The future of freedom of expression is in your hands.
As a member of UNESCO’s Executive Board, you will soon have a say in
who will lead the only UN organization with the specific mandate to
promote and protect “the free flow of ideas by word and image,”
encompassing free speech, as well as its underpinning requirements of
access to information, press freedom and the safety of journalists.
In a previous letter addressed to the UNESCO Group of Friends on the
Safety of Journalists, 221 organizations urged ambassadors to take
into consideration the importance of the candidate’s commitment to
freedom of opinion and expression. We, the IFEX Network and the Global
Forum for Media Development (GMFD), reiterate this call and ask that
your vote for the next Director-General of UNESCO be someone who
unequivocally stands for the rights of freedom of opinion and
expression, and is ready to put words into action when this
fundamental right is under attack.
UNESCO’s commitment to these essential principles has been, and we
hope it will continue to be, the expansion of access to free,
independent, and pluralistic media for millions of citizens, which in
turn has allowed for the enrichment and progress of vital democratic
values around the world.
UNESCO’s mandate in this area will also play a critical role in
achieving Agenda 2030, which recognizes the need to ensure public
access to information and protect fundamental freedoms. The next
Director-General’s role will be central not only to achieve this goal,
but the Sustainable Development Goals as a whole.
It is for these crucial reasons that the continuation and
strengthening of UNESCO’s commitment to the advancement of Article 19
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes
everyone’s right to freedom of opinion and expression, be ensured.
We, the signatories, look to your leadership as a member of the
Executive Board of UNESCO, to keep this in mind, and encourage others
to embrace these fundamental values as a priority when choosing the
next leader of UNESCO.
Thank you for your consideration and on-going service to UNESCO and
the ideals it aspires to achieve.
IFEX (119 member organizations in over 70 countries)
Global Forum for Media Development (GMFD) (66 member organizations in
over 70 countries)