Date of Meeting: 5 May 2016

Meeting Organizer: The United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) in cooperation with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

ISJC Staff Present: Robert Docter, Major Victoria Edmonds

Reporter: Robert Docter

Which SDG does this topic cover? 16

Type of meeting: DPI briefing

Brief summary of presentation of information made

Opening Session:

Moderator: Christina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information

  • Human Rights document states the need for press and freedom of information – stated in article 19, calling for pluralism, the importance of free press, and ultimately a fundamental human right. This includes the safety of journalists.
  • Freedom of press falls under SDG 16, “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions”

H.E. Mogens Lykketoft, President, United Nations General Assembly (Video message

  • The issues right now on this topic include the limiting of freedom and safety for journalism and journalists in areas of conflict – specifically with journalists being murdered.
  • Pres. of the GA provided a personal reflection on his career beginning as a journalist in Denmark – where the nation practiced good transparency with media and journalism safety.
  • The Panama files provide the perfect example of current secrecy and cover ups – but also an example of the positive distribution of revealing information and transparency.

H.E. Kaha Imnadze, Permanent Representative of Georgia to the United Nations

  • The two important issues to consider right now: (1) safety and protection of media/journalists and (2) how to assure access/distribution of information and media focusing on equal access to United Nations information, and also avoid the “deliberately be misunderstood”.
  • Calls upon the United Nations and World Bank for more factual, understandable, and accessible information.

Frank LaRue, Assistant Director-General for Communications and Information (UNESCO)

  • In the recent era of Paris COP 21 agreements and the adoption of the SDGs – achieving these goals and plans must take into account that the goals and targets must be communicated and understood by all peoples. How can this information be taught and accessible to the rural, marginalized populations of the world?
  • There’s the need for governments to have mechanisms for its people to have equal, easy access to – to improve transparency.
  • If all countries agreed on the SDGs, then the safety of journalists should be prevalent everywhere.

Said Essoulami, President, Centre for Media Freedom on the Middle East and North Africa

  • A lot of the work his organization works on is safe, development journalism – working towards press freedom.
  • There’s a current issue of false data and information – that relates to the lack of press freedom and transparency.
  • Nations will prosecute those who communicate something different than what they want – journalists are in conflict to risk lives with truth versus safety by stating what the country wants.
  • Journalists need to be an independent sector in society with political and legal security.
  • Many risk lives even to seek information or news – where many can’t trust their own country’s news and media die to propaganda.

Panel Discussion:

Kai Sauer, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations

  • Finlandia Declaration: World Press Freedom Day: 1100-1200 representatives from the media celebrated the nation’s value of press freedom and information act 250 years ago derived from Sweden.
    • This act had two significant consequences: (1) abolished censorship, (2) access to public documents.
    • This foundation roots to checks and balances, transparency, freedom of expression, fighting corruption. Also contributes to bettering education.

Dillon Case, Managing Director, Pilot Media Initiatives

  • The world’s overall press freedom went down in 2015 – assassinations are increasing amongst journalists.
  • Social media and the internet are the current moving platforms for journalism.
  • Political satire – The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert are examples of the new form of political coverage in America – that although its comedy, it’s an increasing used educational tool, and the news source for many.

Janine di Giovanni, Multi Award-Winning Journalist and Author

  • Began career in Palestine and coverage of the Bosnian War – where she worked for 3 years to address the atrocities of that war.
  • Today’s situation in Syria is different, especially amongst journalists – even more dangerous and uncertain. It’s nearly impossible to cover the war, but it’s still needed. Why is it difficult? Political officials are following you and monitoring those around you. It’s contributed to a loss of on-the-ground writing and reporting.
  • For those who are independent and freelance – safety is incredibly low. Journalists with large news sources like CNN and ABC have tremendous armed protection from the government. 

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

Stresses the importance of transparent, truthful reporting. The Salvation Army values journalism and reporting throughout the world. Understanding safety but also importance for truthful reporting is important. 

Tags: United Nations, SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions