THE MILAN DECLARATION ON COMMUNICATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS

AUGUST 29, 1998

PREAMBLE

We the participants of the 7th World Congress of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, held in Milan, Italy, 23-29 August 1998 and with the contribution from AMARC 7 Virtual Forum participants, July 20-August 20, 1998,

Recalling Article19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which sets forth the freedom of opinion and expression; moreover, the right to receive and impart information and ideas through the media regardless of frontiers on the commemoration of its 50th anniversary,

Considering Article19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which reaffirms the right of everyone to hold opinions without interference, as well as the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideals of all kinds, regardless of frontiers,

Guided by the Beijing Platform of Action which states in its section on Women and the Media that democratic participation of women in communication media should be guaranteed at all levels,

Mindful of Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which sets forth the right to freedom of opinion and expression, moreover that this right may not be restricted by indirect methods or means such as the abuse of government or private controls over radio broadcasting frequencies or equipment used in the dissemination of information, or by any other means tending to impede the communication and circulation of ideas and opinions.

Considering Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People╠s Rights which reaffirms the right that every individual shall have the right to receive information,

Taking into account Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression and that this right shall include the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority,

Acknowledging the Declarations of Windhoek, Alma Ata, Santiago, Sana╠a, Sofia resulting from the UNESCO-sponsored seminars which assert the establishment, maintenance and fostering of an independent pluralistic and free press is essential to the development and maintenance of democracy in a nation, and for economic development,

Recognizing the People╠s Communication Charter which endorses that communication and information services should be guided by respect for fundamental human rights, and in the spirit of the public interest, defines and confirms the rights and responsibilities of those who broadcast and those who use information,

Bearing in mind the Declaration on Communications as a Human Right adopted at the Seminar on Democratizing the Electromagnetic Spectrum held in Venezuela, 1996,

Recalling the AMARC Declaration of Principles adopted at the founding conference of AMARC in Managua, 1988,

Mindful of the European Charter for Community Radios adopted at the founding conference of AMARC Europe in Slovenia, 1994,

Considering the Declaration of the Latin American and Caribbean Festival of Radiosapasionados y Televisionarios in Quito, 1996,

WE DECLARE THAT:

1. The Right to Communicate is a universal human right which serves and underpins all other human rights and which must be preserved and extended in the context of rapidly changing information and communication technologies,

2. All members of civil society should have just and equitable access to all communications media,

3. Respect for pluralism, cultural, language, and gender diversity should be reflected through all the media as a fundamental factor in a democratic society,

4. The democratic participation of women in communications media should be guaranteed at all levels,

5. The rights of indigenous peoples should be respected in their struggles for access and participation in communications media,

6. Communications media have a responsibility to help sustain the diversity of the world's cultures and languages, which should be supported through legislative, administrative, and financial measures,

7. Community media can play an important role in strengthening cultural rights, and in particular, the rights of linguistic and cultural minorities, indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees by providing access to the means of communication,

8. Access to the means of communication must be supported by education and training to assist a critical understanding of the media and to enable people to develop their media and communication skills,

9. The market economy is not the only model for the shaping the communications infrastructure. People must be seen as producers and contributors of information and not be defined solely as "consumers",

10. The continual expansion of transnational corporations characterized, among other things, by media conglomerates and concentration of ownership increasingly threatens plurality, including the existence of independent and community broadcasters,

11. New digital broadcast systems are leading to re-planning existing frequency allocation and new approaches to regulation which risk further marginalization of communication services run by and for citizens, communities and social organizations,

12. While convergence between telecommunications, computing and broadcasting is increasing the number of potential users, the telecommunications development gap supports the division of the world into those who have and those who do not have access to electronic information,

WE CALL FOR:

1. International recognition of the community broadcasting sector as an essential form of public service broadcasting and a vital contributor to media pluralism and freedom of expression and information.

2. Support by governments, corporations and international institutions for the development of the right to communicate including: telecommunications regulation in favor of the development of South-South communications infrastructure, a percentage of public funds for development projects be dedicated to the enhancement of local communications capacity, measures to ensure governments respect the right to free and unhindered communications

3. Establishment of standards, norms and measures at national, regional and world levels, to enable and assist the development of independent community broadcasting services including: regulatory authorities to be established as organizations independent from government as a means to secure transparency, and better control and regulation of telecommunications, rules to prevent concentration of media ownership and the take-over of community broadcasting services by commercial companies, measures to assist adaptation of community broadcasters to media convergence and appropriate forms of new technology, reservation of a portion of any new digital spectra for community broadcasters, assessment and monitoring of the impact of technological convergence and regulatory change on the community media sector, support for the development of digital systems which are appropriate to the needs of community broadcasting services, preservation of existing analog frequencies used by community broadcasters until such time as a digital replacement is available, allocation of part of the broadcast spectrum for self-regulated use by microbroadcasters

4. The ITU to ensure that frequency planning, technical standards for telecommunications and radio, and development resources give a high priority to the needs of civil society,

5. The establishment by UNESCO within the framework of the International Programme for the Development of Communication of a Community Media Fund to support projects for the creation of new community media, adaptation of existing community media to new technology, research into the impact on community media of technological convergence, and pilot projects in new forms of community media distribution and community media content,

6. International financial institutions to dedicate a percentage of loans and bonds to supporting community-based forms of communications,

7. The community media sector to: Track transnational corporations (TNCs) and launch international activist efforts to raise consciousness about and develop strategies to halt the increasing control TNCs have on our communications future, lobby for national and international measures to ensure new information and communication technologies provide affordable access to citizens and communities to establish new community media services, develop community media program exchanges and to build solidarity and support for community struggles for human rights and social justice, promote and support the training of journalists, broadcasters, engineers and other media professionals, especially those working in rural and marginal urban areas, educate civil society organizations, governments and regulators, and the general public on the policy issues of regulation, the importance of a sustainable and pluralist broadcasting environment, and the benefits of community media and production, create a technical advisory study to analyze and determine the impact of emerging digital broadcast technologies on community broadcasting,

8. The establishment by the community media sector of local, national, regional and worldwide coalitions to work together through official and alternative communications forums in order to promote communication rights and to implement the measures called for in this Declaration.

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