Harlem Désir, an influential figure who has worked fearlessly for the protection of the free press, will no longer serve as Representative on Freedom of the Media at OSCE after Azerbaijan and Tajikistan blocked the renewal of his mandate.
For the past three years Désir has been an outspoken representative at the OSCE (Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe). Nowadays his reappointment has been blocked by two of the worst-scoring countries in terms of world press freedom.
International press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said this was the most disruptive behaviour yet from Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.
“The work of the Representative on Freedom of Media is absolutely crucial to the protection of media freedom across the OSCE’s 57 Member States, especially in the worst offenders, including the two States that have now blocked Harlem Désir’s reappointment. They can now effectively evade OSCE scrutiny,” RSF’s Director of International Campaigns, Rebecca Vincent, said.
The blocking of Désir candidacy by the two OSCE participating states raises the question of whether countries with a dramatic record of undermining free press should be allowed to have such power in international fora.
“Azerbaijan has form for this, having behaved similarly disruptively at the Council of Europe for years. How long will these institutions allow themselves to be hijacked by States that don’t share their values?” RSF added.