The UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut and the International Federation of Journalists, in cooperation with the General Directorate of Higher Education in Lebanon, launched yesterday the model course on the safety of journalists at an official ceremony in Beirut. The event was attended by professors representing various Lebanese universities.
The aim of this meeting was to highlight the importance of the role of universities in building a new generation of media professionals with knowledge of occupational safety. UNESCO also plans to disseminate the model curriculum to the largest number of universities in the Arab region and encourage them to included it in their journalism curricula.
Mr Georges Awad, Communication and Information programme specialist at UNESCO Beirut emphasized the role of UNESCO in spreading knowledge, and safeguarding freedom of expression and freedom of information. He praised the participative and effective work that was done with a large number of Arab universities to finalize this model course. Ms. Sylvie Coudray, Chief of the Freedom of Expression Section at UNESCO Paris, spoke of the importance of protecting journalists and ensuring their safety in the course of their duties. "The model course should be included in university curricula to promote a safety culture for young journalists”, she noted, echoing the United Nations Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and Impunity. This also has implications for Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), aimed at building peace, justice and strong institutions and protecting fundamental freedoms.
Mr Anthony Bellanger, Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), underlined that the course will help journalists in the field to deal with the many dangers to which they are exposed. .
Dr Ahmed Al-Gammal, Director General of Higher Education at the Lebanese Ministry of Education, spoke about the role of educational institutions in spreading a culture of peace and dialogue and in promoting freedom of expression. He also thanked UNESCO and the International Federation of Journalists for preparing this model course.
Ms Magda Abu-Fadil gave a detailed presentation of the curriculum, which she said will allow journalists to recognize the risks they face and to know what measures can be taken to maintain their safety.