The 195 Member States of UNESCO’s General Conference adopted on Saturday a Resolution that is expected to bolster the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. It is the first resolution on the safety of journalists to be adopted by the General Conference since 2011.
The Resolution “strongly condemns” all attacks against journalists, media workers and social media producers and recognizes the need to improve safety conditions in all situations, including armed conflict. It encourages Member States to establish, on a voluntary basis, national safety mechanisms to prevent, protect against and prosecute attacks on journalists. It also encourages Member States to carry out national monitoring of the safety of journalists within the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and specifically target 16.10 on public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms.
The Resolution emphasizes the need to reinforce activities addressing the specific threats to the safety of women journalists, both online and offline. It also welcomes the creation of an informal Group of Friends on the Safety of Journalists among Member States at UNESCO – an initiative that exists also at the UN in New York and in Geneva.
With this Resolution, UNESCO Member States respond to the high levels of violence against journalists and media workers worldwide. According to data gathered by UNESCO, 930 journalists were killed between 2006 and 2016. Impunity for killings of journalists remains endemic, with nine out of ten cases going unresolved.
The General Conference, which consists of representatives of the 195 Member States of UNESCO, comes together biennially and determines the budget and main policies of the organization. The full text of the General Conference Resolution will be published on the website of the 39th UNESCO General Conference.