The IFJ is a voluntary federation of unions and associations representing journalists and media professionals around the world – our strength is in our unity, but we always recognize that our affiliates have a choice to be members.
The IFJ remains committed to building the strongest possible global voice for journalists and media workers to secure their professional, labour and social rights and to defend media freedom. We will do so by continuing to recruit new affiliates around the world, serving existing affiliates and maintaining a dialogue to seek to persuade those who have left to return.
According to a statement made by DJV President, Frank Überall, DJV decided to leave because of “a lack of transparency, solitary decisions by the IFJ management and undemocratic behaviour”.
While the IFJ always strives to improve all its operations it rejects unsubstantiated allegations of corruption as false, defamatory and damaging. This is defamation and the IFJ reserves the right to take the matter to court.
The IFJ has a robust system of transparency. The IFJ’s accounts are deposited, by law, with the National Bank of Belgium (BNB) and are publicly available to all. The IFJ sends its audited accounts to all 189 affiliates every year in advance of the Annual Meeting and all financial reports are available on the members' area of the IFJ website. At the Annual Meeting all affiliates can attend, ask questions and scrutinise the accounts.
As at every World Congress, for the Congress in June 2022, all affiliates received in advance by pdf, and on the spot in hard copy, all the reports of the President, Honorary Treasurer and General Secretary. All these reports were presented to the Congress and adopted unanimously. The elected lay-member Finance Commission report is presented and was also endorsed unanimously.
Like all other IFJ unions, the DJV received all these documents but never asked a single question or made a single remark.
The IFJ even negotiated an agreement with the DJV in 2022 to find an acceptable solution to the payment of the debt of 285,000 Euro that the DJV owed the IFJ. Because of this huge debt accumulated by the DJV over many years of not fulfilling its obligations to pay financial contributions on behalf of its members, the IFJ was forced to suspend the DJV, which was lifted by the Congress only after the payment agreement was presented.
A few days before the Annual General Meeting in Athens, 20 April 2023, the Executive Director of the DJV and the General Secretary exchanged numerous e-mails so that the DJV observer, who had registered late, could receive all the financial documents and even find a hotel. The Executive Director of the DJV thanked the IFJ General Secretary by email !
2. ATHENS MOTIONS
In a DJV self-interview with its President, Frank Überall says that all three DJV motions and those of some European trade unions were rejected. This is not true.
Motion 2 on the “Accountability of the IFJ”, put forward by the DJV, was the subject of many questions and comments. First of all, this motion was formally out of order, as it implies a change in the Federation's constitution through the proposal to appoint a “high commissioner”. Only a Congress can do this. The DJV observer then amended the motion to change the term to “a competent person”, and later to “an experienced person”. When questioned of who would decide on the competence of the person in question, their responsibilities and their scope of work, he could not answer in a meaningful way, and in the end, withdrew the motion.
It was therefore not "rejected”.
Motion 3 on “Projects in Africa”, presented also by the DJV, was criticised in many ways. Several participants found it discriminatory and even racist. Why should the funds allocated to Africa "since 2000" be particularly scrutinised and their use detailed? What about Asia? South America? European countries?
The DJV observer withdrew the motion, which was therefore not "rejected" as some have reported.
Motion 4 on the “Accountability”, was also withdrawn by the DJV observer after he realised that it was incompetent and not in accordance with the facts. It was therefore not "defeated" as some have reported.
Motion 5 on IFJ financial transparency, put forward by some 30 affiliates, was amended by the NUJ (UK and Ireland) and voted through. The amended motion which was adopted contains very thoughtful proposals on how to progress issues of governance referred to by the movers.
Motion 6 on IFJ/EFJ cooperation and its financial implications was amended by 20 unions from Africa and Latin America and passed.
3. IFJ CONGRESS
In June 2022 the IFJ held its 32nd World Congress in Muscat, Oman, at the invitation of its affiliate, the Oman Journalists Association (OJA). IFJ Congresses have been held in a range of countries across the world with varying systems of government and democratic rights. In this way the IFJ is able to support its affiliates in strengthening their work on media freedom and journalists professional and social rights. It is precisely because media freedom is threatened or journalists are prevented from working independently that the IFJ moves and acts. It is in this spirit that the IFJ has held meetings of its elected bodies in Palestine, Tunisia, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Russia, Egypt and Taiwan in recent years.
In 2022, Motion No.6 on press freedom in Oman, tabled by the Norwegian Union of Journalists, was passed unanimously by the Congress and was welcomed by the OJA. Discussions were held on LGBTIA rights, including calls on the Omani government to reform its repressive legislation.
No government ministers or representatives were invited to speak to the Congress. Inaccurate and misleading figures about the alleged cost of the IFJ Congress and the sources of funding have been published by some media.
The IFJ rejects allegations that holding a Congress in a particular country or receiving funding from public bodies or commercial enterprises has had any influence on the ability of the Congress to discuss, debate and decide on any issue in the same way it is done at every Congress – no matter the venue.
As already mentioned, the DJV was not present at the IFJ World Congress in 2022, nor at the one in Tunis in 2019.
On 24 February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine the IFJ and its regional group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), launched a joint solidarity fund to support Ukrainian journalists and exiled Russian journalists. Since that date more than €600,000 has been raised, and working with our two Ukrainian unions, six Journalists Solidarity Centres offering protective equipment, safety training, psychological and legal support, work spaces for journalists from occupied territories and humanitarian grants have been established in Ukraine.
In October, the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) established four branches in Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia. The IFJ issued a statement condemning the move. The IFJ Executive Committee unanimously passed a motion, in line with the IFJ rules, condemning the decision and triggering
Article 16 of the IFJ Constitution, which can lead to the suspension and eventual expulsion of an affiliate, obliging the General Secretary to investigate the establishment of the 4 new branches and to report back to the Executive Committee.
The report of the General Secretary was presented to the Administrative Committee on 9 February and considered by an extraordinary session of the Executive Committee on 22 February. The RUJ was suspended.
International solidarity cannot just be about writing press releases from Brussels, but is characterised by an uncompromising - independent - commitment to journalists and media workers, wherever they may be.
The IFJ is proud of its daily work – from conflict zones to underground activity in some of the most repressive environments for journalists. For 97 years wherever journalists have faced threats the IFJ and its affiliates have stood up for journalists and journalism. We will not stop.
No organization is perfect. All can strive to be more effective, deliver more. All remarks, suggestions and proposals for improving and developing the work we do are important, are listened to, debated and responded to, from all our affiliates from all regions of the world.
Today, more than ever, as we advance towards our centenary, the International Federation of Journalists remains committed to working tirelessly for the collective interest of journalists and media workers, spearheading the fight for the safety of journalists, advocating for the protection of journalists at the UN, challenging the surveillance of journalists, including the threats created by the Pegasus software and through the global labour movement fighting for workers’ rights at the workplace.