The Thomson Reuters Foundation has been selected by the UK Government to set up, host and run a Secretariat function to support the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC) – a partnership of 50 countries working together to advocate for media freedom and the safety of journalists.
The appointment was first announced by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK Government (FCDO) at the Third Global Conference for Media Freedom on 9 February. Thanks to the generosity of the UK Government, up to £600,000 funding will be made available to the Secretariat to advance the work of the MFC, with a view to ensuring its future sustainability and visibility as an independent organisation.
The privilege of this responsibility has been awarded in recognition of the Foundation’s unique expertise at the nexus of media and the law, bolstered by a legacy of more than 35 years promoting the highest standards in journalism, pioneering the world’s largest pro bono legal network, and its capacity to convene experts across the world to build global awareness of critical issues and inspire collective action.
The Secretariat will serve as a vital function to the Coalition, which was established in 2019 by the UK and Canadian governments and whose member countries have signed the Global Media Freedom pledge. The UK has handed co-chair responsibilities to the Netherlands, after two years in this important role steering the Coalition. Canada will continue as co-chair until the end of 2022.
The Foundation will be supporting the MFC, in particular the co-chairs and the Executive Group, to strengthen the coalition’s capacity for action and engagement. Institutionalising MFC’s secretariat will ensure the coalition can better coordinate between members, be transparent, and proactively promote its initiatives to defend media freedom worldwide.
Chief Executive of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Antonio Zappulla, said: “The media is a crucial pillar of any free, fair and informed society, yet 55 journalists and media workers were killed last year, and the number of journalists jailed for their work stands at a global high. Compounded by the unprecedented economic and technological challenges facing media outlets, the defence of media freedom and ability to hold to account those who violate it is more pressing than ever.
“By supporting the MFC to amplify the work of the Coalition, along with its partners the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, the Consultative Network, and UNESCO, the Foundation will support members to harness the power of diplomatic networks and improve protections for the media locally and worldwide.”