A free media protects society from the “abuse of power” and helps to release a country’s “full potential”, Jeremy Hunt is set to argue.
The Foreign Secretary will use a speech at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London – alongside human rights lawyer Amal Clooney – to champion the benefits of a free press.
Mrs Clooney is Mr Hunt’s special envoy on media freedom and is due to join him at a press conference at the event on Wednesday afternoon.
The Cabinet minister and Tory leadership hopeful will tell the conference: “Today we send a strong message that media freedom is not a Western but a universal value.
“At its best, a free media both protects society from the abuse of power and helps to release the full potential of a country.”
Mr Hunt is expected to say the “strongest safeguard against the dark side of power is accountability and scrutiny” provided by a free media.
“The open exchange of ideas through a free media allows the genius of a society to breathe, releasing the originality and creativity of the entire population,” he will add.
“Societies which embrace free debate make a disproportionate contribution to the advance of human knowledge.”
He is due to tell foreign ministers, NGOs, academics and journalists at the conference that a free media aides the struggle against corruption.
“Of the 10 cleanest countries in the world, as ranked by Transparency International, seven are also in the top 10 of the World Press Freedom Index,” Mr Hunt will say.
“Meanwhile, of the 10 most corrupt countries, four appear in the bottom 10 for media freedom.
“Powerful people value their reputations and the sunlight of transparency provides the greatest deterrent to wrongdoing.”
Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, who is co-hosting the event, said: “A free press is the cornerstone of any democratic society and essential for the protection and promotion of human rights.
“I look forward to two days of in-depth conversations on the current state of media freedom and on the practical steps we can take to bring about positive change in our own countries and around the world.”