Global Conference for Media Freedom: Joint communiqué

We, the members of the Media Freedom Coalition, have come together at theministerial meeting at the Third Global Conference for Media Freedom, held onFebruary 9 and 10 and hosted by Estonia and the Estonian Institute of Human Rights.

Media freedom is a cornerstone of democracy. Free and independent media is necessaryfor ensuring accurate information and informed public debate and discussion, holdinggovernments accountable and drawing attention to human rights violations, and it servesas a watchdog for the public interest.

Media freedom has continuously been in decline in recent years, driven in part by anti-
democratic and illiberal pressures and practices and by the misuse of digitaltechnologies to restrict media freedom. Challenges to media freedom include undulyrestrictive laws, arbitrary and/or unlawful surveillance, censorship, undue interference inthe circulation of information online and physical violence; these challenges areexacerbated by financial threats, which jeopardize media independence andsustainability.

Women journalists are disproportionately targeted by online harassment, threats, sexisthate speech and trolling. In many instances, women journalists are subject to multiple andintersecting forms of discrimination and gender-based violence because of their sexualorientation, race, disability, religion, ethnicity or gender identity, as well as other reasons.
This can lead to self-censorship such that women choose to withdraw from the publicsphere, which undermines media pluralism and democracy as a whole.

By joining the Media Freedom Coalition, we have made a commitment to continueworking together to improve media freedom and the safety of journalists online andoffline both at home and abroad. As representatives of governments, it is ourresponsibility to ensure that people in our countries can freely enjoy all their humanrights.

Today, we recall the commitments made in the Global Pledge on Media Freedom. Wecommitted to speaking out and taking action together: by combining forces to shareinformation, as appropriate, and to take action in cases where journalists and mediaorganizations are at risk; by shining a light on violations and abuses of media freedom,
bringing these to the attention of the global public and working toward accountability; bystanding together to intervene at the highest level with the governments of countrieswhere media freedom is at risk and to show solidarity with countries that work to buildmedia freedom; and by considering all available measures to address violations andabuses of international human rights law related to media freedom.

We reiterate our commitments to increase coordination locally through our diplomaticmissions around the world, to defend media freedom and to increase support for andengagement with journalists and independent media under threat.

We support measures to tackle the precarious working conditions and poverty ofjournalists, which undermine their independence.

The Media Freedom Coalition expresses its gratitude to Estonia and the Estonian Instituteof Human Rights for shining a spotlight at the Global Conference for Media Freedom onthe important topics of disinformation and freedom of speech, the protection ofjournalists and the interlinkages between media freedom and Internet freedom. We alsothank them for creating the Media Freedom Coalition’s website, which provides themembers of the coalition with a platform to continue addressing abuses of mediafreedom together.

We commend the tireless work of all journalists and media workers who uphold anddefend media freedom. We pay tribute to all journalists and media workers who havebeen targets of intimidation, violence or arbitrary detention or who, in the most extremecases, have been killed in the course of exercising their profession.

We again wholeheartedly congratulate Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov on beingawarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, which emphasizes the importance of independentjournalism.

We need journalists to report the facts, keep us informed and hold those in poweraccountable. When violence against journalists triumphs, media cannot be free anddemocracy cannot function.

We look forward to celebrating the upcoming 10th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action onthe Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity—a milestone in media freedom andthe protection of journalists.

We welcome the ongoing work of the independent High Level Panel of Legal Experts onMedia Freedom to provide advice to governments to ensure the protection of mediafreedom in legislation, and we note the recommendations contained in the reports of thepanel. We also warmly welcome the newly appointed deputy chairs of the panel, CanYeginsu and Catherine Amirfar. We look forward to working together with them.

We recognize the importance of media development work, which supports mediaorganizations in becoming more viable and resilient and improves the enablingenvironment for media. We commit to working together to improve the effectiveness ofthis work including through the Working Group of the Coalition on Media Development.

We underscore the important role played by international and regional organizations inthe protection and promotion of media freedom, including the UN, UNESCO, the UN Officeof the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union, the Organization forSecurity and Co-operation in Europe, the Organization of American States, the AfricanUnion and the Council of Europe. We also note the complementary and fundamental roleof other like-minded initiatives, such as the Freedom Online Coalition and theInternational Partnership on Information and Democracy.

We commend the work of the Global Media Defence Fund, administered by UNESCO, inenhancing journalists’ legal protections and improving media freedom by supportinginvestigative journalism and strategic litigation.

We commend the work of civil society organizations, and especially that of the MediaFreedom Coalition—Consultative Network, co-chaired by IFEX, ARTICLE 19 and thePakistan Press Foundation, in providing the Media Freedom Coalition with expert counseland strategic direction.

Finally, we would like to thank Maldives, Germany and Latvia for their commitment tomedia freedom as members of the Media Freedom Coalition’s Executive Group, and wewould like to welcome the Czech Republic and Estonia as new members of the ExecutiveGroup, as well as Ireland, which has officially joined the Media Freedom Coalition as its50th member.

We would like to express our gratitude to the United Kingdom for initiating the work of,
and being a strong co-chair of, the Media Freedom Coalition. We are also thankful to theUnited Kingdom for launching the Media Freedom Coalition Secretariat, which will ensurethe sustainability of the coalition.

We also thank Canada for its ongoing leadership as co-chair of the Media FreedomCoalition since 2019 and welcome the Netherlands as a new co-chair of the coalition. TheNetherlands will provide strong leadership in this role.


Costa Rica
the Czech Republic
the Netherlands
New Zealand
North Macedonia
Republic of Korea
Sierra Leone
the United Kingdom
the United States

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