Building peace in the minds of men and women

United Nations Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: Protection of Journalists

The United Nations Security Council on 17 July is scheduled to hold an Open Debate on the protection of journalists marking the first time the Council considers this issue in a separate meeting since the adoption of landmark resolution 1738 on the protection of journalists in December 2006.

The Open Debate is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (EST) and will be webcast live at

The United States, which holds the rotating Council Presidency in July, referred to the alarming increase in world-wide violence against journalists since 2006, in explaining its decision to hold the Open Debate.

Since the Council last considered this issue in 2006 "worldwide violence against journalists has worsened and there has been a particular increase in murders and imprisonment arising from conflict situations," said acting U.S. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, during a media briefing.

According to a concept note prepared by U.S. Mission: “In 2012 alone, 121 journalists were killed globally, more than 200 were imprisoned, and many more were targeted.” 

It continues: “Given the critical role of journalism in informing the international community’s understanding of conflict, we seek to underscore the vital importance of protecting journalists in these situations. The right to freedom of opinion and expression is a human right guaranteed to all, including journalists, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; journalists are also entitled to the same rights online that they have offline.

The concept note also says the Security Council session should also consider the insights in the reports by UNESCO report on the killings of journalists, and the UN Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson will brief the council. Speakers will include Richard Engel of NBC, Somali journalist Mustafa Haji Abdinur from Radio Simba and Agence France Presse, Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad from the Guardian, and Associated Press Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll, who is vice chair of the board of the Committee to Protect Journalist.

Resolution 1738 was adopted at the initiative of France and Greece (an elected Security Council member at the time) to remind parties to armed conflict of their legal obligations with regard to the protection of journalists.

It condemned and called for an end to intentional attacks against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel, while recalling that they should be considered as civilians and shall be respected and protected as such. The resolution also emphasised states’ obligation to prevent such attacks and the need to bring to justice those responsible.