» Media executives and UNESCO Members States meet to reinforce safety of journalists at Paris Conference
28.01.2016 - UNESCOPRESS

Media executives and UNESCO Members States meet to reinforce safety of journalists at Paris Conference

UNESCO is organizing an unprecedented meeting between media owners and executives from all regions and Member States to examine concrete ways to improve the safety of journalists and tackle impunity for crimes against media professionals on 5 February at the Organization’s Headquarters in Paris.

The daylong conference will foster dialogue on security issues with a view to reducing the high number of casualties in the profession. They will share good practices on a wide range of measures including safety protocols in newsrooms, training to improve physical, psychological, and digital security, innovative protective measures for reporting from dangerous areas, and international and local media partnerships.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, the President of the International Federation of Journalists, Jim Boumelha, and the Vice-President of the World Editors Forum, Erik Bjerager, will open the international conference News Organizations Standing up for the Safety of Media Professionals. The programme of the conference will also tackle issues concerning the safety needs of freelancers and citizen journalists who are particularly vulnerable due to the lack of corporate support.

Close to 200 media owners, executives and practitioners from public, private and community media, ranging from major international broadcasters to local ones, will attend the conference, which will feature three high level sessions and several roundtable debates. The diversity of media represented, in terms of geography, size and type of threat encountered, is unprecedented and should contribute to the conference’s ability to raise awareness of and improve preparedness for the full range of dangers the media face worldwide.

The first and second high-level sessions (Room X) will focus on the safety of journalists. They will bring together media and Member States to examine the safety challenges faced by journalists worldwide and ways to meet them. Guy Berger, UNESCO Director for Freedom of Express and Media Development will moderate the first session, while debates in the second will be led by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression and Journalism Safety Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s Chief International Correspondent.

The third high-level session (Room X), Ending Impunity Together, moderated by BBC presenter Zeinab Badawi, will envisage ways to improve dialogue between the media industry and Member States and raise awareness of the issue of impunity, which leaves more than nine out of ten crimes against media workers unpunished.

One roundtable discussion will examine safety for freelancers and social media producers while another, on good newsroom practices, will allow for the sharing of information about safety programmes and protocols as well as recent innovations such as dedicated applications, online safety resources and encrypted assistance.

The roundtable debate on safety for community and local media will bring together participants from Africa, the Arab States, Asia and Latin America. They will seek to determine ways to foster dialogue between representatives of community radio and Member States to enhance safety. This is particularly important as more than 95 % of the journalists killed in the last decade were local reporters and correspondents.

The Conference will be followed by a meeting of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) and other media representatives to propose actions to strengthen the safety of journalists and end impunity worldwide. 

Albana Shala, Chairperson of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), and Larry Kilman, Secretary General, of World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) will address the final session of the conference (4.30pm to 5.45pm), which will be closed by Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General, UNESCO.

The event is organized by UNESCO, with the support of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), in partnership with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and with additional support from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the International Press Institute (IPI) and the World Association of Community Media (AMARC). It has also received support from Australia, Austria, Latvia, Finland, The Netherlands, Sweden, The Open Society Foundations (OSF) and Al Jazeera Network.

UNESCO has been advocating and implementing measures to improve the safety of journalists and end impunity for crimes against media workers. The Director-General issues press releases to condemn the killing of journalists and media workers. Every other year, moreover, UNESCO publishes a report taking stock of government’s replies to the Organization’s request for information about actions taken to pursue the perpetrators of these crimes. Moreover, UNESCO coordinates activities relating to the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity adopted in 2012. In its meeting in April last year, UNESCO’s Executive Board requested UNESCO to hold an international conference on the safety of journalists as part of its work on freedom of expression and press freedom (see Decision31 at Executive Board 196/Decisions).


Media contact: Roni Amelan, r.amelan(at)unesco.org, +33 (0)1 45 68 16 50

Press accreditation: Laetitia Kaci, l.kaci@unesco.org , +33 (0)1 45 68 17 72

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