30.09.2016 - Communication & Information Sector

New HRC Resolution commends UNESCO’s work on the safety of journalists

Frank La Rue, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information addressing the side event in Geneva on 23 September 2016. © UNESCO

At its 33rd session on the 29 September, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a new Resolution on the safety of journalists which welcomes the work of UNESCO in fortifying media safety worldwide.

“This recognition reinforces UNESCO’s role in helping to ensure that journalists can work without fear and that there will be an end to impunity for those who attack them,” said UNESCO Assistant Director General for Communication and Information, Frank La Rue.

He further highlighted that the Resolution recognizes the safety of journalists as integral to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, given its significance for Goal 16.10 on ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.

Prior to the passage of the resolution, the ADG had spoken at a side event in Geneva last week moderated by Ambassador Thomas Hajnoczi, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

Resolution A/HRC/33/L.6, initiated by Austria, and adopted by the HRC without a vote, condemns unequivocally “all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers”.

It specifically highlights UNESCO’s work on the safety of journalists, including the 2015 publications World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development and Building Digital Safety for Journalism.

The Resolution further calls on States to cooperate with UNESCO and other UN bodies in raising awareness and ensuring the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, spearheaded by UNESCO since 2012.

As part of this cooperation, States are invited to share information on the status of investigation into attacks against journalists, including in response to requests by UNESCO through the mechanism operated by the Organization’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

In addition, States are encouraged to set up “information-gathering mechanisms, such as databases, to permit the gathering of verified information about threats and attacks against journalists”.  

Besides welcoming UNESCO’s work, the Resolution commends initiatives such as the Freelance Journalist Safety Principles and the International Declaration on the Protection of Journalists.

It references specific attacks against women journalists based on their gender, and highlights the value of anonymity and encryption tools for journalists to secure their communications and protect the confidentiality of their sources.

States are called on to support the training and awareness-raising amongst the judiciary, law enforcement officers and military personnel, as well as “publicly, unequivocally and systematically” condemn attacks on journalists.

A/HRC/33/L.6 marks the third Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council which focuses on the safety of journalists. Previous Resolutions were adopted in 2012 (A/HRC/RES/21/12) and in 2014 (A/HRC/RES/27/5).

In November, the International Council of the IPDC will debate a comprehensive report by the UNESCO Director-General on the status of judicial proceedings of cases of killed journalists, based on the most recent information voluntarily submitted by Member States.

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