At the very core of IMS lies our commitment to work in close partnership with national, regional, and international partners. We take this approach because development assistance is most effective and efficient when aligned with the priorities of the media sectors with which we work, and when it is carried out in harmonisation with what others are doing. In 2013, our partners and we thus jointly initiated and continued a range of efforts to coordinate our work for the future.
Throughout the year, IMS, Open Society Foundations (OSF), UNESCO, and national partners, continued a series of joint efforts under the umbrella of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. In Pakistan, this included the push for the establishment of a special public prosecutor to combat impunity and the setting up of a special coalition to coordinate the work to improve journalists’ safety (see page 16) at a conference in Islamabad in March. In Iraq, IMS and our partners laid the groundwork for two ambitious agreements regulating the relationship between the media community and security forces. IMS, OSF, and UNESCO are also jointly implementing a part of the Plan of Action in Nepal, South Sudan, Mexico, and Honduras.
In Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, IMS organised meetings for national media organisations and international donors to allow the two groups to introduce their respective areas of work and find possible complementarities. In Kyrgyzstan, meetings in April and October served as a first step to coordinate media development in the country, with research presentations on the Kyrgyz media sector, and project pitches from local media NGOs and media outlets seeking to gather support for new ideas. In Tajikistan, a similar setup provided international organisations and local media with an opportunity to share their ideas for improving the current state of the country’s hard-pressed media sector.
In Ukraine, the stark deterioration in journalists’ safety brought on by violent clashes in late 2013 and early 2014, led IMS and 10 international and national media groups to visit Kyiv in February 2014 to show support for the country’s besieged media. The partnership group found clear evidence through eyewitness accounts and testimonies of journalists being directly targeted and attacked because of their work.
In Myanmar, IMS and a range of other international media development groups and national media organisations have been committed to share best practices and identify common challenges since the country’s extensive political reforms began in 2011. In May, IMS and a broad representation of Myanmar media, government institutions, civil society organisations, and international media development groups met for the second annual Conference on Media Development to come up with a set of practical recommendations for the future development of the country’s media.
In Zimbabwe, representatives from across the media sector came together with international media development organisations and donors to continue their long-running efforts to strategise around their work to better the conditions for independent, professional journalism in the country.
In Iraq, another country in massive need of coordinated efforts in support of the media, IMS organised two conferences for international development organisations and local media in 2013. Taking place in March and October, the meetings sought to find common ground among international groups and local media with a view to coordinate activities and work for a shared vision for the future of the Iraqi media sector.
In Syria, the need for coordination of support to the country’s beleaguered media prompted IMS and the Netherlands-based Free Press Unlimited to convene a meeting in June in Copenhagen within the framework of the Global Forum for Media Development. This and a second meeting in Bonn hosted by the Germany-based Deutsche Welle, served as a first step in establishing a strategic vision for the future of Syrian media and the practical steps needed to ensure its realisation.
In addition to IMS’ commitment to making sure that our work takes place in coordination with other international media development groups and in partnership with local media, we also work to connect local media organisations with one another to ensure optimal sharing of experiences and best practices. This includes helping to build networks of media outlets like Somalia’s Network 2013 (see page 11), which can serve as a unified platform for advocacy, and encouraging bilateral partnerships between individual organisations.
In Yemen, as a first step towards enabling local organisations to network and set up bilateral partnerships, IMS brought together our current partners to identify some of the common challenges they are grappling with. By outlining their goals, plans, and contributions to the media sector, the seven partner organisations laid the ground for future cooperation and in some cases entered into new agreements with each other.
On a regional level in the Middle East and North Africa, IMS and the Morocco-based Forum des Alternatives Maroc in November brought together human rights defenders, legal experts, academics, and representatives from journalist groups across the region to enable them to share experiences and to foster new partnerships in the area of media regulatory reform. Participants have since then begun devising possible plans for future joint advocacy efforts across the region and in individual countries, and plan to establish a set of minimum standards in areas such as codes of ethics, and regulatory and legal issues.