IFJ Reaffirms Commitment to UN Convention on Safety of Journalists

Philippe Leruth, President, IFJ
Philippe Leruth, President, IFJ

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), at its world Congress in Tunis, Tunisia, on June 13, 2019 reaffirmed its commitment to an initiative for a United Nations Convention on the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals.

The IFJ had launched a campaign for a UN Convention on the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals in response to rising anger over continued impunity in the face of increasing attacks on journalists and media professionals around the world. Records show that a total of 95 journalists and media workers were killed in 2018 and nine in ten cases remain unpunished.

The UN Convention aims to put an end to this situation by introducing binding norms establishing safeguards for media workers specifically, addressing loopholes in humanitarian law (for instance on the risk of miscategorising the act of reporting as an act of war) and taking into account the heightened risks associated with the journalistic profession.

The motion adopted at the World Congress mandated the Administrative Committee to seek to “keep core minimum fundamentals” while negotiating the Convention, such as the obligation to protect journalists against attack on their lives; arbitrary arrest; violence and intimidation campaigns; the obligation to protect against forced disappearances and kidnapping; the obligation to carry out effective investigations into alleged interferences and bring the perpetrators to justice; and in the context of armed conflict, the obligation to treat media workers as civilians as well as their facilities and to conduct military operations with due diligence.

Starting in 2018, IFJ representatives and United Nations member states held two meetings in New York and Geneva between to discuss and promote the Convention, which has now gained support from a large coalition, including the European Broadcast Union (EBU), the World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA) and UNI, the global media workers federation.

The IFJ Congress also urged all its affiliates worldwide “to commit themselves and their members to this cause”.

The World Congress further passed a motion to strengthen IFJ communications on the murders of journalists.