The Paris-based international NGO is making this important and concrete contribution at a time of very specific historic circumstances, in which humankind is facing major and unprecedented challenges.
“The great problems confronting humankind and democratic systems cannot be addressed without freely-reported, independent and reliable news and information,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “We are working on a global mobilization based on concrete solutions, at a disturbing time in which the number of the world’s democracies is starting to decline.”
In message posted on the UN website to mark International Day of Democracy, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said: “Democracy is showing greater strain than at any time in decades. That is why this International Day should make us look for ways to invigorate democracy and seek answers for the systemic challenges it faces.”
RSF has been working in this direction in recent months, launching a series of innovative, concrete and complementary initiatives designed to strengthen freely-reported, independent and reliable news and information, without which proper democracies cannot exist.
On 11 September, 70 years after the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris, RSF announced the creation of an “Information and Democracy Commission” tasked with drafting an International Declaration on Information and Democracy that will be a point of reference for the provision of democratic guarantees for information and freedom of opinion.
Chaired by Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and RSF’s Deloire, the commission comprises 25 prominent figures of 18 nationalities. The initiative’s ultimate goal is an international commitment by governments, private-sector companies and civil society representatives to be based on the Declaration and to be called the “International Pledge on Information and Democracy.”
In April, RSF launched a “Journalism Trust Initiative” with the aim of promoting journalistic methods and ethics and editorial independence by giving concrete advantages (especially economic advantages and more visibility) to news media that adhere to these standards. A work plan was adopted on 23 May by more than 80 media outlets, publishers’ associations, journalists’ unions, digital platforms and regulatory entities. The next working session will be held in Paris on 5 October.
The defence and promotion of journalism, which plays a key role in democracies, also means protecting journalists. Ever since the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2222 in May 2015, RSF has been coordinating the #ProtectJournalists campaign for the appointment of a special representative of the UN secretary-general for the protection of journalists. This campaign, which is backed by a growing number of governments and by 130 media outlets, journalists’ unions and NGOs around the world, has already led to the appointment by the UN secretary-general of 14 focal points with responsibility for journalists’ safety in key UN agencies and departments.