UNGA: Summit for Information and Democracy

Statement by Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, at the Summit for Information and Democracy, 24 September 2021.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

We welcome the report from the Forum on Information and Democracy calling for a ‘New Deal for Journalism’.

We agree that an independent, critical press is vital to democratic and sustainable development.

It is crucial to have a wide range of independent media channels, including local community media, to ensure that all groups in society have the opportunity to gain insight into and influence matters of public interest.

In the new digital media landscape, professional, edited journalism is an increasingly important source of reliable information and news.

Freedom of expression and information is essential to enabling journalists and news media to report on matters of public interest and hold political and public figures to account.

In June this year, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched a new strategy on freedom of expression. We believe that an integrated effort across a range of areas is needed to ensure sustainable media development. Action must be taken to: put in place national regulation that is in line with international standards and that protects and supports media freedom and diversity; ensure the safety of journalists online and offline; provide training to journalists and media leaders in press ethics, human rights and investigative journalism; increase digital and media literacy; and promote international cooperation to counter the spread of disinformation on social media platforms and address digital violence against journalists and others.

Closer cooperation between social media companies and independent news and fact-checking services is also needed to ensure that the public has access to reliable news and information from trustworthy sources.

We are working with UNESCO and a number of Norwegian and international media institutions and civil society organisations to achieve the objectives set out in our new strategy.

In Norway, media diversity and editorial freedom is safeguarded both through national regulation, public media support schemes and through media self-regulation based on ethical guidelines for the press. We are proud to have more than 200 newspapers in Norway. Newspapers also receive indirect support in the form of VAT exemption.

Norway remains committed to promoting democracy and freedom of expression and information globally by strengthening media diversity and media freedom.