Tuesday, 5 May 2009

XIX builds courage under fire, envisions freedom

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PFF project XIX:

"Building courage under fire and visioning freedom in the Pacific"

Less than a year after starting, the Pacific Freedom Forum has been recognised by three major media organisations - UNESCO, the Pacific Islands News Association and the International Federation of Journalists IFEX service.

Responding to growing concerns about freedoms of information, expression and media across the region, UNESCO has agreed to partner with PFF to deliver a regional workshop on these issues.

Advocating for all island states and terrorities, PFF is in partnership with UNESCO, serving: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

UNESCO promotes freedom of expression and freedom of the press (media) as a basic human right. These rights are enshrined in Article 19 (XIX) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The UNESCO Apia Office Communication & Information (CI) Sector is supporting the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) Project XIX Workshop.

The Workshop is funded by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). More information on IPDC can be found at: www.unesco.org/webworld/ipdc

Expected results of the Workshop include:

  • increased awareness by Pacific journalists and policy makers on the rights of media workers
  • a list of existing media freedom provisions in Pacific legislation and measures to protect and enhance these provisions around World Press Freedom Day
  • agreement/launch of PFF strategic plans
  • selection of the Pacific delegate to the Global Freedom of Expression Forum in Oslo, Norway in June 2009 (http://expressionforum.org/).

Abel Caine
Adviser for Communication & Information
UNESCO Office for the Pacific States
Apia, Samoa

Original invitation for Expressions of interest:

Are you the kind of journalist who wants to be the best kind of journalist there is?

Do you want to combine your newsroom, real world experience with advocacy to help Pacific audiences get more media-savvy?

Want to take your skills to the next level with some strategic planning/thinking while you soak up the background to freedom of expression, information access and how the two make media freedom work so much fun?

Most importantly, do you want to shape and be a part of ensuring the future of independent and free media industries in the Pacific region?

If you nodded to any of the above, the Pacific Freedom Forum wants to hear from you!

Original outline

From Mon 27 April to Sun 3 May (7 days) in Suva, FIJI ISLANDS, and with the support of IPDC funds from UNESCO, SPC through its Regional Media Centre will be host venue to a two-phase regional workshop helping to support the vision of a better Pacific which rests, along with other critical issues, on the need for Pacific people to enjoy access to information about how their nations are run and how they can participate and be involved in decisions about their lives, a free and independent media, and the right to express themselves freely.

Project XIX participants will:

  • receive technical skills in campaigning and advocacy for media freedom
  • acquire in-depth understanding of Article 19 and global Human Rights commitments for regional and constitutional protection of media freedom/freedom of expression
  • join the dots on relevance of international human rights conventions for the Pacific Plan and governance issues; to what goes on in newsrooms
  • understand the rule of law in their Pacific constitutions covering Freedom of information, expression and the media; and how it applies to everyday journalism
  • share knowledge and expertise for monitoring and reporting instances of abuse of article XIX
  • gain insights on strategies to widen pressure and networks on instigators of infringements through the good practice of other media freedom advocates
  • participate in visioning for regional media initiatives to advocate Article XIX.
Original questions for EOI

1) Describe how you feel about your work in journalism, in your organisation, in one sentence?
2) What does media freedom mean to you?
3) Attendance to Article XIX denotes a commitment to be part of or help with any follow on activities aimed at promoting media freedom to the Pacific Community: why do you think this commitment is so important and how do you see Project XIX helping you to deliver on that?
4) Describe three highlights: people, stories or events that make information, expression and media freedoms so relevant to the Pacific media.

5) You have a blank cheque and the job to plan the May 3 World Press Freedom Day event in your community. Describe in a short paragraph what you propose to do, and why.

Below, email from UNESCO regards response from Fiji to hosting PFF XiX:

from Caine, Abel

16 April 2009

To all,

I have been told politely by a senior official in the Fiji Ministry of
Information that the proposed UNESCO - PFF FOE Workshop would "NOT" be welcomed.
I hope the PINA delegation will achieve more.

The informal consensus for the alternate Workshop location seems to be Apia
the week beginning Mon 4th May.
Plan B - Apia the week after Mon 11th May
Vila during the PINA Pacific Media Summit has been ruled out as time is needed between the Workshop and the Summit to formulate and present PFF's Strategic Plan.
Suva later in the year has been ruled out as we needed to hold this event sooner rather than later in order to (also) send a strong message to all PIC Govts on the vitality of media freedom.

The deadline for EOIs to attend the Workshop has closed but if you fervently believe:

a) You are a battle-scarred media freedom veteran and can strongly tell your story;

or b) You are/will be facing mortal tests to media freedom in your country and you have the capacity to learn from your Pacific colleagues and campaign like a fearless champion in your country...then tell us who you are.

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