Journalists unions from across the Arab World met in Kuwait on 5/6 April to step up their campaign to establish a regional media freedom mechanism.
The initiative, launched in 2014, seeks to establish a special regional mechanism including an office for a media freedom rapporteur, in line with other international and regional mechanisms.
Part of the initiative has included lobbying governments to adopt the Declaration on Media Freedom in the Arab World drawn up by unions, media organizations, national human rights commissions and civil society groups from across the region.
Four countries have already signed the Declaration with a number of other countries expected to follow suit shortly.
The unions have now agreed to intensify the campaign for the signing of the Declaration in the other Arab countries in the coming months.
The Kuwait meeting also decided to establish a joint team from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Federation of Arab Journalists (FAJ) to discuss with The Arab Network for National Human Rights Institutions (ANNHRI) its establishment of an independent mechanism in line with international standards and principles adopted by the UN in its selection process of similar rapportuers.
"Following a three year process of discussions and consultations which involved, in addition to journalists unions, all other major stakeholders, we are now launching a new drive and beginning to actually negotiate the establishment of the mechanism with determination and resilience," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ Administrative Committee member. "We call on all journalists and media support groups to stand shoulder to shoulder to help achieve a successful outcome to these negotiations."
In addition to the issue of the Special Mechanism, the unions agreed on addtional working programme covering safety of journalsits, trade union development and ethics.
The meeting was hosted by the Kuwaiti Journalists Association and the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information.