Closed ministerial meeting
16 November 2020
Statement by Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland
I am grateful to Canada and Botswana for convening this meeting and welcome the opportunity to underline Iceland’s support for the Media Freedom Coalition.
I feel privileged to have been able to attend the initial meeting held in London in 2019 and I am looking forward to our discussion today and to hearing from civil society, media outlets, high-level Government officials and legal experts.
Let me first say that I am deeply concerned about attacks against journalists and media workers around the world, as well as attempts to stifle democratic debate through other means, whether legal prosecution and persecution of media personnel and outlets.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not helped. There are unfortunately signs that some governments have used the pandemic to crack down on media, civil society, and open debate, putting freedom and democratic values under threat.
We must resist this development wherever and whenever we can. We must call out those who act in this manner and we must find new ways to address the challenges.
The task is not an easy one. While modern technology may have brought us so many valuable benefits, it has also provided tools for those who seek affect our civil discourse in a negative way, sometimes undermining our democratic values.
With this in mind, I am happy to see that one of the panels today is dedicated to media freedom and disinformation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Media Freedom Coalition provides us with a platform to work together to defend democratic values and freedoms, including freedom of the media and freedom of speech. We must try and ensure that we are successful, by engaging in a conversation on the fundamental risks, and the solutions available, and by learning from each other what works.