Executive Board reinforces UNESCO’s work on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity


More than 60 Member States, across all regional groups, have sponsored a draft resolution on Safety of Journalists and the issue of impunity, which was adopted, after two small editorial changes, on Friday 28 April without a vote.

The final version of the resolution has not yet been published, but its text appeals to all stakeholders to redouble their efforts for successful implementation of the United  Nations  Plan  of  Action  on  the  Safety  of  Journalists  and  the  Issue of Impunity.

The resolution also invites Member States to ”provide input to, and engage in, the Multistakeholder Consultation on Strengthening the United Nations Plan of Action on  the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which will be organized by UNESCO and the United Nations Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva on 29 June 2017.”

More information on the June event, including templates for contributing information, are on the UNESCO website.

In their resolution, the Executive Board further noted ”with  appreciation” the  steady  increase  in  voluntary  responses  by  Member  States  concerning  the  judicial  investigations  of  killings  of  journalists.

They strongly  urged Member States  to  ”continue  to  actively  provide  this  information  to  UNESCO  as  part  of  the  Director-General’s  Report  on  the  Safety  of  Journalists  and  the  Issue  of  Impunity,  and  to  develop  effective monitoring mechanisms for this purpose”.

The resolution also encourages ”Member States with the support of UNESCO to continue building capacity and  setting  up  national  safety  mechanisms  in  order  to  prevent,  protect  against,  and  prosecute attacks on journalists and to combat impunity.”

Introducing the draft text,  Swedish Ambassador Annika Markovic commended an increase in  commitment by Member States in the United Nations to the safety of journalists. “A concrete example is the establishment of informal Group of Friends of Safety of Journalists with Member States in New York, Geneva and also here in Paris,” she said.

The Ambassador also stated that UNESCO has an important role to play in advancing Sustainable Development Goal 16.10 on public access to information and fundamental freedoms and in supporting Member States in strengthening national capacity in order to fight impunity.

Foreshadowing a specific emphasis in the resolution, Ambassador Markovic further noted that women journalists face specific risks, including threats, violence and sexual harassment.   

The final list of Executive Board members sponsoring the resolution included: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lithuania, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Uganda, Ukraine, USA.

Non-members of the Executive Board who co-sponsored the draft decision included: Canada, Finland, the Gambia, Iraq, Bulgaria, Liberia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Palestine, Slovakia, Latvia, Luxemburg, Palau, Austria, Namibia, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Norway, Switzerland, Andorra, Cyprus, Croatia, Belgium, Portugal, Australia, Peru, Honduras, Tunisia, Kuwait and Guatemala.