Guest Blogs

Leonid Kozhara

A unique institution promoting media freedom | Leonid Kozhara
I would like to express my congratulations on the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media ... Read full article
Guest Blogs

William Horsley

Media freedom requires that the state must stay out of the ring  | William Horsley
Once, it seemed that things could only get better. But then somehow they got worse again. That is my shorthand summary of the path of media freedom in the past 15 years. Read full article
Guest Blogs

Begaim Usenova

Kyrgyzstan’s Media Law | Begaim Usenova
In 2010, defamation was decriminalized in Kyrgyzstan. This step was perceived in the world as political will of the country’s leadership to ensure the citizens’ right for freedom of expression and opinion.. Read full article
Guest Blogs

Christian Möller

“From Quill to Cursor”* and 140 Characters | Christian Möller
When I first joined the Office of the OSCE Media Freedom Representative in the summer of 2002, a colleague of mine – a senior U.S. diplomat – asked whether I knew “how to google” ... Read full article
Guest Blogs

Galina Arapova

Freedom of expression: development, trial, protection | Galina Arapova
In recent years we have seen a rapid change in media environment, we were lucky to witness an unprecedented technological and informational progress.. Read full article
Guest Blogs

Johan Hallenborg

Freedom of expression set to turbo mode | Johan Hallenborg
Swedes are a pretty tech savvy bunch. We like cool, new, shiny gadgets, too. And we start early: last year, half of all three-year-olds in Sweden were on the net... Read full article
Guest Blogs

Alison Bethel McKenzie

A great threat to media freedom | Alison Bethel McKenzie
The International Press Institute (IPI), the world’s oldest global media freedom organization, is pleased to mark 15 years since the establishment of the Office ... Read full article
Guest Blogs

Timothy Karr

The Internet’s Growing Pains | Timothy Karr
At 15, the OSCE’s office for media freedom is now half the age of the modern Internet. In 1983, engineers of what was then known as the ARPANET switched over to a communications ... Read full article
Guest Blogs

Dr. Agnes Callamard

The keys to improve the media freedom situation in the OSCE region and beyond the next 15 years | Dr. Agnes Callamard
The information technology revolution of the last two decades has profoundly transformed print and broadcast media, journalism, the production of news... Read full article
Guest Blogs

Marietje Schaake

Saving the open Internet requires protecting the rights of its users | Marietje Schaake
Technological developments and the open Internet have led to revolutionary changes and the potential of emancipating individuals, bottom up... Read full article

15 Years of the Representative on Freedom of the Media

Free expression and free media are basic human rights. The Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media was established in December 1997 to protect them.

Dunja Mijatovic

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and promotes full compliance with OSCE press freedom commitments.

A great threat to media freedom

By Alison Bethel McKenzie, IPI Executive Director

The International Press Institute (IPI), the world’s oldest global media freedom organization, is pleased to mark 15 years since the establishment of the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the world’s only inter-governmental media watchdog.

IPI was one of a handful of non-governmental media freedom organizations that participated in the 1997 dialogue that led to the creation of the position and its mandate. That mandate – to strengthen the observance of freedom of expression and freedom of the media in participating OSCE states – is today as important as ever, perhaps nowhere more so than when it comes to journalists’ safety.

Of the many threats to media freedom, violent attacks on journalists and the impunity with which those crimes are too often met are the gravest. Those who threaten or attack journalists seek to silence them through intimidation. By ruthlessly censoring journalists and promoting self-censorship, they strike directly at the foundation of democracy, depriving the electorate of the ability to make informed decisions and ensure accountability.

According to IPI’s Death Watch, approximately 1,325 journalists have died around the world in connection with their work since 1997, when IPI began its count. That number, which recently has increased by greater numbers each succeeding year, includes 159 journalists in participating OSCE states, including three who died so far in 2013 in Russia as the result of violent attacks.

It does not, however, include the many other assaults on journalists across the world and throughout the OSCE region, or the even more numerous threats too many journalists face as they do their jobs. In the last 12 months alone, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović has spoken out against threats or attacks on journalists in countries within the OSCE region, including Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Ukraine, Germany, Kosovo, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Northern Ireland and Serbia. IPI is proud of Mijatović and her staff’s unwavering commitment, and the force with which Mijatović addresses each issue in each country on behalf of journalists and the people’s right to know.

Non-governmental organizations like IPI work with actors like journalists and members of civil society to do our part to combat these violations and to promote freedom of expression. But every international accord addressing journalists’ safety puts the impetus for action directly on governments. Unlike the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the work of the world’s other freedom of expression/press freedom rapporteurs’ depends on each individual’s particular skills in raising the necessary funds to carry it out his or her mandate and on the will of states to accept their scrutiny.

The dedicated and institutionalized nature of the OSCE Representative’s role in monitoring relevant media developments in the region and assisting participating states in implementing their media freedom commitments, including ensuring journalists’ safety, therefore creates a powerful structure to effect meaningful change. As such, the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media plays an invaluable role, one that IPI hopes it will continue to perform for many years into the future.