Plan of Action For Journalists And Media a in South-Eastern Europe

Conflict Reporting and the Media: The Role of Journalism In the Prevention and Resolution of Conflict

24/26 June, 1999 Ohrid, FYR Macedonia

We, the 50 representatives of journalists' trade unions, editors and experts from 18 countries meeting at the IFJ conference organised within the Royaumont process in Ohrid on June 24-26,1999 having discussed the role of journalism in reporting conflict

recognising the critical situation facing journalists and media in the region of South-eastern Europe,

supporting actions to strengthen independent journalism and the creation of a diverse and democratic media culture across the region,

believing that free and professional media provide for democratic debate in society involving all groups not just the powerful and influential,

recognising the importance of strong and representative organisations of media professionals as vital partners in the creation of the conditions for independent journalism,

demanding that the European political bodies, including the OSCE, Council of Europe and the European Union, take action to remove all obstacles to media freedom including repressive laws,

insisting that all journalists must be guaranteed freedom of movement throughout the region in the exercise of their work;

believing that all assistance programmes must be developed and carried out with the full involvement of the journalists' associations and trade unions,

agree to the following framework and elements for a programme of action and assistance to media:

1. IMPROVING SAFETY OF JOURNALISTS

To provide safety training for all journalists in the region building on the models currently being developed by journalists' unions and safety training institutions through the International Institute of News Safety;

To translate basic safety booklets and training materials into all languages of the region and to distribute these materials to every newsroom;

To ensure that every newsroom has a basic safety kit which will be available for the use of journalists and news gatherers.

2. IMPROVING CONDITIONS FOR JOURNALISTIC INDEPENDENCE AND PROFESSIONALISM

To relaunch the Alliance of Kosova Journalists in Pristina and to ensure that it is equipped to be fully involved in development, implementation and monitoring of media assistance programmes in Kosovo;

To unify the profession through structural support and political recognition of the need for representative journalists' associations and trade unions which can play an instrumental role in formulation of media policy and development;

To support cross-border co-operation and regional networks of media centres, training institutes and journalists' unions and associations;

To promote common standards of editorial independence and minimum editorial statutes in state-owned, public and private media in the region through initiatives of the IFJ and its member organisations;

To organise an annual round table meeting for journalists' organisations and media from all parts of the region to promote co-operation and solidarity among media professionals;

To recognise outstanding journalism in the area of diversity through an annual journalism award for journalists in the region;

To promote minimum standards of social and professional conditions of service for journalists and to ensure that all journalists and media staff are adequately paid for their work;

To develop independent systems of self-regulation under the jurisdiction of media professionals which can act as media observatories to monitor media performance paying particular attention to issues of diversity in the media and violations of press freedom.

3. BUILDING AWARENESS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, DIVERSITY AND CONFLICT REPORTING ISSUES AMONG JOURNALISTS

To launch broadly-based campaigns supported by coalitions of groups within civil society and journalism in defence of media freedom (for instance: campaigning for freedom of information);

To develop joint initiatives of journalists' organisations and other groups in civil society in support of fundamental human rights including, in particular, recognition of rights of minorities;

To continue and expand professional training programmes covering tolerance issues as developed by the Reporting Diversity Network (European Centre for War, Peace, and the News Media) which should also promote the values of citizenship and diversity in media;

To examine new ways and methods of working on the issue of journalism and conflict in order to widen the scope of reporting which will create new options for reporters and editors and ensure professional access to all relevant sources of information and interests involved;

To welcome the opportunity to contribute to a publication on media coverage of the war in Kosovo as proposed by the IPI and other organisations.

4. ASSISTANCE PROGRAMMES THAT ARE INCLUSIVE, ACCOUNTABLE AND LONG-TERM

To insist that a comprehensive plan of action for the support and development of media and independent journalism is included within the Regional Stability Pact including the allocation of substantial funding to achieve these aims;

To insist that training and assistance programmes are open to all journalists, including the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and are aimed at strengthening journalists' rights and professionalism throughout the entire region;

To launch an IFJ publication reviewing the quality and impact of media assistance programmes in the region in recent years;

To demand that media assistance programmes tackle all obstacles to media freedom and independent journalism and include a long-term commitment of support;

To adhere to principles of transparency and accountability in the allocation and disbursement of public funds. Full reporting on use of funds must be made public;

To aim to provide transparent mechanisms of co-ordination of media assistance programmes accessible to journalists in the region;

To provide a swift response to media in crisis through a fast-track process of support to media directly affected by violent conflict and social dislocation.