“Free, independent and pluralistic media online and offline serves the premise to the achievement of all Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, but they are under tremendous challenges and treats in the converged media landscape with ICTs and Internet,” echoed by a number of participants of Action Line C9 Media meeting at the WSIS Forum 2015, 28 May 2015, Geneva.
It is the 10th year that UNESCO organized the facilitation meeting of WSIS Action Line C9 Media. The meeting was well attended by 65 participants, with a multi-stakeholder panel of 7 speakers of gender and geographical balance. The major discussion focused on the emerging trends related to media activities and how the Action Line C9 Media contributes to the Post-2015 Development agenda.
UNESCO took the occasion to present its Comprehensive Internet Study Keystones to foster inclusive Knowledge Societies by Professor William Dutton. The Study was well received by the participants and UNESCO Internet Universality principles (R.O.A.M) was considered as a comprehensive framework to envision the converged media and Internet landscape of post-2015 in promoting a Human Rights-based (including freedom of expression, privacy, etc.) and Open Internet which is Accessible to all and characterized by Multi-stakeholder participation.
Participants observed numerous challenges and threats on media freedom online and offline such as safety of journalists and bloggers, poor implementation of freedom of information laws, increasing criminalization laws of free speech, concentrated media ownerships by private sectors, editorial controlled by the states, laid-off of journalists, Internet blocking and filtering, etc.
Participants agreed that free flow of information and freed media online and offline are premises to democratic governance, peace and stability in terms of bringing inclusive civil voices and participation. Without media and Internet, no other SDGs such as eradication of poverty and equality in education can be achieved. Internet particularly contributes to bringing minority groups to get known and fosters gender equality.
Mr Frank La Rue, the former UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression highlighted that there is a lack of good regulatory model of media and it should be prioritized in the Post-2015 to base all media regulatory frameworks on solid human rights standards including freedom of expression and privacy.
Ms Aida Mahmutovic from Association of Progressive Communication stressed that gender equality needs to be preserved online, given numerous gender-based stereotypes and discriminations online, digital threats and violence against women and girls and unbalanced use of and access to Internet of women and girls in developing countries.