Peacekeeping School and Ministry of Security and Civil Protection in Mali Adopt UNESCO Curriculum on Freedom of Expression and Public Order
From March 28-30th in Bamako Mali, a training of 26 trainers from the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection, the Peacekeeping School (Ecole de Maintien de la Paix-EMP), and Media professionals was held at the EMP. The objective of the training was to strengthen the skills of pedagogues to train Malian security forces on how to guarantee the rights of citizens to freedom of expression and access to information and ensure the safety of journalists in the country. The three-day training occurred following four previous trainings of Malian security forces on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists held in June and November 2016. The training, developed following the recommendation of previous participants to reinforce the capacity of pedagogues on the subject in order to officially adopt the UNESCO curriculum on freedom of expression and public order at the Peacekeeping School and Ministry of Security and Civil Protection, was coordinated by UNESCO in partnership with the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), the West Africa Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). The project received additional technical support from the Kingdom of Norway.
Integral to the mandate of the United Nations is the promotion of an environment conducive to freedom of expression, press freedom and the safety of journalists, as well as the facilitation of media pluralism and sustainable and independent media institutions. This training workshop occurred in the framework of the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, led by UNESCO and endorsed by the United Nations Chief Executive Board on April 12 2012 and welcomed by the UN General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/68/163) (2013). The UN Plan of Action was developed with the aim of coordinating the efforts of various actors in this field. “We must recall that the promotion and protection of human rights, including those of journalists and women human rights defenders, contributes to ensuring access to information in all societies, particularly in conflict and post-conflict situations. The protection of human rights, in the long term, ensures the consolidation of peace, democratic governance, sustainable development, and the fight against impunity” underlined Guillaume Ngefa, representing the West Africa Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “This is why security forces must be conscious of fundamental principles of human rights, including the protection and safety of journalists in a democracy, as well as their important role in ensuring an enabling environment for security so essential to guaranteeing freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and human rights at large” underlined Pierre Saye, representing the UNESCO Office in Mali.
During the three day training, participants discussed how to train security forces on managing relations with the media and journalists and developed practical exercises based on the UNESCO curriculum for officers and members of the press on how to solve specific cases that could generate incidents. Furthermore, participants were trained on international standards concerning freedom of expression and access to information, the jurisprudence of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and national legislation concerning freedom of expression and access to information in Mali.
“I appreciated the pragmatic approach of the training, with concrete examples and practical exercises based on the curriculum that allowed us as trainers to easily adapt the content to the Malian context and ensure sustainable dialogue between media and security forces. Following the trainings in June and November where I was a participant and then an assistant pedagogue, I can feel the difference in my daily work and at the police station regarding my relationship with the media. This training of trainers is important to ensure institutional continuity so that our relationship continues to grow” underlined Kaly Diakité, Police Sergeant and pedagogue of the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection. “Through this training, I understood the importance of ensuring that stakeholders see that media professionals and security forces have the same objective of ensuring access to public information, despite our different approaches. This training is an important step in ensuring platforms for cooperation between us. I also understand that professional standards for both journalists and security forces, and training in this regard, are essential in ensuring respectful relations between us. Journalists and security forces, through this training, have understood that they are not adversaries, but collaborators that work for the same community” underlined Seydou Traore, Media Professional from Mikado FM Radio. “Both security forces and media professionals are indispensable and complementary in safeguarding the development dynamic and stability in West Africa” said Kouider Zerrouk, Chief Communications and Public Information at UNOWAS.
On March 31st, a technical meeting was held between UNESCO and OHCHR representatives, pedagogues from the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection, and pedagogues of the Peacekeeping School. The main outcome of the meeting was the official adoption by the Peacekeeping School and Ministry of Security and Civil Protection of the UNESCO produced training manual on Freedom of Expression and Public Order. “All components necessary for cooperation exist, but often media professionals and security forces don’t understand each other. These trainings and the adoption of the curriculum are an opportunity to ensure that stakeholders and defenders of freedom of expression dialogue with one another, with a shared objective which is the construction of peace, a condition sine qua non of security” underlined Colonel Joseph Calvez, representing the Director General of the Peacekeeping School in Bamako. Reflecting on the importance of ensuring the sustainability of trainings for security forces on freedom of expression and human rights in Mali, Colonel Deh, Representative of the Minister of Security and Civil Protection underlined, citing Koffi Annan, that “there is no development without security, and no security without development. There is neither security or development without human rights.” Evoking that, since 1993, Mali has celebrated annually World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, the Ministry recalled that Mali guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Article 7 of its Constitution adopted in 1992, and applauded the adoption of the UNESCO curriculum as another step in guaranteeing fundamental human rights in the country.
As follow up, plans are underway to ensure further training, in partnership with the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection and the EMP, of pedagogues of Malian security forces on freedom of expression and human rights to ensure the availability of the training in other regions in Mali, the translation of relevant modules of the curriculum into Bambara, and the development of a module specifically concerning regional and national regulation and legislaton on freedom of expression and access to information. With high level pedagogues at the Peacekeeping School and Ministry of Security and Civil Protection now trained in the domain, UNESCO will continue to accompany the school and the Ministry in the integration of the course in their core curricula, and ensure pedagogues are equipped to train other security force members from the sub-region.
To listen to the debate (in French) on Radio Mikado FM between security forces, the media, and UNESCO on the impact of the training click here:
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