Draft regional Strategy against hate speech in Central Africa: The Central African Republic is set to host the Ministers of Communication

During a meeting in his Cabinet on 5 October, in the presence of his colleague in charge of Communication, the Central African Minister of Digital Economy, Posts and Telecommunications (first from right) indicated that the government has already started to take steps towards the successful organization of a Regional Forum to advance the process of adopting a community instrument against hate speech in Central Africa. Photo UNOCA/Norbert N. Ouendji.

12 Oct 2023

Draft regional Strategy against hate speech in Central Africa: The Central African Republic is set to host the Ministers of Communication

The Central African Republic (CAR) is preparing to host a Forum of Ministers of Communication of Central Africa, aimed at evaluating and validating a draft regional strategy and action plan to address and counter hate speech in the sub-region. A preparatory mission visited Bangui from 4 to 7 October 2023 to help the government outline the blueprint for the practical and efficient organization of this important event, scheduled no later than December 2023 (except in case of force majeure). The delegation was composed of representatives of the Bureau of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (UNSAC), Cameroon, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and UNOCA, coming respectively from Sao Tomé, Yaoundé, Bangui and Libreville.

During its stay, the delegation met with the relevant authorities and had working sessions with several stakeholders, including representatives of the UN, the President of the High Council of Communication (HCC) and members of the Inter-ministerial Committee put in place by the government to manage the organization of the Ministerial Forum. The mission was received in audience on 5 October 2023 by the Minister of Communication and Media, Mr. Serge Ghislain Djorie, in the presence of his colleague in charge of the Digital Economy, Posts and Telecommunications, Mr. Justin Gourna Zacko. The latter reiterated the government's commitment to host the Ministerial Forum, an event that was envisioned during a sub-regional seminar held in Bangui in April 2022. This is indeed considered as "an appriopriate time to harmonize points of view and bring minds together” in order to deal in a concerted and constructive manner with the phenomenon of hate speech, a scourge that is of concern in all countries of Central Africa. In this regard, they welcomed the arrival of the preparatory mission, which made it possible to answer all questions related to the organization of this high-level meeting, including its funding.

A crucial step before political endorsement by ECCAS

The main goal of the Regional Forum of Ministers of Communication and Information is to examine and carry out the pre-validation of the Draft Regional Strategy and Action Plan to address and counter hate speech in written, audiovisual and digital media in Central Africa, in particular the version amended by experts from UNSAC member States during the workshop held in Yaoundé in July 2023. The Ministerial meeting will be preceded by a technical segment. This Ministerial Forum is a crucial step in the process of political endorsement and final adoption of the Regional Strategy and the Action Plan by the competent ECCAS bodies. During the 55th UNSAC meeting held in Sao Tome in May 2023, Cameroon was mandated to lead this process. It will provide an update during the 56th session which will take place from 20 to 24 November 2023 in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Bangui preparatory mission was facilitated by UNOCA, which provides the UNSAC Secretariat. UNOCA will also provide financial, substantive and logistical support for the regional Forum of Ministers of Communication, as it did for the four previous ones that made it possible to formulate and structure the Draft Regional Strategy (Douala, 26-29 October 2021; Bangui, 26-29 April 2022; Kinshasa, 21-24 June 2022 and Yaoundé, 5-7 July 2023). Several other UN entities have so far supported this initiative, including the United Nations Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa (CNUDHD-AC), the United Nations Joint Office for Human Rights in DRC (UNJHRO), the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the UNESCO Office for Central Africa, the Office of the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect (OSAPG) and MINUSCA. This peacekeeping mission has already agreed to continue its multifaceted support for the Forum of Ministers of Communication that currently being prepared.