‘Media for Democracy’ at the heart of World Press Freedom Day celebration in Beirut

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03 May 2019
‘Media for Democracy’ at the heart of World Press Freedom Day celebration in Beirut
“The rights to free and fair elections and to freedom of expression are vital in democracies…This year, the UN is furthering the vital relationship between the media and the fulfillment of the SDGs,” said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon Philippe Lazzarini at a Beirut conference on World Press Freedom Day. He highlighted the UN in Lebanon’s long-standing commitment to realizing press freedom through different activities and projects.

The conference, entitled, “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation” was organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Regional Office in Beirut (UNESCO Beirut) and the Ministry of Information, in collaboration with the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Beirut and Media Association for Peace (MAP) and JUSTICIA NGOs.

In his opening statement, UNESCO Beirut Director Hamad Al Hammami said that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and the basis of all other civil rights. “At a time when some governments are imposing restrictions to curb freedom of expression, it is necessary to call for the provision of free, independent and pluralistic media, where journalism is practiced without any fear of aggression, and can participate effectively in shaping a functioning democracy,” he added.

 The event featured three interactive working sessions on the limitations and obstacles to freedom of expression, the role of media in contributing to a culture of sustainable peace and democracy, and the media in the Internet and Social Media. 

Around 100 journalists, media professionals, academics, activists, judges and prosecutors, as well as ambassadors and representatives of UN agencies in Lebanon participated in the conference, which generated optimum media coverage. 

According to one of the panelists, “the existence of free and independent media is a prerequisite for the proper functioning of democracies.” 

“A journalist is a not a peace activist. His duty is to inform people and convey the information even if it contains violent content. However, such information must be delivered in a way that avoids polarization and favors peace,” said another participant engaged in the discussions.