Digital infrastructure.

Video message Minister Blok Event Alliance for Multilateralism

This text has been spoken by Minister Blok in a video for the Event Alliance for Multilateralism on 24 February 2021.

Let me begin by thanking my colleagues Jean-Yves Le Drian and Heiko Maas, for inviting me to speak.

Internet freedom, and freedom of expression, are a priority for the Dutch government. Everyone should have access to a safe and secure space online. With room for dialogue, and diverse and critical opinions.

Women and men, across political, ethnic, racial, religious and regional divides should be able to come together online, and express themselves freely.

And yet, that is not the reality. As we have seen recently in Moscow, Minsk and Hong Kong. And as we’re seeing now in Yangon.

When citizens take to the street to protest against authoritarian governments media freedom is curtailed journalists are harassed, and the internet is censored.

We need to join forces, and reach a formal agreement. So we can keep internet freedom, and media freedom, high on the global agenda.

That’s one of the reasons, for instance, why we are founding members of the Freedom Online Coalition and the Media Freedom Coalition. And why we hosted the World Press Freedom Conference in December last year.

There, we and almost 60 other countries, endorsed The Hague Commitment; a pledge to increase the safety of journalists, and to independently investigate and prosecute all forms of attacks on journalists and media workers. Both online and offline.

We welcome other states to endorse The Hague Commitment. And to join us in the subsequent joint statement, that the Netherlands will issue - during the 46th session of the Human Rights Council.

Because as Walter Cronkite – the legendary journalist and former anchorman of CBS Evening News – once said: ‘Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.’ Let’s never forget that.

Thank you.