18.04.2012 - ODG

Sweden and UNESCO join forces to support freedom of expression in the Arab States and South Sudan

© UNESCO/Landry Rukingamubiri

On 17 April, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and the Ambassador of Sweden to UNESCO Anders Ahnlid, on behalf of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), signed an agreement under which 19 million Swedish Kronor (around USD 2.8 million) will be provided to UNESCO to support its activities in the field of promotion of freedom of expression, press freedom and freedom of information.

The project, entitled “Promoting an Enabling Environment for Freedom of Expression: Global Action with Special Focus on the Arab Region,” will focus on countries in the Arab region and South Sudan. It aims at fostering the development of free, independent and pluralistic media. It also promotes institutional capacity-building, the empowerment of women through widened access to information and it encourages the role of young people in dialogue, reconciliation and sustained peace.

“This agreement is another example of Sweden’s deep engagement in UNESCO’s work, especially in the field of media, a key tool for peace building and sustainable development”, said the Director-General. Irina Bokova highlighted that UNESCO stands firm in its commitment to promote freedom of expression as a fundamental human right and the cornerstone for democratic and vibrant societies. Recent events in the Arab Spring countries have shown an increasing demand for freedom of expression and media freedom to be enjoyed by all people. “This new generous contribution from Sweden will strengthen our joint efforts for the defense and protection of this right.”

“Freedom of expression is one of Sweden’s key priorities. It is an area where UNESCO, with its unique mandate to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image, has a vital role to play” said the Ambassador. “Sida has chosen UNESCO to be its privileged partner to implement this project in recognition of the Organization’s experience, its ability to deliver and its focus on the poorest, as well as on women and youth”.    

Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), is one of UNESCO’s main partners. It provides support to the Organization in several areas of competence, including Education for All, CapEFA and the EFA Global Monitoring Report, as well as communication and information, encompassing also a community media project implemented in African countries.  


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