Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity

Presentation of the Report by the Director-General of UNESCO

11.30 a.m. - 4.45 p.m., 22 March 2012, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France

The number of journalists and media workers killed each year is spreading worldwide, according to the UNESCO Director General Report on this issue, which provides an overview of the killings of media professionals condemned by UNESCO in 2010-2011.

In most cases, these journalists were reporting on local stories, particularly related to corruption and other illegal activities such as organized crime. In total, 127 journalists were killed – 65 in 2010 and 62 in 2011. The report also provides information on the judicial inquiries concerning the killing of journalists from 2006 to 2009.

The debate on The Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity will bring together Member States and other organizations participating in the panel such as Article 19, the International Press Institute (IPI) and the Doha Centre for Media Freedom (see the agenda and biographies of participants).

This year a draft UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity will be presented to the Intergovernmental Council of the IPDC for endorsement. This plan, the first of its kind, is the result of contributions from representatives of United Nations agencies, programmes and funds as well as Member States, professional associations and NGOs, which met on 13-14 September 2011 at the first UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

The measures in the Draft Plan include the establishment of a coordinated inter-agency mechanism to handle issues connected to safety of journalists and impunity, and to incorporate them into UN contributions to national strategies. The draft also foresees assisting countries to develop legislation and mechanisms favourable to freedom of expression and information as well as to implement existing international rules and principles. To further reinforce prevention, awareness-raising campaigns will also be conducted with Member States, civil society, non-governmental organizations and concerned bodies.

Member States will also be invited to consider endorsing a Decision on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which calls on governments to report to the UNESCO Director-General on their investigations into the killings of journalists.

Speakers

Anthony Mills, Press Freedom Manager, International Press Institute (IPI)

Anthony Mills spent almost 10 years in Beirut, Lebanon, as a correspondent for CNN, Deutsche Welle, and other news outlets before joining IPI as Press Freedom & Communications Manager, in 2009. Among the events he covered as a journalist were the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, and the brief takeover by Hezbollah-led gunmen of most of West Beirut in 2008. A political and media specialist on Lebanon, Syria and the broader Middle East, he is in charge of IPI’s press freedom strategy, projects and communication. He holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations, with a focus on the Middle East, from Brown University in the United States, and a master’s degree in International Journalism, from City University, London.

Ole Chavannes, Senior Coordinator Emergency Assistance, Doha Centre for Media Freedom

Ole Chavannes (1975) is a journalist and media development expert from the Netherlands. Since 2011 he works in Qatar for the Doha Centre for Media Freedom. He started his own radio pirate station when he was 13 and has been producing news since, for newspapers, radio, blogs and TV. After studying history and journalism at Groningen University, Chavannes became editor in chief of an online press agency, operational in six European countries. In 2004 he joined the media development world, by launching news programs for children in countries like Peru, Afghanistan and Burma, establishing the Kids News Network.

Currently Chavannes is senior coordinator of Emergency Assistance, one of the programs of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF). With a team of regional experts, journalists in need of urgent medical or legal assistance receive direct support. DCMF also provides Training (journalism & safety), Researches media developments in the Arab region, enrolls a Media Literacy program and Reports on press freedom violations on www.dc4mf.org.         

Quinn McKew, Senior Director, Article 19

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation founded in 1986 that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression and information. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.  As the head of global operations, Quinn coordinates the security and risk assessment work at Article 19, as well as insuring the integration of our 7 regional offices and 50+ regional partner organisations. 

Quinn has a Masters of Business Administration from Georgetown University focusing on global non-profit management and a BA in International Relations and the Environment from Stanford University.  Prior to joining Article 19, she worked for the largest non-profit management consultancy in Europe, and was a campaign manager for leading environmental organisations in the United States.

Jānis Kārkliņš, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information

Before assuming his duties at UNESCO, Kārkliņš served as the Latvian Ambassador to France, Andorra, Monaco and UNESCO. He was as well the Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United Nations in Geneva.

During his stay in Geneva, he served as the First Vice-Chairman, and one year later as Chairman of the Council of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). He has held several elected posts in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and UN Commission of Science and Technology for Development, as well as presided over the Group of Governmental Experts on Cluster Munitions within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). He also served as the Vice-President of the Preparatory Committee of the Geneva Phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and was President of the Preparatory Committee of the Tunis Phase of WSIS.

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