Annual Report 2023
A journalist from Studio Sifaka, Fondation Hirondelle’s partner in Madagascar, at the EU-NGO Forum on Human Rights. © Daphne Matthys.

Media Support Policies for Peace and Democracy

Fondation Hirondelle works with Swiss, European and UN bodies to document and reflect on how the news media can contribute to just, peaceful and democratic societies.

Within the Agenda 2030 framework, support for independent media and press freedom are prerequisites for achieving several sustainable development goals. Among these, Goal 16 focuses on just, peaceful and democratic societies. For almost 30 years, Fondation Hirondelle has been asserting through its action in the field that media are, like health and education, a priority sector to support. General awareness has grown in recent years on the importance of reliable, credible information. Research findings and the sometimes painful experience of media weakening, particularly in the West, show that when the media fail to play their role, democracy goes wrong.

In 2023, Fondation Hirondelle continued its advocacy work with Swiss, European and UN bodies, in the form of publications, position papers, regular exchanges and presentations at 20 international media conferences. This cross-functional work, led by the Head of Research and Policy, the Head of External Relations and the Representative to the European Union in Brussels, was translated during the year into specific objectives for the next strategic period 2025-2028.

Together with the Swiss Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, we organized during Geneva Peace Week a high-level panel on the spread of disinformation in the Sahel. Three Special Representatives for the Sahel (Switzerland, European Union, Spain which was at the time holding the presidency of the European Union), a Geneva-based Togolese researcher and a journalist from Studio Tamani in Mali discussed non-military solutions to the ongoing crisis in the region. The presence of senior African officials in the room added to the debates.

Our advocacy work takes the form of publications, position papers and presentations at international media conferences.


In October 2023, the International Observatory on Information and Democracy officially launched its first work cycle at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Kyoto, Japan. As part of this, the Observatory opened a call for experts and researchers from academia or civil society who had produced relevant research work on priority topics (AI, data governance, media in the digital age). Our Head of Research and Policy was selected and will bring perspective on the media landscape from the fragile countries where we work. Scheduled for release at the end of 2024, this first report aims to provide a comprehensive synthesis of international academic research on crucial issues at the intersection of information and democracy.

A journalist from Studio Kalangou, the Fondation Hirondelle media in Niger, at the EU-NGO Forum on Human Rights. © Daphne Matthys.
A journalist from Studio Kalangou, the Fondation Hirondelle media in Niger, at the EU-NGO Forum on Human Rights. © Daphne Matthys.

With the European Union, we shared several concept notes on the importance of media in crisis zones, particularly in the Sahel which has seen regime changes and shrinking freedoms. We joined the European NGO networks for democracy (TED Network) in May and for human rights (HRDN) in September. Two of our “Youth” journalists from Madagascar and Niger visited Brussels as part of the EU NGO Forum devoted to youth. They shared their experiences and expertise on the information needs of young people, their vulnerability to disinformation and the growing need for media literacy.

As an active member of the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), we lobbied major donors to increase the percentage they allocate for supporting the media sector. This percentage (0.3% of total development aid) has remained unchanged for 10 years. We also took part in a public consultation initiated by the OECD on draft principles for relevant and effective support of media and information space. We stressed the importance of maintaining, and even increasing, support for independent media, as well as the need to improve aid coordination and investment in knowledge, research and learning.

The two issues of our biannual “Mediation” newsletter were devoted to the links between “media and democracy” and “media and transitional justice”. Among other things, these two publications highlighted the work of Radio Ndeke Luka, the leading radio station in the Central African Republic, and the work of Justice Info, our online website covering international justice initiatives.