Types of advocacy

Free Press Unlimited and our partners advocate in a number of ways for a better and safer enabling environment for journalism, media freedom, access to information and gender equality in and through the media by focusing on increasing awareness and legal and policy change on the level of the media industry at large, national governments and intergovernmental bodies.

There are multiple ways in which advocacy can take place, but we will limit ourselves here and present a number of advocacy activities that Free Press Unlimited and our local partners have engaged in. On the Advocacy tools and M&E section page, an overview can be found of different activities and tactics.

Policy and politics

Policy proposal development. In 2017 and 2018 Free Press Unlimited and Dutch political party D66 advocated within the Dutch Parliament for an emergency fund for journalists. This resulted in the submission of a motion which requests additional means from the Human Rights Fund for Dutch and foreign journalists in distress. Free Press Unlimited followed up with MP Sjoerdsma who proposed the motion after a Special Procedure in Parliament. When the motion was approved, Free Press Unlimited wrote a proposal which was approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2018 to set up the Legal Defense Fund.

Advocacy using international mechanisms. Free Press Unlimited has collaborated on multiple occasions with local partners to submit stakeholder reports for the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, in New York through the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, and by interacting with Special Rapporteurs.

Policymaker and candidate education. Free Press Unlimited, together with Deutsche Welle Akademie, the Center for Law and Democracy and UNESCO, organised and facilitated three multistakeholder meetings between government representatives and media stakeholders in Indonesia, Mongolia and South Africa to discuss how governments and CSOs can monitor the implementation of the Right of Access to Information in light of Sustainable Development Goal 16.10.

Relationship building with decision makers. Through forging new partnerships with CSOs, journalists can exercise more pressure on the government and security forces. In Somalia, local partners of Free Press Unlimited seek to improve awareness of the rights of journalists and the existing legislation to protect them. Government and media representatives meet in so-called Councils of Peace to exchange knowledge and discuss cases of misconduct. The first Councils of Peace took place in May and November 2018.

In Iraq, Free Press Unlimited and UNESCO have supported the formation of a National Committee of Safety and Impunity, consisting of local civil society organisations, government representatives and the journalist union. This committee meets regularly to discuss safety issues. Another body, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) was set up specifically to investigate attacks on journalists. Free Press Unlimited and UNESCO strengthened this unit with specific technical expertise, supported by the Netherlands Embassy in Iraq.

In March 2019, Free Press Unlimited’s partner the Syrian Journalists Association (SJA) became the first media organisation that has been invited to the ongoing peace talks on Syria’s future in Geneva. The SJA met decision makers from both the United Nations and the European Union during side meetings of the Brussels III conference ‘Supporting the future of Syria and the region’ which led to a formal inviation from the UN to participate in the peace talks. Freedom of opinion and expression became an important element in the negotiations around the future of Syria.

Litigation or legal advocacy. Free Press Unlimited, together with the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), is supporting the family of the murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia Support though the Legal Defense Fund Free Press Unlimited is contributing to the costs for the team of Maltese lawyers assisting the family. A legal expert from ECPMF will monitor the progress of the court cases. The Legal Defense Fund has provided funding to several other strategic litigations cases

Research. Together with our partner Freedom Forum in Nepal, Free Press Unlimited submitted a stakeholder report for the Universal Periodic Review of Nepal. In preparation, Free Press Unlimited commissioned research into the follow-up of recommendations of the previous UPR of Nepal in 2015. This research provided input for the new submission and its policy recommendations.

Free Press Unlimited regularly shares knowledge and expertise with, or sponsors research from institutes such as Freedom House, the Institute of Information Law of the University of Amsterdam, the Centre for Freedom of the Media of Sheffield University and UNESCO.

Communications and outreach

Campaigning. The global Media4Women (M4W) campaign highlights the importance of gender equality in and through the media on and around International Women’s Day. Free Press Unlimited provides a campaign strategy and campaign toolkit.

Together with our partner (media) organisations worldwide, Free Press Unlimited starts the campaign ‘Together for Reliable Information’. The campaign focuses on the importance of free media and the impact the ongoing pandemic has had on the work of journalists. 

Each year, Free Press Unlimited hosts Free Press Live – Stand up for journalists and justice to commemorate the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

In 2016, Free Press Unlimited, along with other Dutch civil society organisations, mobilised the public to protest and petition against a law that now has granted the intelligence agencies in the Netherlands far reaching powers to widely monitor online communications.