Eighteen months after the establishment of the Consortium for Human Rights and Media in Africa (CHARM), the project is going full steam ahead.
Funded by the Swedish Development Cooperation (Sida), CHARM is a coming together of six regional civil society and media organisations, namely Fojo Media Institute, Wits Journalism, CIVICUS, Civil Rights Defenders, Defend Defenders and Hub Afrique.
A recently published anthology titled People, Power, Truth, outlines the purpose of the project as follows: “With joint actions, the aim is to strengthen coalition building between civil society, media and human rights defenders in sub-Saharan Africa. The project facilitates collaborations between existing like-minded organisations, aspiring to meet the growing need for media, civil society and human rights organisations to think strategically and ally with research institutions, policy organisations, thinktanks and actors in the digital sphere that have the ability to contribute with new skills and experiences.”
The anthology presents thoughts of different thinkers in the media space, civil organisations and human rights activists. It is billed as “a starting point for a CHARM think-tank that will display good practices and ideas on coalition building”.
It argues that “journalists alone cannot save journalism, and civil society activists and human rights defenders cannot alone defend civil space”. Thus, it adds, “coalitions can provide opportunities for media and civil society to work in a more strategic and coordinated manner on relevant issues, and to build the political will needed to sustain progress”.
Two leading experts on how media and civil society intersect, Dr Mark Lee Hunter and Wits Journalism’s Professor Anton Harber are featured in the anthology sharing their thoughts on the role of the media, civil society and social justice organisations, and into how, when co-operating in a transparent manner, they can have a meaningful impact.
The anthology project, which contains several articles, is calculated to help “stimulate thoughts and debate and lead to discussions and deliberations between civil society activists, media practitioners, private sector and government representatives on how to engage in coalitions, jointly building democratic and sustainable structures for the well-being of our societies”.