The secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Christophe Deloire, was received on September 18th by South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House, the presidential office in Seoul. This meeting is focused on the Information and Democracy initiative launched by RSF, which recently gained support from the G7 countries. Based on an International Declaration adopted last November, this project aims to bring democratic safeguards in the global communication and information space and promote news trustworthiness.
“The Republic of Korea endorses the International Declaration on Information and Democracy and wishes to join the Partnership for Information and Democracy, the intergovernmental coalition designed to implement the declaration,” said President Moon, who also praised RSF for their “continued efforts in improving press freedom throughout the world.”
“We are delighted that our project received President Moon’s support and we hope that through this future cooperation South Korea will cement its place as a beacon of democracy and press freedom in Asia,” Deloire said.
The delegation included RSF East-Asia Bureau’s Head Cédric Alviani and Development Manager Hsiang-yi Tang, the RSF South Korean correspondent Kim Hye-kyeong, the president of Journalists’ Association of Korea (JAK), Jung Kyu Sung and its director Kim Yongman. JAK, a partner of RSF, has more than 10,000 journalists from 187 media companies as members. During their visit to Seoul, the RSF delegation also met with Seoul National University’s Institute of Communication Research, Korea Press Foundation, and Korea Democracy Foundation, who were invited to join the Information and Democracy initiative.
The initiative started as a commission of 25 prominent figures from 18 nationalities, including Nobel laureates Shirin Ebadi, Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz and Mario Vargas Llosa, who wrote an International Declaration establishing basic principles for the global information and communication space that is defined as a “common good of humankind.” The Declaration sets out democratic guarantees for the freedom, independence, pluralism and reliability of information at a time when the public space has been globalised, digitalised and destabilised.
This Declaration was endorsed in November 2018 in a joint statement by the heads of state or government of 12 democratic countries and supported by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland. The initiative recently received the support of the G-7 members during the Biarritz Summit in France, and around 20 countries are expected to officially sign the Partnership during the United Nations’ General Assembly at the end of September.
In July 2017, during a previous mission of RSF, President Moon’s administration pledged for South Korea to rank 30th in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index by 2022. South Korea has recently improved spectacularly in this index, from the 70th rank in 2016 to the 41st rank out of 180 countries and territories in 2019.