Sweden and UNESCO launch a new initiative to support media development in Cambodia
Phnom Penh – Today Sweden and UNESCO signed an agreement to initiate the project “Strengthening Media Development and Freedom of Expression”, to be implemented in partnership with UN Human Rights. Sweden will contribute 23 million Swedish Kronor (around USD 2,5 million) to UNESCO.
This new strategic agreement includes activities that will be implemented in the next three years, which aim to foster a safe, free, pluralistic, and independent media environment conducive to greater freedom of expression and access to information in Cambodia. UNESCO’s work will focus in strengthening the legislative framework and media sector while addressing the urgent needs derived from the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes ensuring greater access to critical information, advocating for higher standards in ethical and professional reporting and promoting professional journalism to counter disinformation.
“This contribution is an important part of Sweden’s development cooperation with Cambodia which focuses on human rights, democracy and rule of law. We are happy to partner with UNESCO Cambodia to build the capacities of the media sector to raise the professional standards of journalism and establish mechanisms for the safety of reporters. Special attention will be given to female journalists, who are particularly vulnerable in the media profession and lack equal professional development opportunities in the sector,” explains Mr Björn Häggmark, Sweden’s Ambassador to Cambodia.
The rapid adoption of the internet and mobile technologies in Cambodia, and their growing number of users, especially among the youth, pose an opportunity for civic participation and engagement in society, economic activities, and development. However, these changes also bring challenges such as proliferation of disinformation, privacy issues, and the risk of leaving behind those who lack capacities to ICTs and access the internet. UNESCO will focus in promoting Media and Information Literacy, and equipping the public, with a special focus on youth, with the necessary skills and knowledge to interact in the online world in a safe and effective manner.
Mr Sardar Umar Alam, Country Representative of UNESCO to Cambodia, highlights the importance of the agreement with Sweden: “The initiative will further strengthen the freedom of expression and access to information ecosystem in Cambodia by advocating for a more robust legislative framework for media development, providing platforms and spaces for dialogue and public discourse, and fostering a vibrant media environment, thereby promoting democratic values, good governance and sustainable development”.
Aiming at the Peaceful, Just and Inclusive pillar of the 2030 Agenda, this project directly contributes towards the realization of SDG 16, which focuses on advancing government accountability, building the rule of law and sustaining peace, and in particular, SDG 16.10, which aims at “ensuring public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements”.