Seminar on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Mongolia

May 29, 2024
UNDP Mongolia

Ugluu-nii mend I Good morning, 


Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,


Let me start by thanking the Embassy of Japan for initiating this important dialogue and inviting UNDP to co-host it. It is an honour to welcome you all to this crucial discussion on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Mongolia. 


As we all know, freedom of expression and access to information are fundamental rights that are essential for a democratic society in which the human rights of all individuals are respected and the realization of human potential is enabled. These rights are not only intrinsic to individual dignity but also act as catalysts for social progress and economic development.


In 1992, the Constitution of Mongolia specifically recognized the freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, speech, press, and peaceful assembly. Legislation such as the Civil Code and the Law on Freedom of the Press are in force to ensure the implementation of these fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.


Over the years significant strides have been made to promote access to information and preserve freedom of expression. Challenges of course persist. The emergence of new technologies and the proliferation of digital platforms, the liberalization of media markets, have reshaped the dynamics of communication and information dissemination worldwide, presenting both opportunities (new ways of public participation in governance) and threats – including putting human rights and freedoms at risk. 


Growing manipulation of public opinion is distorting political incentives in ways that are contrary to the public interest. In the new conditions of even more distorted public spaces, divisions in society are likely to become more easily exploited for political gain and the prospects for social cohesion look less promising.


The global trend of proliferation of false information and unequal access to information also undermines the ability of Mongolian citizens to fully enjoy their rights.


As an international development organization committed to promoting human rights, UNDP recognizes the critical importance of safeguarding the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and access to information in every country, including in Mongolia. A free and independent media sector is the bedrock of informed societies. It can support accountable and plural governance, and can provide a space for healthy public debate and dialogue. 


Hence, UNDP stands committed to supporting Mongolia's efforts to overcome challenges and strengthen its institutions. Through our partnerships with government agencies, civil society organizations, and diverse stakeholders, we promote initiatives to ensure widespread access to reliable and accurate information and combat the spread of misinformation and disinformation.


Recognizing the pivotal role of the media in safeguarding individuals' fundamental rights to freedom of expression and access to information, our collaboration with the Mongolian Media Council is aimed towards systems that foster media independence and fortify self-regulation of media ethics.


Moreover, in collaboration with the Nest Center for Journalism Innovation and Development -- the only official partner of Meta (working as their third-party fact-checking partner) for Mongolia and Kazakhstan since 2021 --, we pilot initiatives on fact-checking of the information spread across social platforms with no borders, focusing on content that violates human rights, undermines gender equality and (re)enforces gender stereotypes.


Allow me to note another initiative aimed at advancing this cause: the virtual campaign organized to educate individuals on assessing the authenticity, origins, and dissemination channels of information, thus helping to increase media literacy among the population.


As we kick off today's discussion, let us continue our collective commitment to upholding these fundamental rights as cornerstones of democracy and human dignity. 


Let us seize this opportunity to exchange ideas, share good practices, and shape new partnerships that will empower Mongolian citizens to exercise their rights and participate fully in the democratic process.


Thank you for joining us in this crucial endeavor.


Bayarlalaa I Thank you.