Monday, January 08, 2007

Towards a Free, Pluralistic, Vibrant Media in Iraq

An International Conference on Freedom of Expression and Media Development in Iraq will take place from 8 to 10 January at UNESCO Paris Headquarters. The conference is organized by the Communications and Media Commission of Iraq (CMC)* in cooperation with UNESCO and UNDP. A session will be devoted to journalists who have risked – and in all too many cases lost – their lives to cover events in Iraq.

The Conference will provide a forum for debate, reflection and analysis of different issues concerning the Iraqi media landscape and its development needs, addressing such themes as: journalist safety; international assistance; ownership, editorial independence, pluralism; professional standards; human and institutional capacity building and gender issues; markets and commercial sustainability; public service broadcasting; regulatory frameworks and legislation.

With the recent constitution of Iraq’s first permanent government, it is an ideal time to meet again and to take stock of the most pressing challenges faced by Iraqi journalists and media outlets. Furthermore, there remains a great deal to do in terms of journalist protection and capacity-building.

The consensus of opinion is that a conference should be held to refocus attention on challenges faced by Iraqi media, and that the chances of success of such a conference would increase with the involvement of United Nations organizations-players with the objectivity and gravitas to encourage all parties to work together toward common goals.
Some 180-200 participants, including a delegation of Iraqi media professionals, international NGOs and other implementing organizations, donors, Iraqi government officials and other policy makers are expected to attend the event.

*The Communications and Media Commission of Iraq (CMC) was established in mid-2004 under Iraqi law as the independent regulatory body with exclusive authority to license and regulate broadcasting and telecommunications in Iraq. In addition to these regulatory responsibilities, the law obliges the CMC to work towards developing media in Iraq - including print, internet and other media - in accordance with internationally-accepted best practices and requirements of international law for freedom of expression and media independence.

© Photo: UNESCO/ Giovanni Boccardi, Iraki TV, UNESCO provided equipment and trained staff

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