Statement by the Media Freedom Coalition on its first meeting

The Media Freedom Coalition, consisting of the 35 undersigned members, held its first meeting of Senior Officials on 29 to 30 January 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Media Freedom Coalition is a partnership of countries working together proactively to advocate for media freedom, online as well as offline, and for the safety of journalists and media workers. The Coalition aims to hold to account those who harm journalists or severely restrict them from doing their job, as well as support the work and initiatives of the Global Campaign for Media Freedom.

All members have signed the Global Pledge on Media Freedom. As signatories, each member has made the commitment to work together in taking action to improve the media freedom environment and the safety of journalists both at home and abroad.


Media freedom faces growing threats from around the world. Journalists and media organisations are increasingly confronted in their vital work by overly restrictive laws, punitive legal measures, arbitrary or unlawful surveillance and physical violence. Too often, whether they work with traditional media or on digital platforms, they pay for their commitment with their liberty or their lives.

Media freedom is essential for exercising human rights and fundamental freedoms and is an integral element of global security and prosperity. People need free media to provide them with accurate information and informed analysis if governments are to be held to account.

In the face of threats to media freedom that are new in scale and in nature, we should adopt new forms of collaboration that adapt to new realities.

Our approach should be responsive, acting on acute threats as they emerge. It should be strategic, addressing long-term trends and entrenched challenges.

We are committed to seeking accountability, working with each other and with governments who are not Coalition members to ensure that governments respect their international human rights obligations. We should take into account all areas that affect media freedom, from encouraging enabling regulatory environments to promoting transparency in judicial processes. We are committed to reaching out beyond governments to journalists, media organisations, civil society groups, international rapporteurs, regional representatives and other stakeholders, to make this a collaborative effort across society. We intend to build on the work of the UN and other media freedom initiatives and we are committed to advancing that work wherever we can.

We are committed to fulfilling our obligations under international human rights law and to promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 16.


The Media Freedom Coalition intends to:

  • take action on individual cases by co-ordinating efforts to raise specific cases where journalists and media workers, or media organisations, have come under threat, to encourage respect for fair trial guarantees and reduce cases of impunity for crimes against them
  • speak out publicly through collective statements, including in international for a, and making collective diplomatic approaches and lobbying
  • reinforce the work of other media freedom initiatives and organisations – including UNESCO, OHCHR, international rapporteurs, regional representatives, the newly established Global Media Defence Fund and the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom – to support their recommendations on how to improve protections for the media, as appropriate, and implementation the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity
  • provide support and co-operation with organisations advocating for media freedom and the safety of journalists

Cases and situations of concern

The Media Freedom Coalition expects to raise individual cases and situations where those individuals practising journalism, as well as media organisations, have come under threat, to reduce cases of impunity. The Executive Group of the Coalition intends to keep under active consideration a range of cases where action by the Coalition may be appropriate, drawing on the advice of member states, civil society, networks of practitioners and multilateral organisations, and proposing action to address them.

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