UNESCO supports community media friendly legislative reform in Mongolia
“Community media is a new concept in Mongolia, but I believe it is the time to understand it,” said Ms Batchimag, Mongolian MP and Chairperson of the Parliament’s working group on media law reform, last week in her opening remarks at a seminar on “Community Radio for Community Development.” The seminar was organized in Ulaanbaatar by the recently-established Community Radio Association of Mongolia and by Globe International, with the support of the UNESCO Beijing Office.
In her remarks, Ms Batchimag furthermore stressed the fundamental role of community media in giving voice to people, especially those who are isolated. At the opening, she was also joined by Ms Sezin Sinanoglu, UN Resident Coordinator in Mongolia, who in her intervention explained how community media are important for the lives of citizens in rural areas, “whether it is related to elections or to the new local budget law or new developments in citizens’ registration.” She also highlighted that “freedom of expression is a basic human right. It is also a crucial element for the economic transformation of a society and the achievement of sustainable human development.”
The President of the Community Radio Association (CRA), Ms Oyuntungalag, made an appeal for the need to establish a legal environment in favor of community media. Her appeal was echoed by Ms Naranjargal Khashkhuu, President of Globe International, a non-governmental organization that is a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX). CRA’s Executive Director, Ms Munkhburen, described how difficult it has been to pioneer the community radio concept in Mongolia from a legal and administrative perspective, due to the lack of a specific enabling legislation.
During the seminar, Ms Sosormaa Chuluunbaatar, Adviser to the President on Human Rights and Citizen Participation, stressed the role of community media for citizen empowerment. The UNESCO Beijing Office’s Advisor for Communication and Information, Mr Andrea Cairola, elaborated on the role of community media for human and sustainable development.
The discussion was animated by representatives from civil society, the government and the Communication Regulatory Commission. The seminar was held on 14 December 2012, in the framework of a project to foster community media policy environments, supported by the UNESCO Director-General’s Emergency Fund.
Earlier this year, the UNESCO Beijing Office successfully concluded the UNESCO-led interagency project “Comprehensive community services to improve human security for the rural disadvantaged populations in Mongolia”. Under the UN Trust Fund for Human Security, the project piloted the community media concept in Mongolia, with the establishment of ten community radio station in remote areas.
UNESCO has been providing continuous technical assistance to the revision and enactment of an enabling communication and information legal environment in East Asia. Recently, Mongolian judges and jurists strengthened their understanding of international standards on freedom of expression, media freedom, safety of journalists and right of access to information thanks to a seminar organized by the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, Globe International, the Mongolian National Legal Institute and Otgontenger University, with support from the UNESCO Beijing Office.
The one-day initiative was joined by 39 judges from the eight districts courts, as well as by national jurists and by a US senior media lawyer, Dr Daniel Byron, in Mongolia with the International Senior Lawyers’ Project (ISLP). The seminar was held on 25 September 2012 in the form of a discussion about the application of international standards for freedom of expression in the context of Mongolia’s national judiciary. It also served as an occasion for reflection among jurists on the ongoing debate on media legislative reform.