The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, has warmly welcomed the important further contribution of Canada to the UNESCO-administered Global Media Defense Fund, announced by the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne, during the Global Conference on Media Freedom on 16 November 2020.
She participated in the closing session of the Conference, highlighting emerging threats against journalists and stating that
The added amount of 1 million Canadian dollars effectively doubles Canada’s contribution already made when the Fund was launched at the initiative of Canada and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2019.
In announcing the support, Minister Champagne stated that,
Co-hosted by the governments of Canada and Botswana, the second Global Conference for Media Freedom was held online and brought together UN principals, governments, prominent journalists, media workers and civil society, with the goal of strengthening joint efforts to defend media freedom worldwide.
It was opened by the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and featured the participation of the UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance, and Public Administration of the Republic of Botswana, Kabo Morwaen, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. It also
featured the first Ministerial meeting of the Media Freedom Coalition, gathering over 35 governments committed to working together to advocate for media freedom and the protection of journalists.
The first call for proposals for the Global Media Defense Fund was held earlier this year, receiving 110 proposals from not-for profit organizations in more than 50 countries. Among the 44 preselected proposals,17 are situated in Africa and a majority are from the Global South. The Fund is also supporting the work of the High-Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, launched at the same time as the Fund by Canada and the United Kingdom.
The new Canadian contribution adds to those already received through the Fund, including £3 million (US$3,95 M) over five years from the United Kingdom, and contributions from the Czech Republic, Latvia, Luxemburg.
The activities of the Fund complement UNESCO’s wider work in the field of freedom of expression, including those undertaken through the Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists and the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). They also contribute to the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.