Media and Freedom of Expression: Keys to the Libyan reconciliation process
At Casa Árabe, representatives of the Libyan media approve the “Madrid III” action plan promoting national reconciliation and freedom of expression in Libya.
June 07, 2016
On June 1 and 3, 2016 at Casa Árabe in Madrid, the third seminar for Libyan media was held with the title: “Moving Towards Professional Media through Madrid III: An action plan for reforming the Libyan media sector,” which brought together approximately 20 Libyan media directors and journalists to debate reforms for strengthening the freedom of press in Libya.
The seminar, like those held in the past at Casa Árabe in Madrid, as well, in July and October of 2015, was organized jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and by the United Nations Organization for Education Science and Culture (UNESCO).
The State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Ignacio Ybáñez, in his speech at the seminar’s opening ceremony, expressed his thanks for UNESCO’s participation in the three seminars being held and the support of the Spanish International Development Cooperation Agency (AECID), Casa Árabe and the governments of Austria, the United States and Finland.
Spain’s commitment to Libya
Ignacio Ybáñez highlighted the need for a commitment by the Libyan media to providing truthful, independent information that ignores propaganda and shuns hate speech. In situations of conflict, the essential work performed by journalists becomes dangerous, as well. Because of this, as the State Secretary reminded, Spain promoted the initiative to create a special representative for journalist security at the recent United Nations Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.
Last of all, Ybáñez reaffirmed Spain’s commitment to the stabilization of Libya and enumerated its contributions in the field of security, with its participation in EUNAVFOR MED SOPHIA, EUBAM Libya and UNSMIL-UE, as well as its international cooperation with projects to strengthen the prison system administration, the political participation of Libyan women, the African Union’s network of Libyan women and support for the office of the African Union’s special envoy to Libya.
Action plan for reconciliation
The closing session of the seminar included the participation of the State Secretary for International Cooperation and for Iberian America, Jesús Gracia Aldaz, who underlined the important role of Libyan journalists and media professionals in strengthening dialogue, reconciliation and mutual understanding. Gracia Aldaz reminded us how Spain’s experience with its own political transition has demonstrated the role of a free and independent press in democracy and national reconciliation, a reason behind Spain’s support of media reform in Libya.
The participants, building on the foundations of the Madrid I and II declarations signed in July and October 2015 and the proposal of an ethical code for Libyan journalists and media professionals in times of crisis, agreed to an Action Plan for the period of June-December 2016 in which, amongst other things, they declare their will to begin producing a guide containing a glossary of hate speech which must be avoided and to work on specific proposals for the establishment of an Independent National Commission for Media Regulation.
In addition to the sessions at Casa Árabe, the participants visited the installations of Radio Televisión Española, Spain’s national public television broadcaster, to see its educational platform in person.