International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and Global Forum for Media Development (GMFD) have called on the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to consider commitment to promoting the right to freedom of expression in nominating a new Director General in the upcoming elections
In the letter addressed to the UNESCO Group of Friends on the Safety of Journalists, 221 organizations urged ambassadors to take into consideration the importance of the candidate’s commitment to freedom of opinion and expression.
According to the networks “We, the IFEX Network and the Global Forum for Media Development (GMFD), reiterate this call and ask that your vote for the next Director-General of UNESCO be someone who unequivocally stands for the rights of freedom of opinion and expression, and is ready to put words into action when this fundamental right is under attack.”
“UNESCO’s commitment to these essential principles has been, and we hope it will continue to be, the expansion of access to free, independent, and pluralistic media for millions of citizens, which in turn has allowed for the enrichment and progress of vital democratic values around the world.
The networks reminded the Board that UNESCO’s mandate in this area will also play a critical role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal which recognizes the need to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms. They added that next UNESCO Director-General’s role will be central not only to achieving this goal, but the Sustainable Development Goals as a whole.
They urged the UN arm to continue strengthening UNESCO’s commitment to the advancement of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes everyone’s right to freedom of opinion and expression.
They concluded by urging the members of the Executive Board of UNESCO, to keep this in mind, and encourage others to embrace these fundamental values as a priority when choosing the next leader of UNESCO.