The United Nations made a promise in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to promote free and independent media around the world. Citizens cannot “seek, receive and impart information and ideas, through any medium, regardless of frontiers” without access to a vibrant media sphere, including a free and open internet.
But how does the UN interpret and act upon this obligation? How is that changing? And how can the UN help create a more effective response to the profound challenges confronting independent media?
This report examines the myriad ways that the agencies and bodies of the United Nations support the development of healthy media systems. Author Bill Orme highlights the role of four UN organizations in particular—UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF, and DPO—and makes recommendations targeted to these agencies, as well as to UN member states and donors.
● The UN should promote greater coordination among the UN agencies active in the media sector, following on the successes from the UN Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists. UNESCO and UNDP, in particular, have untapped synergies in this field.
● In post-conflict states, the UN’s mandate should explicitly include support for public access to information and the protection of journalists and independent media in those countries
● In their support for 2030 Agenda implementation, member states should prioritize a broader and freer flow of public information on both the national and global levels on progress toward every 17 SDGs and their 169 associated targets
● Bilateral and multilateral development programs should help accelerate the implementation of the SDG 16.10 (which commits all UN members to “protect fundamental freedoms,” including press freedom) by supporting voluntary national assessments of the status and effectiveness of access-to-information laws and the overall enabling environment for independent media.
What is the UN doing to protect everyone’s right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, through any medium, regardless of frontiers”? That is a promise its founders made in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,1. This report surveys the UN’s myriad contributions to the development of independent and plural media systems around the world and puts forward recommendations for strengthening the UN’s role in media development.
This is one of a series of background papers exploring the entry points for more effective international cooperation in the media sector.2
Media development, according to the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), refers to “evolution and change in the fields of news media and communications.”3 According to CIMA, “such change relates to a range of institutions, practices, and behaviors including the rule of law, freedoms of expression and press, education systems for journalists, business environments, capacities of journalists and managers, as well as support for a diversity of views in society.”
For many, “the UN” refers first and foremost to the actions, decisions, and declarations of the 193 member countries whose diplomats sit on the Security Council and General Assembly, and only secondarily, to the many professionally staffed agencies, offices, commissions, and other affiliated bodies that carry out those countries’ directives and do most of the UN’s work.
It is only a small subset of these professionally staffed bodies, which comprise what is known as the “UN system,” that are directly involved with UN projects and policies aimed at or relevant to the strengthening of news media and public access to information.4 However, it is the representatives of the nation-states that fund and oversee UN institutions—not UN officials—who ultimately determine UN priorities in all areas, including media development.
Support for the independence and effectiveness of news media can be especially problematic for intergovernmental organizations. Few governments welcome the scrutiny of a free and professional press. Fewer still consider it their obligation to help strengthen its independence or effectiveness.
Yet despite those constraints, the UN has played a large and growing role in promoting the development of professional and independent media at the country level and globally, in the adoption and understanding of international norms and standards on media freedom and access to information. This role has been reinforced by recent Security Council and General Assembly resolutions calling for joint UN action to secure better legal and physical protections for journalists working in conflict zones and to end the impunity enjoyed in many countries by those responsible for the killings and other attacks on journalists.
Still, the UN system could do more to support press freedom and media development, including through two interlinked development areas where its leadership has been essential:
1. The 2030 Agenda action plan for sustainable development, with its 17 distinct but mutually reinforcing global goals, from the eradication of extreme poverty to strengthening the rule of law; and
2. Political stabilization and nation-building efforts in post-conflict nations and regions, beginning with the UN-authorized peacekeeping missions.
The 2030 Agenda Action Plan for Sustainable Development
The UN is compelled to support media development by virtue of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms in its Article 19 the right of everyone everywhere “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, through any medium, regardless of frontiers.”
That bedrock principle, with its prescient anticipation of new borderless information technologies, was incorporated almost verbatim into the later, formally binding International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),5 to which the majority of UN member states are parties to.
Upholding that global commitment to freedom of expression and information is the responsibility of all UN officials and institutions. That obligation was further reinforced by the unanimous 2015 adoption by the 193 UN member states of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),6 in which the signatories pledged in Target 10 of SDG 16 (SDG16.10) to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms.”
Progress toward this and the other global goals will be monitored formally and publicly by the UN from now through the year 2030, based on reporting from its member states. In the case of SDG16.10, the indicators include the adoption and implementation of access-to-information laws and assessments of the safety of working journalists, as measured by incidents of unlawful or punitive detention and targeted assassinations of news media personnel.
The first of these periodic official reports on SDG 16 will be provided by member states to the UN in 2019. In many countries, journalism groups and civil society organizations will also be issuing independent parallel or so-called shadow reports on national compliance with these 2030 Agenda freedom-of-information commitments.
Through this process of regular public monitoring of press freedom and public access to information on the national level, the UN system will be promoting what could become a major new chapter in media development, focused ultimately not just on independent news organizations or government information offices but on the actual availability of all kinds of development-relevant information to ordinary citizens around the world.
Toward that end, some UN agencies—most directly UNESCO and UNDP—are assisting governments as well as civil society groups in raising awareness and promoting compliance in these SDG-linked freedom of information commitments. Many of the latter organizations are wholly or largely media-oriented, such as the scores of national NGOs affiliated with the IFEX (formerly known as the International Freedom of Expression Exchange) and the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD). In July 2019, as part of its now-annual High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the UN held its first formal review of progress by all 193 member states in the 10 interlinked components of SDG16. This review included an assessment of access to information and the protection of journalists, with numerous panels and official UN and national reports publicly examining these media development commitments. It was the first time that these topics had been taken up in such a high-level General Assembly forum.7 Led by UNESCO, these agencies are also collaborating on the implementation of the 2012 UN Plan for Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
On a policy and advocacy level, the most important UN collaborator with UNESCO in UN initiatives on the protection of journalists and progress on SDG16.10 is the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The OHCHR was established by the General Assembly in 1993, with headquarters in Geneva and a growing global network of field offices.
Of all the senior UN officials who report directly to the secretary general, it is the high commissioner for human rights who has the mandate most relevant to media development, with responsibility for monitoring compliance with the commitments of member states to freedom of expression and information under Article 19 of the ICCPR. The OHCHR (also known publicly as “UN Human Rights”) also supports press freedom on the local level through its mandate to provide “technical expertise” on human rights issues to governments and to help individuals to “claim their rights.”
The high commissioner’s chief advisor in this area is the OHCHR rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression, whose advocacy activities and scholarly reports have had a significant impact on policy debates in the UN system and in regional multilateral bodies as well.8 These OHCHR rapporteurs have collaborated increasingly closely with their counterparts in the African Union, the Organization of American States, and the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), meeting frequently and issuing joint statements on key issues. In its collaboration with UNESCO, the OHCHR is responsible for monitoring violence and repression against journalists and press freedom advocates, as called for in the agreed UN indicators for SDG16.10 on public access to information and the protection of “fundamental freedoms.”
Yet the mandate of the OHCHR is largely limited to its public advocacy and reporting functions, with UN policy set formally by the member states in the separate and politically problematic UN Human Rights Council, to which OHCHR provides research, policy advice, and administrative support. OHCHR’s operational effectiveness in support of independent media is further constrained by a limited budget in this area.
Political Stabilization and Nation-Building
Collectively, the UN agencies have by far the greatest potential impact on media development in countries with current or recent UN peacekeeping missions, where the UN has both the resources and the international mandate to engage in long-term nation-building assistance.
In a number of instances, the periodic Security Council reauthorizations of peacekeeping and successor peacebuilding missions have added specific references to media support to the tasks assigned to these UN operations, though this is not yet the norm. But under the general rubric of democratic governance aid—including technical and financial support for election processes and oversight bodies—many UN post-conflict country missions have engaged in a wide range of media support activities. These UN activities range from working with governments and journalism groups to set ground rules for media access to public institutions and events to the drafting of constitutional safeguards for press freedom to funding and training for nonprofit national and community broadcasters.
There is also an increasingly important convergence between these UN post-conflict national rebuilding and political stabilization interventions and the SDGs, especially in the fulfillment of the 10-target cluster of SDG16 commitments to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions ”—a mandate that includes the free flow of information. From ensuring “access to justice” to protecting civilians from political and criminal violence to “protecting fundamental freedoms,” these SDG16 targets are not just ethical ends in themselves, as UN objectives, but essential requirements for progress in all 17 SDGs, beginning with the first core goal of the elimination of extreme poverty. That goal will be unattainable without commensurate progress in the reduction of armed conflict and the strengthening of effective, responsive government in fragile states, which account for a disproportionate share of the world’s poorest people.
Under current trends, the UK-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) projects, economic growth will reduce the proportion of people living in extreme poverty from 8 percent today to 5 percent by 2030.9 But almost all of the 400 million people comprising that remaining 5 percent in 2030 would be found in countries currently or recently ravaged by internal warfare, with much of the most extreme poverty concentrated in nations that have had longstanding UN peacekeeping missions, such as the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Somalia, and South Sudan. In all of those countries, the UN has backed media development initiatives as an integral part of its national institution-building and economic development programs, including support for or direct management of national radio news services.
“The UN is compelled to support media development by virtue of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms in its Article 19 the right of everyone everywhere “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, through any medium, regardless of frontiers.””
Four UN Bodies Key to Media Development
Although most UN institutions have engaged in some form or journalism training or media support work, this paper focuses on four UN bodies that have undertaken media support activities as a constant element of their public outreach and long-term development work: the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the UN Department of Peace Operations (UN DPO). All four work on media development through their specific UN mandates, the scale and structure of their field presence, and/or an institutional ethos that prioritizes media engagement.
Though the least resourced of the four, UNESCO is the lead UN system agency in the field of media development and related press freedom support. UNESCO’s projects, personnel, and policy role are critical to the overall scope and impact of UN media aid work globally, both through the strengthening of international norms and support for national and regional initiatives.
The largest UN agency and the most active over the past decade in country-level UN media development projects, UNDP has significant additional impact in this field as the coordinating body for UN country teams in developing nations. This is despite lacking a dedicated unit overseeing this area. The agency recently conducted a global assessment of its media aid work.10
Widely considered the most innovative and effective UN agency in its approach to public information and communication for development (C4D) expertise, UNICEF is perhaps the best example of UN media development in the service of specific programmatic objectives. In one important new initiative, UNICEF has taken the lead in promoting the creation of a global alliance of multilateral, bilateral, and private aid agencies and civil society partners focused on C4D projects and funding.
Representing by far the biggest single segment of the UN’s budget and international operations, the UN peacekeeping missions overseen by DPO have built, staffed, and operated UN-chartered national radio services in many post-conflict countries over the past quarter century. Collectively, these peacekeeping-mission radio news operations arguably comprise the UN’s single biggest contribution to media development in emerging democracies worldwide. But these efforts remain transitional and temporary, without clear UN policies or structures to support local public-service broadcasting after peacekeeping missions end, the UN troops withdraw, and the UN radio stations close.
UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF, and DPO operate under different UN mandates and have different institutional motivations, bureaucratic structures, and access to financial resources and personnel for such work. Yet all share a commitment to media development and considerable expertise in the area. And all would benefit from greater internal UN interagency backing and coordination in the field, and greater external recognition and support from donor countries for their work supporting independent journalism and freedom of information globally.
UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
UNESCO, as it states on its website, is the one UN body “with a specific mandate to foster freedom of expression, and its corollaries, press freedom and freedom of information.”11 One of UNESCO’s priorities is to help strengthen “legal and regulatory environments conducive to freedom of expression,” including through support for media law reforms, internet regulations, and access-to-information systems consistent with those principles. Training programs aimed at strengthening professional standards and protecting the safety of journalists include courses and manuals in journalism ethics, investigative reporting, and other independent-media support initiatives at the local, regional, and global levels.12
UNESCO’s policy prescriptions and manuals for a wide range of media sectors and issues—from best-practice rules for broadcasting regulators to benchmarks for evaluating the legal environment for national news media—collectively constitute the official policy positions of the UN system on media law and press freedom issues.
UNESCO’s work in this area is managed by its Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development—the only section of any UN agency explicitly devoted to media development. This division is one of the two (Knowledge Societies is the other) with an information and communications (ICT) focus comprising UNESCO’s communications and information sector. (UNESCO’s four other thematic sectors or programs are devoted to education, culture, the natural sciences and social and human sciences.)
UNESCO leadership puts great emphasis on its press freedom advocacy efforts, including its public denunciations of attacks on journalists and the annual May 3 celebration of World Press Freedom Day, with its prestigious annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize and ceremonies and forums in UN offices around the world.13
In addition, UNESCO provides scores of small grants every year to local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and journalism groups working in support of media independence, professional skills training, and access to information laws.14
Aside from its long history of both supporting and directly conducting a wide variety of journalism training programs in all regions of the world, in the past three years UNESCO has expanded its training operations to include courses on legal norms for press freedom and public access to information for judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and military professionals, concentrating initially on Latin America.15 Similar training initiatives are now targeting security forces in West and Central Africa and human rights commissions in the Arab states.
With its relatively limited resources and field presence, compared to larger UN agencies, UNESCO is more normative than operational in its support for press freedom and media development. Nearly two-thirds of its personnel work in its Paris headquarters, with just a few professionals from the communications and information sector based in each of the four small UNESCO regional field offices. Yet UNESCO’s impact in the field is nonetheless substantial, especially because of its long-cultivated ties with international press groups and national NGOs in developing countries focused on press freedom and standards for journalists.
UNESCO, the Social Development Goals, and Media Development
The 2015 General Assembly adoption of the UN’s 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals marked a new chapter in UNESCO’s work on media development.
UNESCO’s role as the designated custodial agency for SDG16.10, reporting on country-level progress toward its universal access-to-information goal should further increase its influence in this area. The agency is tasked with leading UN monitoring of this SDGs target on both the local and national levels, with input from media groups, academics, and civil society specialists as well as national governments.
This includes assessing not just the adoption but the implementation of national access-to-information laws, plus providing an official annual accounting of professionally related murders and assaults and extralegal detentions of working journalists in all 193 UN member states. In addition, UNESCO must continue technical consultations on SDG16.10 indicators with the national statistical agencies that set UN SDGs data policies through the UN Statistical Commission.16 Yet UNESCO has not been provided with additional resources to carry out these complex new responsibilities.
Though budgetary constraints are likely to continue to limit UNESCO’s ability to fund and manage local media development projects, several donors—most notably Sweden—have increased additional voluntary funding for UNESCO in this area over 2018.
UNESCO’s Responsibilities Grow while Its Resources Decline
From Colombia to Timor-Leste, UNESCO’s media development division does a lot with modest resources. Almost all of UNESCO’s activity is carried out by its Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, which accounts for barely half the expenditures and personnel of just one of UNESCO’s five sectors.
The division’s current operating budget is about $10 million yearly, a minuscule amount by global UN standards. Moreover, only $1.3 million of that is financed through the assured regular contributions of member states. The remainder must be raised by seeking voluntary contributions from national donors, which are never assured and fluctuate yearly.
Making these financial challenges more acute, UNESCO’s overall budget has contracted significantly since the United States,17 which had contributed by far the largest single share (22 percent) of the agency’s regularly appropriated contributions, withdrew from UNESCO in 2018. As a result, the total allotted budget for Freedom of Expression and Media Development dropped from $23.6 million for the two-year biennium’ budget of 2016–2017 to $20.9 million in 2018–2019, even as demands on the division increased, with its new monitoring responsibilities under the SDGs and an expanding UN program for safeguarding the physical and digital security of working journalists.
Substantial recent extra-budgetary donations from some UNESCO member states (Sweden in 2018 announced a four-year donation of some $48 million to the agency) have helped to plug this funding gap.18 Sweden’s pledge represents the largest contribution to date to a new UNESCO Multi-Donor Program on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, which is also supported by Norway and Switzerland.
Still, UNESCO continues to confront what Director of Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development Guy Berger acknowledges is “a scaling problem,” with the agency lacking the internal capacity to quickly and fully replicate projects such as the Latin American judicial training project in Africa or Asia, where it has little dedicated funding and few specialized staff permanently stationed.
One UN Partnerships and the UN Plan for the Safety of Journalists
Though UNESCO initiates or supports many media development projects around the world, its limited country-level delivery capacity argues for more cosponsored initiatives and partnerships with UNDP and other field-based agencies, including in country-level testing and refining of diagnostic indicators for media development. UNDP’s close relationships with governments and civil society on the national level can help make media development programs take root and succeed on the ground.
Reciprocally, UNDP and other field agencies could also benefit from closer cooperation with UNESCO. On global and regional levels, UNESCO has strong working relationships with professional journalism associations and freedom-of-expression groups, with a history of trust and rapport with journalists and media activists not typical of UN bodies. And UNESCO has a body of practical knowledge and policy guidance in the field that should be called upon to inform and assist local UN media projects by other agencies.
Under the new One UN directive to UN country teams, which requires more interagency cooperation on the national level, including multi-agency partnerships in originating and executing specific local projects, UNESCO officials report that the agency has more routine interaction with other UN agencies on media aid initiatives and policy issues. Examples cited by UNESCO officials include recent UN-backed elections reporting and media ethics projects in Pakistan and Cameroon, where UNESCO’s guidance and participation was sought by UN electoral assistance specialists from UNDP and the UN Department of Political Affairs.
The most ambitious example of UNESCO-led interagency cooperation in the field of media development is the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity,19 formally endorsed in 2012 by the International Program for the Development of Communication (IPDC) board of member states and by the heads of the UN’s agencies, funds, and programs, as well as by the secretary general. The plan’s purpose, as stated by UNESCO, is “to create a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers, both in conflict and non-conflict situations, with a view to strengthening peace, democracy and development worldwide.”
The success of these UN efforts has been a matter of some debate in the international press freedom and human rights community as well as within the UN itself. Objectively, attacks on working journalists have not only continued but accelerated in many places since 2012, with an unchanged pattern of impunity for such crimes. The victims of most such crimes are reporters, photographers, and editors working in their own home countries. Less than 10 percent of these work-related murders of journalists worldwide have led to official investigations or prosecutions.20 Few UN member states where journalists have been killed with regularity in recent years have sought the UN’s assistance in developing legislation and mechanisms to protect media workers.
Yet UNESCO points to what it sees as encouraging trends, which it considers at least partly attributable to the UN Plan of Action. For many years, UNESCO’s director general has issued statements of condemnation in response to verified reports of journalists killed in apparent reprisal for their work, including insistence on the need for government investigation and action. In 2013, as the Plan of Action was just coming into effect, barely one out of four countries cited in these incidents even acknowledged UNESCO’s public urging of investigations and prosecutions. Now, UNESCO reports, three-quarters of these UNESCO statements produce some direct government response, which in turn facilitates further follow-up on these cases from the UN.
The inclusion of data on the murders of journalists among the official UN indicators for monitoring compliance with SDG16.10 should also contribute to spotlighting, punishing and ultimately preventing such crimes, UNESCO officials say. “Monitoring is not an end in itself,” said one, stressing that the ultimate goals of the Action Plan and SDG16.10 both are the protection of journalists, press freedom, and public access to information.
“Aside from its long history of both supporting and directly conducting a wide variety of journalism training programs in all regions of the world, in the past three years UNESCO has expanded its training operations to include courses on legal norms for press freedom and public access to information.”
United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
The word “media” appears nowhere in UNDP’s detailed organizational structure or defined thematic areas of work. Nor is there explicit policy guidance for UNDP initiatives or positions in this area, in contrast to other areas of democratic governance in which it has demonstrated expertise. Yet in its country-level roles as UN system coordinator and the lead UN agency in the area of democratic governance, UNDP has almost certainly initiated or aided more local media development projects in recent years than any other UN body.
That is in good part a function of sheer scale, and resources: UNDP is the largest UN agency, with resident representatives in more than 100 developing countries, each overseeing a substantial staff of national and international professionals and a diverse portfolio of aid projects.
These media support projects are also often a byproduct of UNDP’s work on elections and civic engagement, and on the promotion of the SDGs, which like the Millennium Development Goals before them depend in part on media coverage of these national and global objectives. UNDP was the UN’s main institutional driver of participation and publicity for the 2000–2015 MDGs initiative; it is now the UN system leader in assisting national implementation of the 2016–2030 SDGs, with a special emphasis on SDG16 good-governance and capacity-building objectives, including public access to information.
The biggest factor driving the UNDP’s activity in the media sector has been local demand, not any centralized strategy or funding for media development. Almost all UNDP media projects are generated by direct requests from managers or partners for a media component of larger national development initiatives, ranging from legal reforms to women’s rights campaigns, or event-driven imperatives such as support for dispassionately professional media coverage of national elections in post-conflict countries. The critical role of media is still referenced in internal guidance for the agency’s work on democratic governance generally, and elections support specifically.
Surveys of media development activity by UNDP country offices conducted by UNDP in 2018 and, before that, a decade ago, show a consistent pattern of a dozen or more major projects taking place around the world at any given time, some short term, but others continuing for years. Some of the more ambitious include the creation of new national news services and direct support for national journalism guilds and community radio networks. In the past few years, UNDP has also carried out government advisory projects on legal and regulatory reforms affecting local media in seven countries.
UNDP’s “Inclusive Political Systems” Approach
UNDP’s approach to media, as in other areas of development, is primarily practical and assistance driven, with an emphasis on capacity-building in cooperation with local partners. UNDP democratic governance professionals, policy guidelines, and project materials often cite the media as a key political actor itself on the national and local levels, as well as a crucial conduit for interaction between officials and the citizens they serve. The professional capacity and integrity of local journalism is a critical variable in the quality of governance and civic engagement and the overall nation-building process, as UNDP professionals in the field have long recognized.
Institutionally, most UNDP media development projects now fall under the agency’s Inclusive Political Processes department, a division within its Bureau of Policy and Program Support.21 None of the following five declared priorities for that department explicitly involve media, but all have media dimensions and have led to projects involving journalism training, assistance to regulatory bodies, or other media initiatives:
- Parliamentary development, focusing on the capacities of members of parliaments (MPs) to carry out their legal responsibilities and the ability of civil society groups “to act as intermediaries in political advocacy, representation and engagement;”
- Constitutional reform, with an emphasis on “dialogue and mediation, outreach, public education, and institutional development of constitution-making bodies;”
- Elections, working to help ensure the “credibility, transparency, effectiveness and sustainability of electoral institutions and processes;”
- Civic engagement, aimed at “strengthening civil society capacities and expanding and protecting spaces for citizen participation,” especially people with disabilities, LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) individuals, indigenous peoples; and others facing discrimination and social exclusion; and
- Women’s rights, promoting “the advancement of women’s equal participation and decision-making in political processes and institutions.”
Recent examples of UNDP country-specific media training projects that the agency considers representative and replicable include workshops for journalists in Kenya on coverage of the mining industry; a community radio initiative in East Sudan aimed at informing the public and airing feedback on local social services; documentary film-making training for aspiring young journalists in the Maldives, emphasizing climate change; and instructional seminars for Moldovan journalists on open data resources.
In all, close to a 100 current or recent country-level UNDP projects either prioritized or incorporated journalism training initiatives, according to UNDP’s most recent review of its media development activity worldwide.22
UNDP, the Social Development Goals (SDGs), and Media Development
With UNDP taking the lead in the UN system on implementation of SDG 16—arguably the most complex of the 17 Goals, pledging to “promote just, peaceful, and inclusive societies” through measurable progress in 10 SDG16 target areas—it expects to become increasingly involved in both SDG16.10 access-to-information issues and broader communications and public awareness initiatives on SDG16 fulfillment.
By its own count, fully a third of UNDP’s local projects and budgets are already linked to SDG16 implementation, including UNDP’s organizational support for the Global SDG16 Alliance”23 of UN nation-states and other stakeholders. In addition, UNDP’s Oslo Governance Center offers policy support to governments and conducts research in media and access-to-information issues, with a special focus on SDG16 progress and measurement on the national level.24
Media development projects complementing UNDP’s work assisting member-states on SDG16 implementation include support for journalists’ and other citizens’ use of freedom of information statutes, along with broader media-aid initiatives linked to access to justice, post-conflict political reconciliation, inclusive elections processes, and other SDG16 target areas.
This new SDGs framework should help improve project coordination and policy coherency within the UN system in the field of independent media development, officials at UNDP and other agencies say, with special emphasis on partnerships with UNESCO, as the lead UN agency on press freedom issues, and the UN Secretariat’s Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Political Affairs. It also opens the door to coordination with bilateral donors and other multilateral aid providers, such as the European Union and the major international financial institutions, in both the monitoring and implementation of SDG 16.10 freedom-of-information commitments.
The UNDP Oslo Governance Center is now prioritizing three SDG16 initiatives, each of which is relevant to media development and broader freedom of information issues:
- Convening and facilitating a Virtual Network25 for “discussions and exchanges on strengthening SDG16 indicators at the global and national level.”
- Engaging UN and other international actors working on Goal 16 “implementation, measurement, monitoring and reporting,” including support for national statistical offices in the UN Praia City Group on Governance Statistics, which advises the UN’s SDG16 global monitoring framework.
- Working with pilot countries on “frameworks and systems” for data on Goal 16 indicators “in partnership with civil society and intergovernmental processes.” These pilot initiatives include other governance monitoring initiatives, such as those used for membership in the Open Government Partnership.26
“The biggest factor driving the UNDP’s activity in the media sector has been local demand, not any centralized strategy or funding for media development. ”
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
UNICEF is widely considered the most advanced of the large UN agencies in its creative use of communications. UNICEF approaches most of its current media support work in developing countries from a classic communications for development perspective, steeped in behavioral-change research and driven by such immediate practical imperatives as building public support for childhood vaccination campaigns and the protection of children’s rights.
Uniquely among the UN agencies, UNICEF has a dedicated communication for development division, which operates in coordination with but separate from its public information department.27
Though media development as such is not among their chief objectives, UNICEF’s C4D campaigns in the field include issue-specific training programs for journalists and support for local media institutions that cover children’s health and education and human rights issues in developing countries. UNICEF C4D specialists cite such examples as projects in Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe to support youth-focused community radio and national news programs; advocacy and training for rights-based journalism in Eastern Europe; and technical and logistical support for journalists in Nepal and the Philippines in the aftermath of national disasters.
Some of these youth-oriented C4D media initiatives are of quite significant scale, with extensive training programs for teenagers in radio and television production that provide professional experience and skills for a new generation of young journalists. In Mozambique alone, UNICEF reports that more than 1,600 young people have participated in this broadcast production training, covering such culturally sensitive topics as “sexual and reproductive health, HIV prevention, child marriage and gender-based violence.”28
Global Alliance for Social and Behavior Change
UNICEF’s C4D division has recently taken the lead in assembling a coalition of communication-for-development supporters and practitioners in the international aid community, with the aim of establishing a new coordinating mechanism to share professional experiences in the field and to promote greater use of strategic communications and behavioral change techniques and tools in international development.
The Global Alliance for Social and Behavior Change defines its mission as seeking to “advance the scale, quality, impact, and sustainability of communication for development, media for development, social change, and behavioral change strategies.”29 The World Health Organization (WHO) is the other UN agency partner in the Alliance, reflecting the C4D movement’s origins and influence in the global public health sector.
The UK Department of International Development (DfID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are the principle bilateral donors backing the initiative, with three prominent private development philanthropies—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and the Open Society Foundations—also participating and contributing. Regional and national development-focused nonprofit groups in the public health, women’s rights, and social justice sectors comprise most of the Alliance’s civil-society membership.
Three leading media-focused NGOs are also among the founding partners: BBC Media Action, the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC). The C4D-oriented Communications Initiative, another international nonprofit organization with strong ties to the media development sector, is providing staff support and website services to this new group.
The Alliance identifies “media development” as well as “media for development” as high among its interests and priorities, along with “freedom of information” and “social media initiatives as they relate to development priorities.” It remains to be seen whether this new C4D coalition can straddle or overcome the longstanding professional and ethical divide between development and media professionals. Development professionals specialize in the use of media as a means to achieve certain development ends. Journalism groups and practitioners are committed to media development as an end in itself, with an emphasis on editorial independence and empirical reporting.
Public Information and Press Training
UNICEF public information staff also interacts with international and national news media in a more traditional way, as newsmakers and as advocates for humanitarian relief efforts and programs in support of children’s health, education, and human rights. This includes support for issue-focused seminars and training workshops for local journalists in countries where UNICEF has major projects and public-health campaigns. For example, UNICEF’s effort have sought to address fears and rebut myths about polio vaccines in Central Africa and South Asia, where factual reporting by both mainstream and social media outlets has proved crucial in getting children immunized.
These efforts are consistent with the broader trend in international media development toward professional training and support for “beat” journalists. The Gates Foundation fellowships for beat reporters covering health care and agricultural development in Africa is one pioneering example, with many of these fellows routinely interacting with the relevant specialized UN agencies as expert sources and as subjects of local news coverage.
UNICEF workshops for journalists have also focused on media and legal issues pertinent to children, both nationally and under international law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, for which UNICEF is the UN system’s principal champion.30 Materials for these training sessions are often nationally or regionally targeted, such as a recent seminar on the UN Convention and practical tips on interviewing and photographing children for a group of young Southeast Asian reporters.
UNICEF’s main communications division has also developed widely respected norms and ground rules for media treatment of children, especially in breaking-news environments such as armed conflicts and humanitarian emergencies. The agency has conducted training workshops and published manuals with ethical guidelines for photojournalists on the use of children’s images, with principles that have since been adopted by a number of international news and photo agencies.
“UNICEF approaches most of its current media support work in developing countries from a classic communications for development perspective, steeped in behavioral-change research and driven by such immediate practical imperatives as building public support for childhood vaccination campaigns and the protection of children’s rights.”
UN Department of Peace Operations (DPO)
The UN Department of Peace Operations (formerly DPKO31) is rarely included in any short list of UN institutions engaged in media development activity. Mission funding of local media and communications activity rarely rises to levels that would be more than a rounding error in UN peacekeeping budgets, which at more than $8 billion yearly account for the great bulk of UN spending directly under the secretary general’s purview. Yet by some objective measures, the UN’s peacekeeping missions have invested and contributed more to journalism training, job creation, media infrastructure, and public access to news services in developing countries than any other UN body.
For the past quarter century, beginning with the UN peacekeeping missions in Cambodia (1992) and Somalia (1993), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has created and managed country-wide radio news services in 15 post-conflict countries, few of which had ever previously had professional, nonpartisan broadcast news services of any kind. Several hundred journalists in these countries were hired and trained by the UN to produce and host these popular and influential news and public affairs programs. Many continued with careers in broadcasting in their home countries after the UN peacekeepers left and the UN radio stations closed.
To run these stations, the UN typically constructed entirely new country-wide FM transmission networks, also a first for most countries where peacekeeping missions operated, recruiting and training local technicians to keep the broadcasting system functioning. In addition to their financial support and management of these local UN-branded radio news services, some UN peacekeeping missions have also provided professional training and technical support to both state and private broadcast news outlets as part of their local institution-building programs.
The long-term UN peacekeeping presence in many countries, with a number of missions remaining in place for a decade or more, has left an imprint on the local media landscape with few parallels in international media development.
Even though the DPO radio stations all ultimately close down—with unfortunately little post-mission transition planning or further UN support for nonpartisan news services—they have in a number of cases provided national audiences and journalists with their first model for factual real-time local news reporting and nonpartisan public affairs commentary. Their lasting influence on media ethics and professionalism is most evident in the sub-Saharan African countries with current or recent UN peacekeeping missions.
As of the time this report was published, the UN was still running national radio services in four African countries: the Central African Republic (Radio Guira), the Democratic Republic of Congo (Radio Okapi), Mali (Radio Mikado), and South Sudan (Radio Miraya).32 They remain the largest broadcast news operations in their respective countries, with staffs ranging in size from a few dozen in Mikado to more than a hundred at Okapi, covering the vast territory and population of the DRC. Few other stations in any of these four countries have either national reach or national news-gathering capacity.
The ultimate fate of these stations is unclear, but the standard practice after peacekeeping missions end is for the UN to shut down its stations with the rest of its mission security and logistical infrastructure. The container-based studios and transmission equipment are either packed up and shipped back to DPO’s global storage facilities in Italy for eventual use elsewhere or the equipment is donated to the host governments for their own local broadcasting use. That hardware, already fully amortized on the UN books, however, is of only modest value and practical utility. A UN radio station’s real value is in its on-air programming and national audience, kept in operation with UN salaries and security and maintenance services. Those typically disappear after the peacekeeping mission and its budget are gone.
A CIMA summary of its 2010 report on the UN’s Peacekeeping radio stations— Broadcasting in UN Blue33—stated the following, which remains true today:
The management, impact, and ultimate fate of these UN stations—a dozen to date, five of which remain in operation in volatile African countries—has largely escaped the notice of policymakers, including within the UN itself. To this day, there is not even an official record of past and present UN mission radio services.
By almost any measure—political impact, infrastructural improvement, giving voice to dissent and minorities, raising local journalism standards—these peacekeeping radio stations contributed more to media development in certain post-conflict countries than any other concurrent media assistance programs, including the many journalism-targeted projects run through other UN bodies. But those achievements were disappointingly ephemeral, due to a lack of long-term UN planning and a commitment to media development as an integral part of post-peacekeeping democratization.
“The long-term UN peacekeeping presence in many countries, with a number of missions remaining in place for a decade or more, has left an imprint on the local media landscape with few parallels in international media development.”
Conclusions and Recommendations
Look to the Field, not UN Headquarters
It is in the field, at the country level, not in UN offices in New York, Geneva, or Vienna, where most of the UN’s media development work actually takes place. These activities range from training local journalists in election coverage or environmental reporting to advising constitution drafters on press freedom norms to establishing radio news services in countries with peacekeeping missions. Hundreds of respected journalists in developing democracies received critical boosts to their careers from employment by UN media and participation in UN training programs, and scores of local media outlets and news services have benefitted from UN technical, legal, and political support, most notably in post-conflict countries.
Most UN media development projects originate and are implemented nationally, in response to requests from national governments, civil society partners, or other local stakeholders, rather than as centrally coordinated agency initiatives.
Relatively few are stand-alone media support projects, and fewer still are aimed at strengthening the professional capacity of local news media or supporting a better enabling legal and political environment for free media as an end in itself. The norm is rather the incorporation of media training or other forms of direct or indirect aid within or parallel to thematically focused or event-linked aid initiatives by specialized UN bodies. These activities include workshops and outreach to journalists in the context of climate change programs (UN Environment), women’s rights advocacy (UN Women), public health crises (WHO), or elections in post-conflict countries with UN supervision or support (UNDP, DPO, the Department of Public Affairs).
There is no centralized UN tally or accounting of such projects, even within individual agencies, as the media component is subsumed within these broader development projects and budgets. But in UNDP alone, many national-level projects take place around the world in any given year, even though media aid is not a defined area of work for that UN agency.
The most significant exception to this pattern is the media support work undertaken by UNESCO as the one UN agency with an explicit mandate to support media independence and the safety of journalists. This work includes a long-standing small grants program for independent journalism groups and initiatives around the world. This agency mandate has been strengthened by the inclusion of the commitment to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms” in the SDGs and UNESCO’s designation as the UN monitoring body for progress on that target, SDG16.10.
Though, like other initiatives, local UN media development projects have in years past been typically single-agency-driven and thus notoriously siloed—not taking advantage of potential synergies and follow-through from intra-agency collaboration—the new One UN approach of UN country teams has begun to change this, UN officials interviewed for this report agree.
Cooperation across agencies on SDGs implementation is also promoting better information-sharing and project coordination, they say. One outcome is that UNDP and UNESCO have begun cooperating on training programs for local journalists and civil society activists on the use of national access-to-information laws and systems. And UNESCO is collaborating with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights34 in the monitoring of assassinations and punitive or extralegal detentions of working journalists, one of the official UN indicators for measuring progress in the “protecting fundamental freedoms” component of SDG16.10.
The UN’s Added Value in Media Assistance
The UN agencies and country offices have some significant comparative advantages over major bilateral actors in this field, in the view of local media and governments alike. These include perceived political neutrality; formalized acceptance of the policy prerogatives of the host-country member-state; a long-term local operational presence; close partnerships with a range of national stakeholders, both governmental and nongovernmental; and no local colonial legacy, in contrast to some of the big bilateral donors.
Moreover, many bilateral donors support media assistance as an extension of public diplomacy, which can make participation in some countries problematic for local journalists. It is certainly true that UN missions and agencies also often see journalism training workshops and technical assistance as a way to burnish their reputation and raise their profile in local media. But because of its structure and mandate, the UN tends to approach media work in a more neutral and arguably less self-serving way, with greater stress on national ownership and capacity development, and greater deference to the host country and political culture.
UN country teams can also often play a coordinating role, convening other key actors in the field—donors, officials, media, and other stakeholders—in a way that bilateral or private donors cannot. A UN-chaired donor committee is typically a feature of countries with current or recent peacekeeping missions, for example.
Perhaps most important, the UN agencies are a permanent presence in most developing countries, permitting sustained follow-through, with a long-term perspective on local media and sociopolitical issues that is not always characteristic of other aid providers. UN country teams can help host nations to develop journalism and media institutions within agreed UN normative frameworks but only if and when those member states invite or at least support such work on the local level.
The UN has the greatest potential for lasting impact on media development in post-conflict countries with long-term peacekeeping missions and successor peacebuilding and political missions, where the UN has a sustained commitment to local institution-building and the significant financial and advisory resources typical of such missions. The public information divisions of these larger-scale UN missions are often active partners and supporters of local journalism federations, giving them technical training and—more importantly—political support, especially during election periods. Because these activities are rarely stand-alone donor-funded projects, such as those carried out by UN agencies, but rather an integral part of a mission’s public outreach mandate and budget, there is rarely any systematic tallying or evaluation for third parties of these local media development initiatives.
“The UN agencies and country offices have some significant comparative advantages over major bilateral actors in this field, in the view of local media and governments alike.”
Policy Coherency and Structural Challenges
As with other multilateral and bilateral aid providers, the various relevant UN system bodies haven’t adopted a systematic, cooperative approach to media support, despite the inherent efficiencies and potential for impact of a coordinated longer-term approach. Training projects have too often tended to be generic one-off exercises, with insufficient local consultation, and little sustained follow-up after the initial peacekeeping intervention, local election, or other aid-precipitating event.
UNESCO manages or supports many significant media development projects around the world but has limited country-level delivery capacity. Hence, it welcomes projects and partnerships in the field with UNDP and other field-based agencies, including in country-level testing and refining of diagnostic indicators for media development. On the global and regional levels, UNESCO has developed excellent working relationships with professional journalism associations and freedom-of-expression groups. UNDP’s relationships with governments and civil society on the national level are equally essential to making media development programs work on the ground. UNICEF, more specialized and mission-focused in its local media and civic engagement, has strong ties in the public health and education sectors and with journalists covering those areas in its program countries. DPO has an outsize impact on the local media landscape in most countries where it operates, especially through its national radio news services, and security support and training for independent local media linked to elections coverage and other issues. Yet little of that UN media aid infrastructure survives locally after peacekeeping missions end.
Many other UN offices and agencies have also implemented or supported journalism training and media support programs throughout the world. Other multilateral institutions, most major bilateral donors, and leading private philanthropies have also increased financial and technical assistance to local news media in developing nations. Yet despite significant and growing investment in programs aimed at improving the professionalism of journalists and legal protections for media in new democracies, support for independent media has not yet been mainstreamed in UN aid strategies, the UN’s new SDG16 commitments notwithstanding.
Nor has policy advice on legal frameworks for free media consistently drawn on the best available international expertise and normative guidance. UNESCO’s lack of field presence is one contributing factor, but more important is that there is no proactive obligation on UN country teams and their leaders—from special representatives of the secretary general and UN resident coordinators on down—to incorporate UN normative principles or specialized experts into local media development projects.
This has led in some cases to UN country teams providing technical and financial support to state broadcasters or news services that are partisan government propaganda organs, rather than professional public-service news providers. Similarly, government initiatives to impose mandatory licensing or codes of conduct on local journalists have sometimes had the acquiescence of UN officials, even though UNESCO media-law manuals and reports by the UN OHCHR special rapporteur for freedom of expression explicitly oppose such practices.
As in other international development sectors, there is an inherent tension in media development between the competing desirable principles of local control and universal norms. Since the adoption by UN development agencies and other international and bilateral aid agencies of the so-called “Busan principles35”—named after the South Korean city where these international aid organizations agreed in 2011 to prioritize “country-driven” rather than externally imposed aid priorities—UN country teams have enjoyed greater relative autonomy in proposing and implementing aid programs.
This is on balance highly positive. Yet in societies where authorities are distrustful of or openly hostile toward independent journalism, UN officials and agencies are unlikely to sponsor or advocate for meaningful media development initiatives.
“As in other international development sectors, there is an inherent tension in media development between the competing desirable principles of local control and universal norms. ”
To realize the UN’s potential in strengthening independent media and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, UN member states, including major donors, should advocate the following:
- The specific inclusion support for professional media development, public access to information, and the protection of journalists in an integrated One UN approach to UN country-team priorities and programs, especially in post-conflict countries and other fragile states. An example and possible model, if strengthened and expanded, is the UN Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists, a UNESCO-initiated program that has grown to include more than a dozen UN agencies and departments, from Peace Operations to UNDP to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- In countries with UN peacekeeping missions, as well as those with subsequent peacebuilding and/or political missions similarly requiring Security Council authorization, the texts of Council resolutions authorizing or re-authorizing those missions should specifically mandate UN support for public access to information and the protection of journalists and independent media in those countries. This should be an integral aspect of these missions’ political stabilization and governance priorities, including transition plans for UN-run broadcasters.
- In their support for 2030 Agenda implementation, member states should prioritize a broader and freer flow of public information on both the national and global levels on progress toward every 17 SDGs and their 169 associated targets, including but not limited to Target 16.10, which commits all UN members to “protect fundamental freedoms” (including press freedom) and “ensure public access to information.” This should include technical and financial support for clear rules and functional systems for ensuring public access to information within the UN system itself, including to all data and other official information relevant to the 17 SDGs.
- Bilateral and multilateral development programs should help accelerate the implementation of the SDG 16.10 target in many developing countries by supporting voluntary national assessments of the status and effectiveness of access-to-information laws and the overall enabling environment for independent media and the free flow of information. These parallel assessments, already underway in at least 43 countries with templates developed with support from UNESCO, rely not just on official data but on inputs from civil society, academia and the media as well.36
Recommendations for the UN
To strengthen support for media development initiatives by the four UN bodies highlighted in this report, national aid agencies should urge their respective diplomatic representatives in UN governing bodies to endorse the following projects and programs in budget oversight meetings and policy directives from member states.
UNESCO’s interrelated work on SDG16.10 monitoring, the UN Plan for the Safety of Journalists, and training programs for judges and prosecutors on international media law and access to information standards all requires broader donor support, as this area currently receives just a small and diminishing share of UNESCO’s core budget.
A useful framework for voluntary donor contributions was provided by Sweden’s recently announced integrated support package for these programs. This Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) contribution was followed by complementary support from Germany’s Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ), with a special emphasis on access-to-information support and monitoring in Africa, and by the Netherlands, also in the context of SDG16.10 implementation, with a new grant earmarked to aid UNESCO support for “national monitoring systems on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity” as well as “the monitoring and reporting on the implementation of Access to Information (ATI) laws at the national level.”
UNDP’s governing board should recommend that UNDP explicitly identify and prioritize media development as a focus area in its overall work assisting member states on democratic governance and local implementation of all 10 SDG16 targets, as part of its current restructuring. This should include input from the Oslo Governance Center and other UNDP staff professionals with experience and mandates in this field. Donors should further urge systematic incorporation of UN support for independent media development and public access to information in UN country teams. This should draw on local governance specialists, regional UNESCO advisors, and the expertise and media connections of coordinated (or, better, unified) UN communications offices under the leadership of the UNDP-run resident coordinator.
In parallel, on the country level, donors could collaborate more closely with local UNDP partners in civil society and media in such international good-governance initiatives as the Open Government Partnership and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in specialized investigative journalism and access-to-information training programs.
UNICEF’s proposed global communication-for-development mechanism or coordinating body could be a useful instrument to align UN-backed C4D projects with fundamental media development aims and principles, especially in support for professional beat reporter specialists in such areas as public health and education in developing countries. (The Gates Foundation fellowships for African journalists covering health and agriculture providing one possible model. And journalism support programs could benefit from the sophisticated public-impact measurement tools used to design and assess C4D initiatives.
C4D projects and media development programs often follow parallel if not divergent paths—the former focused on means-to-an-end mainstream development objectives, the latter supporting independent journalism as an end unto itself. These two development-communications subcultures should be better integrated and mutually reinforcing, under a one UN approach at both the local and global levels. Better donor coordination and oversight could assist that objective.
Both permanent and rotating Security Council members should be urged to support the explicit inclusion of local media development support in the renewed mandates for UN peacekeeping and subsequent peacebuilding missions, including provisions for post-mission aid to independent national and community broadcast news services and government regulatory structures, under the collaborative management of UNDP in the field and UNESCO normative and training expertise in public broadcasting and professional news services generally.
The author thanks UN officials who provided background information and source materials. A list of these officials is included in the Annex of this report.
Annex: UN Sources
Guy Berger, Director, Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, UNESCO (Paris)
Sylvie Cordray, Deputy Director, Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, UNESCO (Paris)
Guilherme Canela, Division Chief for Latin America, UNESCO (Montevideo)
Sarah Lister, Director, Oslo Governance Center, UNDP (Oslo)
Emanuele Sapienza, Senior Advisor, Bureau for Policy and Program Support, UNDP (New York)
Rafael Obregon, Chief, Communication for Development Program Division, UNICEF (New York)
Christopher De Bono, Deputy Director, Division of Communications, UNICEF (New York)
Nick Birnback, Chief, Public Affairs, Departments of Peace Operations and Field Support, UN DPO (New York)
Alexander Marshall, Deputy, Public Affairs, UN DPO (New York)
UN Mission in Somalia
Joseph Contreras, Head of UN Mission Public Information Office, Somalia (Mogadishu)
- United Nations, December 10, 1948, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
- For a synthesis of those background papers, see Benequista, Nicholas, March 28, 2019, Confronting the Crisis in Independent Media: A Role for International Assistance (Washington, DC: Center for International Media Assistance), https://www.cima.ned.org/publication/confronting-the-crisis-in-independent-media/.
- Center for International Media Assistance, “What Is Media Development?,” https://www.cima.ned.org/what-is-media-development/.
- United Nations, “The United Nations System,” https://www.un.org/en/pdfs/18-00159e_un_system_chart_17x11_4c_en_web.pdf
- United Nations, December 19, 1966, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, https://treaties.un.org/doc/publication/unts/volume%20999/volume-999-i-14668-english.pdf.
- United Nations, “The Sustainable Development Agenda,” https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/.
- UNESCO, July 18, 2019, “UNESCO Launches SDG Survey on Access to Information at the UN,” https://en.unesco.org/news/unesco-launches-sdg-survey-access-information.
- United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner, “Freedom of Opinion and Expression,” https://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/freedomopinion/pages/annual.aspx.
- Chattopadhyay, Soumya, 2018, “New projections show extreme poverty is falling – but not fast enough,” ODI Blog, accessed August 2019, https://www.odi.org/blogs/10688-new-projections-show-extreme-poverty-falling-not-fast-enough.
- Jacob, Regev Ben, January 30, 2019, UNDP’s Engagement with the Media for Governance, Sustainable Development and Peace (Oslo: UNDP Oslo Governance Center), https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/democratic-governance/oslo_governance_centre/undp_s-engagement-with-the-media-for-governance–sustainable-dev.html.
- UNESCO, “Press Freedom on All Platforms,” https://en.unesco.org/themes/press-freedom-all-platforms.
- UNESCO, “Investigative Journalism,” https://en.unesco.org/investigative-journalism.
- UNESCO, “Press Freedom on All Platforms,” https://en.unesco.org/themes/press-freedom-all-platforms.
- UNESCO, “International Programme for the Development of Communication,” https://en.unesco.org/programme/ipdc.
- UNESCO, July 4, 2018, “‘School for Judges:’ Lessons in Freedom of Information and Expression from (and for) Latin America’s Courtrooms,” http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/school_for_judges_lessons_in_freedom_of_information_and_e/.
- United Nations, “SDG Indicators: Metadata Repository,” https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/metadata/.
- Gardiner Harris and Steven Erlanger, October 12, 2017, “U.S. Will Withdraw from UNESCO, Citing Its ‘Anti-Israel Bias,’” New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/us/politics/trump-unesco-withdrawal.html?module=inline.
- “Sweden commits additional $48 million to UNESCO to reinforce strategic partnership” https://www.google.com/search?q=sweden+unesco+grant&rlz=1C1GCEB_enUS806US806&oq=sweden+unesco+grant&aqs=chrome..69i57j33.5886j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
- United Nations, UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, https://en.unesco.org/un-plan-action-safety-journalists?language=en.
- UNESCO, 2018, World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development: 2017/2018 Global Report, Paris.
- UNDP, “Inclusive Political Processes,” https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/ourwork/democratic-governance-and-peacebuilding/inclusive-political-processes/.
- Jacob, January 30, 2019, UNDP’s Engagement with the Media for Governance, Sustainable Development and Peace.
- UNDP, “The Global Alliance for Reporting Progress on Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies,” https://www.undp.org/content/dam/norway/undp-ogc/documents/Global%20Alliance.pdf.
- UNDP, “SDG 16: Support to Measuring, Monitoring and Reporting of Sustainable Development Goal 16,” https://www.undp.org/content/oslo-governance-centre/en/home/our-focus/sdg-16.html.
- UNDP, December 16, 2015, “Goal 16: The Indicators We Want,” https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/democratic-governance/the-indicators-we-want.html.
- Open Government Partnership, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/.
- UNICEF, “Communication for Development,” https://www.unicef.org/cbsc/.
- Global Alliance for Social and Behaviour Change, http://comminit.com/global-alliance/.
- United Nations and MediaWise, January 2005, The Media and Children’s Rights (Bristol: MediaWise).
- United Nations Peacekeeping, “Department of Peace Operations,” https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/department-of-peace-operations.
- United Nations Peacekeeping, “Multimedia,” https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/multimedia.
- Orme, Bill, February 16, 2010, Broadcasting in Blue: The Unexamined Past and Uncertain Future of Peacekeeping Radio (Washington, DC: Center for International Media Assistance), https://www.cima.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/CIMA-UN_Radio.pdf.
- United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner, “Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx.
- OECD, “The Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation,” http://www.oecd.org/development/effectiveness/busanpartnership.htm.
- UNESCO, “Powering sustainable development with access to information: highlights from the 2019 UNESCO monitoring and reporting of SDG indicator 16.10.2,” https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000369160