Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland delivered the 2017 Peter Lyon Memorial Lecture on 4 April.
This year, the lecture was held as part of the Institute’s two-day discussions on The Commonwealth And Challenges To Media Freedom.
During her lecture, Baroness Scotland said that the Commonwealth Secretariat welcomed plans by the Institute to set up a Centre for Media Freedom. She said that it would “complement the work of the Secretariat’s Human Rights team, the Commonwealth Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform, and the work we are planning at the Secretariat to develop Commonwealth model media guidelines for journalists during elections”.
She added: “We remain committed to promoting and safeguarding the right of all people to express themselves through the medium of their choice, whether they be young or old, rich or poor, and whether they work in the mainstream media, or are whistle-blowers uncovering corruption or malfeasance.
“The immediacy of the digital age enables social media users to filter their own news, and interact far more directly at all levels, including with public institutions. Such accessibility should encourage greater transparency and accountability, and yet trust in public institutions is declining.
“We need reliable sources, not sensationalist approaches that mislead and misinform. The question therefore is how we strike the right balance.”
In a Q&A session following the lecture, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland answered questions on media guideline discussions in the countdown to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the UK next year and in Malaysia two years’ later, on the Commonwealth’s Countering Violent Extremism Unit (CVE), on a timeline for The Gambia’s re-entry to the Commonwealth, on legislative reform across the Commonwealth and on Brexit and UK relations with the rest of the Commonwealth.
[Background: Peter Lyon (1934-2010) was Reader in International Relations at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, and Editor of The Round Table from 1983 to 2004. He was widely acknowledged as one of the leading experts on the Commonwealth.]
Find out more about the Round Table’s Peter Lyon Prize for the best policy-oriented article on a theme of significance for the contemporary Commonwealth.