Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Belgrade, Serbia
26 March, 2015
I fully subscribe to the statement made on behalf of the European Union which we would like to reinforce with some national remarks.
First of all, the UK government would like to join others in thanking the Serbian Chairmanship for initiating and organising this important conference. We have seen the right to freedom of expression brutally challenged in Paris and Copenhagen. It is right that international organisations such as the OSCE and its participating States should come together at conferences such as this to reaffirm our common commitment to freedom of expression and free media as basic tenets of a democratic society.
An open and effective press serves to improve the environment for long-term social, political and economic stability. Journalists are crucial to this work and must be afforded protections in line with international standards to enable them to operate safely. But in a world of open journalism these protections must also extend to bloggers, social media activists, media organisations and indeed to anyone exercising their freedom of expression. The context should not matter. We should not seek to differentiate between those expressing views nor the means which they use to communicate them. We hope that this conference can act as a springboard for a renewed push for updated OSCE commitments including the acknowledgement that freedom of expression and all human rights apply with equal force online as they do in the off-line world.
In closing, I wish to state the UK government’s appreciation for the excellent work done by Dunja Mijatovic. The RFOM’s impartial and professional monitoring and analysis makes an essential contribution to the continuing struggle to ensure media freedom and the safety of journalists and we commend the office for its ongoing work across the OSCE region.