The leaders of the G7 nations discussed the “Partnership on Information and Democracy” at a G7 summit session on digital issues in the French city of Biarritz today. Based on an initiative that Reporters Without Borders (RSF) launched in September 2018, this inter-governmental partnership is due to be signed by 20 countries during the next UN General Assembly in September.
French President Emmanuel Macron presented the Information and Democracy Initiative to his G7 counterparts at today’s session and urged them to join it.
Referring to it during his final press conference, President Macron said: “We formally agreed on unanimous support for the Partnership on Information and Democracy, which, as you know, is an extremely important initiative launched by Reporters Without Borders with many partners and which was presented at the first Paris Peace forum last November. A great deal of work was done with the economic partners and the governments that were there, it was endorsed, and there will be a formal signing on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September.”
The first step in RSF’s initiative was the creation of an Information and Democracy Commission that met for the first time in Paris on 11 September 2018 and issued an International Declaration on Information and Democracy on 5 November. This declaration is serving as the basis of an international political process leading to adoption of the inter-governmental partnership, expected to take place during the next UN General Assembly.
“We are delighted that the initiative we launched less than a year ago has been presented to the leaders attending the G7 summit in Biarritz,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “I would like to thank the members of the Information and Democracy Commission, who enabled this big step forward for freedom of opinion and expression.
“The Declaration on Information and Democracy published last November proclaims basic principles for the global online information and communication space with the aim of encouraging freely reported and trustworthy news and information. We know that not all of the world’s leaders share this ideal, but that’s an additional reason for promoting this initiative internationally, an initiative that will soon make it possible to implement concrete guarantees.”
A civil society initiative
The G7’s backing follows the undertaking given at last November’s Paris Peace Forum, when the Information and Democracy Initiative received backing from the leaders of 12 democracies (Burkina Faso, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Norway, Senegal, Switzerland and Tunisia), and from UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay and Council of Europe secretary general Thorbjørn Jagland.
The 12 heads of state and government undertook to launch a political process on the basis of the principles proclaimed by the Information and Democracy Commission that had been created by RSF.
Consisting of 25 prominent figures from 18 countries, including Nobel laureates, renowned journalists, new technology specialists, jurists and former leaders of international organizations, the Information and Democracy Commission is co-chaired by RSF’s Deloire and Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.