UNESCO and Al Jazeera to promote freedom of expression in the Arab world


At the end of last year, UNESCO and Al Jazeera Satellite Network have signed an agreement to promote freedom of expression and access to information in the Arab world. UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova and Al Jazeera’s Director General, Wadah Khanfar, signed the Memorandum of Understanding in Doha (Qatar) during Ms Bokova’s official visit to the country.

“This agreement advances a new kind of partnership UNESCO is establishing with media organizations,” said Ms Bokova. “The UN charter proclaims the promotion of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. As a leading source of news and information about the Arab world and beyond, Al Jazeera is well positioned to uphold these principles in this region.”

Advocacy and awareness-raising are key components of the agreement. The partnership will research the status of the freedom of expression in the Arab region and share findings through Al Jazeera news and programmes.

World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2011 will be an annual focal point of the two-year agreement. UNESCO and Al Jazeera will work together to host a series of events to mark the Day, including documentary films and photojournalism exhibitions.

To further encourage freedom of expression, a correspondent who has demonstrated exceptional professionalism and courage while covering armed conflict or natural disaster will be awarded a trophy at the Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival. The award will be funded by Al Jazeera and UNESCO will be part of the selection committee.