Tunis Declaration - III World Forum of Free Media

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Traductions: [en]

Document adopted at the Convergence Assembly for the Right to Communication
World Social Forum 2013

Tunis, 29th March 2013

We, participants, actors and activists for alternative information, who use communication as a tool for social transformation and defend the right to communication and the freedom of expression, gathered in Tunisia, from 24th to 29th March 2013, at the III World Forum of Free Media (III WFFM), believe this meeting was highly symbolic, as it took place in the country where free media has played an important role in social change.

During this forum, which paid special attention to community and associative radios – which are indisputable tools for democratisation but not legally recognised in some countries within the region – different themes were discussed: the WFFM process, the right to communication and information as common goods, technological appropriation, the conditions for a free internet, its regulation and especially the requirements for the advancement of this sector, which is of public interest as an essential element for development and democracy.

 That information and knowledge are common goods, the right to communication is a fundamental and inalienable right;
 That the whole media sector, which is a structural part of the democratisation of state and society, must be governed according to Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights, as referenced in the ethics and deontology of communication, and as reflected in the documents adopted globally and promoted regionally and internationally by professionals in the field.

 The strangulation of communication by political, economic and industrial powers;
 The instrumentalisation and commercialisation of information by states and the major media groups;
 The increase of concentration of power and of media groups;
 The incompatibility between the old legal frameworks and media systems that are evolving alongside technological advancements;
 An almost completely absent legislation to favour citizens’ access to public information;
 The lack of support for citizens for the production and dissemination of plural, diversified and critical information;
 Freedom of expression and of the press being undermined by repressive laws;
 The violent repression against citizens who are interested in information;
 The importance of digital inclusion to unlock the exercise of the right to communication;
 The threats to the protection of personal data on the internet;
 The lack of access to media by the majority of economically disadvantaged populations;
 The criminalisation, by the mainstream media, of the majority of the social voices challenging the concentration of political, military or economic power;
 The disregard by the mainstream media of the ideas and debates devoted to the transformation of society, particularly those occurring in the World Social Forum process;
 The rise of free media and citizens contributing to social and political changes, as demonstrated during the Arab Spring.

Observing specifically in the Maghreb-Mashreq region and in Africa:
 The need for a diversified and democratic media sector, powered by effective citizens’ participation and by their legitimate and protected exercise of freedom of expression;
 The struggle for legal recognition of community and associative radios, as a decisive lever for the future of societies and their modes of governance at all levels and in all areas of community life.

We call for:
 Free and democratic access to information, in accordance with the universal principles of human rights;
 The implementation of the right to communication in accordance with international regulations and conventions;
 The defence of regulatory frameworks which guarantee access to information and freedom of expression for everyone;
 The creation of regulatory authorities for radio broadcasting, which are truly independent from political authorities and financial powers;
 The access to radio spectrum by community and associative media, especially those located in the Maghreb-Mashreq region, with legal recognition of community radios which form the third broadcasting sector alongside the public and private sectors, and the fair assignment of frequencies to such radios;
 The implementation of public policies to support the diversity and plurality of communication media;
 Cost free and universal access to Internet connectivity;
 Defence of open access internet, democratically governed;
 Decentralisation and appropriation of free infrastructure and software (P2P Mesh);
 Promotion of encryption to protect the anonymity of communications;
 Promote free culture, free bandwith, cost free Internet access, the concept of common goods and defend the philosophy of free software, in order to ensure technological sovereignty.

We commit ourselves to:
 Deepen the dialogue between free media and social movements regarding the rights to communication and to knowledge, as well as the violation of these rights;
 Support activist initiatives aimed to achieve the right to communication;
 Establish a network to coordinate campaigns aimed at protecting and strengthening the right to communication;
 Reflect on a model that will ensure the viability, sustainability and independence of free media;
 Create a group of networks for sharing among countries in the North and South to promote the utilisation of free hardware and software for the democratisation and mass dissemination of technological knowledge;
 Construct and develop free alternatives to strengthen the universe of free social networks;
 Reflect upon the environmental impact of the use of new technologies;
 Ensure that the events of the World Social Forum will be preceded by a diagnosis of the rights, liberties and guarantees associated with communication in the host country, and of extent to which inhabitants have access to communication media;
 To develop the World Charter of Free Media, which will list values, principles and a common code of ethics for free media activists;
 To continue building the WFFM process.

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