UN summit 'driven too much by commercial need'

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has criticised last week’s United Nations World Summit on the Information Society for failing to address journalists’ need for protection from persecution. He also attacked the summit for being driven by the interests of big business.

Dear claimed the Geneva summit neglected issues related to journalists’ rights of association and avoided tackling a growing worldwide concentration of media ownership.

“The summit was driven too much by commercial need and not enough by the need to defend and extend the right to freedom of expression or the rights of media workers,” Dear said.

He claimed the summit agreed on “a lengthy declaration and action plan”, but warned that it failed to tackle key issues affecting media workers worldwide, including the need for media diversity or the protection of authors’ rights.

“There are some good aspirations in the document – we hope to see concrete action to bring about steps to bridge the divide between rich and poor countries and address access to media technologies.

“An alternative declaration was issued by civil society groups who attended the summit, backing calls for greater protection for media workers and steps to guarantee media diversity, free expression and access to media technologies for all.”

More than 10,000 people attended the summit; Robert Mugabe was among 60 heads of state. The second phase will take place in Tunis in 2005.

By Wale Azeez

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