Global Freedom of Expression

Mehdi Benchelah

Mehdi Benchelah, Senior Project Officer, Section for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, UNESCO. Mehdi Benchelah is a senior project officer at UNESCO and is coordinating the Rule of Law, Policy and Freedom of Expression Team within the Section for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists. He coordinates the Judges’ Initiative, a global strategy for the judiciary systems on freedom of expression, access to information and safety of journalists, by fostering strategic partnerships with Regional Human Rights Courts, Supreme Courts, Judicial Training Institutes and Prosecutors’ Offices across the world. He also coordinates the implementation of an initiative to train law enforcement officers on human rights, freedom of expression and safety of journalists’ related issues, as well as their relationship with the media. He is also in charge of the Media and Elections programme to tackle disinformation and violence during election periods while respecting international standards on freedom of expression.

Mehdi Benchelah was posted in Haiti from 2010 to 2011 following the 2010 earthquake to coordinate UNESCO emergency programmes for the recovery of the media sector and the initiatives to support the culture sector. He was the Head of UNESCO Office in Tunisia from 2012 to 2014 following the Revolution and democratic transition, and coordinated the support of the media law reform, capacity-building activities for the media including in times of election, and other activities to support national authorities and civil society organizations.
Prior to joining UNESCO, Mehdi worked for a decade as a freelance reporter covering international affairs and conflicts in the Arab region, Africa and Latin America. Notably, he covered the Algerian civil war, the Second Intifada in Palestine and Israel, the Iraq war following the United States’ 2003 invasion, and the drugs war in Latin America. He was the permanent correspondent of Radio France and the leading magazine Le Point while he was based in the Gaza strip covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Middle East news from 1998 to 2000.
A graduate of the Law School of Sorbonne University Paris I with a Masters’ degree in Law, he is the author of non-fiction: Le Pèlerin de Jerusalem (with Jean Lecuyer, J.C Lattes publishing 2000), Journal d’Algérie 1991-2001 (with Michael Von Graffenried, 2003) and fictions books: Les flamboyants de Gaza (Cherche Midi publishing 2004) and Bassora-Express (Cherche Midi publishing 2006).