UNESCO promotes freedom of expression and freedom of the press as a basic human right, through sensitization and monitoring activities. It also fosters media independence and pluralism as prerequisites and major factors of democratization, peace and tolerance-building by providing advisory services on media legislation and sensitizing governments, parliamentarians and other decision-makers.
Press Freedom on All Platforms
As the UN agency with a specific mandate to foster freedom of expression, and its corollaries, press freedom and freedom of information, UNESCO sees these rights as crucial foundations of democracy, development and dialogue, and as preconditions for protecting and promoting all other human rights.
UNESCO facilitates multi-stakeholder dialogue and mobilises advisory services toward legal and regulatory environments conducive to freedom of expression. Our actions seek to develop, following international standards, press laws, freedom of information legislation and a framework enabling freedom of expression on the Internet.
Advancing press freedom across all types of media includes monitoring, sensitisation and advocacy efforts, such as the annual celebration World Press Freedom Day on 3 May and the awarding of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Besides, the Organization also contributes to strengthening professional standards through capacity-building and self-regulation mechanisms (such as codes of ethics, press councils and in-house news ombuds).
In all this, UNESCO follows a gender-sensitive approach and pays special attention to countries undergoing conflict, post-conflict, and transition situations.
Freedom of Expression in Brazil
Brazil has experienced the establishment of a ‘post redemocratisation’ constitutional framework that undoubtedly grants freedom of speech and the press. The country has prepared the ground for the establishment of a social communication system in alignment with the most advanced international regimes in the field.
Brazil’s Federal Constitution guarantees to the Brazilians broad access to information from different and multiple sources within a democratic environment where freedom of speech and the press is ensured. However, the country still faces some gaps in the media regulatory framework.
The 1988 Constitution counts on sub-constitutional legislation dated from 1962. Therefore it does not respond to the new Brazilian social and political challenges or to the technological revolution gone through the communication and information sector of today. The country still needs to go further in diversifying its information sources, expanding them to government and community communication channels.
UNESCO cooperates with various organisations that develop actions in the fields of guaranteeing freedom of expression and the press, media monitoring, editorial staff qualification, and inspection. They also foster discussions on public communication policies and advocacy actions aiming at producing transformation in a broad range of media-related affairs.
Media Development in Brazil
UNESCO’s approach to media development includes tailored activities that are context-sensitive, and which also take account of the challenges and opportunities created by the rapidly changing media environment. The special-purpose International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) is a unique multilateral forum in the UN system that mobilises the international community to support media in developing countries through a grant-making process.
IPDC’s Council, comprising 39 UNESCO member states, is also the forum where UNESCO’s Director-General submits a Report on The Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
The IPDC Media Development Indicators (MDI) is a comprehensive research tool that highlights gaps in media development and so informs public policy and donor strategies. The MDI research findings, along with the reports on thousands of IPDC projects to date, add to IPDC’s initiative for “knowledge-driven media development”.
Supporting journalism education is an essential part of developing a free and independent media, and UNESCO promotes excellence in journalism schools worldwide and innovative curricula to assist the teaching of new subject areas and literacies for journalists.
Professional Journalistic Standards and Code of Ethics
UNESCO has a resource section that is public knowledge on media accountability issues and provides an overview of existing media accountability mechanisms in various countries. It also offers relevant media standards for different countries concerning freedom of expression; access to information; and ethical and professional standards in journalism. It features principally three thematic sections:
- Media Legislation and Regulations, Regulatory Bodies, Codes of Ethics
- Series on Journalism Education
Media Development in Brazil
Brazil’s Federal Constitution guarantees to the Brazilians broad access to information from different and multiple sources within a democratic environment where freedom of speech and the press is ensured. The reality shows that the country still has a long way to go in terms of diversifying its information sources, also by expanding it to government and community communication channels.
Besides commercial media, with around 500 mass media vehicles, the 1988 Federal Constitution provides for the existence of two other systems: a state-owned one and a public one. It comprises those vehicles aimed at disseminating information on the activities performed by public authorities and, therefore, they would be committed to the programmatic guidelines of the leaders of such bodies.
- Brazil has recently established a model of Public Communication Corporation, financed by the Federal Government, but with institutional guarantees of freedom; and also the existence of a broad segment known as the community media.
- Institutional media owned by the Legislative and Judiciary Branches at the federal, state and municipal levels have also increased, which have contributed to improving access to the information produced by those actors.
Capacity building of media professionals in Brazil
There is an obvious and increasing concern in the Brazilian context with the efficacy, and efficiency of higher education courses in journalism, especially regarding their ability to qualify press professionals capable of covering the sophisticated agendas of human rights and human development.
- There is a need for improving the quality of training centres producing future journalists and expanding the supply of tools for the cooperative efforts with editorial staff – especially of the community media – directed at ensuring coverage more attuned to the human rights agenda.
Safety of Journalists in Brazil
Promoting the safety of journalists and combatting impunity for those who attack them are central elements within UNESCO´s support for press freedom on all media platforms.
Consequently, UNESCO is committed to advancing freedom of press and safety of journalists, both offline and online, through a variety of actions. These include awareness-raising, promoting partnerships and co-ordination of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists.
Since 1997, UNESCO’s Director-General has condemned each killing of a journalist, and every two years compiles a Report on The Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity to the Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).