UK and Canada lead global campaign to defend media freedom

UK and Canada lead global campaign to defend media freedom

UK and Canada lead global campaign to defend media freedom

Jeremy Hunt, the UK Foreign Secretary, and Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, co-hosted the first ever global conference on media freedom in London. It is part of an international campaign to shine a global spotlight on media freedom and increase the cost to those that are attempting to restrict it.

The conference was structured around 4 themes:

  • protection and prosecution, including impunity
  • national frameworks and legislation
  • building trust in media and countering disinformation
  • media sustainability

Over 1,500 global leaders, representatives from the media industry, journalists, civil society and academia gathered to attend interactive panel discussions. The first day focused on defining the challenges, the second on framing solutions. View the full conference agenda.

In his opening speech, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt highlighted the importance of investigative journalism in uncovering corruption. He said:

In Peru, Gustavo Gorriti of IDL Reporteros has brought to light a series of corruption scandals involving business, the government and the judiciary.

Peruvian investigative journalists Paola Ugaz and Pedro Salinas attended the conference. Gustavo Gorriti delivered a video message from Lima on media freedom.

IDL-Reporteros published an article on the universal value of media freedom.

Media Freedom Coalition Pledge

In London, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the launch of a new Media Freedom Coalition.

The Coalition will be formed by governments who sign up to a pledge that commits them to speak out and take action together when media freedom is at risk, and to champion the cause around the world.

The global pledge was published and signed as part of the conference and commits those governments that sign it to:

  • speak out and take action together, through a Media Freedom Coalition
  • harness the power of diplomatic networks, through a new Media Freedom Contact Group
  • reinforce international initiatives to champion media freedom
  • meet annually to renew our commitments and to address emerging threats and opportunities

Lord Neuberger, Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts, and Amal Clooney, Deputy Chair of the Panel, announced at the conference the composition of the independent High Level Panel of Legal Experts. The panel convened for the first time in London to develop the legal frameworks to help defend media freedom.

The High Level Panel is an independent body convened at the request of the UK and Canadian governments and chaired by Lord Neuberger, former President of the UK Supreme Court.

National Committee for the Safety of Journalists

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright announced at the conference that the UK will set up a National Committee for the Safety of Journalists.

The Committee will be asked to devise a National Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and ensure that those who threaten journalists are held to account. The plan will examine current protections offered to journalists in the UK, and consider how to work together to build on existing strengths.

About Media Freedom

A free and independent media plays a vital role in protecting human rights and holding the powerful to account. Media freedom is the lifeblood of democracy and can be the foundation for economic prosperity and social development. It means that society can be free, fair and open. Journalistic scrutiny is an essential part of a vibrant and healthy democracy.

The world is becoming a more hostile place for journalists. Reporters Without Borders called 2018 the deadliest year on record for journalists. UNESCO confirms that at least 99 journalists were killed, a further 348 imprisoned and 60 held hostage. Freedom of expression is being stifled and barriers are preventing the functioning of an independent media. We must address this and the dangers it presents.

Facts and figures about media freedom

This information is sourced from organisations including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House, International Federation of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and UNESCO:

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