Among an avalanche of 33 resolutions adopted last month by the U.N. was one calling for the protection of journalists around the globe. The Council’s 21st session was suspended, but not before they made a clear defense of the press.
The council condemned attacks and violence against the press, particularly at the hands of non-state actors and with impunity by offenders. They also called on the Office of the High Commissioner, in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, to put together guidelines for “good practices in the protection of journalists, the prevention of attacks, and the fight against impunity for attacks committed against journalists.”
The move was predictably met by resounding cheers from the journalism community, including the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), but the organization also cautioned against putting too much stock in such international declarations:
The IFJ, which is spearheading the campaign to promote the protection journalists around the world, cautions against putting a lot of emphasis on the number of legal instruments, declarations and resolutions which are not implemented. In a recent meeting at the UN General Assembly in New York, IFJ President said that “The killing of journalists continues to increase worldwide despite the plethora of international instruments, international human rights laws, universal human rights laws, covenants, declarations and resolutions which are simply ignored by many governments.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists also applauded the resolution, adding a grim reminder:
On average, more than 30 journalists are murdered every year, and the murderers go unpunished in nearly nine of 10 cases.
In a similar statement of support, UNESCO stated it looks forward to second U.N. Inter-Agency meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity on Nov. 22-23 in Vienna, Austria. UNESCO’s director general said of the U.N. resolution:
This resolution is a major step forward. It is also a recognition of the hard work of UNESCO on this critical issue. Journalists too often pay with their lives the right to work and to inform. Everyday brings alarming news on the safety of journalists in countries affected by conflicts, but not only. This must stop. We must continue to speak out to ensure the safety of journalist and the free flow of information.