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Nairobi Declaration: Media experts quest to boost media convergence and freedom

BUSINESS
By | May 5th 2011

By James Ratemo

African governments have been challenged to develop progressive regulatory mechanisms that allow citizens to tap into opportunities available on the Internet.

A two-day regional conference to mark World Press Freedom Day in Nairobi, sponsored by Unesco, called for laws that will mitigate the many risks that come with free flow of information from the Internet.

Experts among them media scholars and editors also underscored the need to educate the public on abundant opportunities and risks available online.


Concurring that there are extreme dangers in the continuous use of new media, the experts advised that the risks can be mitigated if governments ‘progressively facilitate a process of regulatory schemes that allows universal access and put in place laws that seek to secure and protect rights to privacy and protection of personal data.

The forum saw birth of Nairobi Declaration with seven key recommendations that would boost quest for media convergence and enhance freedom of the press.

“Stakeholders should endeavor to develop progressive regulatory mechanism in line with international best practices that guarantee exploitation of opportunities offered by the internet that mitigate the latching risks…progressive governments should not invest in surveillance, blocking and filtering technologies for it is most likely to be a futile process. Such available resources could be invested towards universal access and reduction of connection costs,” reads the declaration in part.
The declaration resonates with a call by United Nations urging governments do everything to counter impunity and to protect the safety of journalists.


In a joint statement on World Freedom Day by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, said new threats are arising including older forms of restriction to pose form ‘to block, filter and censor information’ emerging every day.

They trio said the United Nations is dedicated to ensuring that the Internet becomes a truly global public resource, to which all have access and where all voices are heard.

According to the United Nations’ statistics, over the last decade, more than 500 journalists lost their lives in the pursuit of their profession with sixty killings reported worldwide in 2010 alone.

World Press Freedom Day was born twenty years ago in the vision of a group of journalists gathered in Windhoek, Namibia.
The Windhoek Declaration was a call to arms to protect the fundamental principles of the freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration Human Rights.

The Nairobi-Declaration

World Press Freedom Day 2011 at Laico Regency, May 3rd-4th May 2011

 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers

1. That in an environment of high convergence-with complex
juxtaposition between telecommunication and broadcasting, the old
models of regulations are being challenged and rendered on obsolete, stakeholders should endeavor to develop progressive regulatory mechanism in line with international best practices that guarantee exploitation of opportunities offered by the internet that mitigate the latching risks.


2. That progressive governments should not invest in surveillance, blocking and filtering technologies for it is most likely to be a futile process. Such available resources could be invested towards universal access and reduction of connection costs. 

 3. That there are extreme risks in the continuous use of new media but these risks can be mitigated if public is made aware through targeted actions like:
(a) Governments to progressively facilitate a process of regulatory schemes that allows universal access.


(b) That the governments put in place laws that seek to secure and protect rights to privacy and protection of personal data.
(c) That the media, both traditional and new media to start aggressive outreach processes to educate public on opportunities and risks within
the new media.

4. That all participants of UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Conference in Nairobi be hooked online together. This †can be done through:
(a)  List serve(group emails);
(b)  A joint face book page †where all presentations and discussions and photographs of the conference will be posted and all media stories published about the conference be linked.

5. That a person outside UNESCO be identified to follow up and manage these platforms as an ongoing project where editors, reporters, scholars and stakeholders can engage on development in the new media.

6. That political ownership of media be regulated to safeguard public interest, and ensure they do not use the public spaces to advance their own political interests.

7. That we strongly condemn the continuing killing, jailing and
harassment in the region and urge all governments to take action to
safeguard press freedom and guarantee the safety and security of media practitioners.

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