07.11.2017 - UNESCO Office in Doha

UNESCO highlights link between media, journalism and peace-building on International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in Doha


UNESCO Office for the GCC and Yemen spoke on the role media plays in strengthening peace building efforts and countering hate speech during a regional symposium organized by Al Jazeera Center for Human Rights and Liberties and the Doha Centre for Media Freedom on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2 2017 in Doha, Qatar.

Representatives from international and local media and press freedom organisations, academics and civil society organizations participated in the commemoration, held under the theme "Professional Media: freedom of the press and the safety of journalists".

UNESCO spoke on the session focusing on "the rights and obligations of media professionals between freedom of expression, anti-hate speech and peace building" along with Dr. Abbas Aroua, Cordoba Foundation, Mohamed Krichen, Principal Presenter at Al Jazeera Media Network, and Umud Mirzayev, President of the International Eurasia Press Fund.

Marion Desmurger, Senior Programme Assistant for the Communication and Information Sector, highlighted that media’s role in regard to peace should primarily be understood within the normative setting of freedom of expression and press freedom, and not in terms of restrictions.

"Respect for human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, is a starting point for preventing and resolving tensions that become violent. As such, the notion of censoring or controlling media in order to ensure peace should therefore never become the primary approach to understanding or regulating the role the media plays on peace and conflict resolution," she added.

To encourage a peace-oriented approach to media, Marion Desmurger said UNESCO's efforts concentrate on two key elements, the first one being conflict-sensitive journalism, an appeal to those doing journalism to write with ethical considerations and avoid exacerbating violence, and the second is media and information literacy, to empower audiences to know their rights and respect those of others online and offline. 

She also stressed the need to reinforce safety of journalists as a condition to enable peace through the media and recalled the increasing attacks media practitioners are under in the current digital age. Murder remains the most violent form of censorship and every four days, a journalist is killed. "There’s not much hope for journalism if media practitioners are subjected to attack: promoting peace should start with protection of journalists". 

A team of Junior Reporters from various schools in Qatar were invited to cover the event and interview participants on the theme of the discussions. Their interview with UNESCO GCC and Yemen Office can be found here.  

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