A unique institution promoting media freedom
By Leonid Kozhara,Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and OSCE’s Chairperson-in-Office in 2013
I would like to express my congratulations on the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media – a unique OSCE Institution, promoting freedom of expression and free media in our region.
The Ukrainian Chairmanship welcomes the achievements of the Office over the years and highly values its important contribution to securing an environment where the media can work freely, effectively and without fear. Under the terms of two previous Representatives, Mr Freimut Duve and Mr Miklós Haraszti, and the present leadership of Ms Dunja Mijatović the Office of the RFoM has become the foremost Institution dedicated to monitoring media developments in all OSCE participating States and providing early warning on violations of media freedom in the region.
Efficient implementation of the OSCE commitments in the area of media freedom remains an integral part of the OSCE’s concept of comprehensive security. The important role played by free media in ensuring full respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy, including free and fair elections, and the rule of law was recognized most recently by the heads of state and government of all participating States at the 2010 OSCE Summit in Astana.
The Ukrainian OSCE Chairmanship has identified media freedom as one of its priorities for 2013. We recognize that the freedom and independence of the media is a cornerstone of a democratic society and a vital component in the protection of all other rights and freedoms. The Chairmanship secured agreement between participating States on the Human Dimension Seminar on Media Freedom Legal Framework which provided a platform to discuss the pressing issues of media freedom domestically and internationally, particularly in the context of legislative framework that should guarantee and foster this freedom. This has been one of very few events on media freedom within the OSCE to which all participating States agreed by consensus.
Despite impressive development of international standards regarding the promotion and protection of freedom of expression over the last years, a number of challenges still remain. Violence against journalists, criminalization of defamation, government control over the media, limits on the right to information are among the most prevalent issues that need to be addressed. Apart from this, new challenges have arisen due to rapid technological and social developments. Without properly addressing existing and potential challenges it is hardly possible to promote comprehensive security and, therefore, to build lasting peace and stability in the OSCE region.
We welcome the fact that the Office of the RFoM is seeking ways to address old and new challenges in an independent, comprehensive and result-oriented manner – through dialogue, exchange of best practices and project activities. The impartial exercise of functions throughout the OSCE area lends credibility to the recommendations of the Representative on Freedom of the Media.
Today, we would like to once again reaffirm the importance that we attach to the work of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and to give our full support to her mandate. We find it particularly essential that constructive cooperation is maintained between the Office and the OSCE participating States in addressing the issues related to the implementation of the OSCE commitments on freedom of expression and free media. My country, Ukraine, has always enjoyed fruitful cooperation with the Representative’s office, which we highly value.
As we mark the 15th anniversary of this Institution, I would like to call upon all participating States to ensure that the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media remains as relevant, useful and authoritative in the next years as it has been until now.
I wish the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media every success in the future endeavours!