July 29, 2021

The right to reliable information | Society

The right to reliable information | Society

Freedom of opinion and expression, which is a constitutive part of democracy, today faces great dangers. This fundamental right is based on the possibility of accessing free, plural and reliable information. However, the media, which verify the facts and assume the obligation to compare points of view, are weakened by the digital transformation. The massive disinformation on the Internet increases and tries to guide the debates, and even intervene in the elections to falsify the results. Everywhere, private interests continue to control information and, in many countries, political control of the press and threats against journalists experience a significant worsening.

In this context, there is an urgent need for our democracies to mobilize. They should not fall into resignation. There is an urgent need to protect our access to independent, plural and fact-based information, which is an indispensable condition for people to freely form an opinion and participate legitimately in the democratic debate. For this reason we applaud the work of the Independent International Commission on Information and Democracy, which presented the results of its work on November 11, 2018 at the Paris Forum on Peace.

This commission, created on the initiative of Reporters Without Borders, urges us to consider the global space of communication and information a common good of humanity, in which freedom, pluralism and the integrity of information must be promoted. It proposes that the actors that are able to structure this global space, in particular the digital platforms, have responsibilities in terms of political and ideological neutrality, pluralism and transparency. It also urges, and is something very novel, to recognize that people have the right not only to independent and plural information, but also reliable.

These proposals are stimulating and innovative. Based on this basis, we have decided to start a political process. The objective is that, in the coming months, our States establish their own road map to promote the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression in the technological and political context of the 21st century. It is also important that as many States as possible join this initiative. Seventy years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we reiterate our commitment to the most fundamental rights of our citizens.

Beside Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, and the French President Emmanuel Macron, the presidents of Costa Rica sign this article, Carlos Alvarado; Senegal, Macky Sall, and Tunisia, Beji Caid Essebsi, and the prime ministers of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, and Norway, Erna Solberg.

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