Doha Declaration

THE POTENTIAL OF MEDIA: DIALOGUE, MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING AND RECONCILIATION

We, the participants of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day conference in Doha, Qatar, 3 May 2009,

Recalling the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states in Article 19 that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Reaffirming that freedom of expression is a fundamental right that is essential to the realisation of other freedoms set forth in international human rights instruments,

Recalling the United Nations Millennium Declaration of September 2000, which considers that tolerance is one of the fundamental values essential to international relations in the 21st century and should include the active promotion of a culture of peace and dialogue among civilisations, with human beings respecting one another in all their diversity of belief, culture and language,

Recalling the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity of UNESCO and the principles contained therein,

Stressing that independent and pluralistic media are essential for ensuring transparency, accountability and participation as fundamental elements of good governance and human rights-based development,

Considering that freedom of opinion and expression are essential cornerstones of free and democratic societies and contribute to a better understanding of and a dialogue among cultures,

Bearing in mind that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in its Article 20, requires States Parties to prohibit by law any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence,

Recalling the Resolution of UNESCO’s Executive Board adopted in March 2006 on “Respect for Freedom of Expression and Respect for Sacred Beliefs and Values and Religious and Cultural Symbols” (174 EX/Decision 46), which promotes respect for freedom of expression and respect for religious beliefs and symbols and highlights that they are two intrinsically linked principles and go hand in hand in combating ignorance and lack of understanding with a view to building peace and establishing dialogue among cultures, civilisations, religions and peoples,

Call on media and professional associations:

To commit themselves to improving the professional qualifications of journalists, including support for independent associations, organisations and unions, to developing voluntary self-regulatory media accountability systems and to adhere to high ethical and professional standards in their work,

To raise public awareness of human rights violations, intolerance, abuse of power and to investigate and report in a professional manner,

To develop activities aimed at increasing better understanding of the diversity of cultures by promoting exchanges and joint projects with media professionals from different cultures and professional backgrounds,

To promote diversity at all levels of the news business by broadening sources of recruitment and the reach of professional development programmes that support equality, participation and dialogue,

To develop practical initiatives on how to report on religious and cultural diversity, in order to foster dialogue and understanding, by introducing teaching methods at journalism schools that focus on raising awareness of intercultural dialogue and conflict-sensitive reporting.

Call on member states:

To establish legal frameworks in compliance with international standards that guarantee freedom of expression and ensure that media professionals can do their work freely and safely, without intimidation,

To take the necessary measures to ensure rigorous and independent investigations and prosecutions in cases of harassment and violence against journalists and bloggers, and to put an end to impunity,

To make sure that their constitutional and legislative systems have provisions to ensure adequate and effective guarantees of freedom of thought, conscience and religion for all, without exception, and in conformity with international standards,

To remove statutes on defamation from penal codes,

To develop a culture of transparency, including legal measures to ensure access to and dissemination of information to enhance dialogue and the participation of all actors in society,

To support broad public participation in the processes of governance, including through such means as ICTs and e-governance,

To facilitate access to media for all , especially women, people with disabilities and vulnerable groups, and to enable them to create their own means of debate,

To remove legal and other barriers to the establishment of independent media,

To facilitate the production, dissemination and exchange of programmes on dialogue, peace-building and reconciliation addressing children and youth, notably by providing assistance for the acquisition of distribution rights and translation.

To promote in their national policies space for dialogue between cultures and religions,

To promote media and information literacy allowing young consumers to think critically and to use all kinds of media for their own purposes.

Call on UNESCO:

To continue to make governments, legislators and public institutions aware of the importance of freedom of expression, including freedom to access, produce, disseminate and share information,

To further promote the role of new and traditional media as a platform for dialogue by enhancing capacities for independent, analytical and professional reporting,

To disseminate widely this Declaration to its Member States and other international and regional organisations for their consideration,

To use this Declaration as a reference for the Organisation's activities in this area.

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