The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has been granted Special Consultative Status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC), during its meeting held in New York, on 21 July 2022.
The Consultative status confers special privileges and responsibilities allowing NUSOJ to access to ECOSOC, and its subsidiary bodies, as well as the UN Secretariat, programmes, funds and agencies, ad-hoc processes, and special events organized by the President of the UN General Assembly.
The NUSOJ said the recognition is significant and demonstrates that NUSOJ’s tireless work and mandate as the foremost champion of media freedoms, rights of journalists, freedom of information, and general human rights, is being felt and appreciated globally. The unions says the new status also demonstrates that NUSOJ’s contribution towards Somalia’s national development is truly impactful, and is aligned with the UN’s Charter and interest in bringing people and issues together to promote collective action for sustainable and progressive solutions.
“This is momentous and fuels our motivation to keep fighting the fight we know we must win. Media professionals in Somalia are routine targets of intimidation and violence and our institutions are often viewed with suspicion simply because we do not shy away from revealing, and we do not cower in our defence of bitter truth as we stubbornly champion the principles of democracy, media ethics and human rights”, said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
“As a national organisation known for its spirited campaigning and unapologetic approach to the protection and realisation of human rights, NUSOJ dedicates this important recognition to the gallant men and women of the media fraternity whose bravery, fortitude and commitment to informing and engaging the Somali public, despite personal risk and professional concerns, remain unwavering… With this new status we hope to solidify our role as a global, credible actor with a local focus on social justice. We continue to be a committed player in Somalia’s multifaceted approach and journey towards a functioning democracy with a peaceful and thriving future”, remarked Osman.
ECOSOC is the UN bridge to civil society as it represents an important portal of formal engagement between civil society and the UN. As a body, ECOSOC oversees and governs UN activities in the field of sustainable development and relations with civil society. ECOSOC is also mandated to review, measure, discuss and coordinate implementation of the 2030 Agenda and promote a balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development.
Hailing the ECOSOC decision, the General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Anthony Bellanger said: “This is a crucial and well-deserved reward for all the years of campaigning and advocacy the union has done on behalf of Somali journalists at a national and global level. For Somali journalists it provides a new opportunity to ensure media freedom, access to information and the rights of journalists are raised at the highest international level thanks to NUSOJ. The IFJ congratulates NUSOJ for this crucial recognition of their vital contribution to the struggle for journalists’ rights”.
NUSOJ is currently partnering with several UN agencies, and has been engaging in several UN deliberations and sessions such as the UN Human Rights Council, in executing its mandate. Its Special Consultative Status will further amplify its voice and visibility inside and outside the country.
With special consultative status, NGOs like NUSOJ have the right to designate official representatives to the UN Headquarters in New York and the United Nations offices in Geneva and Vienna, while representatives can register for and participate in events, conferences and activities of the UN. NUSOJ will now be able to submit written statements or make oral presentations relevant to the work of ECOSOC as per the agenda of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies.
Paris-based International Press freedom advocacy organisation, Reporters without Borders (RSF) applauded NUSOJ’s special consultative status with the UN. “RSF welcomes this decision in support of our partner in Somalia. It is well-deserved recognition of NUSOJ’S extensive and relentless work to defend journalism in Somalia and a new opportunity to advocate for media freedom in the deadliest African country for journalists”, said RSF’s Head of Africa Desk Arnaud Froger.
The decision to grant NUSOJ Special Consultative Status follows the recommendation of the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs made up of representatives from 19 Member States, which met on 17 – 26 May 2022. And in line with the ECOSOC rules and UN Charter, NUSOJ was found to “have special competence in and are concerned specifically with, only a few of the fields of activity covered by the ECOSOC”. NUSOJ governance and financial systems were thoroughly vetted by the ECOSOC secretariat before the announcement was made and this confirmed our credibility as a leader in its field.
“This recognition cements our belief that NUSOJ is an important vehicle that advocates for freedom of expression, women’s rights, gender equality and social justice agenda in Somalia”, opined Nima Hassan Abdi, NUSOJ’s Organizing Secretary. “While NUSOJ is vocal and spirited in its pursuit for media freedom, the union also possesses institutional capacity and merit that warrants its leadership and membership to be taken seriously…”, added Abdi.
While the status conferred on NUSOJ is, in and of itself, a wonderful achievement, the real excitement lies in the potential and future opportunities it offers. The union looks forward to the paths it will open in regards to national and international advocacy work on media freedoms and rights of journalists.