Date & Time2:00pm, 15 November 2022 - 3:30pm, 15 November 2022
About the event
This event has taken place. You can watch the recording now.
Freedom of the media—a foundation stone of democracy—is under threat right across our Commonwealth.
The litmus test for the health of media freedom is straightforward: can journalists provide information to the public without fear or favour? In increasing numbers of Commonwealth countries, the answer is a resounding ‘no’.
The imprisonment of journalists has risen globally since 2016. And while the number of journalists who have been murdered has dropped—90% of those murders go unresolved. This follows a global, democratic decline: levels of democracy are back to where they were in 1989. Now just 15% of the world’s population live in countries where they can seek, receive, or share information freely and safely.
The lessons of history are clear and unchallenged: the free flow of information and ideas protects rights, prevents abuses of power, and provides for free and fair elections. Without it, democracy declines.
Why is this an important moment for media freedom in the Commonwealth?
Threats, intimidation, and the imprisonment of journalists are on the rise across the world. The international community has responded by adopting several United Nations resolutions on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity for crimes against them. Without making more substantive commitments in this area, the Commonwealth risks being left behind. Commonwealth Civil Society has raised the alarm and drawn together a broad-based coalition—involving government partners as well as experts from across academia and industry—to draw up a new set of principles for free expression and the role of the media in governance.
This new set of principles on media freedom are being put before Commonwealth Law Ministers at the end of November. There remain significant concerns within Commonwealth civil society and beyond that the proposed text falls short of emerging global standards on media freedom—that it could be stronger and braver in cementing the position of the Commonwealth as a values-based organisation committed to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Why should I join this event?
Many who are closest to this issue argue that the Commonwealth has a historic opportunity to affirm its position as a guardian for media freedom and free expression.
By joining this event, you will join a chorus of voices that are successfully advocating for the Commonwealth to do more.
This Critical Conversation is an opportunity to build alliances and understand strategies and approaches that can be used to make meaningful progress on the issue of media freedom.
By joining this event, you will find answers to the following questions:
- Why does media freedom matter and how can it best be protected?
- What are the current global standards? Is the Commonwealth meeting those or falling behind?
- What mechanisms can be put in place to monitor the safety of journalists and protect media freedom?
Dionne Jackson-Miller is a journalist, attorney at law and a tutor in Constitutional Law at the University of the West indies, Mona. Dione has a background in sciences with a BSc in Botany and Zoology, and an MPhil in Zoology. She has a post-graduate Certificate specialising in Media Law, a post-graduate diploma in Public International Law and a Master of Laws (LLM) from the University of London specialising in Human Rights Law.
Dionne has been working in media for over 20 years. She has hosted a daily current affairs programme “Beyond the Headlines” on Radio Jamaica for over 20 years, and a weekly current affairs programme “All Angles” on Television Jamaica for over 10 years. She is a two-time Journalist of the Year, served two terms as President of the Press Association of Jamaica, and continues to serve on the Association’s Executive.
Kanbar Hossein-Bor is a senior British diplomat and international lawyer currently serving as Deputy Director Democratic Governance and Media Freedom Co-ordinator for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. He has held a number of posts, both as a lawyer and diplomat, including in Bangladesh where he was Deputy High Commissioner, in the Netherlands as the head of international law team and UK agent to International Court of Justice, Iraq as the head of the human rights team, Libya, and Liberia, where he was briefly deployed as Head of Mission during the Ebola crisis.
Kanbar has successfully led UK delegations in multilateral conferences and meetings, including in Vienna, Geneva, Kampala, and New York. He has also led and facilitated working groups in the International Criminal Court and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Before joining the Foreign Office as a lawyer, Kanbar practiced constitutional and criminal law as a barrister and is a Lord Denning Scholar of Lincoln’s Inn.
Kanbar has a passion for diversity in public life and spoken extensively at schools, in the UK and overseas, about his life as a child refugee.
Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji is the Distinguished International Jurist at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law at Toronto Metropolitan University and a Special Advisor to the President of the University.
He was the 4th President of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, from 2018 to 2021. He concurrently served as a senior judge in the Appeals Division of the ICC from 2018 to 2021. He completed his nine-year tenure at the ICC in 2021.
Prior to joining the ICC, Dr Eboe-Osuji served as the Legal Advisor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. Earlier in his career he worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, as a senior prosecution counsel. Before joining the international public service, he practiced law as a barrister in Canada and in Nigeria. Judge Eboe-Osuji is also the Paul Martin Senior Professor of Political Science, International Relations and Law at the University of Windsor; and a visiting professor of law at the University of California in Los Angeles. He was the Herman Phleger Visiting Professor of Law at Stanford University Law School in 2022; and a senior fellow at the Carr Center of the Harvard Kennedy School. He has also taught as adjunct professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa.
He received his LLB degree from the University of Calabar (Nigeria); his LLM from McGill University (Canada); his PhD from the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands); and Doctor of the University (honoris causa) from the University of Middlesex (England).
His honours include the Goler T Butcher Medal of the American Society of International Law, and the Gold Medal of the Honorary Patronage of the Philosophical Society of Trinity College Dublin.
He is a member of the High-Level Legal Panel on Media Freedom, and a Senior Peace Fellow of the Public International Law and Policy Group.
He has an extensive record of legal scholarship, including the books International Law and Sexual Violence in Armed Conflicts (2013); and Sovereign Criminal Responsibility in International Law (forthcoming).
Sneh Aurora is a human rights advocate and Executive Director of the London office of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an independent, international non-governmental organisation working towards the practical realisation of human rights in the Commonwealth, focusing on access to justice, right to information and media freedoms, and the eradication of contemporary forms of slavery and human trafficking.
A human right practitioner of over 20+ years, she holds a Juris Doctorate in Law and has contributed to international standard setting and policy development, including on the right to education, media freedoms, and the rights of women and girls. She has provided technical advice and support to civil society organisations, governments, national human rights institutions, and inter-governmental organisations including the Council of Europe, UNDP, UNESCO, OHCHR, and OSCE/ODHIR.
Sneh was a member of the Standing Committee which contributed to the Commonwealth Expert Working Group that developed the media principles currently presented for adoption by the Commonwealth Law Ministers later this month. CHRI is one of the six Commonwealth organisations that drafted the Commonwealth Principles on Freedom of Expression and the Role of the Media in Good Governance in 2018.
Corinne Vella is Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sister. She heads media relations for The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, whose mission is the public interest of full justice for Daphne and for her stories, guardianship of her work, and supporting independent non-partisan media and efforts to protect investigative journalists.
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