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UNESCO extends its call for proposals: Research on the Safety of Online Media Actors Doing Journalism


UNESCO launches a call for research proposals in order to produce a qualitative picture of cases around the world linked to guaranteeing the safety of journalists using digital media. The research will analyse the role of governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and the media in the protection of online media actors. It will also provide guidelines, good practices and policy recommendations on how to respect the right to freedom of expression in the digital environment.

Interested researchers and organizations are invited to submit their proposals by 31 July 2013.

Parallel to unprecedented diffusion of online media and digital communication worldwide, there is a worrying trend that websites of news media, human rights organizations, critical bloggers, and other individuals or organizations disseminating information have increasingly become targets of illegitimate surveillance, hacking and attacks from various sources ranging from State-based actors to third parties. More extremely, some media actors are being killed for their online journalism. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists out of 50 of those journalists who were killed in the first part 2012, a total of 17 were online journalists. In turn, Reporters without Borders has registered the killing of 39 netizens and citizen journalists by late 2012.

The UN Human Rights Committee in its general comment No. 34 has defined journalism as “a function shared by a wide range of actors, including professional full-time reporters and analysts, as well as bloggers and others who engage in forms of self-publication in print, on the Internet or elsewhere.” The term “journalists” in this envisaged research includes, therefore, all online media actors who do journalism while not ignoring differences amongst them.

UNESCO is concerned about the online safety of journalists and its significant human rights implication, particularly on freedom of expression and related privacy protection. This research fits within the Organization’s on-going efforts to implement  the UN Inter-Agency Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. At the same time, it is clear that there is only limited information available about the extent of online threats and the digital safety literacy of journalists. To that end, UNESCO perceives a need to collect more information on the safety situation of online journalists across the globe.

UNESCO, therefore, invites interested researchers and organizations to submit their proposals, according to the Terms of Reference, by email to Ms Xianhong Hu, before noon (CET), 31 July 2013. Proposals have to include detailed description of the research methodology, deliverables, timeline and requested funding.