Dakar Declaration

Media and Good Governance

We, the participants of the UNESCO-sponsored World Press Freedom Day conference in Dakar, Senegal, from May 1-3, 2005: 

Recalling Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: "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", 

Recalling the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which set forth a human rights-based approach to development, in which participation and transparency in decision-making, empowerment and accountability play a key role, 

Reaffirming the Declaration of Windhoek of May 3, 1991, which defined the principles for independent and pluralistic media, and was endorsed by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1991, 

Reaffirming the Declarations of Alma Ata, Santiago, Sana'a, Sofia, and the Toronto Platform for Action and the African Charter on Broadcasting, which extended the principles of the Declaration of Windhoek into calls for practical action, 

Noting that greater participation by citizens in democratic processes, the rule of law, the fight against corruption, respect for the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary, transparency, accountability, access to information, poverty reduction and human rights are key elements of good governance,

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, 

Emphasizing the right freely to access information held by public bodies as a vital component of good governance, 

Stressing that respect for the principles of good governance is crucial for reducing poverty worldwide, 

Honouring the journalists and other media professionals who, in safeguarding democracy, risk death, imprisonment and/or other forms of harassment, 

Request the Director General of UNESCO to transmit this Declaration to the UNESCO General Conference for endorsement; and 

Call on Member States

To ensure that government bodies respect the principles of transparency, accountability and public access to information in their operations; 

To respect the function of the news media as an essential factor in good governance, vital to increasing both transparency and accountability in decision-making processes and to communicating the principles of good governance to the citizenry; 

To create an enabling environment in which an independent, sustainable, pluralistic and professional media sector can flourish; 

To transform State and government media into public service media and to guarantee their editorial and financial independence; 

To guarantee the independence of regulatory bodies for broadcasting and their role in promoting media diversity, including through community media outlets; 

To provide for comprehensive legal guarantees for the right to access information recognising the right to access information held by all public bodies, and requiring them to publish key categories of information and to introduce effective systems of record management, and to ensure proper implementation in practice of these guarantees; 

To promote wide public awareness of legislation and policies regarding access to information held by public bodies; 

To follow the principle that legislative bodies should be open to the public; 

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

To assist the news media in providing professional coverage of elections by ensuring full and timely disclosure of information to journalists and by guaranteeing political parties fair access to the media throughout the electoral process; 

To repeal criminal defamation laws and laws that give special protections to officials and institutions; 

To act to put an end to killing of, attacks on, harassment of, arrests and jailing of journalists, including those investigating corruption, and to make all reasonable efforts to bring those responsible to justice; 

To guarantee the right of journalists to protect their confidential sources of information; 

To take effective collective and individual action to hold to account those governments that actively repress the media; 

Call on media outlets and professional associations

To commit themselves to fair and professional reporting as well as to put in place mechanisms to promote professional journalism; 

To commit themselves to raising public awareness about corruption, human rights violations and other abuses of power, and to investigate and report these cases in a fair and professional manner; 

To support independent bodies that monitor threats to and abuses of press freedom; 

To commit themselves to ongoing programmes of training for journalists to strengthen professional and ethical standards; 

To provide for transparency in ownership, to promote the economic sustainability of media outlets, and to facilitate the independence of journalists by providing improved working conditions and living wages; 

To deepen the information role they play in facilitating participatory governance by explaining processes of government and public policy formulation, as well as by monitoring government performance; 

To stress safety for journalists, including safety training, and to provide hazard insurance; 

Call on UNESCO

To sensitise governments, legislators and public institutions regarding the importance of freedom of expression, including freedom to access, to produce and to share information; 

To promote the adoption of national access to information legislation and to develop international principles on access to information; 

To adopt its own organisational policy providing for access to the information it holds; 

To promote the role of media as a platform for dialogue in a democratic governance framework, by enhancing independent and analytical reporting; 

To communicate this Declaration to other international and regional organisations for their consideration; 

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

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