SNPM), with the support of MedMedia, the IFJ and international and regional organisations and networks.]
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