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Arab declaration for media freedom

4 May 2016

Journalists unions, human rights campaigners and media groups from across the Arab World today backed a groundbreaking declaration on media freedom.

The declaration - a clear commitment to the principles of media freedom, independent journalism and the right to information - was overwhelmingly adopted at a meeting hosted by the International Federation of Journalists and the Moroccan journalists union (SNPM) in Casablanca, and supported by a cluster of institutions including UNESCO, the government of Norway, the FES, Union to Union and EU-funded MedMedia programme.

The meeting also backed plans to establish a Special Mechanism for Media Freedom in the region to uphold the principles contained in the Declaration.

Fully supported by dozens of delegates representing journalists unions, broadcasters, human rights organisations and press freedom NGOs, the Declaration set out 16 key principles to achieve the highest international standards of media freedom and protect and enhance journalists’ rights.

Among the principles in the Declaration are those covering:

  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom of information
  • Journalists safety
  • Media law reform
  • Self-regulation
  • Equality
  • Hate speech and intolerance
  • Independence of public service broadcasters

The meeting - the culmination of a 20-month process of consultation with technical experts and media stakeholders - called on all journalists unions, press freedom organisations, editors, media, human rights and civil society groups to back the declaration.

It also called on all governments and inter-governmental organisations in the region to sign up to the Declaration and commit to practical methods to establish and enforce an independent mechanism.

Further discussions with all interested groups will be organised to finalise the mandate and options for hosting the special mechanism later this year.

Jim Boumelha, IFJ president, said:

"This is a historic step forward in the fight for media freedom and journalists’ rights across the region. In the face of an increasing clampdown against journalists and independent journalism in many parts of the Arab world this Declaration is a tool for unions, press freedom campaigners and human rights organisations to begin to push back, to move towards creating a special mechanism and to begin to reclaim the space for free, independent journalism."

Download the final statement from the event.

Tags: , ifj, arab, agreement, international media support, freedom of expression, freedom of information, safety, media reform, regulation, equality, hate speech, public service broadcasting