Delegates from journalists’ unions around the world on June 28, 2019 adopted a new Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists at the 30th International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Congress which took place in Tunis, the Tunisian capital.
The document which was produced following months of consultations across the world and later endorsed by representatives of more than 500,000 journalists will form the core of strengthening ethical standards for journalists worldwide.
The new charter builds on and reinforces the ethical standards laid down by the 1954 IFJ Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists, the most widely recognised text on journalistic ethics to date. The original Declaration drafted in Bordeaux, France, 65 years ago was last updated in 1986, hence the need for an updated Charter adapted to current challenges facing the media.
Based on major texts of international law, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter contains 16 articles and a preamble and defines journalists’ duties and rights regarding ethics.
In its preamble, the Charter states: “The journalist’s responsibility towards the public takes precedence over any other responsibility, in particular towards their employers and the public authorities.” It recalls that journalism is a “profession” that “requires time, resources and the means to practice”.
Other provisions of the Carter cover respect for truth, conflicts of interest, protection of sources and discrimination.
It was drafted by a working group of 16 people, including representatives of the IFJ leadership, regions and ethics experts while work on it was coordinated by IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger.
The document was validated by the IFJ Executive Committee in Ramallah, Palestine, in November 2018 after which it was submitted for input to IFJ‘s 187 affiliates before being endorsed by the Congress.
Speaking on the adoption of the Charter, Anthony Bellanger said: “The adoption of the Global Charter on the Ethics of Journalists is a milestone in the IFJ’s history because ethics was one of the IFJ’s founding pillars when it was created in 1926 in Paris. This new document takes up the professional duties laid down in 1954, but it also includes rights, in a world where the profession is being abused. Tomorrow, all journalists around the world will be able to identify themselves with the IFJ’s Global Charter of Ethics and challenge it against unscrupulous employers.”