UNESCO Issues 3rd Edition of ‘World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development’

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has issued the third edition of its publication: “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development”, a 200-page report that assesses and documents contemporary developments in media freedom, pluralism, independence and the safety of journalists.

According to UNESCO’s Director-General, Ms Audrey Azoulay, the report, covering the period 2012 to 2017, is “intended as a tool for implementing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which recognizes the importance of ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms among its goals.”

Ms Azoulay said in the Foreword to the publication that it “provides tools to examine the global situation of access to information and of freedom of expression as a fundamental freedom. In this context we highlight the interdependent objectives of the protection of freedom of expression and the development of an informed public.”

She stated that “Trends show that media independence is weakening and the professional standards of journalism are being eroded by economic forces on the one hand and lack of recognition by political actors on the other. Media and Internet companies are increasingly aware of the need for self-regulation.”

On the issue of the physical, psychological and digital safety of journalists, Ms Azoulay stressed that “trends remain extremely alarming, although implementation of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity offers hope.”