The UNESCO Director-General, Ms Audrey Azoulay, has welcomed the establishment of a new Global Media Defense Fund and the pledge to the Fund of £3 million (US$3,8 M) by the United Kingdom and 1 million Canadian Dollars (US$ 765,000) by Canada over five years.
The Global Media Fund was established to support the UN Plan on the Safety of Journalists and its implementation is led by UNESCO, which will also administer the Fund.
With enthusiasm, the UNESCO DG said: “I wholeheartedly welcome the UK and Canada’s support for our work in an area that is crucial for the free flow of information and peace, the objectives that UNESCO was created to promote.
“This will help fund legal advice and improve security training for the benefit of reporters working in situations of conflict and danger and to help them uphold their right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”
She called on other Member States to follow the example of the UK and Canada in contributing to the work, including reinforcing legal protection for media workers, and fighting impunity that still affects the vast majority of crimes against media workers worldwide, saying “More than ever, we need such multilateral strategies to strengthen media freedom and the safety of journalists more than ever.”
The new Fund was launched at the Global Conference for Media Freedom (July 10-11) led by the UK Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Jeremy Hunt and Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland.
The Director General of UNESCO represents the UN as head of the United Nations’ lead agency responsible for freedom of expression, at the conference where UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, Moez Chakchouk, will address a session on Africa at the event and moderate a ministerial debate on the safety of journalists.
More than 50 communication and foreign affairs ministers are attending the conference in London alongside over one thousand media professionals and representatives of specialized NGOs.
The newly created Trust Fund will complement and synergize with other extra-budgetary funding modalities supporting UNESCO work for the promotion of the safety of journalists: the Multi-donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (with substantial contributions from Sweden and Norway), the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), as well as fund in trust projects.