UNESCO conference urges UN to include free expression in post-2015 development goals

A two day conference marking World Press Freedom Day at UNESCO Headquarters ended Tuesday with a Declaration that highlights the contribution of free expression to development.

The Declaration adopted today calls for freedom of expression, press freedom, independent media and access to information to be fully integrated into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) next year. It makes a link between the free expression issues and good governance, which is a foundation for development.

The Declaration specifically urges the United Nation’s Open Working Group (OWG), the body that is drafting the SDGs, to include free expression as part of a good governance goal, as recommended by the UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons.  The conference document further encourages UNESCO Member States to support these proposals at OWG meetings. It calls for the OWG to recognize the importance of universal access to information and communication technologies and for governments to make available “comprehensive, reliable, accurate and accessible information related to the development agenda” as part of the SDGs.

More than 300 participants from almost 90 countries took part in the deliberations, including several Permanent Delegations to UNESCO.  A total of 75 speakers addressed the theme “Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda”.

During the event, participants discussed the UNESCO report World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development. The French edition and the regional chapters were also launched. In addition, a consultation also took place concerning UNESCO’s mandated study on Internet-related issues, and on preparations to observe an International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists on 2 November, in keeping with a recently-adopted UN General Assembly resolution.

The Ambassador of Latvia to UNESCO, Ms Sanita Pavluta-Deslandes, announced that Latvia will host World Press Freedom Day in 2015.

Source: UNESCO