The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' organisation, today welcomed the decision by the 58-nation Executive Board of UNESCO to grant the Federation a new status, that of Associate Relations, raising it to the highest level.
Previously, the IFJ had consultative status with UNESCO. Associate Relations status is special recognition of the IFJ's expertise in representing journalists and is awarded to a small number of organisations dealing with the UN agency's fields of interest. The IFJ's media counterpart in the print media - the World Association of Newspapers - has also been granted Associate Relations status.
"This is a welcome decision," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, "It brings to journalists privileged recognition that at the moment is only granted to a handful of groups working in the field of culture, science and education."
At the same time, the IFJ International Executive Committee will next month consider a proposal to sign up to the Global Compact launched by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, which calls for more corporate and civic responsibility world-wide.
The IFJ says that UNESCO member states have now recognised that journalism is one of the mainstream concerns of the United Nations. "This will do much to strengthen our relations and will give added value to our co-operation in the years to come," said Aidan White.
Over the past year, the IFJ, with the help of UNESCO and other organisations, has provided risk awareness training to journalists working in dangerous conditions. This year more than 200 journalists in Afghanistan, Palestine and Nepal have received help. UNESCO has also supported the IFJ's opening of a project Centre for Solidarity with Colombian Journalists in Bogotá.
Over the years UNESCO and the IFJ have worked closely together on numerous projects aimed at expanding pluralism within media. The new status gives the IFJ a more formal advisory role on UNESCO's programmes and activities. There will also be a closer working relationship with the UNESCO Director General Mr Koichiro Matsuura on journalism issues.
UNESCO's Director-General, Mr Koichiro Matsuura, welcomed the Executive Board's decision to establish formal associate relations with the IFJ "it is recognition of the Federation's close and fruitful collaboration with UNESCO," he said, "and we want to further develop and enhance our partnership."