United Nations CSTD Elects Omobola Johnson as Chairperson

Nigeria’s Communication Technology Minister, Dr Omobola Johnson, has been elected Chairperson of the United Nations’ Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) for one year. She was elected at the end of the 17th Session of the Commission which was held in May, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The new Chairperson who is also the Supervising Minister of Science and Technology in Nigeria will engage in discussions that will shape the role of science and technology in development .These discussions will include deliberations on the manner at which the internet could be governed globally and a proper regulation of  Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in member countries.

The CSTD is a subsidiary body of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and plays an advisory role in the UN’s General Assembly and ECOSOC on a range of relevant issues. These issues pertain to the contributions of science and technology to development, particularly in developing countries.

 Since 2006, CSTD has also advised ECOSOC on the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). The CSTD is composed of 43 Members States that are elected by ECOSOC for a term of four years which meets annually for a period of one week. Nigeria is one of the eleven African States that are members of the Commission, and its tenure in the Commission ends in 2016.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Canvasses Journalists’ Safety

The United Nations  High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, has stressed the need to ensure the safety of media workers as they play a vital role in democracy. Speaking at a panel discussion in Geneva, Switzerland last month,she noted that the safety of journalists is quite vital to the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of everyone, as well as to the right to development.

According to Pillay, journalists and other media workers are increasingly being targeted with violence in recent years with more than a thousand journalists having been killed since 1992 as a direct result of their profession. She added that 2012 and 2013 were among the deadliest years ever, and that at least 15 have been killed since the start of 2014.

Citing the range of other forms of attacks against media workers, she explained that many more journalists have faced violence, harassment, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, and sexual violence against women journalists.

 The High Commissioner noted that there has been an increased international awareness in recent years of the frequency with which journalists are attacked because of their work, and the need to ensure greater protection.

She said: “From a human rights perspective, it is clear that all individuals are entitled to the full protection of their human rights, whether the State recognizes them as ‘journalists’ or not; whether they are professional reporters or ‘citizen journalists’; whether or not they have a degree in journalism; whether they report online or offline. Most importantly, States must combat impunity. Every act of violence committed against a journalist that goes uninvestigated, and unpunished, is an open invitation for further violence as ensuring accountability for attacks against journalists is a key element in preventing future attacks.”

She contended that “Failure to do so may be interpreted as tolerance of or acquiescence to, violence. The investigation and prosecution of all attacks against journalists through an effective and functioning domestic criminal justice system is imperative, and there must be remedy for the victims.”

The High Commissioner noted that promoting safety of journalists and combating impunity for those who attack them are central elements within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) support for press freedom, adding that the Paris-based agency is committed to advancing press freedom and safety of journalists, both offline and online, through a variety of actions, including awareness raising, promoting partnerships and coordination of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists.

The UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity was developed in 2012 by UNESCO AND is now being implemented in five pilot countries – Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, South Sudan, and Tunisia.

African Press Organization Calls for Media Award Entries

The African Press Organization (APO),  has announced the opening of entries for its 2014 Media Award.

The APO Media Award coming up in September 2014 is open to African journalists and bloggers, whether directly employed or freelancers, working in the continent of Africa who have produced a story that has been broadcast or published in English, French, Portuguese or Arabic in the form of a printed publication, a television feature, a radio story, a website or a blog and whose primary audience is based in Africa.

The first-place winner of the APO Media Award will receive: $500 a month for one year; a laptop; one intercontinental flight ticket to a destination of his or her choice; and one year access to over 600 airports VIP lounges worldwide. The second-place winner will receive $300 a month for one year, while the third-place winner will receive $200 a month for one year.

The award, according to the organisers, celebrates brilliant and inspiring stories about Africa. The subject matter may comprise a single topic or a variety of subjects, including; business, economy, technology, agriculture, health, energy, gender, logistics, tourism, motoring, aviation, not-for-profit issues, diplomacy, environment, mining, entertainment and more.

Stories must have been broadcast or published between January and August 2014. Entries  are judged on content, writing, analysis, creativity, human interest and community impact.

 All stories must be submitted in electronic format such as:

a) Print: upload the scan(s) of the published article.

b) Radio: upload the SoundCloud link ( https://soundcloud.com).

c) Website: upload the URL.

d) TV: upload the YouTube link.

TV material must first be uploaded to YouTube (www.youtube.com) and radio material to SoundCloud (www.soundcloud.com) before submission.

The deadline for entries is September 1 , 2014. Finalists will be announced on September 15, 2014 and the winners will be announced on  September 29, 2014.

Interested applicants can visit www.apo-opa.com for more information.

Network of Translators Launched to Advocate for Press Freedom

An advocacy network of linguists called “Translators for Journalists Network” was launched last month in Paris, France. The group of Linguists, who are all members of Kontax, forged the network following the gruesome murder of Naseeb Karnafah.

Karnafah was a Libyan journalist on Al-Wataniya TV whose body was found dead in a cemetery in Sabha, Libya two days after she had been kidnapped. According to the network, they stated, “Her death and those of her colleagues around the world are both the motive for the creation of the network, and the reason why the standards, the press apply in its work must be of the highest order.”

The Network  plans to apply standards and practices similar to those of journalists, in the choice of subject matter, its treatment, and in the procedures used to ensure that their translations are accurate, accountable, and do not endanger journalists such as Naseeb Karnafah. In so doing, they will not only be informed about attempts to curb freedom of speech in the media, but also help protect the public’s freedom of thought.

The Network said, “Journalists like Naseeb are harassed, kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured and killed everyday all around the world. It is not a question of east or west, north or south. In any country there will always be people who try to curb the freedom of journalists to remind us of our own. If the right to write, read, say or think what we want is universal, the most important liberty is that of the press, because it safeguards all the others. The proof is that in every country where democracy is in peril, those in power will always want to first muzzle journalists as power over the press is the key to power over the people.”

Kontax is a body which translates copyright-free articles about freedom of the media in about 160 countries.

Washington D.C to Host World Newspaper Congress 2015

The United States Capital, Washington DC, has been selected to host the 67th edition of the World Newspaper Congress and the 22nd World Editors Forum in June, 2015. The Congress and Editors Forum are organized by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

This was announced at the closure of the 2014 edition, in Turin, Italy which drew over 1,000 publishers, chief editors and other senior newspaper executives from around the world.

The Congress and Editors Forum which is an annual global summit meeting of the world’s press have been held annually since 1948, including five times in the United States. It was held in Washington, in 1970 and 1996, and in New York (1960), Las Vegas (1979) and New Orleans (1989) while the 2015 edition will be organized in cooperation with the Newspaper Association of America.

According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of WAN-IFRA, Vincent Peyregne said: “We are delighted to be returning to the United States and to Washington at a crucial time for our industry. A gathering of publishers and editors from more than 80 countries in the American capital will be an opportunity for a wide exchange of business strategies, editorial practices and policy positions that will be beneficial for all.”

The President and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, Caroline Little said:  “On behalf of the Newspaper Association of America, I am thrilled to welcome the World Newspaper Congress to Washington, D.C. in 2015, the event is a tremendous opportunity for global publishers, editors and advertisers to gather and exchange ideas about the future of our industry. We look forward to showcasing how the U.S. newspaper industry has transformed by innovating its print, digital and mobile offerings.”

WAN-IFRA is the global organization of the world’s newspapers and news publishers and represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. Its core mission is to defend and promote press freedom, quality journalism, editorial integrity and the development of prosperous businesses.

Registration and information about next year’s Congress and Forum in the United States can be found at http://www.wan-ifra.org/DC2015.