Freedom of Expression and Democracy

UNESCO promotes freedom of expression and freedom of the press as a basic human right, through sensitization and monitoring activities and fosters media independence and pluralism as prerequisites and major factors of democratization by providing advisory services on media legislation and sensitizing governments, parliamentarians and other decision-makers.

In May 2005, the first in a series of press freedom workshops in the Caribbean was held in St George’s, Grenada, in collaboration with the Eastern Caribbean Press Council. The event, which marked World Press Freedom Day, was supported by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication, as part of a series of workshops addressing ethical practices, journalism training and management of press freedom in the Caribbean.

In July 2005, exploring freedom of expression in cyberspace as relating to Pacific island countries was the focus of an internship of media and information professionals that was held in New Zealand. The week-long programme was sponsored by UNESCO’s Regional Office in New Delhi and organized by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO. Participants included five media and information professionals from the Cook Islands, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

Web diaries or web logs or 'blogs' have become a very powerful tool for promoting 'the free flow of ideas by word and image'.There are now literally thousands of blogs currently available online and growing massively. In the Pacific, preliminary research indicates that though there may be many blogs about the region, these are in the main gushing accounts written by transient tourists. In comparison, there would appear to be only a handful of 'real' Pacific blogs. With a view to encouraging the emergence of ‘real’ Pacific blogs, UNESCO is organizing a presentation and discussion as part of its contribution to the 2006 Pacific Internet Conference in Apia (Samoa) from 21-26 August 2006. This is in line with the Organization’s commitment to using cyberspace to protect and enhance freedom of expression. Blogging experts as well as media personnel and others interested in the topic are invited to contact Abel Caine, Adviser for Communication & Information, UNESCO Office for the Pacific States, Apia (abel(at)unesco.org.ws).

During the last decade, hundreds of journalists have been killed while carrying out their work. In line with its mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom, UNESCO campaigns for greater safety of media professionals. and pays tribute to assassinated journalists, in remembering their contribution to freedom of expression, democracy and peace. Condemnations by UNESCO of individual murders have included those in SIDS.

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