Today and tomorrow mark the first meeting of the "Agir ensemble (Act Together): Journalists for the rule of law and human rights" initiative, which brings together a network of women journalists to strengthen communication on the standards and values promoted by the Council of Europe in the MENA region and Sub-Saharan Africa. This initiative aims to combine the universality of messages with the specificity of national contexts to involve civil society and youth on these issues.
The Council of Europe co-operates with regions beyond the continent to support ongoing democratic reforms part of its policy towards neighbouring regions. The " Agir ensemble (Act Together)" initiative is launched as part of South Programme V, and its component "Freedom of Expression, Media Pluralism, and Access to Information" aiming to promote quality journalism and facilitate exchanges to address common challenges. The involvement of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe in this initiative ensures the link between information dissemination and the engagement of youth and civil society. This connection unleashes crucial awareness to act and protect human rights and the rule of law, thereby fostering continuous support for these principles.
Indeed, the media plays an essential role in disseminating information and analysis to engage the public in informed discussions. Independent media is essential for a dynamic civil society and a healthy democracy. However, when freedom of expression and the press are hindered, the ability of journalists to convey messages respectful of human rights is limited, and citizen engagement in this regard restricted.
The meeting in Lisbon aims to establish a network of journalists in the MENA region and Sub-Saharan Africa to strengthen communication on human rights and the rule of law. In the presence of four experts and three speakers from the Council of Europe, the eleven participants will exchange views on the Council of Europe's work, including the fight against violence against women and children, the involvement of youth and civil society, and freedom of expression.
This meeting will also facilitate the exchange of good practices among participants and their training as amplifiers of the messages conveyed by the Council of Europe in the region. Subsequently, network members will be encouraged to continue their exchanges during other relevant activities of the Council of Europe, thus contributing to a concerted response to various issues related to human rights and the rule of law.
This initiative is organised as part of the joint programme between the European Union and the Council of Europe "Protecting human rights, rule of law and democracy through shared standards in the Southern Mediterranean" (South Programme V), co-financed by both organisations and implemented by the Council of Europe. The initiative also benefits from the voluntary contributions of Malta, Portugal and Spain to the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe.