On 7, 8 and 9 February 2018, Reporters Without Borders held in Paris a three-day meeting with its 12 partner organizations, from Syria, Morocco, DRC, Turkey, Cambodia, Pakistan, Mexico, Thailand, China, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, all in common sharing the same commitment to freedom of the press and protection of journalists. The objective of this meeting was to train them on advocacy and to define with RSF an action plan for 2018.
The opportunity was also seized to allow them to meet to confront the challenges they can face in their respective and to share ideas and good practices. The meeting started with each of the partners exposing the situation and the global strategy of their organizations vis-à-vis the freedom of the press in their countries. Around the table, questions were jostling and synergies already beginning to emerge. At the coffee break, the Pakistani representative approached the Mexican participant: "If your pilot project works in Mexico, I think that can be replicated in Pakistan." Throughout the session, ideas were coming together and common projects were flourishing.
The participants then followed a training on advocacy, the UN Human rights mechanism (Human Rights Council and UPR) and reaching diplomatic community and how to address national governments and authorities. It emerged that many of these organizations already do advocacy but not in a formal way and without being aware that what they do constitutes advocacy. A part of the training was also dedicated to improve technical and writing skills.
Then, the practical session, all organizations started to work on an action plan, highlighting activities to be carried out and objective to achieve in 2018. The aim is to align the four cross-cutting strategic axes of RSF (1. Defend and protect journalists investigating major subjects of public matter; 2. Provide tools for the independence of journalism; 3. Digital censorship – Accountability; 4. Resist counter models of information control) with the reality on the ground and needs of each country. Common activities with proven effectiveness, such as joint advocacy campaigns and the organization of physical and digital security training for journalists, were elements that were repeated in most strategies.
Those documents will serve as a basis to follow up RSF’s partners work, and monitor the progress made. Beyond drafting such a strategic document, this meeting, first of its kind of also a great chance for organizations that could have never met to meet, exchange, share, create a sense of belonging to wider network and to feel less isolated when it comes to fight human rights violations. "I came here a few days to discover Paris," said the member of the Thai organization. But, during this meeting, I discovered the world. "