TALLINN – The UNESCO General Conference, which gathered in Paris on Thursday, elected Estonia to the Intergovernmental Council of the UNESCO International Program for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which supports free, independent and pluralistic media in developing countries and in conflict and post-conflict situations.
The General Conference also made a historic decision to vote Russia out of the UNESCO Executive Board.
The IPDC Intergovernmental Council is made up of 39 member states elected by the UNESCO General Conference and meets officially once every two years. The member states are predominantly represented by media experts. Estonia will be represented in the council by Ragne Kouts-Klemm, associate professor in the sociology of journalism and head of the Institute of Social Studies of the University of Tartu.
"The situation of free and autonomous media in the world has become more and more complicated every year. The economic, technological and political environment does not support the free functioning of the media as a supporter of democracy. That is why it is very important that we pay attention to the preservation of media freedom globally, as a joint effort of different countries and international organizations. I am glad that Estonia, which serves as an example with its transparency and guarantee of freedoms, can be one of the leaders in this process," Kouts-Klemm said.
UNESCO's work in the field of media is important for Estonia because it deals with freedom of expression, access to information, hate speech, freedom of the press, and the safety of journalists, as well as innovation and digital issues and media and information literacy. The program has its own fund, from which nearly 2,100 projects around the world have been supported. In the current war situation, the Ukrainian media has also been supported in many ways.
Elections were also held at the General Conference on Wednesday evening, where Russia was voted out of the UNESCO Executive Board. Russia applied in the second electoral group, in which Serbia, Albania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic were elected to the four vacant seats.
"Estonia, together with its allies in UNESCO, is consistently working to isolate Russia as an aggressor state. Russia's exclusion from the UNESCO Executive Board is a sign of the aggressor's increasing international isolation," Kerli Gutman-Normak, secretary general of the Estonian National Commission for UNESCO, said.
The Executive Board, consisting of representatives of 58 member states, discusses the organization's program and budget presented by the director general and forwards them to the General Conference with recommendations.
The Executive Board directs the implementation of the program in the period between the General Conferences and also gives recommendations to the General Conference for the admission of new member states of the organization. The members of the Executive Board are elected for four years.