WPFD 2017 Conference Calls on Stakeholders to Create Enabling Environment for Free Press to Thrive


Participants at the 2017 edition of the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) Conference which took place in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, from May 1 to 4, 2017, have called on all stakeholders, to among other things create an enabling environment for free, pluralistic and independent media to thrive.

These and other recommendations are contained in the Jakarta Declaration issued on May 4, at the end of the World Press Freedom Day Conference in the Indonesian city. The theme for the 2017 edition of the WPFD was “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies”.

The event took interest in and debated on the safety of journalists and issues of impunity; protection of the right to freedom of expression online and the promotion of media literacy, among other issues.

There was a strong consensus among participants that the complex task of protecting journalists from violence and abuse requires a holistic approach that brings together a range of expertise and professional disciplines to achieve results and concerted action for protection.

Participants, drawn from all over the world, specifically called on UNESCO member states to, among other things, implement the UN Plan of action on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity and ensure that national efforts in this regard include the protection of journalists, the prevention of violence against the media and the prosecution of those who perpetrate these crimes.

They also recommended UNESCO member states to enhance media and information literacy initiatives in order to enhance access to information and encourage critical thinking; encourage an inclusive internet and promote universal access to the internet, based on the four key principles of Internet Universality: Human Rights, Openness, Accessibility and Multi- stakeholder participation; and in particular, refrain from internet shutdowns and other measures that unduly limit freedom of expression and access to information online, such as disproportionate filtering or blocking techniques.

The Conference called on UNESCO, as an inter-governmental body, to promote the further strengthening of an international legal, institutional and social framework that addresses violence against journalists and impunity for such crimes, and promote the full implementation of existing provisions and structures that address these issues.

It also called on the body to support the creation of national and regional mechanisms promoting the safety of journalists and tackling impunity; strengthen its collaboration with academic and other similar institutions to enhance research in and understanding of freedom of expression and media development issues, including by making use of the Journalism Safety Research Network to reach a wider range of relevant institutions and researchers; and continue to highlight the importance of freedom of expression and public access to information.

The Conference also asked UNESCO to promote artistic freedom as a pillar of freedom of expression and as a cornerstone of participatory democracy, and support artistic creation and ensure access to cultural life for all members of society.

To journalists, media outlets, social media practitioners and internet intermediaries, the Conference participants urged them to provide reliable public-interest journalism, both online and offline, which in turn can serve as a shared currency of information that allows for mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue; and encourage conflict-sensitive journalism, in particular when reporting from armed conflict zones, including by providing professional and inclusive reporting that can support dialogue and reconciliation.

The Conference also asked them to raise awareness about the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists on 2 November, and participate in the UN Plan with complementary or joint actions in accordance with its shared, multi-stakeholder approach; implement preventative physical and psychological safety measures, paying attention to gender and digital security issues, as well as implement effective crisis response mechanisms to ensure the welfare of journalists and media workers exposed to threats; and take cognisance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and of the opportunities it provides for the future of human development.

It also called on them to enhance media inclusion by giving voice to under-represented and vulnerable groups in society, and avoiding over-representing elite or dominant segments of the population, as well as reporting based on prejudice and discrimination; and ensure that reporting is based on verifiable information, and by promoting media and information literacy initiatives, to counter the proliferation of falsified news.

Civil society, academia and the technical community by reason of the roles they have to play were called upon to collaborate with relevant international efforts to strengthen the safety of journalists, such as the UN Plan and the upcoming Multi-Stakeholder Consultation; monitor the behaviour, proposals and actions of public authorities, internet intermediaries and multilateral bodies which affect freedom of expression, where relevant denouncing risks and suggesting alternatives which advance freedom of expression and access to information; and support engagement with legal professionals in order to strengthen legal frameworks for the protection of freedom of expression and media freedom.

Participants also asked them to advocate in favour of joint efforts and the engagement of all stakeholders in supporting the achievement of the SDGs and promote recognition of the contribution to this process by free, pluralistic and independent media; as well as strengthen debate about and activities to implement SDG target 16.10, which aims to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements”.

The Government of Indonesia, UNESCO, and the Press Council of Indonesia hosted the four-day event as well as the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize Ceremony.