Netherlands Formalizes €3.5M Contribution to Protect Journalists with UNESCO

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Mark Rutte
Prime Minister, The Netherlands

The Netherlands has formalized a contribution of €3.5 million to support the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) work on the safety of journalists worldwide through UNESCO’s Multi-Donor Programme for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (MDP).

The Dutch contribution is also a step of a process initiated by The Hague Commitment, the main outcome from the Round Table of more than 50 Ministers convened by Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok during World Press Freedom Day 2020.

The contribution is part of the Dutch-led ‘Global Drive for Media Freedom and Safety of Journalists’, launched during World Press Freedom Day 2020. The Global Drive is a €7 million initiative endowed by The Netherlands to promote media freedom and the safety of journalists worldwide. Activities under the Global Drive are implemented through a collaboration between UNESCO and the OHCHR. The initiative is an example of two UN agencies working jointly and in complementary ways, to drive coordinated and effective international engagement against attacks on media freedom and journalists.

The official details of this important voluntary contribution were finalized recently in a meeting between the Ambassador of The Netherlands to UNESCO, Hans Wesseling and the Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, Tawfik Jelassi.

The Netherlands’ contribution will support activities under the UN Plan of Action of the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which celebrates its 10th Anniversary in 2022.

“At the very moment we are starting the different activities which will lead to the commemoration if the 10th Anniversary of the UN Plan of Action, it is with great enthusiasm we conclude the negotiations to receive this generous Dutch voluntary contribution to the MDP”, said Mr. Jelassi. “These resources will optimize and enhance the work already being implemented under the MDP, particularly making the collaboration with OHCHR even more robust”, he added.

Ambassador Wesseling stated: “The close cooperation between UNESCO and OHCHR on Freedom of Expression shows the importance of one of the basic human rights. At the same time it raises the awareness of the necessity of free and pluralistic media for a vibrant democratic society. Safety of journalists, especially of women journalists, is therefore of vital importance.”

 The UN Plan, implemented in cooperation with several UN agencies funds and programmes, with a strong collaboration between UNESCO and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), guides the organization’s work to enable free environments for journalists to carry out their work worldwide and provides a framework for coordinated multi-stakeholder action, following the structure of the 3 Ps: prevention, protection and prosecution of the crimes perpetrated against journalists.

 The additional funds to the MDP received from The Netherlands will contribute to upscale the Programme’s ongoing actions implemented in countries in all regions. The MDP’s approach in influencing policy reform through its standard-setting actions and normative work has allowed it to achieve positive change in various contexts.

The  Multi-Donor Programme for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (MDP) serves to further strengthen UNESCO work at a global, regional, and national levels, by channeling funds towards emerging priorities and the most pressing needs to achieve its mandate on freedom of expression.

 It enables UNESCO Communication and Information Sector to address complex issues through the design and implementation of holistic medium and long-term interventions at national, regional and global levels. The clear advantage of this mechanism is that it allows UNESCO and its partners to achieve greater impact and sustainability, whilst reducing fragmentation of activities in the same field.