Working closely with national, regional and international partners is for IMS a fundamental instrument in addressing the challenges of media development assistance globally. Working in partnerships is a means of making development assistance more efficient which leads to bigger impact.
When democratic reforms in March 2011 opened up Myanmar to the international community, there was an influx of international organisations and donors looking to support the development of the media sector. The Myanmar Ministry of Information in partnership with UNESCO, IMS, Canal France International and Nordic donors thus hosted a meeting for Myanmar media, civil society and international media development organisations in March 2012 in Yangon to provide inspiration for the reform of the Myanmar media sector. The aim of the meeting was to share best practices from the region and create a common understanding of the challenges and needs of media in Myanmar.
The outcome of the historic event was a list of recommendations for the Myanmar government and media actors on the way forward built around the UNESCO media development indicators. The event established a platform on which to begin collaboration and coordination of efforts between the participating parties. A follow-up conference is planned for mid-2013.
In 2012, the Nepal International Media Partnership released its analysis of Nepal’s constitutional proposals regarding the right to Freedom of Expression which was shared with the Nepalese government. The Partnership, which consists of international organisations working to support the positive development of the Nepalese media sector, also recommended to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that a national mechanism be set up to protect journalists. The NHRC is now working to set up a mechanism with both preventative and protective functions which includes representatives of government, the Attorney General’s office, the police and the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.
The new protection mechanism is expected to play a coordinating role in the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity for which Nepal has been selected as a rollout country.
The Nepal International Media Partnership meets with Nepal’s then Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai (centre) in February 2012. Photo: FNJ
Building on the 2nd UN inter-agency meeting on the safety of journalists in Vienna in November 2012 where IMS moderated a session aimed at finding a common vision amongst civil society organisations, the Plan is now set to be jointly rolled out by UNESCO, Open Society Foundations and IMS in six countries: Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, South Sudan, Mexico, and Honduras. The Plan of Action provides a worldwide framework for media and civil society organisations, UN bodies and crucially governments to share and harmonise their approach to improving the safety of journalists. With its integration of UN agencies and governments, the Plan of Action will complement and give new impetus to on-going civil society initiatives to improve the safety of journalists at the national levels.
Twice a year IMS organises a conference in Iraq where all international organisations working with media development in the country are invited. The aim of these meetings which took place in April and October 2012 was to coordinate common activities and to work for a shared vision in the Iraqi media sector.
”The difficult circumstances make coordination among media support organisations an important priority, says Osama Al-Habahbeh,” IMS Programme Manager for Iraq.
The meetings have created awareness amongst the organisations of each other’s work and have led to discussions on issues such as business development to improve the income generating activities of the independent media.
Following the conflict which erupted in Mali in the beginning of 2012 and the subsequent information vacuum brought on by a destroyed media sector, IMS, Panos West Africa and Media Foundation West Africa undertook a rapid response partnership mission in October 2012 to assess the impact of the crisis on the media sector and its needs. The outcome was the assessment report “Media in Mali divided by conflict”, which was widely shared within the international media development community and which has formed the basis of a joint programme in the country between Panos West Africa, Media Foundation West Africa and IMS.
In Zimbabwe, the long-running effort to harmonise international media development work and anchor it with local organisations continued with a stakeholder meeting convening a broad representation of national and international partners. As an annual tradition, the meeting identifies needs and strategic priorities of Zimbabwe’s media, and works to provide coordination and a sense of shared direction for its development.