985th meeting – 31 January 2007

Appendix 11
(Item 5.1e)

Terms of reference of the Group of Specialists on freedom of expression and information in times of crisis (MC-S-IC)

Fact sheet

Name of Group:

Group of Specialists on freedom of expression and information in times of crisis (MC-S-IC)

Compliance with Resolution Res(2005)47:

YES

Programme of Activities: project(s)

2004/DG2/40 – Standard-setting and policy assistance on topical issues concerning the media

Project relevance:

Falls fully under section I.3 of the Action Plan of the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, incorporating in its entirety the Action Plan adopted at the 7th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy. Following up on work carried out to date, the terms of reference of the MC-S-IC will contribute to the full implementation of both action plans.

The work of the MC-S-IC falls squarely within the core values of the Council of Europe, given the importance of freedom of expression and information for democracy and the particular risks it is exposed to in crisis situations. The development of further standards and strengthening of mechanisms for safeguarding freedom of expression are also of relevance vis-à-vis the protection of human rights.

There is political backing (the terms of reference flow directly from and are intended to contribute to the implementation of the above-mentioned Ministerial Conference Action Plan). Work of the MC-S-IC will reinforce and build upon existing Council of Europe standards.

Project added value:

The Council of Europe is the only organisation that has developed recognised European standards in the field of freedom of expression and information and that continues to update and revise them. These standards are relied upon by other organisations in the context of their own work. Synergies therefore exist and continue to be developed.

Protecting freedom of expression and information in times of crisis remains a challenge that has not been dealt with in a comprehensive way at the European level.

To date, the OSCE has taken an active part in the work of the MC-S-IC; other participants include EBU, ENPA, INSI and Reporters Without Borders.

Financial information:

Number of meetings per year: 2 two-day meetings
Number of participants: 9 reimbursed participants on behalf of member states, other member states at their own expense, PACE, Congress, Conference of International NGOs, EAO, EC, and up to 15 other participants.

€18 000 for reimbursement of participation in meetings; €8 000 for interpretation and €2 000 for translation and production of documents.

Terms of reference of the Group of Specialists on freedom of expression and information in times of crisis (MC-S-IC)

1.

Name of Group:

Group of Specialists on freedom of expression and information in times of crisis (MC-S-IC)

2.

Type of Group:

Ad hoc Advisory Group

3.

Source of terms of reference:

Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services (CDMC)

4.

Terms of reference:

 

Having regard to:

the Political Declaration, the Resolution on freedom of expression and information in times of crisis and the Action Plan adopted at the 7th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy (Kyiv, March 2005), incorporated as an integral part into the Action Plan of the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe.

Under the authority of the Steering Committee on the media and new communication services (CDMC), and in relation with the implementation of Project 2004/DG2/40 “Standard-setting and policy assistance on topical issues concerning the media”, the Group is instructed to:

i.

finalise draft Committee of Ministers’ guidelines to member states on protecting freedom of expression and information in times of crisis (cf. items 1 to 3 of the Kyiv Action Plan);

ii.

prepare a draft Committee of Ministers’ declaration or other standard-setting instrument on the value of investigative journalism for democracy and the need to protect and promote such type of journalistic work (cf. item 29 of the Kyiv Action Plan);

iii.

draw up a concrete and detailed proposal on the establishment and operation of an informal web-based discussion space and network for the ongoing review by media professionals and other interested parties of the rights and responsibilities of the media and the working conditions of journalists in times of crisis and for the exchange of information and co-ordination of initiatives regarding the media’s contribution to intercultural and inter-religious dialogue (cf. items 4 and 6 of the Kyiv Action Plan);

iv.

prepare a concrete detailed proposal on the substantive and organisational issues (including selection criteria, jury composition, etc.) for an award for media which have made an outstanding contribution to conflict prevention or resolution, understanding and dialogue (cf. item 7 of the Kyiv Action Plan);

v.

draw up a detailed proposal concerning the responsibilities, working methods and financial implications of a possible Council of Europe co-ordinator for monitoring the implementation by member states of the texts adopted by the Council of Europe concerning freedom of expression and information in times of crisis (cf. item 8 of the Kyiv Action Plan);

vi.

submit, following consultations with relevant organisations, a concrete proposal for encouraging the training of media professionals with an emphasis on safety issues and on the importance of the professional and independent coverage of crisis situations, be it in the form of a draft strategy paper or of a compendium of good practice in this area with a view to its broad dissemination (cf. item 5 of the Kyiv Action Plan).

 

In pursuing the above objectives, the MC-S-IC will take into consideration the past and ongoing work of the Council of Europe concerning freedom of expression and information in times of crisis and related matters, as well as work done in this area by other organisations. In its work, the MC-S-IC will take into account the changing international situation and will co-operate with other relevant organisations, in particular the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Upon request by the CDMC, the MC-S-IC shall provide advice and assistance to the CDMC and its subordinate bodies on issues concerning freedom of expression in times of crisis and will carry out any ad hoc assignments given to it by the CDMC.

5.

Composition of the Group:

5.A

Members

 

The Group shall be composed of 9 specialists with expertise in the field of media law and policy, in particular in the above-mentioned issues, to be appointed by the governments of the following member states: Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Netherlands, Russian Federation, Serbia, Sweden, Turkey.

The Council of Europe budget will bear the travel and subsistence expenses of one specialist from each of the above countries for attendance at meetings of the Group.

Other member states expressing an interest in the work of the MC-S-IC may designate, at their own expense, specialists to participate in meetings of the Group.

5.B

Participants

i.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe may send a representative/representatives to meetings of the Group, without the right to vote and at the charge of its administrative budget.

ii.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe may send a representative/representatives to meetings of the Group, without the right to vote and at the charge of its administrative budget.

iii.

The European Audiovisual Observatory may send a representative to meetings of the Group, without the right and at the charge of its administrative budget.

iv.

The Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe may send a representative/representatives to meetings of the Group, without the right to vote and at the charge of the sending body.

5.C

Other participants

i.

The European Commission may send a representative/representatives to meetings of the Group, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses.

ii.

States with observer status with the Council of Europe (Canada, Holy See, Japan, Mexico, United States of America) may send a representative/representatives to meetings of the Group, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses.

iii.

The following intergovernmental organisation may send representative/representatives to meetings of the Group, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses:

- Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

5.D

Observers

 

The following non-governmental organisations may send a representative/representatives to meetings of the Group, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses :

- Article 19;
- Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT);
- European Broadcasting Union (EBU);
- European Federation of Journalists (EFJ);
- European Newspaper Publishers Association (ENPA);
- European Internet Service Providers’ Association (Euro-ISPA);
- International News Safety Institute (INSI);
- Reporters Without Borders;
- The Rory Peck Trust.

6.

Working methods and structures:

 

The MC-S-IC shall undertake the necessary research and consultations with relevant parties. Where necessary, and in order to accelerate progress in its work, the MC-S-IC may organise hearings and/or colloquies, within the limits of its budget.

7.

Duration:

 

These terms of reference will expire on 31 December 2007.



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