Access to independent media and information has a critical role in efforts to promote accountable government and foster political cohesion in fragile states and countries in transition. How can international donors most effectively support media in these environments?
The High Level Panel of Eminent Persons Report recommending a new development framework to replace the existing Millennium Development Goals has proposed an ‘indicative’ set of twelve new universal goals, including – within a goal of ensuring ‘good governance and effective institutions’ – that ‘people enjoy freedom of speech, association, peaceful protest and access to independent media and information.’
This is arguably the first time that support to media and access to independent information have been so explicitly defined as a core element of a future development agenda. This conference examined what such support means, especially in those fragile and conflict affected states which have become high development priorities and where the challenges to independent media are often greatest.
The 2011 New Deal for Engagement with Fragile States, agreed at the Busan Conference on Aid Effectiveness, articulated a fresh consensus on the principles and strategies underpinning development assistance to fragile states. The role of the media, however, and of support to the media within the Busan framework, is not yet clearly developed.
Designed primarily for officials responsible for strategy and policy on fragile states in the development and diplomatic agencies of international donors, and with the participation of media and civil society representatives from those states themselves, the conference objectives were to:
- map the role of media in fragile states in the 21st century and assess whether media and communication should be an increasing priority for those policymakers engaged in supporting fragile states;
- explore which strategies have and have not worked to date in supporting media in fragile states and assess the most useful steps development and diplomatic organisations can take in understanding and supporting media in these contexts.
- consider linkages between international support to the media and broader governance assistance that aims to strengthen domestic accountability in fragile and transition states.