UNESCO and Ibero-American Judicial Summit agreement reinforces freedom of expression and journalists’ safety
A Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation on issues of freedom of expression, access to information, transparency and the safety of journalists was signed on 17 November by UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the Chief of Justice of the Supreme Court of Uruguay, Ricardo C. Pérez Manrique, on behalf of the Ibero-American Judicial Summit. Mr. Pérez Manrique is also the head of the Permanent Secretariat of the Ibero-American Judicial Summit of 23 supreme courts.
The agreement reinforces the capacity of UNESCO and the Summit in their shared objective to improve freedom of expression and information, transparency and journalist safety. The agreement specifically highlights the role of the judicial system in ensuring and protecting fundamental human rights.
UNESCO’s Director-General welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding emphasizing it marked reinforced cooperation that in “promoting the strengthening of rule of law, democracy and good governance, in keeping with Goal 16 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Agenda.”
During the signing ceremony, Ms Bokova spoke of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), an exemplary project born of the collaboration between UNESCO and the judiciary in countries of the Ibero-American space. Around 3,200 judicial officers in 22 countries in Latin America have been trained on freedom of expression related issues.
Furthermore, the agreement highlights one of UNESCO’s priorities, which is to engage in dialogues with judicial members and to support specialized training about international standards of freedom of expression, transparency and access to information.
Mr. Pérez Manrique also stressed the importance of this cooperation, in order to “guarantee the rights for all the 610 million inhabitants of the Ibero-American region. Without access to justice systems for all people, especially the most vulnerable, there is no rule of law possible. Without the rule of law, the dignity of human beings, their freedoms and rights are violated.”
The Chief of Justice of Uruguay expressed the hope that this agreement will go well beyond the four years of its validity. At the end of the ceremony, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General of Communication and Information, Frank La Rue, called the agreement “a major step forward for the Ibero-American region.”
The ceremony took place in the presence of representatives of several Member States of UNESCO on the occasion of the 30th session of the Council of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication, at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris.
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