06.09.2011 - UNESCO

Crimes against journalists: UN meets to discuss ways of putting an end to impunity

UNESCO donates protective vests and helmets to media professionals in Gaza; © UNESCO

On 13 and 14 September 2011 UNESCO is to host the first United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity at its Headquarters in Paris. Over the last decade alone, more than 500 journalists have been killed undertaking their professional responsibilities. Many more have been victims of abductions, hostage-taking, harassment, intimidation, illegal arrest or sexual violence. The great majority of casualties were not international war correspondents, but local journalists working in their own countries, mostly in peacetime, and covering local stories.

As the United Nations specialized agency with the mandate to promote the ‘free flow of ideas by word and image’, UNESCO has long played a crucial role in addressing this issue, through a diverse range of initiatives from the World Press Freedom Day (3rd May) and the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Prize to the support of journalists' networks and professional associations, and journalism training sessions.

On the recommendation of the 27th IPDC Intergovernmental Council Decision on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and following a consultation with Member States, the UNESCO Director General is now seeking to formulate a comprehensive, coherent and action-oriented approach to the issue, across all the relevant UN agencies, programmes and funds and with input from a wide variety of international and regional institutions, professional organizations, NGOs and governments.

On Tuesday, 13 September, the meeting will be open to all participants, as well as to the Permanent Delegations and Observers to UNESCO (Fontenoy building, Room X). However, on Wednesday, 14 September, the meeting will be open only to UN agencies, as they collaborate in preparing a concrete UN plan of action.

A draft version of this plan of action, prepared by UNESCO, is currently available for comments and suggestions: click here.

More information about the background to this event can be found here.

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