By Iddi Yire, GNA
Accra, Oct. 16, GNA - Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, has extolled the media’s role in sustainable development in Africa.
He said the media wielded considerable influence, which had been harnessed to empower communities within the West African Sub-region.
Dr Chambas noted that as a result, the voices of the most vulnerable were being amplified while people were increasingly making informed decisions, which were driving much needed changes in their communities.
He said the media continued to act as accountability mechanism in strengthening good governance, democracy, peace and stability within the region.
Dr Chambas made these remarks at the 2018 Edition of West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards (WAMECA), organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa.
The event, on the theme: “Impacting Lives Through Media Excellence” sought to honour distinguished journalists from the Sub-region who were contributing positively to development in diverse ways through excellence in journalism.
Dr Chambas noted that there had been an acknowledgement of investigative journalism in the region, which had exposed patterns of corrupt practices with public and private institutions.
He said furthermore, by constantly inquiring and informing on progress in implementing political programmes and promises, the media acted as the crucial link between the people and those in government and served as a platform for a constructive dialogue.
Dr Chambas said overtime, the media had played a crucial role in conflict prevention by exposing grievances.
He said those included gross human rights violations, social injustices, exclusion, discrimination and marginalisation of communities, which normally constituted the not case of conflict.
He said in underscoring the invaluable contribution of the media to peace and stability, there was the need to also remind media professionals of the responsibilities that accrued from the enviable profession.
Dr Chambas pointed out that while the media was often a tool for development, it could also easily be instrumentalised to become a weapon for repression and hate.
“In exercising your freedom of expression, you must respect the ethics of the profession in line with national and international standards, while upholding the tenets of responsible journalism,” he added.
He said responsible journalism should be and must be encouraged, especially during key political processes in the life of a nation; adding that within the next two years, some countries in West Africa would be organising high-staked elections.
He said that the media would be at the centre of those processes and were expected to play a constructive role; “your independence and professionalism will be key to their successful outcome,” he added.
Dr Chambas, therefore, tasked the media to develop positive narratives that would address threats such as violent extremism, spur development, and promote peace and stability and pledged the support of the UN in these endeavours.
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