As Egypt prepared to enter a series of electoral events critical to shape the future of the country, UNESCO supported the crucial role of the media in delivering impartial, balanced and professional coverage, which is a prerequisite for fair elections.
In April 2012, UNESCO organized training for 17 media professionals in print and online media in the lead up to the presidential election, including topics like elections rules and regulations, safety of journalists during electoral periods and mass gatherings; and analysis of election programmes. The course also focused on the importance of delivering impartial and balanced information and best practices in election reportage. This workshop was the third in a series of election coverage trainings organized by the UNESCO Office in Cairo.
The previous ones took place in the fall of 2011, before the parliamentary elections in the country.
Since December 2009, UNESCO has been implementing the project “Support for Enhanced Media Coverage and Monitoring of Electoral Processes”, which builds the capacity of three key Iraqi institutions – the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the Communications and Media Commission (CMC) and the professional media – so they can play their respective and complementary roles in providing stakeholders with timely, accurate and impartial information. While building the capacity of the independent media sector, UNESCO also reviews relevant media law and strengthens cooperation between the two commissions.
During the implementation period under review:
- the Journalism Protection law that was adopted in August 2011 took into account the analysis provided by UNESCO in cooperation with the CSOs Centre for Law and Democracy and Article 19;
- a study analyzing how media technologies are used before and after elections was launched by UNESCO in collaboration with Internews Europe;
- media monitoring training, capacity building and technical support to the Communications and Media Commission of Iraq (CMC) was facilitated, through diverse workshops and a study trip to the UK;
- the resource entitled "Preventing media incitement - user guidelines for elections" was printed and distributed;
- the Iraqi Parliamentary Human Rights Committee along with UNESCO and UNAMI HRO held a conference entitled "Freedom of Expression is a Human Right" on 17 December 2011 in the Council of Representatives in Baghdad;
- study visits by Iraqi media professionals to the CMC were organized;
- scoping studies to assess the needs of the CMC in relation to monitoring media across several media platforms were also launched;
- analysis on media laws, policies and regulations and their implications on the electoral process to expand freedom of expression in Iraq and allow elections standards to be enforced effectively was undertaken.
UNESCO, in partnership with local media actors, is implementing an EU-funded 12-month media project (from December 2012-December 2013) to improve the quality of election reporting. The project aims to develop a participatory strategy to support the Jordanian media community in understanding its essential role in the electoral process, ahead of the two national elections of 2013 (parliamentary in January and municipal planned for June) and to enhance the country's overall political reform.
Activities have included:
- a 5-day training workshop on investigative reporting skills benefitting 13 television and print journalists, held in partnership with Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism focused on how to cover the elections in Jordan using in-depth reporting techniques that promote transparency and accountability;
- a 5-day workshop, with the Jordan Media Institute, featuring a number of well-known media figures as key speakers and covered various key topics such as a review of elections and democracy practices in Egypt and Lebanon in comparison with Jordan, Jordan election laws vis-à-vis international standards, elections from a gender-sensitive perspective, and guidelines to independent and professional elections coverage;
- a 4-day workshop for 40 citizen journalists (10 from each governorate) was facilitated by Community Media Network, focused on video journalism, writing news and covering elections in five governorates;
- a 4-day open forum on "Post Elections" at the Jordan Media Institute, featuring key media and political figures;
- consultations held throughout Jordan by Albany Associates, seeking to identify challenges faced by journalists in election coverage, feeding into a road map of challenges and strategies to improve journalistic coverage of elections;
- a 4-day workshop on gender-sensitive elections reporting, including a Training of Trainers, delivered by the Jordan Media Institute;
- an intensive 5-day training workshop targeting 15 journalists from Amman and other governorates, held in partnership with Albany Associates. The training promoted international media standards on elections coverage and showed best practice cases of elections reporting worldwide, and included a Training of Trainers session.
Under a broader project funded by the Swedish International Development Agency, with a strong focus in the Arab region, and in partnership with the OHCHR, UNESCO Beirut implemented 5 trainings (each in a different region, reaching over 70 trainees) seeking to build the skills of young journalists, students, faculty members and CSO practitioners in reporting about elections following a human rights approach. The trainings, held ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2013, addressed the different electoral laws that are being considered at the Lebanese Parliament, electoral media coverage, relations with public authorities, and a human rights perspective with a particular focus on women, youth and other groups with special needs.
Thanks to funding facilitated to UNESCO Ramallah by Canal France International and UNESCO´s International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC), 43 Palestinian journalists working for at least 10 different local media outlets (with 60 percent female participation, 20 participants from Gaza, 23 participants from several areas in the West Bank) attended, respectively, a four day training workshop in Jericho and Gaza city on conflict sensitive reporting, electoral reporting and safety issues. The trainings were held ahead of the local elections held in Palestine in October/November 2012 and the module on electoral matters addressed issues related to local, national, trade union elections and internal political party elections).
Within its efforts in support of democratic transition and media reform in the country, UNESCO is facilitating the strengthening of journalistic coverage of elections.
In preparation for the election of the Constituent Assembly of October 2011, 94 Tunisian journalists and editors-in-chief from Tunis as well as from the radio stations of Sfax, Monsastir, Kef, Gafsa and Tatouine were trained in June and late July 2011.
Moreover, respect for the rights of journalists during electoral periods is one of the topics addressed in an ongoing programme seeking to build awareness of press freedom issues among security forces in the country and to foster dialogue between these and the media sector (the initiative was launched in 2012 under the abovementioned SIDA-funded project, and will be replicated in other countries in the region, starting by Egypt). UNESCO has already started preparatory work toward supporting quality and ethical journalism in the country during 2013, and particularly in view of elections expected to be held in November.Back to top