A coalition of governments have at a ceremony at the Paris Peace Forum, affirmed their support of the International Fund for Public Interest Media (IFPIM) by approving the Statutes that safeguard its mission and independence and formally appointing its Board of independent experts.
Representatives of the governments of Ghana, Moldova, and France highlighted the urgency of the International Fund’s mission to address the structural challenges facing independent journalism in low- and middle-income countries and to chart a path toward long term financial resilience.
In the lead-up to the ceremony, Minister for Information Kojo Oppong Nkrumah announced Ghana’s support for the International Fund. “I’m happy to announce here, today, that the Republic of Ghana has entered a partnership with the International Fund for Public Interest Media,” he said.
“Specifically, Ghana will host the Africa regional headquarters of the International Fund and extend the same privileges and immunities offered to other international organizations. I call on all other states to partner with the International Fund.”
Nicu Popescu, Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova, spoke about the importance of the global coalition supporting the International Fund. “We are all gathered here to support each other in our joint efforts to maintain peace, stability, democracy, and freedom of speech in our countries,” he said. “That is why, for Moldova, it is very important to be standing here, to be participating in this event, bringing in our contribution to this effort.”
Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, Ms. Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, signed the Statutes on behalf of the French Government and stated: “Independent Media form a pillar of sound democracies, especially in times of post-truth public debate and disinformation operations which became a daily issue in times of conflicts. Sustaining support to reliable, pluralistic and free journalism is pivotal to achieve complex transitions such as the progress we need to make to deliver the SDGs. Therefore France is proud to support IFPIM as part of our global policy for press freedom.”
Prior to the signing ceremony, Minister Zacharopoulou called on others to support the International Fund: “I am calling on all donors to support this beautiful democratic initiative for a free, independent media.”
The ceremony is a signal of the growing coalition supporting the International Fund’s work, including governments in the Global North and South, leading philanthropic organizations, and private corporations. Additional early government champions include those of the United States, Switzerland, Denmark, Timor Leste, Sweden, New Zealand, and Estonia.
The ceremony took place following a high-level panel discussion organized by the International Fund at the Paris Peace Forum, a year after Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, announced France’s support to the International Fund at the 2022 edition of the Forum.
The International Fund’s Board of Directors, which had previously served in a Board-elect capacity, includes noted leaders in media and global development. The following individuals were formally appointed to the Board: Maria Ressa (co-chair), Nobel Peace Laureate and co-founder and CEO of Rappler; Mark Thompson (co-chair), CEO of CNN and former CEO of The New York Times Company; Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas (chair of the Audit and Finance Committee), former assistant secretary-general and controller of the United Nations; Gina Chua, executive editor of Semafor and former executive editor of Reuters; and Pascal Lamy, vice president of the Paris Peace Forum and former European commissioner for trade.
Others are Stefan Löfven, co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Advisory Board on effective multilateralism and former Prime Minister of Sweden; Nanjala Nyabola, noted journalist and founder of the Kiswahili Digital Rights Project; and Julie Posetti, deputy vice president for global research at the International Center for Journalists.
In her remarks, Ms. Ressa spoke about the needs that the International Fund is designed to address.
“We’ve been talking about governments and how governments can put in place regulations and laws,” Ms. Ressa said. “That takes time. How are news organizations going to be able to survive this time period? This is what the International Fund for Public Interest Media does.”
The Board is broadly responsible for setting the International Fund’s strategic vision and protecting its independence, as well as that of its public interest grantees.
The codification of the Statutes and formal appointment of the Board is a key milestone in the International Fund’s First Phase of Operations, announced in May 2023. In the coming weeks, the International Fund will announce new grants made to media organizations in its focus regions.
More information about the International Fund and its strategic approach to its First Phase of Operations can be found at www.ifpim.org.