UNESCO proposes research agenda for safety of journalists

, France

Academics are being encouraged at two forthcoming events to take up research into the safety of journalists, as a way to dovetail their work with UNESCO’s activity in this area.

According to UNESCO’s data, more than 700 journalists and media workers have been killed in the last 10 years.

Silencing journalists through death is the ultimate act of censorship. The situation is further aggravated by other threats ranging from intimidation and harassment to restrictive policies and arbitrary detention, including attacks on women journalists.

Equally worrying, more than nine out of ten cases of killing of journalists remain unsolved. The end result is a vicious cycle of impunity and a chilling effect on society in a climate of fear and self-censorship.

To understand and act on these issues better, research is needed on these topics. To encourage such research, UNESCO has now developed an academic research agenda on safety of journalists. This aims to strengthen academic research on the issue and cooperation with academia in line with the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

To introduce this new initiative, UNESCO is setting up a series of special sessions at two upcoming academic conferences. The first one is organized in collaboration with the IAMCR and its Journalism Research and Education Section (JRE) during the IAMCR 2015 conference in Montreal, on 13 July.

In three UNESCO/JRE special sessions, 17 academics from South and North America, Asia, Australia and Europe, will discuss various threats to safety of different types of journalists in times of peace, war and conflict, in different countries and regions, in addition to other issues related to safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. Marisol Cano, the director of the Guilhermo Cano Foundation, will open the trio of special sessions.

The second academic event is the Global Communication Association Conference in Berlin, Germany, July 16-18.

UNESCO is considering ideas for a symposium on journalism safety alongside the 2015 World Press Freedom Day conference in Helsinki, and a subsequent publication of the papers presented there.

Details concerning the IAMCR special session and the program can be found on UNESCO website. For more information concerning the academic research agenda on safety of journalists or the special session, please contact Ms Reeta Pöyhtäri or Mr Guy Berger.