Chairmanship Conference on “Protection of Safety and Integrity of Journalists in the OSCE Region”: Joint Concluding Statement

This statement is being made on behalf of the following 46 participating States: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, the European Union and its member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States of America.

The co-sponsors of this statement commend the Serbian Chairmanship for organizing this conference. It has provided a timely reminder of how threats to the safety of those in the media are an attack on freedom of speech and expression and can have a chilling effect on democracy.

We express our gratitude and admiration to the journalists and civil society representatives that have contributed ideas and shared their experiences of the difficulties that they encounter. Their participation has enhanced our appreciation of the scale of the challenge but also provided examples of best practice that can contribute to the improved implementation of OSCE commitments.

We emphasize our resolve to promote the full implementation of existing OSCE commitments on freedom of expression including those related to the safety of journalists. We believe that we can further strengthen OSCE commitments, and in this regard should look to initiatives in other multilateral fora, and reflect the principles agreed in texts such as UNGA Resolution 68/163 of 18 December 2013 as well as the Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/27/5 of 25 September 2014 within our own OSCE commitments.

The participating States have mandated the Representative on Freedom of the Media to “observe media developments and to advocate and promote full compliance with the OSCE’s principles and commitments regarding freedom of expression and free media”. We affirm our full support for the professional, impartial and determined manner in which the Representative and her team exercise this function.

Societies around the world are strengthened and enriched by free speech. No one should face murder, violence, intimidation or harassment for exercising his or her right to freedom of expression. The proposal for a draft Ministerial Decision on the Right to Freedom of Expression tabled by over forty participating States prior to the Basel Ministerial Council advocated for concrete commitments in support of this principle as well as other proposals to promote freedom of expression, including by members of the media. We encourage the Serbian Chairmanship to build on the momentum generated by the Basel draft as it prepares for the Belgrade Ministerial Council.

As delivered to the OSCE Serbian Chairmanship Conference on “Protection of Safety and Integrity of Journalists in the OSCE Region” | Belgrade, March 27