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8 July 2021, Tashkent: It is well established that a free media is essential to democracy, and that democratic elections are impossible without the Fourth Estate. A free and fair election is not only about the freedom to vote and the knowledge of how to cast a vote, but also about a participatory process where voters engage in public debate and have adequate information about parties, policies, candidates and the election process so they can make informed choices.

These were some of the key messages at a special training of Central Election Commission press (CEC) officers on 6 and 7 July 2021.  The two-day media training seminar was organized on behest of the CEC in partnership with the Journalists Retraining Center and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  It was supported under the project “Support to the Electoral Process in Uzbekistan 2019-2021” with support from the Government of Switzerland and the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.

Above, participants in a special training organized by UNDP, learn about laws and regulations should guarantee fundamental freedoms essential to democracy, including freedom of information and expression, as well as participation.

The programme, held online using Zoom, trained participants on established standards for effective elections coverage and on the importance of providing all candidates and parties with equitable access to the public through an impartial platform for political debates. The training programme also provided hands-on guidance on how to develop important media materials like media advisories and press release.

The online training for Central Election Commission press officers encouraged active dialogue and engagement as a way to explore how greater press freedoms with citizen journalism and social media directly can advance the sustainable development of a country like Uzbeksitan.

The interactive training programme was facilitated by national media experts Beruniy Alimov and Gulmira Shukurova. A third specialist, Ivan Godarsky, was engaged in the programme as an international media expert presenting global and regional standards and good practices in covering elections.

The second phase of the training programme, which will focus on promoting analytical coverage on the 24 October presidential elections, will take place in August 2021.  In this second phase, UNDP national and international media experts will train journalists on informing voters about the process, balancing coverage of candidates, and how to plan a comprehensive media coverage strategy. Training also will cover writing skills, sourcing, ethics, safety and legal dangers.  The training also include essential considerations like how to ensure gender issues and the concerns of vulnerable groups are comprehensively included in all news coverage.  

Activities implemented by the UNDP project “Support to the Electoral Process in Uzbekistan 2019-2021” is funded by the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, the Swiss Embassy in Uzbekistan and UNDP.

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