During the Paris Peace Forum in November 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted that an international effort is needed to defend a free press, protect journalists, and ensure freedom of expression. The Prime Minister signed Reporters Without Borders’ international declaration on information and democracy.
This week, Canada continues to show its international commitment to the protection of media freedom as co-host of the first Global Conference for Media Freedom.
Representatives from more than 100 countries today concluded the Global Conference in London, United Kingdom. During the two-day conference ministers, heads of international institutions, and more than 1000 members of the press, academics and civil society organizations addressed issues related to media freedom and its advancement and protection worldwide.
Canada and the United Kingdom presented a Global Pledge on Media Freedom that commits like-minded countries to working together on identifying and acting on violations and abuses of the rights of members of the press.
On World Press Freedom Day, Canada announced $12 million for the organisation Journalists for Human Rights. Today Canada is announcing another $10 million annually to promote and protect democracy.
This funding will focus on: supporting electoral processes; reinforcing democratic practices by combatting disinformation and strengthening civic engagement. An initial $1 million will go to the new Global Media Defence Fund, housed at UNESCO.
Also at the conference, the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom was launched, which includes the Honourable Irwin Cotler, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. The Panel is mandated with providing advice and recommendations for legal and policy mechanisms to protect media freedom.
Canada will host the second Global Conference for Media Freedom in 2020.
“We need to defend our independent press—even, and perhaps especially, when it criticizes us—as a central institution of democracy. We need to fight for the open society, against the closed one. We need to fight for the complexity of democratic truth, rather than the beguiling simplicity of authoritarian rhetoric. That is what we have done at this conference and what we have committed to doing, with our likeminded partners, in the days ahead.”
- Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs