Supporting Free, Independent and Pluralistic Media.

Over the past four years (2018-2022) UNESCO's work to protect journalists and support free, independent and pluralistic media has been enhanced through its Multi-donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (MDP).


The MDP serves to further strengthen UNESCO’s work at a global, regional, and national levels, by channelling funds towards emerging priorities and the most pressing needs to achieve its mandate on freedom of expression.

It enables UNESCO’s Communication and Information Sector to address complex issues through the design and implementation of holistic medium and long-term interventions at national, regional and global levels.

Aotearoa New Zealand is on of the many countries who support this Programme through its contribution to the Global Media Defence Fund (GMDF).

The GMDF was established in 2019 because of the identification of a need on the ground for a mechanism to reinforce the legal defence of journalists in need of legal protection, ensure judicial follow-up and hold perpetrators accountable for crimes against journalists (and the widespread impunity for these crimes), and foster environment where legal frameworks are conducive to a plural, free and independent media ecosystem.

GMDF complements and synergises with regular UNESCO projects such as the MDP.

The MDP has contributed to a safer, freer and more independent media in more than 30 countries, thanks to the following achievements:

Policy advice and media law reform

  • 18 countries supported to adopt, reform or implement legislation on freedom of expression, the safety of journalists and access to information.
  • 8 countries supported to reform community media policies.
  • 6 countries supported to develop Media and Information Literacy national frameworks and policies.

Safety of Journalists

  • 10 national mechanisms supported.
  • Launch of a continental mechanism across 54 African Union Member states.
  • Capacity-building for journalists in 14 countries, regionally in LAC and at global level.

Judges Initiative

  • 6 cooperation agreements signed with regional human rights courts and judicial institutions.
  • Over 23.000 judicial operators trained since 2013.

Community media

  • Capacities reinforced for more 370 radio stations, 1700+ duty-bearers and media workers, and 13 networks.

Media and Information Literacy

  • 1100+ teachers and educators, 1110 duty-bearers, 132 youth organizations.​
  • Integration of MIL in youth organizations, media and curricula in educational systems

The MDP recently published its Four-Year Impact Report. The report can be downloaded below.

Learn more about the GMDF here: Global Media Defence Fund (

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