World Press Freedom Day 2018 Academic Conference: Call for Papers


Theme: Safety of Journalists

Important Dates:

  • Deadline for abstracts: 15 February, 2018

  • Academic conference: 2 May, 2018

  • Policy Lab: 3 May, 2018

Please note that invitations to attend the Academic Conference and the Policy Lab will be issued until 9 March 2018. 


On a daily basis, journalists around the globe are confronted with a variety of threats that range from harassment to arbitrary detention, kidnapping, physical attacks, and in the most extreme cases, killing. UNESCO reports that in the past decade more than 800 journalists, media workers and social media reporters have been killed. Threats occur both online and offline, and women journalists are particularly affected by gender-specific forms of attacks such as sexual harassment and violence. As part of the global celebration of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2018, the School of Information and Communication Studies, University of Ghana, in collaboration with UNESCO, is organising a one-day academic conference on the Safety of Journalists.

This is the third edition of this conference, which is held annually as a special session alongside WPFD. It brings together researchers from different disciplines working on aspects of the safety of journalists, and offers a possibility to connect with policy makers and media practitioners. At the first edition of the conference, which took place in 2016 in Helsinki, Finland, the Journalism Safety Research Network (JSRN) was launched. The network aims at creating a space where multidisciplinary research on the safety of journalists is shared, developed and promoted in order to strengthen the field of research and ultimately, contribute to safer environments for journalists.

The academic conference, which will be integrated into the celebrations of World Press Freedom Day in Accra, aims at bridging the gap between academic research, policy-making and the experience of journalists on the ground. Policy-oriented research, which can nourish a dialogue between all stakeholders, is therefore highly encouraged. The theme of World Press Freedom Day 2018 is “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law”.

This year’s edition welcomes papers and policy relevant research on all aspects of safety of journalists, impunity for crimes against journalists and governance and justice.

Topics that are especially encouraged for the Academic Conference 2018 are:

  • Systemic failure in rule of law; and impunity for crimes against journalists
  • National mechanisms and their effectiveness for the prevention of violence against journalists, protection of journalists, and monitoring and prosecution of attacks.
  • Gender-based threats and sexual harassment in the media
  • Motivation for attacks against journalists and types of perpetrators
  • Digital aspects of journalists’ safety
  • Safety of journalists covering sensitive cultural issues (e.g. ethnic contestation, chieftaincy, LGBTQI)
  • Photo/video journalism and safety 
  • Working conditions and the protection of journalists

Please also find a comprehensive list of potential research topics in UNESCO’s Research Agenda on Journalists’ Safety.

Policy Lab:

In addition to the presentation of papers and following discussions, the conference will for the first time accommodate a Policy Lab, organized in partnership with the Global Development Network. This special session will be organized on the morning of 3 May, 2018 and will offer a unique opportunity for high-quality interactions between researchers and policy actors (broadly understood) who work on a same issue. The topic chosen for this first Policy Lab are national mechanisms for prevention, protection against and prosecution of violence against journalists: emerging models and their effectiveness.

The logic of the policy lab is double: to offer researchers an opportunity to engage with potential users of their research, exposing researchers to the kind of answers policy actors need at a time when research questions are still being defined; and to include policy actors in the process of discussion and definition of research priorities, sensitizing them to the potential contribution of research to their work. Policy Labs have therefore two main outcomes: research agendas of direct interest to policy constituencies on a specific issue; and the creation of an early demand for research findings amongst potential users in policy and practice.

A closed number of participants will be selected on a competitive basis to take part in the Policy Lab, by UNESCO, the Global Development Network and the University of Ghana, based on the relevance of their research and planned work to the above-mentioned topic. More information will be available about the Policy Lab in the coming weeks.

Submission for Conference:

Please submit abstracts of a maximum 300 words by 15 February, 2018 to the following email: or, Cc. Invitations to attend will be issued by 9 March, 2018. The deadline for full paper submissions is 18 April, 2018.

Submission for Policy Lab:

Please submit a short synopsis of research on a relevant topic related to protection of journalists you are currently developing and which could benefit from feedback from policy makers by 15 February, 2018 to: or, Cc. Invitations to attend will be issued by 9 March, 2018.

Based on the availability of funds, a limited number of partial/full sponsorship may be available for covering flights and hotel accommodation, with priority given to academics based in the Global South. Meals will be provided for all participants and no registration fee will be charged. UNESCO and the University will investigate publication opportunities for the best papers presented at the Conference.


The main events, including the Academic Conference and Policy Lab, of World Press Freedom Day 2018 will be held at the Kempinski Hotel. You can consult more information about the Kempinski Hotel their website. . (External link)
Kempinski Hotel
Gold Coast City Accra
Gamel Abdul Nasser Avenue
PMB CT21 Cantonments,
Accra, Ghana
T +233 544 312 677