Two days of deliberations, preceded by frequent informal meetings, have led to UNESCO Member States agreeing on seven decisions concerning the safety of journalists, access to information and journalism education amongst other topics.
The accord was achieved at the 32nd session of the Council of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC), held on 25 to 26 November 2020, where 39 member states agreed on amendments to produced final decisions on a range of media development and other issues.
The IPDC Council welcomed the UNESCO Director’s General’s Report on the Safety of journalists and the Danger of Impunity, and urged UNESCO to continue to support Member States in their monitoring and reporting mechanisms on journalists’ safety and the issue of impunity. The decision also encouraged Member States to enhance the capacity of national judicial training institutes, prosecution services, and law enforcement to address the security of journalists in line with international standards on freedom of expression. Further details are in this news article.
The Council also welcomed the first Global Report on the Implementation of Access to Information Laws (based on monitoring of SDG Indicator 16.10.2) and recognizes its utility in providing evidence-based analysis for the improvement of access to information as a factor for sustainable development. The Council encourages the Member States to enhance legal regulatory frameworks on access to information at the national level as well as the effective implementation of these frameworks. Further details are in this news article.
Member States also reviewed Director-General’s Report on IPDC activities since the 31st session, and encouraged continual engagement by the IPDC, in line with the current C/5 and the IPDC priorities, in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Council further acknowledged IPDC’s contributions to journalism education and training through supporting cutting-edge curricula and training materials in multiple languages and takes note with interest of the Paris Declaration on Freedom of Journalism Education.
Following up on the recommendations of the governing bodies of UNESCO, the IPDC Council members agreed on amendments of the Statutes of the IPDC for submission to the 41st session of the General Conference and also to amend the Rules of Procedure of the Intergovernmental Council of the IPDC, which would enter into force after the proposed approval of the statutes by the General Conference.
Updating the financial regulations to align them with broader systems at UNESCO was also agreed by the IPDC Council, and a decision was taken to help increase IPDC’s visibility and fundraising.
A new IPDC Bureau was elected during the Council meeting and will have its 65th meeting in 2021. The bureau assumes full responsibility for project selection, approval and allocation of funds from the IPDC Special Account, and it plans the organization of work of the IPDC Council session. The next session of the IPDC Council (the 33rd session) will be held in June 2022.
The two-day Council meeting was held in a virtual form in line with the precautious measures for the COVID-19 pandemic. Delegates spoke highly of the organization of the meeting, appreciating the hard work of chairperson Anna Brandt, the IPDC Secretariat, and the rest of the staff who ensured the smooth process of the meeting.