UNESCO, the UNSMIL and the nongovernmental organization Search for Common Ground are organizing workshops to facilitate dialogue between Libyan media professionals and officials of the Libyan Ministries of Defense, Interior, Justice, and Information as well as members of the General National Congress Committees on Security and Media.
A two-day workshop–targeting some 15 public and private broadcast, print and online journalists and an equal number of government and congressional officials — was held on 23 and 24 February at the Al Waddan Hotel in Tripoli. Additional key institutions, such as the National High Elections Commission and the Prime Minister’s Office, have also been invited to participate.
Topics to be addressed in the workshop include: the role of the media in democracy, conflict and peace; threats and challenges faced by media and security forces; common ground between media and security forces and best practices in safety of journalists, drawing on regional experiences.
The programme aims to improve the free flow of information to the Libyan public, promote a safer operating environment for media and facilitate public debate on freedom of expression and the role of media practitioners, as well as security and justice officials in an environment recently marked by increasing attacks on the media. It is part of a broader on-going capacity-building programme of support for the Libyan government and media. The programme is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency and the Finnish Development Cooperation.
The need for such dialogue is particularly urgent in Libya, where decades of authoritarian control and censorship have prevented media practitioners from developing the professional competencies they need. Likewise, officials need to develop their skills in working with the media in the interest of transparency and accountability. Moreover, both media and security forces face widespread public misperceptions and mistrust.
Since the 17th of February Revolution, capacity development has become a priority to support the media and those in contact with it.
A team of experts from Search for Common Ground with experience in using dialogue to address conflict in the MENA region facilitated the workshops, with support from specialized trainers from the Tunisian Ministry of Interior Affairs.