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Anti-Disinformation Network for the Balkans (ADN-Balkans) formed, advocating cross-border cooperation

Nine organizations from five Balkan countries have marked April 2, the International Fact-Checking Day 2020 by announcing the inception of the Anti-Disinformation Network for the Balkans (ADN-Balkans).

ADN-Balkans serves as the basis of a cooperation between civil society organizations, media outlets, educational isntitutions and all other relevant stakeholders with a goal of forming a wide front on countering disinformation through affirmation of the highest standards of fact-checking and all other ethical principles of professional journalism, as well as promoting media literacy and critical thinking.

The founding members have issued a declaration that re-affirms the freedom of expression in its various forms, stressing that the situation in the Balkans which requires an added focus on countering the problem of disinformation at regional level, especially cross-border disinformation, as well as empowerment of citizens through education and putting their actual needs as priority in the work of the media.

ADN-Balkans developed gradualy through bilateral and multilateral cooperation of its founding members which intensified during the last two years in response to increasing level of disinformation in the region, including but not limited to the development of informal network of correspondents implemented through the Fostering Improved Media Standards project supported by NED.

The network is open for cooperation and expansion with all entities working in the region that adhere to the principles enshrined in its founding declaration.

 

Declaration on Development of Anti-Disinformation Network for the Balkans (ADN-Balkans)

 

WHEREAS, we are civil society organizations and media outlets in the Balkans working for fostering of the freedom of expression, association and free flow of verified information;

WHEREAS we consider that citizens of democratic societies are entitled to accurate and timely information enabling them to represent their interests and make informed choices for their lives;

WHEREAS, the founding members discussed the pressing need to establish further infrastructure of cooperation based on the common need to counter encroachment of disinformation obstructing development of democracy and rule of law in the region;

WHEREAS, we share a common objective for a global freedom of expression and promotion of standards of professional journalism, based on our experiences of defending them in our countries;

WHEREAS we share common understanding that regional cooperation is essential to achieving this objective, as much of the negative tendencies have cross-border aspects that exploits fissures within and between our communities

THEREFORE:

WE SUPPORT the human right to freedom of expression as fundamental human right, and together with the rights to free flow of information and accountability consider it essential for implementation of all citizens’ rights;

WE SUPPORT that accountability of all stakeholders that influence the lives of citizens in the region is essential to development of democracy, including state institutions, state and public officials, media organizations, civil society, private and academic sectors and the personal responsibility of individuals in charge within these structures.

WE SUPPORT that principles of human rights and media freedoms are universal, but that the methods for advocacy and protection are contextual; hence, we champion regional cooperation based on strict adherence to the principles of ethnical journalism and fact-checking as enshrined in relevant self-regulatory documents, including national Codices of Journalists and the Code of Principles of the International Fact-Checking Network.

WE SUPPORT the notion that the principles of journalism, and fact-checking as essential element of reporting and watchdog journalism, exercised by journalists, bloggers, netizens, activists, scholars, academics, and other content creators, in whatever medium or format, enable more favorable social environment for consumption and sharing of information by citizens of the Balkans.

WE SUPPORT that openness, transparency and accountability of state institutions, in particular in societies under threat by disinformation campaigns from without and from within, are essential to the protection of the citizens’ rights to be informed and to act in accordance with the principles of human rights and rule of law, in defense of their freedoms, security and privacy.

WE SUPPORT that the power inherent in traditional and digital media technologies carries responsibility and obligation by their users to adhere to the principles of human rights, democratic pluralism and the rule of law, based on the legal frameworks and self-regulation standards set to protect them.

WE AIM TO be more effective advocates for freedom of expression and democracy in our region, THEREFORE we resolve to work together in cooperation to promote and uphold issues of public interest and educate the citizens on threats to democracy, and

WE THEREFORE AGREE TO WORK together as Anti Disinformation Network for the Balkans (ADN-Balkans) to advance freedom of expression and counter disinformation through initiatives promoting access to verified professional information across the region, consistent with international human rights norms, through any activity, including exchange of news content, education, training and advocacy.

LASTLY, WE SUPPORT that in establishing this anti-disinformation network, our vision is to respond to increased demand for fact-based information among the citizens from the Balkans, and serve as a model of cross-border cooperation that transcends the regional borders and increases political and media accountability around the world.

 

Signed this April 2, 2020, the International Fact-Checking Day, by our duly authorized representatives:

Initial signatories:

Other parties may support this declaration by signing a written consent to abide by the above stated goals and aims of the platform.