The nature of conflict in the world has changed, and along with it the relationship between the media and society. Modern technologies, while presenting new opportunities for the collection of information and the dissemination of reporting, also present new dangers. Trolls and bots can now help “false news” and “hate speech” to propagate in the digital sphere threatening security and stability of societies. Yet, maintaining a free press has never been more important. Disinformation, censorship, and attacks on investigative reporters endanger it by destroying trust and accountability between and within our nations and democratic institutions. When these negative phenomena are sponsored by governments through state-run media or by proxy, they become especially worrying, threatening our security by destroying our societies and denying our human rights.
Ukraine is facing a difficult period in which challenges to press freedom crop up regularly, while the media landscape remains fragmented and fraught with risks both internal and external. The conflict situation with its hybrid threats only heightens the stakes, making it more important than ever that citizens have access to quality reporting, and reporters remain safe and uncensored.
For this reason, the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media is organizing a major expert conference in Kyiv centred on a discussion of freedom of expression, media best practices, and maintaining a free press in the situation of conflict. The aim of this conference is to bring together creative and active voices from across sectors in Ukraine’s media and civil society community, and support the dedication of experts and practitioners to Ukraine’s international media freedom commitments. We hope this conference will allow us to learn and share best practices, promote high professional standards and enhance solidarity among journalists. The conference will also create a much-needed platform for cooperation between Ukraine’s civil society sector and media organizations, giving them an opportunity to advocate for media freedom together.
The event will also offer national authorities guidance as they strive to protect freedom of expression and media freedom during times of conflict and propaganda while respecting the relevant OSCE commitments and international standards. The Ukrainian authorities closely cooperate with the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media year-round, providing us with valuable expertise and assisting us in our joint effort to enhance the implementation of media freedom commitments.
Speakers at this conference draw from across the media, civil society and policy-making communities. Media professionals, government and civil society representatives, intergovernmental officers, renowned international experts and journalists will discuss the challenges they face, and suggest ways to promote freedom of expression, access to quality information and freedom of the media in Ukraine, in particular in times of the current conflict.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media intends to come up with recommendations to the authorities and media organizations of Ukraine based on the forthcoming discussions in Kyiv.
The EFJ GS Ricardo Gutiérrez will speak on the session on journalists’ safety.