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Presidents of UNESCO General Conference, UN General Assembly and UN Human Rights Council issue a first statement on Safety of Journalism

On the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day 2022, the Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly, the UNESCO General Conference and the Human Rights Council have issued a joint statement to recall the paramount importance of ensuring journalists and media workers can work freely, independently and safely, without hindrances, threats, or violent reprisals.
Joint Statement

The three presidents, Abdulla Shahid, President of the UN General Assembly; Santiago Irazabal Mourão, President of the General Conference of UNESCO, and Federico Villegas, President of the Human Rights Council, addressed the World Press Freedom Day Conference in Punta del Este, Uruguay to underline the importance of the multistakeholder coordination framework, instigated by the UN, known as the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, adopted by the UN principals in 2012.

As we mark the 10th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action this year, we welcome the considerable progress made over the past decade in the implementation of the Plan. We applaud those governments which have made the safety of journalists a priority, within their borders and beyond, and highlight the significant contribution of civil society organizations that are committed to advancing media freedom and safety.
Joint statement by Abdulla Shahid, Santiago Irazabal Mourão and Federico Villegas

Still, they say, too many challenges prevail, including high levels of impunity for crimes against journalists, a rise in the number of journalists detained and an increased legal harassment against them, online violence, the use of surveillance tools to hinder the journalist’s work, increased attacks on women journalists, and the rise of killings in non-conflict environments.

Journalism vital for democracy

The three presidents emphasise the role journalism plays in society. “Each and every day, we are reminded of how vital the information [journalists] provide is for democracy, the promotion and protection of human rights, fighting corruption, sustainable development and preserving international peace and security.”

Joint Statement
Santiago Irazabal Mourão, President of the General Conference of UNESCO

Call on stakeholders to join forces

The statement reiterates that it is the last decade to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda and raise the importance to remember the contribution of freedom of expression, press freedom and access to information to all other rights, such as quality education, the eradication of poverty, and access to justice and healthcare. 

This is why, as we look forward to 10 more years of progress in defending the safety of journalists, freedom of expression, and access to information for all, we call on Member States, the UN system, regional bodies, civil society, the judiciary and all concerned actors to join forces in furthering the objectives of the UN Plan of Action.
Joint statement by Abdulla Shahid, Santiago Irazabal Mourão and Federico Villegas

As truly committed to the UN 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, the presidents singled out the SDG Target 16.10, which will through its implementation, contribute to building a safer and more enabling environment for journalists and media workers, and protect the right of every citizen to reliable, and, often, lifesaving information.