Uzbekistan National News Agency (UzA)
Tashkent (UNA-OIC) – Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan, Chairman of the National Commission for UNESCO Aziz Abdukhakimov, together with UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, have taken part in the opening ceremony of the high-level online panel dedicated to the celebration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).
The event is being held on September 28-29 with the participation of representatives of prominent governmental and nongovernmental organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Council on Archives (ICA), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Twitter, Open Government Partnership initiative, Transparency International and others.
It should be noted that Uzbekistan is the only country invited to such an authoritative forum. This proves the recognition of the changes that have taken place in the country thanks to the policy of President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to ensure openness and freedom of expression.
The event is widely covered live via the official website of the Organization and its channels on all major social platforms.
This momentous day is being celebrated globally for the first time after the adoption in 2019 of the UN General Assembly Resolution that declared September 28 as the International Day for the Universal Access to Information. Previously, it was celebrated within the framework of UNESCO, which established this event in 2015.
Taking into account the important role of information in countering the COVID-19 pandemic, “Access to Information – Saving Lives, Building Trust, Bringing Hope” has been chosen as the theme of the panel. The speakers drew attention to various aspects of ensuring access to information in the context of the strategies of international structures, governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as the private sector in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The Uzbek side made a broad presentation on the results of large-scale reforms in media development carried out in the country under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. It highlights the measures taken in Uzbekistan to liberalize the media and strengthen its role in society, promote freedom of speech and protect the rights of journalists, ensure openness and transparency in the government’s work and strengthen dialogue between the government and the people. It was emphasized that owing to these efforts the country is witnessing profound transformations in all areas of life with the emergence of a socially and politically active population and a vibrant civil society.
As was noted, along with advances in other areas, increased access to information has significantly contributed to the effective implementation of a comprehensive strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This strategy is based on four key elements, such as the launch of a massive information campaign, regular publication of statistics on newly infected cases and victims, consolidation of efforts of mass media and bloggers to counter disinformation, as well as mobilization of significant resources to provide online access to educational, scientific and other platforms.
The Commitment of the Government of Uzbekistan to hold an international conference on the occasion of the IDUAI in Tashkent in the fall of 2021 together with UNESCO was expressed.
The agreement on organizing this event in Uzbekistan was reached during the meeting of the heads of the Agency of Information and Mass Communications K. Allamjanov and S. Mirziyoyeva under the administration of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan (now the management of the Public Fund for Support and Development of National Mass Media) with UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, held on January 9, 2020 in Paris.
The Uzbek side noted that the forthcoming conference will be a good opportunity to find ways to further increase support from the international community, including UNESCO, aimed at strengthening the capacity of countries to withstand future challenges and crises in terms of information.
The event highlighted the importance of discussing current issues, such as improving access to professional journalism and reliable information, sharing best practices in effective response to challenges, and expanding the reach of advanced technologies and digital platforms to ensure communication in crisis situations.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and other speakers expressed their sincere appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan for its readiness to host such an important event next year.