At a joint UK/Canada hosted conference on media freedom being held in London, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced extensive support to protect journalists worldwide. The UK will donate £3 -million towards a new Global Media Defence Fund administered by UNESCO. This will take forward the UN Plan of Action on the safety of journalists, by offering legal advice for journalists and safety training for those in conflict zones.
He also announced that Media Freedom Special Envoy, Amal Clooney, had convened a panel of experts to advise
countries on how to strengthen the legal protection of journalists. An international task force will be convened to help governments to deliver their commitments on media freedom, including by developing national action plans. The British Government will ensure that whenever a law is proposed or amended, the potential impact on press freedom will be assessed and the UK will spend up to £15 million on new programmes to promote media freedom across the world.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland with Jeremy Hunt will bring together a contact group of like-minded countries to lobby in unison when media freedom comes under attack. The aim is for this to be a rapid response mechanism, helping Foreign Ministers and Ambassadors to react as one when abuses take place.
The conference has welcomed over 1,000 participants from across the world, bringing together a range of government ministers and officials, multilateral agencies, civil society, academics, editors, publishers and journalists. Main themes being tackled are:
• protection and prosecution, including impunity
• national frameworks and legislation
• building trust in media and countering disinformation
• media sustainability
Jeremy Hunt said, “We have pledged to do what it takes – and no less – to ensure that instead of being silenced, the plural and varied voices of a free media are nurtured and encouraged as the most important contribution to the open societies that are the foundation of human progress.”
Canada and the UK have invited all the countries represented at the conference to sign the Global Pledge on media freedom, resolving that all will work together as a coalition to promote the cause of media freedom and meet again next year.