Mobile Learning Week, UNESCO’s yearly flagship ICT in education conference, opened on Monday 20 March 2017 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Focusing on ‘Education in emergencies and crises’, this year’s event is organized in partnership with UNHCR and examines how new and affordable technologies can provide learning opportunities for displaced people around the world.
The sixth edition of Mobile Learning Week was opened by UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education Qian Tang and UNHCR Representative in France Ralf Gruenert. Keynote addresses were delivered by H.E. Zhanyuan Du, Vice Minister of Education of the People’s Republic of China, and H.E. Laila Bokhari, State Secretary of Norway.
“We are witnessing the highest levels of displacement ever recorded,” said Mr Tang. “Education is uniquely important in emergency and crisis settings.”
Mobile Learning Week 2017 is designed to help global knowledge sharing and develop solutions that can be scaled to strengthen inclusion in education and keep the cycle of learning in emergencies. It will look specifically at how innovative mobile learning can effectively support learners, teachers and systems.
The five-day event will feature a symposium with 76 breakout sessions, exhibitions, and a mix of panel discussions and plenary addresses. It will highlight solutions that leverage technology to reach displaced learners, protect and maintain education in emergency settings and facilitate integration efforts.
“Our overall aim is that all refugees and the communities that host them have access to accredited, quality and relevant educational opportunities which are facilitated, supported or enhanced through mobile learning,” said Mr Gruenert. “These new learning environments will prepare refugees and displaced communities to fully engage in the economic, social and cultural world of tomorrow."
Solutions to reach displaced people where they are
The United Nations estimates that in 2015, 24 people were forced to flee their homes each minute - 4 times more than a decade ago. One in every 113 people globally has been displaced due to conflict or persecution and over half of the world’s refugees are children, many separated from their parents or traveling alone.
“It is our task to help find solutions to leverage this technology to reach people where they are, opening portals to learning and empowerment,” said Mr Tang. “This is what Mobile Learning Week is about: helping our Member States and other partners understand how to harness technology to strengthen education and promote lifelong learning, particularly for the most vulnerable.”
Mobile Learning Week will include workshops highlighting innovative mobile learning content, technology, research and projects. Strategy Labs designed to help guide the conceptualization and refinement of projects will be hosted jointly with partner organizations. A Policy Forum held in collaboration with UNHCR and ITU will bring together ministers of education, ministers of ICT and leaders from private sector companies to examine how governments can foster innovation in the education sector and facilitate the acquisition of e-skills, particularly for disadvantaged or displaced learners.
On 20 March, UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova, met with the Executive Vice President of B'nai B'rith International, Mr Daniel S. Mariaschin, accompanied by several senior members of this organization, at UNESCO Headquarters.
This meeting was an opportunity to highlight the longstanding cooperation between UNESCO and B'nai B'rith International, marked by significant joint initiatives such as the symposiums “Permanence of Yiddish” and “Judeo-Spanish Heritage trail and in the Mediterranean” co-organized by B'nai B'rith and UNESCO at UNESCO Headquarters in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Mr Mariaschin praised UNESCO for successfully developing its Programme on Education about the Holocaust and expressed his strong wish that the Programme be further strengthened in the years to come stressing the importance of the Organization’s leadership role in the field of education. The Organization stands as the sole UN agency with a mandate to promote Holocaust education worldwide for the prevention of genocide, promoting respect for human rights, through policies and initiatives at a global level, in order to make young people, whatever their origin and culture, become more aware of the mechanisms that can lead societies to scale up hatred and mass violence, and how to prevent these phenomena.
The Director-General expressed her gratitude to B'nai B'rith for its continuing support of UNESCO on matters of common interest, including fostering intercultural dialogue, combating anti-Semitism, youth radicalization and violent extremism, as well as all forms of discrimination and intolerance.
Ms Bokova and Mr Mariaschin pledged to continue with the constructive engagement and cooperation in these areas.
On 20 March 2017, Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, participated in the Donors' Conference on the occasion of the launch of the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas. The Conference was held at the Paris Louvre Museum in the Khorsabad courtyard, in the presence of the President of the French Republic, Mr. François Hollande, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior of the United Arab Emirates, HE Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The Director-General welcomed the profound commitment of France and President Hollande to defending heritage and placing culture at the heart of the International Political Agenda.
"You have been among those who have put the greatest emphasis on heritage and the strategic need to protect it in order to respond to modern conflicts," she recalled, highlighting the joint mission to Timbuktu in 2013 following the liberation of the city and which kicked off UNESCO mausoleum reconstruction campaign.
The Director-General reviewed the wide range of measures taken by UNESCO in recent years, including the adoption of a comprehensive strategy and the creation of an emergency fund for the protection of heritage.
“UNESCO will continue to play its full part in coordinating international initiatives in this field," she concluded.
"The protection of heritage is inseparable from the protection of human life," declared President François Hollande, announcing the project of a framework resolution at the United Nations Security Council on the protection of cultural heritage.
"Those who destroy heritage are well aware of its power to unite communities, and they intentionally target culture, schools and libraries to enslave and accelerate the disintegration of societies. I have called this a strategy of cultural cleansing. This is a war crime and it has become a tactic of war," added the Director-General.
The creation of a new international fund, announced at the Abu Dhabi Conference in December 2016, reinforces existing tools - including UNESCO's emergency fund established in 2015 - and gives a new impetus to international cooperation for the protection of heritage.
The Fund, whose statutes are deposited in Geneva, aims to raise $ 100 million by 2019. Seven countries, including France, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg, Morocco and Switzerland pledged some $ 75 million on Monday. Several other states have promised to make a contribution also, including in the form of expertise and political support, including notably Italy, Great Britain, Germany, China, the Republic of Korea and Mexico.
"Three-quarters of the target has already been reached," concluded Jack Lang, President of the Arab World Institute, and organizer of the conference, alongside Mohamed Al Mubarak, special representative of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
On 21 March, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, is in Brussels to give a keynote speech during an event on the role of “Education for preventing violent extremism” held at the European Parliament, and organized in partnership with UNESCO.
Mr Pavel Telicka, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and Mr Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Member of the European Parliament, will open the event that will take place in the presence of Members of the European Parliament.
The Director-General will highlight the importance of ‘soft power’ and the message of the UNESCO Constitution to counter a threat that draws on an exclusive vision of the world, based on false interpretations of faith, hatred and intolerance.
The event will feature a Panel Discussion that will explore “How to prevent violent extremism and radicalisation through education”. Paolo Fontani, UNESCO Representative to the European Institutions will moderate the panel including Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair Child and Family Research Centre, Hans Bonte, Federal representative for the constituency of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde, Sara Zeiger, Senior Research Analyst, Hedayah, and Afzal Khan, Member of the European Parliament.
Of the 210 juvenile cases (aged between 10 and 18 at the time of the offence, arrest, or referral to court) handled between September and December 2016 in the Family Court of Daejeon, the fifth largest city in the Republic of Korea, 60.9 per cent had a history of school violence under the School Violence Act or the Juvenile Act.
This provides a snapshot of the extent of interrelations between school violence and other anti-social behaviour among children and adolescents. Daejeon has the fourth largest number of juvenile cases in the Republic of Korea.
Family Court Judge, Sunmi Lee, revealed the statistics during a plenary session at the International Symposium on School Violence and Bullying: From Evidence to Action, organized by UNESCO and the Institute of School Violence Prevention at Ewha Womans University in Seoul in January 2017.
Ms Lee went on to explain that 35.7 per cent of those young offenders (i.e. 75 persons) were tried for school violence, and of that number, 41 had a history of trouble with the law, and 15 had more than 3 previous convictions.
She also explained that even among those indicted for crimes other than school violence (135), 38.5 per cent had a previous history of school violence. Larceny was the most common of other juvenile delinquencies, followed by sexual assault, and internet fraud, she said.
The percentage of repeat juvenile offenders who were convicted more than three times rose from 9.2 per cent in 2008 to 18.8 per cent in 2014.
Ms Lee believes one of the factors for this increased recidivism may be the recent and wide use of social media, “Individual juvenile delinquents can much more easily communicate with each other through social media, spreading anti-social views, and learning criminal skills.”
Ms Sunmi Lee was appointed as a judge in 2005, and is a member of the International Hague Network of Judges, which works for cooperation between judges in ensuring the effective operation of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
The Press Union of Liberia is seeking international support to train 50 journalists and social media actors on conflict sensitive journalism.
In Myanmar, the Independent Ethnic Media Alliance (IEMA) is wants to help local ethnic media increase the diversity of media choice and provide relevant information to local communities, especially women and youth.
El Salvador’s Association of Journalists (APES) is requesting assistance to improve the safety of journalists through a comprehensive approach that targets citizens, security forces and media workers, to cope with the increasing gang- and drug trafficking-related violence.
These are just a few examples of the 114 project proposals being submitted to IPDC’s Bureau in Paris over 21-22 March.
The Bureau, made up of eight UNESCO Member States’ representatives, will deliberate about the merits of each proposal and approve those that will be receive funding for implementation this year. At the end of the meeting, it is expected that the Programme will give grants to strategic media development projects in at least 30 countries.
The Liberian project aims to promote ethical and professional standards in journalism and enhance freedom of expression by listening to the views of all sides with the aim of giving fair, balanced and credible reporting. The last two elections in the country have been challenged by violence-ridden language and journalists have often been blamed for promoting hate speech.
For Myanmar, the project by the IEMA is a response to an ethnically diverse country where many groups are still underserved by the media. Broadcast, especially radio, can deliver critical information to ethnic communities better, but the sector is still underdeveloped.
El Salvador’s journalists association wants to train 350 journalists on safety issues and 80 security forces on the importance of keeping journalists safe, as well as to set up a national monitoring system on these issues in the country.
Detailed information about each of projects to be considered by the IPDC Bureau is available here.
As the 61st bureau meeting of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) gets underway on 21 March, an analytical summary of projects funded by the programme last year shows how the projects have supported the growth of community broadcasting while broadening the scope for advocacy for the safety of journalists in several countries.
The report, available online, discloses that over 120 volunteers in Jamaica, Palestine, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, Dominican Republic and Bangladesh benefited from support for community broadcasting, including through training, equipment, networking and advocacy.
In Swaziland, Somalia and Kazakhstan, over 50 media practitioners and owners benefited from training opportunities on the safety of journalists, while in St. Lucia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Madagascar and Nepal, over 215 people participated in various activities aimed at supporting media law and policy reforms.
While cataloguing a series of other project outputs across the IPDC’s priorities on media assessments and capacity-building in Mexico, Suriname, Haiti, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia, Cuba, Jamaica, Uganda, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Malaysia, Oman, Swaziland and Sri Lanka, the report draws out several lessons for future implementation.
The first lesson is about innovative ways of addressing the inadequacy of resources by collaborating with other organizations and NGOs to supplement the budget.
The second lesson is the need to make project objectives as modest as possible, especially where influencing complex social and political processes is concerned.
The third lesson revolves around the continued use of and appreciation for the IPDC’s normative instruments. For example, in the course of the research carried out to implement one project in Argentina, beneficiaries relied upon the UNESCO's Media Viability Indicators “not in direct application but as inputs to trigger the analysis and reflections of the (community radio) stations themselves …”
The report is prepared annually is part of the IPDC’s efforts to enhance knowledge-driven media development as a larger process towards helping with the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova asserted the capital role of global citizenship education for peace, sustainable development and human dignity during her participation in the fifth Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF) in Dubai, on 18 and 19 March.
Gathering over 2,000 delegates from public, private and social sectors, the Forum focused on the theme “How to make real global citizens.” The Director-General recalled that UNESCO, a partner of the Forum, had fought hard for global citizenship education to be featured as a target in Sustainable Development Goal 4, encompassing “a holistic vision of why education cannot wait.”
During a panel on education in emergencies organized with Plan International, Dubai Cares and the World Food Programme, she stressed the urgent need for political and financial mobilization. “We must look at the consequences of not acting – in terms of poverty reproduction, the destruction of the fabric of communities and societies. This is not only a humanitarian concern but one about peace and security.”
During a parliamentarian-style chamber debate with Camfed’s Lucy Lake, former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Rebecca Winthrop from Brookings, she defended education as an answer to the rise of populism. This calls for educational transformation through two angles: first universal access to quality education with equity and inclusion as yardsticks; second, a fresh focus on contents that foster new values and skills for new times. “We need education that both provides relevant skills for the markets of today and tomorrow and education that promotes critical thinking, understanding between cultures, that strengthens democratic values, and the resilience of societies and the planet based on new forms of global citizenship.”
She also participated in the first meeting of the Atlantis Group, which brings together former ministers of education to help address global education challenges. Against the backdrop of rising inequality, climate change and technology disruptions, she stated that “the prerequisite should be that education is a public good. This should be the basis of all work to empower teachers, leverage technology, match skills with work, promote social mobility and living together.”
Opening the Forum, Mr Sunny Varkey, founder and chairman of the Varkey Foundation, affirmed that education should help children from every country, culture and faith learn that there is more that unites than divides and provide the inspiration and tools to make a positive imprint on the lives of others. OECD’s Andreas Schleicher emphasized the potential of technology to “liberate learning from past conventions, connect learners and create a more collaborative culture.”
Announced from the European space station in a star-studded ceremony, the USD 1 million Global Teacher Prize was awarded to Canada’s Maggie MacDonnell, who teaches in Salluit, an Inuit community deep in the Arctic. The 50 finalists of the Prize, now in its third edition, were at the Forum giving master classes and participating in debates. The Prize is awarded by the Varkey Foundation, under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Emir of Dubai.
On the sidelines of the Forum, the Director-General met with the Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance of the UAE, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. She expressed profound gratitude for his contribution to the renovation of Room I at UNESCO Headquarters, as well as his generous support to education through a number of initiatives, including the UNESCO-Hamdan Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers, a post-diploma course on curriculum design and the literacy and life skills project for youth and women in Somalia. In exchanging views on the refugee crisis, His Highness shared his concerns and commitment to assist in meeting educational needs.
During the Forum, the Director-General also met with Mr Jamiyansuren Batsuuri, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports of Mongolia, Mr Orhan Erdem, Deputy Minister of National Education of Turkey, and Mr Nikolay Denkov, Minister of Education of Bulgaria.
Ministers and Senior Officials from Asia and the Pacific are coming together in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 20 to 23 March 2017, for the First Asia-Pacific MOST Forum of Ministers of Social Development. Together with researchers and scientists, they will explore three important issues reshaping the region: ageing, gender equality and social innovation.
This Forum, organized in the context of UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformations (MOST) programme, will highlight cutting-edge social innovations that have proven effective in addressing the challenges of ageing population and related gender inequality. Top-level decision-makers will gain insight into existing research in order to support production of knowledge for evidence-informed policy design to promote inclusive societies.
Countries in Asia and the Pacific are undergoing population ageing, accompanied by trends of declining fertility and mortality rates. Currently, around 60 percent of the world’s elderly are from the Asia Pacific region. From 2016 to 2050, the number of older persons in the region is expected to more than double from 547 million to 1.3 billion. By 2050, one in four people are expected to be over 60 years old and the proportion of the “oldest-old”, that is, those in the 80+ cohort, is expected to comprise one-fifth of the elderly population.
Ageing also has a clear gender dimension. In Asia and the Pacific, as in most parts of the world, demographic trends have shown that more women than men join the old age cohorts. On average, women outlive men by at least four years. Because women continue to face economic and cultural barriers to fully participate in society at every stage of their lives, the cumulative effect of discrimination can be especially onerous towards older age.
Population ageing is a cause for concern for policymakers from the region, who face the challenge to generate economic growth in a social climate with growing numbers of elderly and declining numbers of younger persons. This includes the provision of accessible healthcare and support structures that promote meaningful integration of the elderly in society.
Solutions often lie in social innovations – new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social needs and create new social collaborations. Because social innovations often form in local contexts, UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformations (MOST) programme supports their wider dissemination across countries for higher impact.
The Asia-Pacific Forum will address these challenges, and adopt an outcome document to chart the course for future research to sustain the development of evidence-informed and inclusive policies in the region.
For more information about the Forum
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has denounced today the killing of newspaper columnist Joaquin Briones in the Masbate province of the Philippines on 13 March.
“I condemn the killing of Joaquin Briones,” said the Director-General. “Attacks on the media fuel fear of covering issues which matter to society, leading to self-censorship and an uninformed public. I call on the local authorities to ensure that the Rule of Law is applied and the perpetrators of this crime are brought to court".
Joaquin Briones was a contributor to the daily tabloid newspaper Remate. He previously hosted the radio program Dos por Dos were he reported on local issues. He was fatally shot by unknown assailants on motorcycle in the town of Milagros on Monday morning.
The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.
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UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”
UNESCO is looking for a higher educational institution delivering the Open and Distance Learning (ODL), in order to pilot and localize its document “Learning for All: Guidelines on the Inclusion of Learner with Disabilities in Open and Distance Learning”. The final deliverable should be a detailed Plan of Action for making higher education delivering ODL more inclusive for learners with disabilities.
The detailed Plan of Action should include: (i) assessment and analysis of current situation using the matrix of actions and technical annexes; (ii) identification of key challenges and opportunities, as well as (iii) concrete actions and recommendations for different educational stakeholders in order to make ODL inclusive for all learners.
The final delivery date is 15 November 2017.
The qualified entity shall apply the above-mentioned guidelines developed by UNESCO in its own organization or selected educational institutions delivering ODL on inclusion of students with disabilities and application of inclusive and accessible Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The qualified entity should follow the recommendations and guidelines provided in the above-mentioned document, including matrix and technical annexes.
In order to be considered, interested entities should submit their Expression of Interest including the following information:
The Expression of Interest and accompanying documents (max. 10 pages) must be received by UNESCO no later than 6 April 2017, 18.00 p.m. Paris (France) time. Expressions of Interest can be sent by e-mails: i.kasinskaite(at)unesco.org and z.varoglu(at)unesco.org.
Approximately 15 per cent of the population, representing some 1 billion people in the world have a disability. This figure is accelerating in line with population increases, growing poverty, natural disasters, ongoing conflicts and an aging population. With such a large number of people living with a disability, it is vital that access to educational opportunities would be widely available to all learners.
In this regard, opportunities for Open and Distance Learning (ODL) may provide some solutions to the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities in accessing information and education. Furthermore, access to information and knowledge is recognized as one of the key fundamental human rights. Without access to reliable information and effective communication means, it is difficult to ensure an effective, inclusive and open learning and teaching process. Moreover, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) emphasizes access to education among other issues as an important consideration towards making reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.
The qualified entity shall take into account the key concepts and principles of the UN CRPD, apply the guidelines developed by UNESCO, and furthermore apply human rights based approach and gender equality principles when analyzing the actions, processes and content provided for learners with disabilities. In addition, information and web accessibility should be considered as one of the quality education criteria.
A colloquium at UNESCO on 23 March will examine the impact of transformations reshaping journalism worldwide, including the challenges of audience fragmentation, dis and misinformation as well as the concept of 'fake news'.
Journalism under fire: challenges of our time will provide an opportunity for leading media experts, journalists and social scientists, as well as representatives of social media and of media development organizations, to take stock of the profession’s concerns for quality.
“The Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year for 2016 was “post-truth,” notes Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO. “We see today the rise of questions that go to the heart of free, independent and professional journalism. We must explore these trends, debate these concepts, and chart new ways forward, together. This is vital for democracy, the rule of law, and good governance.”
At stake is the challenge for media organizations to regain trust and fulfil their vital mission. In the words of Irina Bokova, "Guaranteeing a free press is essential for the development of societies and important for every woman and man to exercise their right to access information and their right to participate as citizens in democracy.”
The colloquium will be opened by Michael Worbs, Chairperson UNESCO’s Executive Board, Director-General Irina Bokova, David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Marcelo Rech, President of the World Editors Forum.
Christiane Amanpour, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression and Journalists’ Safety and Chief International Correspondent for television broadcaster CNN, who will moderate two afternoon sessions on the impact of social networks and 'fake news.'
Roundtable debates will feature the participation of experts on a wide range of topics affecting journalism today including:, identity politics, business models and new technologies, audience identity, media education and ethics (see programme).
The perspectives shared during the meeting are expected to contribute to the UNESCO flagship series World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development. The meeting is held during La Presse en Liberté week, which includes an exhibition and debates on press freedom organized at UNESCO by the Delegation of France and Switzerland to UNESCO(22 – 29 March);
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Geneva– The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development held its 2017 Spring Meeting in Hong Kong, SAR China, yesterday, and committed to concrete actions that will spur the roll out of broadband around the world. Currently, some 5 billion people are without mobile broadband access, meaning that the paths to access digital services and applications are currently blocked for much of the world’s population - holding back progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The need to come up with a new deal between all players was roundly debated, with renewed commitment to work towards concrete actions that will effectively connect the unconnected with broadband - especially to support Least Developed Countries. In particular, emphasis was placed on remote and rural areas which represent the biggest challenge and where barriers to access need to be also viewed through the prism of affordability and content, notably local and multi-lingual content.
Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission, President Paul Kagame underlined that “ICT and broadband are linking everyone and everything for the betterment of economies and societies. We are motivated by wanting to have the global community connected, especially the billions of unconnected. We will succeed when we work together: government, industry and civil society leaders.”
Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of ITU and co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission stated, “Our central conviction is that broadband and ICTs are critical if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. ICTs underpin vital achievements and modern services in many sectors, and governments and industry must increasingly work together to create the conditions so badly needed to facilitate the growth of broadband for sustainable development.”
The 2030 Agenda provided the context for discussion. Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General and co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission noted, “The framework for all our work is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals. We must ensure the digital revolution is a revolution for human rights, in order to promote technological breakthroughs as development breakthroughs.”
The importance of scaling efforts on digital education and mobile learning was a matter which received full support and agreement. In advance of UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week, many Commissioners singled education out as one of the most fundamental areas for action where the Commission can fuel effective change.
A recurrent issue under discussion was the need to strike a workable balance between investment and taxation, for the benefit of all members of society - to promote human development and sustainable growth, while spurring innovation. On top of this are issues associated with the cost of spectrum auctions, often in key markets where the digital divide is most prevalent.
The Commission underlined the need to build an ecosystem with government, including all ministries, and private sector working together, for more efficient investment and taxation, to empower all. In this respect, it was recommended to work more closely with Ministries of Finance to better promote the development potential of broadband.
In the run up to the day-long meeting of the Commission there was a series of four Working Group meetings focused on a range of broadband-related issues, notably: education, outer space technologies, a new pilot initiative to index the pace of digitalization at national level, and the digital gender divide.
In addition, a number of broadband commission partners – the United Nations University and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and Harvard University – joined forces to launch a new data research group into the digital gender divide.
Comprised of leaders from government, industry, international organizations and academia, the Broadband Commission was established in 2010 as a top-level advocacy body promoting broadband as an accelerator of global development. The Commission is chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helú. In September 2015 it was re-named the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development with the specific purpose of working to help achieve, through the power of broadband connectivity, the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Commission’s Spring Meeting 2017 was hosted by Huawei Technologies which also included a visit to Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen on 17 March 2017.
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Under the global theme of Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies, participants will examine current challenges facing media, including the continuous trend worldwide of attacks against those who bring journalism to the public.
From 1 to 2 May, even before the main programme of the international conference, a safety training workshop will be organized by the Indonesian Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI - the Alliance of Independent Journalists). Supported by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and Norway, the training forms part of a larger project in the region, aimed at strengthening the professional skills of journalists and editors from Timor-Leste.
This capacity building initiative will be complemented by a second safety workshop by the US-based NGO, IREX, on 2 May, focusing on the organisation’s concept of integrated safety that combines physical, digital and psychosocial safety.
In addition, a consultative roundtable will be organized on 2 May to discuss the feasibility of a mechanism for the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and the safety of journalists within the region. Participants will seek to identify the most appropriate modalities for the region – whether a Special Rapporteur, an independent commission, or another modality.
During the main programme from 3 to 4 May, the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity will be tackled by experts from all over the world in three sessions, each providing a different angle on these topics.
One session, titled Journalists’ Safety and Tackling Impunity: How can crimes against media workers be addressed?, is organized by the press freedom NGO International Media Support. In this, panelists will discuss the current global and national mechanisms in place and examine new ways to counter violence against the media.
In a second discussion, the impact in the Asia-Pacific region of the United Nations’ flagship framework, the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, will be assessed. The outcomes of this session will feed into the Multi-stakeholder Consultation on Strengthening the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity that will be organized by UNESCO and OHCHR on 29 June 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.
A third session will examine prospects to implement regional and national initiatives promoting press freedom and safety, in the form a round table titled Press freedom in Southeast Asia: the way forward, organized by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance.
Alongside the main events, a dedicated academic conference bringing together researchers specialized in the area of journalists’ safety is being organized. It builds upon the success of the previous edition in Helsinki, Finland during last year’s World Press Freedom Day.
Within the framework of UNESCO’s Research Agenda on the Safety of Journalists, the conference provides a platform for academic inquiry towards understanding and eventually countering the current trend of violent acts towards media workers. Ms Agnès Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions, will deliver the keynote.
A number of papers touching safety of journalists are also expected at the 6th annual conference of Orbicom, the International Network of UNESCO Chairs in Communication over 4-6 May. The event is called “Peace Journalism and Conflict Resolution in the Media” and is co-hosted by the Faculty of Communication, Universitas Pancasila, Jakarta.
The 24th edition of World Press Freedom Day will also see the award of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. More information about the event can be found on the official website. Registration to participate is open until 20 April 2017.