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Early in 1978, the Department learned that Director General M'Bow was studying a revised text which had been prepared pursuant to the mandate of the 19th General Conference in Nairobi, namely, to continue consultations on the mass media draft declaration with a view to producing a text "which could meet with the largest possible measure of agreement." The Department reviewed the text and, in consultation with key persons in the media and Congress, concluded that it, like all its predecessors, was unacceptable. This view, including a detailed legal analysis, was conveyed to the Director General.

The Department invited Director General M'Bow for his first official visit to the United States in July, and made it abundantly clear that the mass media draft declaration and the threat it posed to journalistic freedom was the chief U.S. concern with respect to the forthcoming General Conference.

Nevertheless the draft text issued by the Director General after his visit was a disappointment. The Department promptly conveyed its objections in writing to Director General M'Bow and recalled that his mandate from the previous General Conference was the pursuit of consensus (as opposed to a yes/no vote, which we believed would result in adoption of a declaration containing restrictions on press freedom.)


Negotiations at the UNESCO General Conference successfully. amended the controversial draft text which had stirred such widespread opposition since it was issued by the Director General on August 21.

The United States was in the vanguard of nations (mostly Western democracies and some developing countries) determined to prevent its adoption, on grounds that it would sanction state authority over the media and erode the principle of press freedom worldwide. The product of the negotiations was a text not only stripped of language implying state authority over the mass media, but which also included positive language on freedom of information. Instead of imposing duties and responsibilities upon journalists, as various drafts attempted, it proclaimed that they must have freedom to report and the fullest possible facilities of access to information and be assured of protection guaranteeing them the best conditions for the exercise. of their profession. It recognized that the exercise of freedom of opinion, expression and information is an integral part of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and it asserted the public's right of access to information through a diversity of sources. It charged states with the responsibility of providing favorable conditions for the operation of the mass media. It affirmed the necessity to help the developing countries overcome their handicaps in communication development as a means of helping correct the "information imbalance" worldwide.


While technically the UNESCO Declaration is a statement of principle and not a document binding on member states, it is significant



that it was adopted by all 146 UNESCO members by consensus. It thus represents a consensus among virtually the entire world community. The fact that the Declaration specifically points out the necessity for governments to respect the rights of journalists makes it an excellent vehicle for conveying U.S. concerns over conditions in a number of countries which restrict the full exercise of journalism, both for domestic and foreign journalists.

Based on the Declaration, the State Department dispatched a circular cable to all posts, specifying representations to be made based on the UNESCO Declaration. This had, in addition to voicing our strong objections to mistreatment and/or restriction of foreign journalists, the added benefit of (a) approving the global application of the principles in the UNESCO Declaration and (b) reiterating the longstanding U.S. commitment to press freedom.

Instructions to posts were issued only after the conclusion of the General Conference of UNESCO and a United Nations General Assembly debate on information issues in general-where it was thought the debate over Agenda Item 77 ("Information Items") might generate additional discussions of related topics bearing on the question of journalists' rights. However, as the General Assembly adjourned December 21, 1978, without having broken new ground in this regard, instructions to posts were prepared based principally on the outcome of the UNESCO General Conference, which produced the Mass Media Declaration.

For widest impact, these instructions were transmitted under the All Diplomatic Posts distribution (i.c., all U.S. Embassies worldwide). Recipient posts were divided into several categories, beginning with WEO ("Western European and Other") states. This grouping, encompassing Western Europe plus other dominantly democratic, liberal societies (Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, etc.), received instructions urging the respective host governments to join the United States in reaffirming the principles of journalistic freedom embodied in the UNESCO Declaration, expressing our appreciation for the cooperation we received from WEÓ states in achieving a successful outcome on the UNESCO Declaration, and inquiring what steps they may be contemplating in furtherance of its principles.

The second group covered Eastern European posts, where the press is tightly restricted and where foreign correspondents have been subject to harassment and intimidation. Instructions to posts in this area sought to utilize two important documents: (1) the UNESCO Declaration, which was adopted by consensus vote that included all Eastern European states; and (2) the Helsinki Agreements of 1975, which likewise contained protective clauses for journalists, and to which the Eastern European states also acceded. Posts in these states were to convey the seriousness with which the United States views the obligation to protect journalists contained in these two declarations.

The third grouping of recipient posts covers the "Non-Aligned and Other" posts, encompassing the 86 members of the Non-Aligned Movement, and remaining Third World states. In this instance, instructions call for making a comprehensive list of points which spell out the rights of journalists and reaffirms the conviction of the United States as to the principles of journalistic freedom set forth in the UNESCO

Declaration. These points, also applicable in whole or part to other regions at the discretion of the U.S. Embassy, likewise enumerate the concrete steps which are necessary to implement the guarantees of journalistic freedom called for in the UNESCO Declaration.

Specific steps listed by the instructions to facilitate the free flow of information through improving the working conditions for journalists include:

-promptly and favorably reviewing journalists' requests for visas;

-granting multiple entry and exit visas;

-removing restrictions on the travel of journalists;

-promptly and favorably reviewing the requests for permission to travel, where such permission is needed;

-removing restrictions on access by journalists to sources, including organizations and official institutions as well as individuals. on a personal basis;

-ensuring journalists the right to import technical equipment necessary for the exercise of their profession;

-removing restrictions on the ability of journalists to transmit completely, normally and rapidly the results of their professional activity, including tape recordings or film;

-ensuring that the legitimate pursuit of their professional activity will not lead to the expulsion, incarceration, ill-treatment or other penalization of journalists;

ensuring that journalists enjoy freedom of expression, including freedom from censorship;

-providing for prompt review of all penalties imposed on journalists.

For those particular states 1 noted (based on Congressional hearings, consultation with media leaders, and reports by respected human rights organizations in particular Freedom House) for their abuse or restriction of journalists, special emphasis was laid on expressing the sensitivity of this issue to the United States, the seriousness with which we view it, and its potential for adversely affecting our bilateral relations, in addition to the other points made.

The UNESCO Mass Media Declaration is attached as Annex A and the Department's instructions to posts on journalistic freedom as Annex B. A supplemental report will be submitted when replies from Embassies on this subject have been received and compiled.

1 These countries are: Algeria, Argentina, Central African Empire, Chile, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia. GDR. Haiti, Israel, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria. Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru. Poland, PRC, Philippines, Somalia, Syria, Tanzania, Uruguay, U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia, and Zaire.

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The General Conference,

1. Recalling that by its Constitution the purpose of Unesco is to "contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms" (Art. I, 1), and that to realize this purpose the Organization will strive "to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image" (Art. I, 2).

2. Further recalling that under the Constitution the Member States of Unesco, "believing in full and equal opportunities for education for all, in the unrestricted pursuit of objective truth, and in the free exchange of ideas and knowledge, are agreed and determined to develop and to increase the means of communication between their peoples and to employ these means for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of each other's lives" (sixth preanıbular paragraph),

3. Recalling the purposes and principles of the United Nations, as specified in the Charter.

4. Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 and particularly Article 19 which provides that "everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers"; and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1966, Article 19 of which proclaims the same principles and Article 20 of which condemns incitement to war, the advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred and any form of discrimination, hostility or violence.

5. Recalling Article 4 of the International Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1965, and the International Convention of the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime and Apartheid adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1973 whereby the States acceding to these Conventions undertook to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, racial discrimination, and agreed to prevent any encouragement of the crime of apartheid and similar segregationist policies or their manifestations,

6. Recalling the Declaration on the Promotion among Youth of the Ideals of Peace, Mutual Respect and Understanding between Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1965,

7. Recalling the declarations and resolutions adopted by the various organs of the United Nations concerning the establishment of a New International Ecomomic Order and the role Unesco is called upon to play in this respect,

8. Recalling the Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation, adopted by the General Conference of Unesco in 1966,

9. Recalling Resolution 59 (I) of the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted in 1946 and declaring

"Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and is the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated;

Freedom of information requires as an indispensable element the willingness and capacity to employ its privileges without abuse. It requires as a basic discipline the moral obligation to seek the facts without prejudice and to spread knowledge without malicious intent;

10. Recalling Resolution 110 (II) of the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted in 1947 condemning all forms of propaganda which are designed or likely to provoke or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression,

11. Recalling Resolution 127 (II), also adopted by the General Assembly in 1947, which invites Member States to take measures, within the limits of constitutional procedures, to combat the diffusion of false or distorted reports likely to injure friendly relations between States, as well as the other resolutions of the General Assembly concerning the mass media and their contribution to strengthening peace, thus contributing to the growth of trust and friendly relations among States,

12. Recalling resolution 9.12 adopted by the General Conference of Unesco in 1968 reiterating Unesco's objective to help to eradicate colonialism and racialism, and resolution 12.1 adopted by the General Conference of Unesco in 1976 which proclaims that colonialism, neocolonialism and racialism in all its forms and manifestations are incompatible with the fundamental aims of Unesco,

13. Recalling resolution 4.301 adopted in 1970 by the General Conference of Unesco on the contribution of the information media to furthering international understanding and co-operation in the interests of peace and human welfare, and to countering propaganda on behalf of war, racialism, apartheid and hatred among nations, and aware of the fundamental contribution that mass media can make to the realization of these objectives,

14. Recalling the Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice adopted by the General Conference of Unesco at its twentieth session,

15. Conscious of the complexity of the problems of information in modern society, of the diversity of solutions which have been offered to them, as evidenced in particular by consideration given to them within Unesco as well as of the legitimate desire of all parties con

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