Statement in support of the mandate of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

We, the undersigned organizations, are deeply concerned by the decision of the representatives of Azerbaijan and Tajikistan to block the renewal of the mandate of Harlem Désir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFOM). 

We respect the need for a consensus vote of all member states of the OSCE on the mandate renewal as an important commitment of all OSCE participating States to abide by their commitments to freedom of expression and free media. We understand the move by Azerbaijan and Tajikistan is an attempt to weaken the essential watchdog function of the mandate. 

Our organizations have worked closely with current and past RFOMs  over the years and supported them in promoting media freedom in the OSCE region. We are looking forward to further collaboration with the mandate which was due to be renewed on 19 July. 

The RFOM is a critical institution in safeguarding and promoting media freedom across the OSCE region. In particular, we value assistance that the RFOM provided to the OSCE participating States on relevant issues related to the promotion and protection of the media and freedom of expression and in shaping their policies and legislation in line with international standards and OSCE commitments. We also highlight crucial support that the mandate has been providing to journalists and media organizations and to our own organizations’ mission in defending and promoting press freedom within the OSCE region and beyond.  

As the COVID-19 pandemic showed, ensuring media freedom is more important now than ever. We believe that the renewal of his mandate is an important opportunity for OSCE participating States to confirm their commitment to media freedom at a time when it is threatened and pledge further support towards this important mandate.

Therefore, we urge the Governments of Azerbaijan and Tajikistan and all OSCE participating States to uphold their international commitments and to support the renewal of the mandate of Mr. Désir before it expires on 19 July. 

ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression

Belarusian Association of Journalists

Center for Independent Journalism – Romania

Committee to Protect Journalists

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

European Federation of Journalists

Free Press Unlimited

Freedom House

Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)

Globe International Center

Hungarian Civil Liberties Union

Index on Censorship

Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey

International Federation of Journalists

International Media Support (IMS)

International Press Institute (IPI)

Metamorphosis Foundation

Norwegian PEN

Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)


P24 Platform for Independent Journalism

PEN America

PEN International

Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Rory Peck Trust

South East Europe Media Organization

South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)

World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers