In conjunction with the Human Rights Day on 10 December, UNESCO joined in a Solidarity Stand in honour of all the human rights defenders, including journalists who bring vital news and information to the public on a daily basis.
The Solidarity Stand, organized by the Public Liberties and Human Rights Department of Al Jazeera Media Network, took place in the Network’s Headquarters in Doha, Qatar. The aim of the annual event was to commemorate those who fought to defend human rights, including journalists who sometimes risk their lives and safety to expose corruptions or criminal activities.
Amongst the representatives who spoke at the event were the acting Director-General of Al Jazeera Media Network, Mostefa Souag; Director of UNESCO Doha Office, Anna Paolini; Executive Director of International Press Institute (IPI), Alison Bethel-Mckenzie; Baroness Manzila Pola Uddin of the United Kingdom House of Lords; and Head of UN Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre, Elobaid Ahmed Elobaid.
The event was followed by a series of workshop sessions over two days focusing on the rights of journalists. Ahmed Elobaid of the OHCHR discussed the protection awarded to journalists who work in conflict situations. Mohamad Amin Almidani of the Arab Center for International Humanitarian Law explored the protection of journalists from the perspective of international legal instruments. Adam Shapiro from the Dublin-based Frontline Defender highlighted the importance of improving digital security in addition to physical safety.
A special workshop on the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity took place, where UNESCO’s programme specialist from the Freedom of Expression Section was on hand to conduct an energetic question and answer session. The participants were interested in knowing how the UN Plan of Action could concretely address the safety of journalists, especially while covering conflict situations. Even though most of the participants were media professionals, many questions concerned the rights and protections for citizen journalists, who are increasingly becoming a source for first-hand reporting. Amongst the main outcomes of the session was the understanding of the importance of sharing good practices and strengthening safety training for journalists, prior to their work in dangerous environments.
The event was broadcast live on Al Jazeera Channels and streamed live on www.aljazeera.net.