IPDC Council session asks UNESCO Director-General to prepare Work Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity
The Council of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which met last week in Paris for its 28th biennial session (22 to 23 March), has requested the Director-General of UNESCO to prepare, in consultation with Member States and other relevant actors, a UNESCO Work Plan for curbing violence against journalists and addressing the impunity of crimes committed against them. The Plan will be presented to the UNESCO Executive Board at its 191st session in spring 2013.
The Council also commended the progress of the work undertaken by UN agencies and other stakeholders in preparing a draft UN Plan of Action which aims to establish a coordinated and action-oriented strategy within the UN system for ensuring a safe environment for media professionals. The draft UN plan was tabled last week at the UN’s High-level Committee on Programmes, which is in charge of UN system-wide programme coordination, and this body decided to transmit the draft plan to the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) for endorsement.
The Council’s discussion on safety also took in the presentation of the Director-General’s third report on this topic. This includes an overview of the killings of journalists condemned by UNESCO in 2010-2011 as well as updated information received from concerned Member States on the status of the judicial follow-up to each of the killings condemned between 2006 and 2009.
The report states that the Director-General condemned 127 killings of journalists during the 2010-2011 biennium; 123 during 2008-2009; and 122 between 2006 and 2007.
Panelists from several non-governmental organizations, including the International Press institute, Article 19 and the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, shared their perspectives on this item.
Another major topic of the Council was the relationship between gender and media. This covered the extent to which women are employed at different levels within media companies, and how they are pictured in media content. The Council endorsed UNESCO’s initiative to develop a set of Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media, aimed at assessing gender mainstreaming in media. The discussion, which was transmitted live online, involved interventions from representatives of the International Federation of Journalists, the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union and the African Media Initiative, as well as from an Egyptian woman journalist.
The UNESCO-IPDC Prize for Rural Communication was awarded to two media organizations - the Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists and the Kenyan Arid Lands Information Network – for their innovative work in improving communication among rural communities.
The IPDC Council, which is composed of 39 Member States representing UNESCO’s different regional groups, elected a new Chairman to the Programme, Mr Jyrki Pulkinnen from Finland, who will serve in this capacity until the next Council session in 2014. The Council also reached an agreement on the new composition of the IPDC Bureau, the executing body of the Programme, which assumes full responsibility for project selection, approval and allocation of funds from the Special Account, and acts as jury for the UNESCO-IPDC Prize for Rural Communication. Alongside the Chairperson from Finland, the Bureau will be composed of three Vice-chairpersons from Peru, Tanzania and Thailand, a Rapporteur from the Russian Federation and three other members from Albania, Algeria and the United States of America.
The IPDC is the key multilateral forum in the UN system designed to promote media development in developing countries and help secure an empowering environment for free, independent and pluralistic media. In three decades IPDC has channeled almost $100 million to some 1,500 media development projects in more than 140 countries.
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