On 15 September the world will mark the 15th anniversary of the International Day of Democracy - a day to review the state of democracy in the world. This year, Democracy Day will focus on the importance of media freedom to democracy, peace, and delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals.
A global public ready to make informed decisions and hold governments to account is critical to democracy. When media freedoms are under threat - the flow of information can be stifled, skewed or cut off entirely. Increasingly, journalists around the world face limits to their ability to operate freely – with a grave impact on human rights, democracy and development. UNESCO has reported that 85% of the world’s population experienced a decline in press freedom in their country in the past five years.
Democracy is backsliding, civic space is shrinking, distrust, mis- and disinformation are growing. And journalists all over the world are increasingly facing attacks, online and offline, targeting particularly women journalists; increasing detention; the use of defamation laws as well as cybersecurity or hate speech laws to curb online expression; the growing use of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation Laws and surveillance technologies to target them and hamper their work. The Covid-19 crisis has also shown how it has become more critical than ever for media to gather and evaluate facts and fight disinformation.
About 30% of the UN Democracy Fund projects, work to support media and freedom of information and expression. Current projects include drafting legal frameworks for access to information in The Gambia; combatting hate speech in Albania, supporting citizen journalism in Ukraine; and fighting mis- and dis-information in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa; and supporting media rights and freedom of expression in Sri Lanka.
To mark International Democracy Day this year, the UN Office for Partnerships will host a discussion in the SDG studio as part of the SDG Roundtable series. The conversation will showcase why protecting media freedom is a critical component of a healthy democracy. Moreover, it will pose and discuss solutions for the achievement of SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. You can contribute to this work by sharing our roundtable and raising awareness around protecting media freedoms globally.
How to participate:
Join us for a SDG Roundtable discussion in the SDG Studio featuring Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Melissa Fleming in conversation with UN officials and dynamic journalists working on the ground to preserve a free press.
Share our official social media package and use #DemocracyDay to join the conversation online on Trello.