On the International Day of Democracy, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, underscores the mutually reinforcing nature of democracy, the rule of law, and media freedom. “Advancing and sustaining democratic, resilient, and inclusive societies requires a steadfast commitment to media freedom,” says Teresa Ribeiro.
In the 2023 Joint Declaration on Media Freedom and Democracy, Ribeiro, along with the other global free speech mandate holders, emphasizes the media’s pivotal role in delivering trustworthy news and fostering informed public discourse. This, in turn, cultivates a well-informed and active citizenry. “The media serve as vigilant watchdogs, holding those in power accountable through thorough investigations and reporting on matters of public interest. By doing this, they play an integral role in bolstering democratic processes and institutions,” Ribeiro asserts.
“Conversely, a decline in media freedom undermines both democratic safeguards and the protection of human rights. Over the past decade, we have undeniably witnessed this interconnection, which has been a contributing factor in the emergence of conflicts.” This year’s International Day of Democracy, focused on conflict prevention, underscores the urgent need to nurture human rights and democratic values as a means to mitigate and resolve the risks of conflict.
“Access to reliable, diverse, and public-interest information is essential at all times. By verifying information, empowering individuals, and fostering reconciliation, pluralistic and independent media serve a foundational role in upholding democratic principles and preventing conflict,” Ribeiro says. “The weaponization of information by autocratic forces for spreading hate speech and propaganda, especially propaganda for war, has no place in democracy. On the contrary, independent quality media are needed to counter the deeply disturbing trends of authoritarianism, co-optation of public power, and backsliding on human rights.”
“On this Democracy Day, I urge all States to renew their commitment to fostering an environment conducive to media freedom, recognizing it as a key pillar for both conflict prevention and the global advancement of democracy,” says Ribeiro.