The Royal Norwegian Embassy along with UNESCO supported the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) to organize an international conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the Colombo Declaration on Media Freedom and Social Responsibility from September 27 to 30, in Colombo.
The conference coincided with the International Day for the Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) as recognized by the United Nations. Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe inaugurated the event.
Speaking at the event, Ambassador of Norway to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Thorbjørn Gaustadsæther said that the Colombo Declaration has been the road-map to establish Sri Lanka Press Institute in 2003 with the financial support of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. He said that the Norwegian Embassy is proud of its strong, decades-long relationship with SLPI.
He further said that Sri Lanka has taken several noteworthy measures in media freedom and social responsibility in recent years, such as endorsing the Open Government Declaration in October 2015 thereby becoming the first South Asian participating country. Open Government Declaration encourages governments to make commitments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governments by learning from each other’s experiences and by working with civil society within the country.
Also highlighting the importance of the Right to Information Act, Ambassador Gaustadsæther said that having strong RTI laws encourages people’s participation in government and promotes cooperation, transparency and trust between people and those elected by the people.
Two prominent journalists from Norway, Liv Ekeberg and Eva Stabell are among the international speakers at the event. Representatives from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Germany, India, Norway, Pakistan and the UK as well as local editors, publishers, journalists, academics and information technology professionals attended the conference.