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Your Excellency, Ambassador Bernard Ntahiraja, the ICGLR National Coordinator of the Republic of Burundi, Governor of Gitega Province, Mr. Venant Manirambona, Representatives of our partners Journalists from ICGLR Member States Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you to the opening session of this workshop. At the outset, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Burundi for graciously agreeing to host this workshop, for their unwavering support in ensuring its success and for the courtesies extended to all participants. I would also like to extend my sincere appreciation to our esteemed partners, GIZ, for their invaluable contribution towards the realization of this event.

We are delighted to convene this workshop, which seeks to establish a networ of journalists within the ICGLR. This initiative will provide a platform f journalists to collaborate, share knowledge and experiences, and promote th free flow of information across the region. The purpose of this workshop is create a network of journalists that will serve as a forum for exchangi information, ideas and best practices. By working together, journalists will able to improve their knowledge and understanding of the issues facing region and develop strategies for addressing them.
Ladies and gentlemen,

We believe that the establishment of this network will be a valuable resource for journalists who cover the ICGLR, as well as for the broader community that relies on accurate and timely information about the region. It will also be an opportunity for us at the ICGLR to tell our story and to disseminate the work we do to our stakeholders through you. We are, therefore, committed to supporting this initiative and look forward to working with all participants to ensure its success.

The ICGLR Protocol on Information and Communication Management that we adopted in 2006 outlines crucial principles, objectives and mechanisms aimed at promoting media freedom, professionalism, and responsibility across the Great Lakes Region. The protocol aims to develop common policies and programmes in the areas of freedom of opinion and expression, the free exchange of ideas and information, and civic education. It also seeks to protect the rights and responsibilities of the media, to provide security for media professionals, and to prevent the media from being used as a tool for inciting hatred, violence, discrimination, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

However, over 15 years later, the structures envisaged in this Protocol are yet to be fully established. The Regional Information and Communication Council that was mandated to develop common policies, build capacities, and monitor progress is still non-operational.

The operationalization of the protocol requires the commitment and cooperation of all stakeholders, including the governments, the media, the civil society, the regional and international organizations, and the donors. It also requires the establishment of effective mechanisms for monitoring, evaluation, and reporting on the implementation of the protocol.
It is time now to give full effect to the provisions of this forward-looking Protocol that has immense potential to shape narratives of good governance, inclusion, peace and human rights in the region. I call upon all of us to jointly develop a roadmap for operationalizing the Information and Communication Protocol.

Excellency Ladies and Gentlemen,

As some of you may be aware, the Great Lakes Region has experienced turmoil and instability over the past decades. However, the formation of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in 2006 was a pivotal moment, signalling the shared commitment of our 12 member states to promote sustainable peace, security, democracy, and development in this region.

The ICGLR Secretariat in Bujumbura coordinates various activities and serves as the technical arm of our organization. In the course of these two days, we shall provide you with more information about the ICGLR, the mandate, achievements, and current challenges. We are particularly keen to hear your invaluable perspectives and valuable input on how regional media networks and the ICGLR can collaborate synergistically to further our shared objectives. Our hope is that by the end of this workshop, each and every one of you will have a clear understanding of how to regularly report on ICGLR’s key issues, including peace, security, democracy, economic integration, and gender empowerment.

It is without doubt that for the ICGLR to fully deliver on our mandate and implement the ICGLR Strategic Plan 2023-2026, we need the support and partnership of various stakeholders, especially the media.
Members of the Fifth Estate,

You play an indispensable role in shaping narratives, setting the agenda for public discourse, and influencing opinions. We believe they have immense untapped potential to promote the cause of stability, good governance, economic growth, and human rights in the Great Lakes countries. It is in light of this conviction that we have organized this workshop firmly aligned with Objective 5.5 of our Strategic Plan, which seeks to foster meaningful and productive engagement between the ICGLR and media houses.

It is our belief that by working together, we can create a more informed, engaged, and empowered public that is better equipped to tackle the challenges facing our region.

We have seen the power of the media in conflict prevention, resolution, peacebuilding, and reconstruction. We are, therefore, confident that through objective, solutions-oriented reporting, this network of journalists will highlight important ICGLR interventions and encourage greater civil society participation in our programs.

I urge you to share diverse perspectives and experiences on how we can build solid and enduring partnerships between ICGLR and the media. Let us emerge from this workshop with fresh ideas and a renewed commitment to collaborate for comprehensive, transformative change across the Great Lakes Region.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope that this workshop will mark the beginning of a robust, long-term partnership between journalists from the Great Lakes countries and the ICGLR .

Secretariat. Together, we can shape powerful narratives of hope, cooperation, development, and human rights – narratives that will uplift our people and help establish lasting stability in this region. I trust that this workshop will be a resounding success and that we will achieve our objectives for the benefit of the region and its people.

To conclude, I reiterate my sincere appreciation to the Government of Burundi for hosting us, as well as to our partners, especially the GIZ, for their support. My team and I are looking forward to engaging with you all over the next two days.

I now declare this workshop officially open.

Thank you very much.

Merci beaucoup. Shukran jazeelan Muito obrigado Asante sana

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