21.06.2016 - Communication & Information Sector

UNESCO contributes to advancing digital security of journalists

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Frank La Rue, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, participated in the side-event on Safety of Journalists that took place in the framework of the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council on 16 June in Geneva, Switzerland. Organized by the Government of Austria and Article 19, the event was titled “Advancing digital security and the protection of journalists’ sources”.

The panel discussion focused on international, regional and national efforts to address impunity for attacks against journalists; on international standards for ensuring the safety of journalists; and on the role of the Human Rights Council in advancing the digital security of journalists.

Speaking at the event, Frank La Rue noted that since 2008, UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) has encouraged Member States to submit information on judicial proceedings involving killings of journalists. This information is published, every two years, as a report by the Director-General of UNESCO on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity.

Based on the last year's UNESCO publication Building Digital Safety for Journalism, Mr La Rue spoke about key challenges that need to be addressed to ensure the digital safety of journalists. The Panel discussed the need for a better coordination between UN agencies in this domain.

Frank La Rue presented the new UNESCO framework in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Development Agenda. Given that SDG 16 guarantees public access to information, he proposed that it also includes freedom and protection of the press and of journalists, for which every country within UN should establish a monitoring mechanism.

Other panelists included the UN Rapporteur on Freedom Expression David Kaye, the former Executive Director of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance Gayathry Venkiteswaran, and Article 19’s Executive Director Thomas Hughes.


UNESCO actively promotes the safety of those who produce journalism and believes that they have the right to work free from the threat of violence and to ensure the right to freedom of opinion and expression for all. Most abuses against media professionals remain uninvestigated and unpunished. This impunity perpetuates the cycle of violence against journalists, media workers and citizen journalists. The killing of journalists and its impunity directly impacts the United Nations’ human rights based efforts to promote peace, security, and sustainable development.

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