Building peace in the minds of men and women

Academic conference on the safety of journalists: Call for papers

21 January 2019


© Zinyange Auntony

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2019

Important Dates:

  • Deadline for submission of abstracts: EXTENDED to 22 February 2019
  • Academic conference: IMPORTANT NOTICE: EVENT date change to 1 May 2019!
  • World Press Freedom Day global conference: 1-3 May 2019



Journalists throughout the world are increasingly faced with threats that range from harassment to arbitrary detention, kidnapping, physical attacks, and in the most extreme cases, killing. Threats to journalist occur both online and offline and women journalists are particularly affected by gender-specific forms of attacks, such as sexual harassment and violence.

UNESCO is the mandated agency within the United Nations that promotes freedom of expression and freedom of the press as well as leads the coordination of the the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Our statistics show that in the past decade more than 800 journalists, media workers and social media reporters have been killed.

UNESCO, the Department of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University and the research group MEKK (media, war and conflict) at OsloMet University, in partnership with the University of Malaga and Sheffield University, will be  convening the 4th edition of the Academic Conference on the Safety of Journalists. The conference will take place within the framework of the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) celebration, in Addis Ababa from 1-3 May 2019 (pre-events taking place on the 1 May), jointly organized by UNESCO, the Government of Ethiopia and the African Union Commission.

The Academic Conference brings together researchers from different disciplines working on issues related to the safety of journalists. It also offers the possibility for researchers to connect with decision-makers and media practitioners. During the 23rd edition of the WPFD celebration (2016, Helsinki, Finland), the Journalism Safety Research Network (JSRN) was launched, coinciding with the first edition of the Academic Conference. The network aims to strengthen the field of research and ultimately, contribute to safer environments for journalist by creating a space where multidisciplinary research on the safety of journalists can be developed, shared and promoted worldwide.

The event aims at bridging the gap between academic research and the experience of journalists on the ground. The theme of World Press Freedom Day 2019 is “Media for Democracy: journalism and elections in times of disinformation”.

The Academic Conference committee welcomes submissions/ papers/ research on all aspects of safety of journalists, impunity for crimes against journalists and governance and justice.

Topics that are especially encouraged for the 2019 Academic Conference are:

  • Specific threats faced by women journalists online and offline
  • The safety of journalists during times of elections
  • Journalists engaged in debunking and /or investigating disinformation
  • Impact of internet cut offs on journalistic work
  • How best to monitor and report on safety of journalists in terms of Sustainable Development Goals indicator 16.10.1 which specifies the “number of verified cases of killing, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture of journalists [and] associated media personnel” each annual cycle.

Please also find a comprehensive list of potential research topics in UNESCO’s Research Agenda on Journalists’ Safety.


Submission for the Academic Conference:

Please submit abstracts of a maximum 300 words by 22 February 2019 to Sandra Sharman:

The deadline for full paper submissions is 18 April 2019.

Based on the availability of funds, a limited number of partial/full sponsorship may be available for covering flights and hotel accommodation, with priority given to academics based in the Global South. No registration fee will be charged. UNESCO and the local partner university (tbc) will investigate publication opportunities for the best papers presented at the Conference.


For information about the Academic Conference please contact:

Sandra Sharman


For more general information about the World Press Freedom Day conference please click here