Media stakeholders have motivated for freedom of expression and independent media to be considered in the “Sustainable Development Goals” being debated at the United Nations.
The motivation is in a declaration called the Bali Road Map, adopted by more than 300 participants on Thursday, 28 August 2014 at a conference titled “Global Media Forum: The Role of Media in Realizing the Future We Want For All”, with the hashtag #media4future.
Coming from more than 40 different countries, the participants included 50 speakers who discussed issues ranging from investigative journalism, ethics, gender equality, and media and information literacy.
The event also included 75 young people from 22 countries across the Asia and Pacific, who took part in an earlier training programme about media and civic participation and then operated a youth newsroom during the proceedings.
UNESCO and Indonesia’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology were co-hosts of the Global Media Forum. Collaborating bodies were the Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO, Indonesian Press Council and the UN Information Centre.
Closing the conference, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova described freedom of expression as “a force for innovation, for poverty eradication, for the rule of law, for good governance”, and as essential to sustainable development.
She cited the decision by UNESCO Member States at the 2013 UNESCO General Conference that “freedom of expression and universal access to knowledge and its preservation -- including, among others, through free, pluralistic and independent media, both offline and online -- [are] indispensable elements for flourishing democracies and to foster citizen participation [and must be] reflected in the post-2015 development agenda”.
The Bali Road Map calls on UNESCO to take forward the call for free expression and independent media to be part of the SDGs, with the Organization’s Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the UN’s Open Working Group, and to other international and regional organisations.
The Road Map also encourages media outlets, media professionals and social media users to raise awareness about how free expression relates to development, and to generate information about development issues.
It urges governments “to respect freedom of expression, including press freedom and the right to seek and receive information, as fundamental rights as well as enablers of the post-2015 development agenda goals”.