The German constitution expressly guarantees freedom of expression in speech, writing and pictures. That allowed me to study journalism and freely to express my opinion.
This was not always the case in Germany. People have told me how they were persecuted simply for expressing their views However, that has changed, in large part thanks to the international community.
Together, we all have the chance to make a difference. We are responsible for actually implementing the human rights we have guaranteed. And there is plenty to do, including here in Europe.
The situation facing journalists always shows where freedom of expression stands. Journalists’ rights are the litmus test of a democracy because what democracy needs above all is a strong and active civil society.
I would therefore like to thank the United Kingdom and Canada for organising this Global Conference for Media Freedom and for their initiative. It is urgently needed.
I would like to suggest something concrete for our conference –
let us also look at the situation faced by women in journalism.
We need their viewpoints and angle. We need a different, critical media discourse with topics in which men are sometimes not interested or lack the courage to cover: women’s rights, repression or sexual violence in conflicts, the situation facing the most vulnerable members of our societies – topics that still remain unheard in many places.
Through their reporting, female journalists can help to implement Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security – a priority of Germany’s membership of the UN Security Council.
The media create realities. And it is obvious that women – be they politicians, peacebuilders, rebels or terrorists – do not feature enough in reports on crises and conflicts. That is why Germany will do even more to support female journalists in the future, also without partner Deutsche Welle,
- by making their role in implementing our UN resolutions a greater priority
- by funding training for citizen journalists, such as Rohingya women in Bangladesh
- by supporting local radio stations, including a women’s station in Burkina Faso
- by working to establish a transnational network, Women@web (for example in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda)
- by supporting future human rights defenders with media training
- and by setting up trauma centres for female journalists
Ladies and gentlemen, the Global pledge on media freedom underlines how important freedom of the media is for human rights and expressly includes the 2030 Agenda goals. I am pleased to see on this conference that so many countries are committed to working together to protect media freedom. We therefore support this pledge and are pleased to sign up to it.
Thank you very much.